[Marxism] Iraqis hail victory; Pentagon claims Saddam's generals will do job it couldn't do

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun May 2 02:11:56 MDT 2004

Whatever the factors that combined to create the US retreat, there is no
doubt that this is a GREAT victory for the people of Iraq, and they
should be celebrating and are, according to the following Reuters
Fred Feldman

As for the former regime's generals, we will see what they attempt and
what they accomplish.  The change in the political situation in the
country is such that it is becoming realistic to calculate politically
on an end of the occupation.  From that standpoint, the generals face
ruin as leaders of a post-occupation Iraq if they carry out what
Washington wants in Fallujah -- the insistence on capturing or killing
the insurgents, and disarming the population.  If the generals follow
that policy, they will be finished as leaders in a post-occupation Iraq.

I suspect that Jose is right that this is primarily a divide-and-rule
maneuver aimed at separating the former army and Baathist forces in the
resistants from the Islamics and others, and the Sunnis from the
Shiites.  But the fact that Washington is maneuvering and hoping for
help from the generals does not mean that we should not celebrate what
has taken place.
Fred Feldman
Iraqis hail Falluja "victory"
Sat 1 May, 2004 16:18 


By Fadel Badran 

FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Soldiers of the old Iraqi army led by one of
Saddam Hussein's generals are patrolling Falluja, a year after George W.
Bush declared the U.S. "mission accomplished" in ousting the Iraqi

Cries of "victory over the Americans" echoed from minarets on Saturday
and guerrilla gunmen celebrated in the streets under the green banner of
Islam and Saddam-era Iraqi flags. Thousands who had fled a month of
heavy fighting streamed back to their homes after U.S. Marines pulled
back from their siege positions. 

Mired in a confrontation that spilled blood on both sides and outraged
Iraqi and Arab opinion, U.S. commanders withdrew to more distant
positions on Friday. Security was entrusted to police and a new force of
ex-soldiers under General Jasim Mohamed Saleh, formerly of Saddam's
feared Republican Guard. 

U.S. officers call it an experiment that may be reversed, while Marine
commander Lieutenant-General James Conway said Saleh's 1st Battalion of
the Falluja Brigade would tackle the insurgents and foreign fighters
aiding them. 

"They have a plan," he said just outside the city. "They understand our
view that these people must be killed or captured. They have not
flinched and their commander has said as much to his assembly of
officers within the last 36 hours." 

Saleh's offer came just in time, Conway said. 

"It got to the point that we thought there were no options that would
preclude an attack," he said. 

But some Iraqis, impatient with an occupation that brought them pictures
this week of U.S. and British troops abusing detainees, see a military

"The city's defenders are celebrating," yelled one man as a group of
gunmen in civilian clothes raised green banners and rifles aloft on a
street to acclaim the "defeat" of the Marines, also proclaimed from
mosque minarets. 

A uniformed member of General Saleh's 1,000-strong force, looked on. He

On foot and in civilian four-wheel-drive vehicles, Saleh's force began
patrolling the streets of the Sunni Muslim city, which was among those
most loyal to Saddam. 


Americans, deciding whether to re-elect President Bush in November, may
also wonder where the Iraq venture is taking them after the bloodiest
month for U.S. troops since the war began. 

Bush, in his weekly radio address, said that despite "the serious and
continuing challenges", Iraqi life was improving. 

"Life for the Iraqi people is a world away from the cruelty and
corruption of Saddam's regime," he said. 

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States was going into the Falluja
deal with its "eyes wide open", aware of the risks of dealing with the
relatively unknown Saleh, whose influence over -- or links with -- the
insurgents are unclear. 

Lawrence Di Rita said the Marines had had to end the siege or risk new
challenges to U.S. authority that could jeopardise plans to hand over to
an interim Iraqi government in two months. 

Marine commanders say they are playing the new arrangement in Falluja by
ear and may return to the city. They are still hunting the killers of
four American security guards, images of whose mutilated bodies prompted
the U.S. offensive a month ago. 

Hammad Makhlas, returning to Falluja with his wife and five children to
find windows smashed and walls damaged at his home, said: "Praise God.
The most important thing is that the town's dignity has been preserved
with the defeat of the Americans." 


The United States turned to Saleh after failing to root out some 2,000
guerrillas dug in among 300,000 civilians. Bush's critics accuse him of
wading into a Vietnam-style "quagmire". 

The rising death toll is not helping Bush's re-election campaign. In
all, 129 Americans were killed in action in April -- nearly a quarter of
the combat toll of 541 since U.S. forces invaded in March last year. Two
of those died on Saturday. 

U.S. television programme "Nightline" sparked controversy by devoting a
show to broadcasting names and pictures of the dead. 

The bloodshed in Falluja has also not helped Washington win over Iraq's
Sunni Muslim minority, long dominant under Saddam. Doctors say 600 died
in the siege, enraging many in the "Sunni Triangle" of towns north and
west of Baghdad. 

And U.S. efforts to maintain the goodwill of those Iraqis who did
welcome the overthrow of Saddam's Baathist state, such as the Shi'ite
majority to the south, have been hampered by the scandal over the abuse
of prisoners by military jailers. 

The Arab world was outraged by photographs published this week showing
U.S. troops abusing detainees in Saddam's once notorious Abu Ghraib

On Saturday, a London newspaper published images it said showed British
troops, who control the Shi'ite south around Basra, abusing an Iraqi
detainee. Britain's army chief ordered an inquiry. 

Bush said on Friday there had been tough fighting since he declared
major combat over on May 1, 2003, but that the war had been worth waging
to get rid of Saddam. 




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