Sunday, July 18, 2004

Is Fallujah Turning on the Jihadi's?

Yesterday, the AP ran the story Fallujah Savors Quietest Spell in a Year, the majority of which was used to claim that the past violence of the city was caused by the US military and their violent repression of the people. The story is, quite frankly, disgusting. It puts the blame for the violence that the city has seen squarely at the feet of the soldiers and fails to mention the fact that many of the most violent terrorists and their followers are in the city. The article claims that the United States "waged nighttime security sweeps, storming private homes in search for weapons and fighters", which leads the reader to believe that the United States was raiding homes randomly during the night. The article does mention that the US soldiers painted schools, installed water pumps but concludes that this had no effect on the citizens. The article also quotes a volunteer at a hospital that makes the claim:
"All I know is that our American liberators were sniping at civilians and the so-called terrorists were bringing them to the hospital to be treated and were donating blood."
But the article fails to provide the United States the opportunity to rebut that statement.
More important than the obvious bias of the story is it's overall point. The story claims that the military's actions in Fallujah, dubbed the "Fallujah Experiment" have been a "disaster". The article makes its case by stating that the city has become a "den of terrorists and a refuge for foreign Muslim fighters waging global jihad against America".

A lot can change in a day. This morning the AP has reported that the United States struck a terrorist safehouse in Fallujah, killing 14. Permission for the strike was given by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi. Allawi has promised full cooperation with the United States in rooting out and destroying the terrorists in Iraq. The AP includes the typical account by people at the scene who claim that the house was owned by a poor innocent family, and it fails to provide any details about the intelligence that led to the strike or who may have been the target. However, in the Washington Times, Jack Kelly, a writer that has been featured many times on A Time For Choosing reports that while the local leaders in Fallujah may be tolerating the terrorists, the citizens are not, and are in fact providing timely intelligence to the United States. It is this type of intelligence that has made successful airstikes like the one this morning possible. Kelly reports that many of the foreign fighters, particularly those from Syria and Saudi Arabia have found the environment in Iraq so hostile that they have begun to return home, giving up the jihad in Iraq. Some of the factions that have stayed behind have apparently started fighting amongst themselves. All of this is good news for the citizens of Iraq, the US forces there, and for the War on Terror as a whole. The AP story is right that many of the the foreign terrorists and jihadi's have concentrated in Fallujah, which may be why many of the citizen's have started to turn against them. Their concentration in one city will make them easier to target for the United States, especially as the population of the city becomes less tolerant of their presence and provides the coalition with more and more intelligence.

Jack Kelly concludes his article by stating that the letter sent to OBL by Zarqawi and intercepted by coalition forces has proven prophetic. In the letter Zarqawi states:

"If, God forbid, the government is successful and takes control of the country, we just have to pack up and go somewhere else again, where we can raise the flag again or die, if God chooses us."

It is too early to tell if the United State's actions in Fallujah have been a "disaster".  At this point it appears that the military's actions may have been a calculated risk that are set to have a big payoff.  Although it has become a refuge for terrorists, the citizens seem to have grown tired of their presence.  If they are driven out of the city by the citizen's providing intelligence to the coalition, Fallujah may end up being the terrorists final stop before they either leave the country or are killed in a coalition raid.  Fallujah, which may be the last hope for the terrorists, may end up being the city where they realize their actions are futile.