[Marxism] Washington Post describes "crisis, " "partial collapse" in occupation (excerpt)
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Apr 18 09:24:39 MDT 2004
Revolts in Iraq Deepen Crisis In Occupation (excerpt)
>From Washington Post.com
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, April 18, 2004; Page A01
BAGHDAD, April 17 -- In the space of two weeks, a fierce insurgency in
Iraq has isolated the U.S.-appointed civilian government and stopped the
American-financed reconstruction effort, as contractors hunker down
against waves of ambushes and kidnappings, according to U.S. and Iraqi
The events have also pressured U.S. forces to vastly expand their area
of operations within Iraq, while triggering a partial collapse of the
new Iraqi security services designed to gradually replace them.
The crisis, which has stirred support for the insurgents across both
Sunni and Shiite communities, has also inflamed tensions between Arabs
U.S. officials said they are reconsidering initial assessments that the
uprisings might be contained as essentially military confrontations in
Fallujah, where Marines continue their siege of a chronically volatile
city, and Najaf, where the militant Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has taken
refuge in the shadow of a shrine.
"The Fallujah problem and the Sadr problem are having a wider impact
than we expected," a senior U.S. official involved in Iraq policy said.
In Baghdad and Washington, officials had initially concluded that
addressing those problems would not engender much anger among ordinary
Iraqis. "Sadr's people and the people of Fallujah were seen as isolated
and lacking broad support among Iraqis," the official added.
Instead, the official said, "The effect has been profound."
The violence has brought the U.S.-funded reconstruction of Iraq to a
near-halt, according to U.S. officials and private contractors.
Thousands of workers for private contractors have been confined to their
quarters in the highly fortified Green Zone in Baghdad that also houses
the headquarters of the U.S. occupation authority. Routine trips outside
the compound to repair power plants, water-treatment facilities and
other parts of Iraq's crumbling infrastructure have been deemed too
dangerous, even with armed escorts.
Compounding the problem is a growing fear that insurgents will seek
retribution against Iraqis working for private contractors and the
occupation authority. Scores of Iraqis have stopped showing up for their
jobs as translators, support staff and maintenance personnel in the
Green Zone, even though there is a lack of lucrative employment
The security situation "has dramatically affected reconstruction," said
another U.S. official in Baghdad. "How can you rebuild the country when
you're confined to quarters, when only small portions of your Iraqi
staff are showing up for work on any given day?"
Among the firms that have restricted the movements of their employees
are the two of the largest private contractors in Iraq: Bechtel Corp.
and Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. The Research
Triangle Institute, a North Carolina-based firm that has been helping
set up city councils across Iraq, has sent 80 staffers -- about 40
percent of its non-Iraqi workforce -- to Kuwait as a precautionary
Security concerns also have hindered the implementation of a $6 billion,
U.S.-funded wave of construction projects intended to help improve
security by putting legions of unemployed young men to work.
"We want to offer people opportunities that compete with the financial
incentives they get" from insurgent leaders, an American official said.
"But it's a Catch-22. We can't start the work that's supposed to help
improve security until security improves."
The insurgency also appears to be generating new alliances -- and
tensions -- among the major sectarian and ethnic groups in Iraq.
The most visible leader of the resistance is Sadr, a firebrand whose
appeal long appeared to be limited to the young, unemployed Shiites who
made up his militia, the Mahdi Army. However, in a surprising
development, his poster began appearing this month at Sunni mosques that
previously showed little interest in his activities.
Such displays of unity have dampened fears of a clash between the Sunni
minority and Shiite majority communities. But worries about a different
kind of civil war have been generated by reports that Iraq's ethnic
Kurds are fighting alongside U.S. Marines and against the insurgency.
Guerrillas coming out of Fallujah have complained bitterly that Kurdish
militiamen known as pesh merga are deployed against them. The Kurds are
members of the 36th Battalion of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, built
from several exile-based militias that supported the U.S.-led campaign
against Saddam Hussein. Commanders of another, overwhelmingly Arab Iraqi
army battalion refused to fight alongside the Marines.
"When the fighting is over in Fallujah, I will sell everything I have,
even my home," said a resistance fighter who gave his name as Abu Taif
Mashhadani. He wept as he recalled his 8-year-old daughter, who he said
was killed by a U.S. sniper in Fallujah a week ago. "I will send my
brothers north to kill the Kurds, and I will go to America and target
the civilians. Only the civilians. Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.
And the one who started it will be the one to be blamed."
The American confrontations with Sadr and in Fallujah also have roiled
the political landscape by further isolating members of Iraq's
U.S.-appointed Governing Council from the Iraqi population.
Commanders were surprised by the sophistication and coordination
displayed by insurgents massing for attacks on armored columns on
highways. On Friday, a coalition aircraft reported coming under fire
from an anti-aircraft gun, which was highly unusual.
No less sobering, commanders said, were new reports of children playing
roles in guerrilla attacks. In Baghdad Tuesday, a girl about 6 or 7
years old dropped an explosive from a highway overpass onto a convoy. A
commander was killed in a similar incident outside Fallujah, when a
convoy was ambushed after slowing for a girl leading cattle across a
Staff writer Thomas E. Ricks in Baghdad contributed to this report
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