From A World to Win News Service

Iraq: Resistance Continues in Besieged Falluja

Revolutionary Worker #1250, August 22, 2004, posted at

We received the following from A World to Win News Service.

August 9, 2004. A World to Win News Service. The resistance in Falluja has not been highlighted in the media lately. In part this is because of the shadow of other events, such as the mutiny led by Moqtada Sadr (see AWTWNS for July 5). But it is also because the American authorities would rather not talk about the situation there.

U.S. ground troops haven't been able to enter the city for months. American convoys tried to penetrate Falluja several times at the end of July and in early August without success. Six marauding U.S. military vehicles were ambushed July 31. U.S. forces responded with artillery fire and air bombardment.

Again and again in the past weeks, U.S. aircraft have strafed and bombed houses in the city. About a hundred people have been killed or injured recently, many of them children and elderly, according to hospital interviews. U.S.- fed media outlets claim the bombings target "foreign terrorists," but it is clear that the city's entire people are being hit.

Falluja became a symbol shortly after the beginning of the U.S. occupation. In April 2003, U.S. soldiers fired on demonstrating pupils and parents demanding that the occupiers leave the school they had made their barracks. Twenty minutes of firing into the fleeing crowd killed 15 and wounded 53. Two days later, 1,000 Falluja residents marched down the city's main street and stopped in front of a U.S.-occupied compound. Apache attack helicopters circled overhead. The demonstrators carried signs condemning the earlier massacre. One said, "Sooner or later, U.S. killers, we'll kick you out." The crowd began throwing stones. American soldiers in lorries outside the compound shot 17 people, killing two.

Two Falluja teenagers threw grenades into the U.S. military compound the next day, May 1, 2003, marking the beginning of an armed resistance that hasn't stopped since.

The April Resistance in Falluja

The U.S. authorities have been waiting for the opportunity to crush the will of the people who have refused to submit themselves to the occupiers.

When in April this year four American mercenaries hired by private military contractors were ambushed and killed in Falluja, the Marines moved in to punish the people. They said the time had come to finish taking control of the city. Over the next weeks, U.S. forces destroyed much of Falluja, murdering at least 600 people and wounding many more civilians.

This brutality did not crush and suppress the resistance of the people. Instead, the city's inhabitants fought back fiercely, which helped the people of Iraq get more united. In a spectacular series of demonstrations and daring aid convoys defying the U.S. military, Iraqis from all walks of life, Sunni and Shia alike, showed their unity with the people in Falluja. Food, medicine and donated blood came from many cities. Many youth, including some from other Arab countries, broke through the encirclement and joined the fighters inside Falluja.

In the fighting in April, more than 60 U.S. soldiers were killed. Ordinary people joined the resistance against the occupiers and proved themselves good fighters. When the siege of Falluja started in early April, Abu Muhammad, a former Iraqi brigadier general under Saddam, said, "People here were monitoring American movements and had the upper hand. They had military experience, and they prepared themselves for the fight. Highway 10, the road that connects Baghdad to Jordan and the western part of the country, runs through Falluja, and it was virtually shut down." ( New Yorker , July 5). The U.S. forces had expected to take over the city easily. The mass participation of the people of Falluja made that impossible. Instead, the Marines had to retreat. It should be kept in mind that Falluja is only 50 kilometers west of Baghdad, where U.S. armed strength is concentrated.

Although resistance was rising in many parts of Iraq before the April battles in Falluja, the successes scored there had a big impact on people in other places, especially in the area of the so-called Sunni triangle north and west of the capital.

The resistance also helped to heat up the current crisis within the ranks of the occupiers and their stooges. Some countries announced they wouldn't be sending troops as promised or that they would pull their soldiers out. Many soldiers of the newly formed Iraqi puppet army sent in to suppress the resistance simply refused to fight. A large number of police forces in Falluja also fought on the side of the rebels.

The Falluja resistance helped to awaken people abroad who had trouble understanding the real intentions of the U.S. Those who thought or were told by the imperialists or the mainstream media that the people in Iraq were happier now could see the reality for themselves. At its highest point so far, in April, the battle of Falluja inflicted defeats on the U.S. military and U.S. military tactics and strategy. This was a major factor in leading many Western media commentators and some political figures to conclude that the occupation just can't work.

Reality--in the form of armed resistance--was beginning to tear apart the occupiers' blanket of lies. A columnist wrote, "American administrations like to say that it isn't occupation that's the problem. It is simply terrorism.. But the American insistence that their troubles stem only from Saddam's bitter-enders and foreign fanatics is no longer believable." (H.D.S. Greenway, The Boston Globe , April 13)

The New York Times reported June 28, "U.S. commanders concede that they are far from quelling a stubborn and increasingly sophisticated insurgency. It has extended well beyond supporters of Saddam Hussein and foreign fighters, spreading to ordinary Iraqis seething at the occupation and its failures. They act at the grass-roots level, often with little training or direction, but with a zealousness born of anti-colonial ambitions."

Who Are the Terrorists?

Every time the U.S. bombs Falluja and kills a score and injures many others, their spokesmen say they are after Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian accused of links to al-Qaida. They killed dozens of people in their July aircraft and missile attacks on alleged "Al-Zarqawi safe houses"--family homes--but they have not named even one "foreign terrorist" found dead or captured in Falluja.

Many people in Falluja and all over Iraq see the U.S. forces as the real foreign terrorists. The U.S.-led "coalition" has been trying to bring soldiers from all over the world to fight against the Iraqi resistance and help secure the Middle East for American interests. So why, people ask themselves, can't some people from other countries who are outraged by the injustice and brutality done to the people of Iraq, help the Iraqi resistance?

For months the U.S. authorities claimed that Saddam supporters and Baath party cadre had made Falluja their base. They promised that after the capture of Saddam and other major Baathist leaders, the Americans' troubles in Falluja would be over. But then the situation for the U.S. got worse. Now they've changed their tune, claiming Falluja is "a haven for terrorists" like Zarqawi. Whatever the truth of this claim, the incontestable reality is that in Falluja everyone is against U.S. occupation and sees the U.S. as their main enemy. The previously mentioned former Iraqi Army brigadier general said, "Nobody in Falluja opposed the resistance, and many different resistance groups came in." Naturally this includes some Islamic fundmentalists and others who oppose the U.S. from a reactionary point of view. But the resistance of the people of Falluja and the overwhelming opposition to the invaders of the people of Falluja and so-called Sunni triangle cannot be denied.

Why the U.S. Retreated

The people's hatred of the invaders is the reason that the U.S. forces and its puppet regime have been unable to enter the city and have had to retreat repeatedly, at least so far. The U.S.'s Iraqi general director of national intelligence said about Falluja, "We could take the city... but we would have to kill everyone." ( NYT , July 8) But if they were going to have to "kill everyone," they would need a much larger force. Iraqi officials conceded that the puppet regime ".lack the resources to take control of the city on their own." (This and following quotes NYT , July 8) So did the U.S., apparently.

Finally, U.S. forces left the city and stationed themselves outside. Control of the city was left in the hands of the Falluja Brigade, which consists of many resistance fighters but also includes former regime soldiers and some Islamic fundamentalists. The city is controlled politically by a council (Shora) consisting of several committees, political parties and religious organizations that compete for influence in the city.

U.S. Plans to Return

The defeat the people of Falluja inflicted on the American forces cost the U.S. a lot, most importantly credibility (at least as effective bullies) that it is desperately trying to regain. As Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former head of all U.S. military forces in Iraq, said about Falluja, " At some point it is going to have to be dealt with." The message is clear: as soon as they can manage to settle other problems that have them tied up, which may not happen in the near future, they intend to enter the city again.

The U.S. has faced increasing and varied demands on its occupation troops, and for political reasons has kept the number of troops far below what U.S. commanders feel they need. As a result, it has not yet felt either able or perhaps compelled to invest the amount of resources necessary to seek a final resolution of the Falluja situation. One factor holding it back is fear of the political impact, in Iraq and the world, of the kind of mass-scale slaughter that this would probably mean. But it is also true that the rubble that fills the city has turned this terrain into one that is highly unfavorable for the mechanized, lightning operations the invaders prefer, and any decisive battle could possibly be far more prolonged than they want to face.

The people of Falluja are also aware of the situation and are preparing themselves for that eventuality. As one fighter put it, "The struggle has just begun."

The masses in Falluja are proud of defeating a powerful military force. Their enthusiasm has infected people all over Iraq. So far, they have inflicted a stalemate on the U.S. and its puppet regime and kept them powerless to do anything but kill civilians in the city. U.S. brutality against Falluja during the last year and a half has produced nothing but rage and backlash against the invaders and has ultimately dealt an important blow to the U.S. forces. There is no reason to believe that more brutality would bring any better results for the invaders.