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Old 04-24-2004, 03:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Is an attack in Fallujah what Al Sadr wants?

I've been reading a lot of stories about how the US is about to possibly roll into a firefight in Fallujah.

Here's one:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/25/in...rint&position=

and an excerpt:
Quote:
Facing one of the grimmest choices of the Iraq war, President Bush and his senior national security and military advisers are expected to decide this weekend whether to order an invasion of Falluja, even if a battle there runs the risk of uprisings in the city and perhaps elsewhere around Iraq.

After declaring on Friday evening in Florida that "America will never be run out of Iraq by a bunch of thugs and killers," Mr. Bush flew to Camp David for the weekend, where administration officials said he planned consultations in a videoconference with the military commanders who are keeping the city under siege.
It seems to me that the USA might be doing exactly what Al Sadr wants. Here's the situation:

- Al Sadr wants support against his more conservative leaders
- Fallujah is one of the most holy sites in Iraq, invading it is sure to set off a storm of outrage in the arab world if there is a lot of collateral damage
- Al Sadr's men are hiding in mosques and in plainclothes, so collateral damage to civilians and mosques seems inevitable
- Al Sadr himself has an office directly across from the Imam Ali shrine, the most holy site in Fallujah. If the shrine itself was damaged it would be some seriously bad PR.

Here's a site I found googling around that talks about the importance of the shrine:
http://www.victorynewsmagazine.com/H...mAliANajaf.htm

So, the question is: does Al Sadr know exactly what he is doing and is he baiting the USA into a PR nightmare?
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Old 04-24-2004, 05:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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No Al Sadr is not a mastermind.

He knows his power lies in the Shi'it majority. He knows this is his one chance to grab hold of power in the new Iraq.

He's gunning for the US to push elections quickly without building checks and balances. He knows Shi'it outnumber the Sunni and Kurdish both, so pure democracy is what a Shi'it cleric wants. Him flexing his muscles would give him popular support after the showdown (if he survives).

Falluja will be captured, he will be imprisoned or killed. Many Iraqis will be pissed, but most will go on living.

How many lives it will cost is anyones guess.
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Old 04-24-2004, 06:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I think you might be confusing Fallujah, the Sunni stronghold, with Najaf, where Moqtada and his Shia rebels are holed-up. Assuming that is what you meant, I agree with you. This is a very dangerous time.
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Old 04-24-2004, 08:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sparhawk
I think you might be confusing Fallujah, the Sunni stronghold, with Najaf, where Moqtada and his Shia rebels are holed-up. Assuming that is what you meant, I agree with you. This is a very dangerous time.
Oh yeah, I mixed up Najaf and Fallujah in my googling. Fallujah is also a holy city and is home to some important shrines as well, but Najaf is where Al Sadr is holed up, and it's currently surrounded too.

Thanks for spotting the mix up.
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Old 04-25-2004, 01:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Is an attack in Fallujah what Al Sadr wants?

Quote:
Originally posted by HarmlessRabbit
So, the question is: does Al Sadr know exactly what he is doing and is he baiting the USA into a PR nightmare?
I dont know if Sadr is that smart, but his strategy isn't bad. Also if his men keep up the fight (unlike saddams troops as the US reached Baghdad) as soon as the US moves in, it becomes a urban warfare which could result in "high" (higher then usual) american losses which is bad for the "homefront"

All in all it is not an easy situation for the USA.
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Old 04-26-2004, 05:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Latest news is the attack on Fallujah has been relegated to "absolute last resort".
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Old 04-27-2004, 05:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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If the enemy hides in a mosque, you destroy the mosque. I just can't fathom how you could blame the Americans for the destruction of the mosque, when, if the enemy hadn't tried to use it as a shield, it wouldn't have been touched. Same goes for the innocent(?) civilians that get killed.

I heard someone say this, and it really struck me as profound:

In times of danger, I don't stand behind my children, I stand in front of them.
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Old 04-28-2004, 05:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by onetime2
Latest news is the attack on Fallujah has been relegated to "absolute last resort".
Did you mean by the US? Because they're fighting there now.
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Old 04-29-2004, 05:15 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kadath
Did you mean by the US? Because they're fighting there now.
The news story of a couple of days ago was that they would not use force and the diplomatic route was the preferred method to resolve the standoff. Obviously that changed when US forces were attacked on several occassions.
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Old 04-30-2004, 04:46 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Latest Update on Fallujah, not Najaf:

Quote:
FALLUJAH, Iraq, April 30 -- U.S. Marines began pulling back Friday from this violence-wracked city in preparation for handing over responsibility for pursuing insurgents to a new militia headed by former Iraqi army officers under a deal brokered by the top Marine general in Iraq.

Broadcast TV footage Friday morning showed some Marines packing up supplies, bulldozing barricades and rolling up barbed wire while a former Iraqi officer, clad in his old uniform, was being greeted by cheering crowds waving the Iraqi flag in the town.

The Associated Press quoted witnesses as saying that one of three battalions of U.S. Marines had mostly departed its positions in an industrial zone in the southern portion of the city.

The Reuters news service quoted a former officer of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard saying he was forming a military unit to stabilize Fallujah in agreement with besieging U.S. forces.

Jasim Mohamed Saleh, told Reuters "we have now begun forming a new emergency military force to help the forces of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi police in completing the mission of imposing security and stability in Fallujah without the need for the American army, which the people of Fallujah reject," Saleh said.

No official word was coming from the U.S. military, however, and the extent and exact nature of the Marine activity Friday remained uncertain.

Meanwhile, a CNN reporter in Najaf, which has been surrounded by U.S. forces since militiamen loyal to cleric Moqtada Sadr took refuge there, reported that discussions were underway in that southern city for an agreement similar to the one in Fallujah.

The surprise agreement in Fallujah, which was authorized by Marine Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, is intended to give more responsibility to Iraqis for subduing the city while attempting defuse tensions by pulling Marines back from front-line positions. But some U.S. military and civilian officials privately expressed concern that Conway's strategy involves too hasty a retreat and relies too heavily on Iraqis whose combat skills and allegiances have not been fully examined.

After word of the agreement made its way though Fallujah Thursday, insurgents resumed firing on Marines, some of whom were preparing to depart. The exchange of fire prompted commanders to summon airstrikes, and Navy fighter jets dropped at least three 500-pound bombs on the city.

It is not clear whether Conway conveyed the terms of the deal to his superiors in Baghdad and at the Pentagon, or even to leaders of the U.S. occupation authority. One person familiar with the deal said it took senior U.S. military and civilian officials in Baghdad by surprise. Because of the apparent lack of consultation, some officials said elements of the agreement, particularly the speedy troop withdrawal, may be tempered by the Pentagon or by the U.S. Central Command, which is in charge of operations in Iraq.

The Pentagon's chief spokesman, Larry DiRita, said Thursday that Marine commanders have considerable authority to negotiate deals within certain "broad objectives," including bringing to justice those Iraqis responsible for the killing and mutilation in Fallujah of four civilian U.S. security contractors on March 31. In general, DiRita said, the objectives involve ensuring that Fallujah is not "left in the hands of the former regime elements and whoever else" is in league with them.

"There is some uncertainty as to what exactly General Conway and the other commanders are working through," DiRita said. "But the commanders have an enormous amount of discretion, working closely with the political folks in Fallujah, to determine the arrangements they think they can establish in order to meet the broad objectives."

Conway's agreement is the latest and boldest attempt to pacify Fallujah, which has become a bastion of armed resistance to the American occupation of Iraq. U.S. officials estimate that there are anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand insurgents in the city.

Under the deal, Marine battalions stationed in and around Fallujah will begin pulling away from the city over the next several days. In addition to giving up front-line positions inside Fallujah -- some of which were gained only after Marines suffered significant casualties during fighting this month -- the Marines also will lift their cordon around the city of 200,000.

Ahmed Hardan, a physician who led a group of Fallujah residents in earlier negotiations with U.S. forces, said on the al-Arabiya satellite channel that the latest deal calls for U.S. troops to move out of the city's southern neighborhoods by early Saturday and to leave the northern part of Fallujah beginning Sunday.

The Marines will be replaced by a new militia called the Fallujah Protection Army, which will consist of 900 to 1,100 Iraqis who served in the military or other security services under former president Saddam Hussein, Marine officers said. The militia will be commanded by a group of former Iraqi generals, the officers said.

"They will bring in former Iraqi soldiers who are committed to fighting and maintaining the peace in Fallujah," Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, a battalion commander who was briefed on the deal, said on Thursday.

"They'll pick up from us," Byrne said. "The plan is that eventually the whole of Fallujah will be under the control of the Fallujah Protection Army. The goal is that anyone should be able to come into the city without being attacked."

The Fallujah Protection Army will be subordinate to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and report directly to Conway, Byrne said.

Byrne and other Marine officers did not reveal the full name of the Iraqi force's overall commander or the individuals who agreed to the deal with Conway. Marine officers met with representatives of the new force on Thursday at a municipal building on Fallujah's outskirts.

"We are doing this because we love our country and we want these thugs out of our country," said Mohammed Faur, a former colonel in the Iraqi Intelligence Service who is serving as a liaison between the militia and the Marines.

Faur said most members of the new force would be from Fallujah. "It's about time for them to take responsibility," he said. "It's an Iraqi problem. The Iraqis are getting angrier. People are upset that Syrians and foreigners are causing trouble here."

Some American officials familiar with efforts to pacify Fallujah said they were concerned about the background of the participants and questioned whether they would be screened for past human rights abuses and other crimes. Marine officers said they did not know the details of how the force would be assembled. One American with knowledge of the plan said procedures for vetting participants had not been detailed by Conway.

A Marine officer familiar with the arrangement acknowledged that some former insurgents may be part of the force, creating the potential situation of U.S. troops having to work with people who have very recently been shooting at them.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq, announced last week that elements of the Iraqi army, which was hastily dissolved after U.S.-led forces took control of the country, would be rehabilitated and returned to service. That decision, combined with the fresh approach in Fallujah, could help regain some support from Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which ran the country under Hussein. U.S. officials consider Sunni support crucial to the successful handover of sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30.

The deal also could exploit any divisions among Sunni insurgents in the city, which appear to be growing, according to Marine officers.

While U.S. officials weighed how to tame Fallujah and the Shiite holy city of Najaf, insurgents maintained the tempo of their attacks on U.S. troops outside those areas. The violence came as an influential Shiite cleric in the city of Karbala called on the United States to hand over full sovereignty to Iraqis on June 30, not the limited version that has been discussed in recent weeks.

"We have recently seen the occupation authority's policy going in curves, without purpose or direction," Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mudaressi, a scholar who has cast himself as an Islamic reformer, said at a news conference. "We must tell the coalition authority that force cannot fix things, that we need more wisdom, understanding and dialogue to avert escalating violence."

Despite a drumbeat of attacks across the country, eliminating resistance activity in Fallujah has emerged as a top priority for U.S. commanders and civilian officials. Marines entered the city in force on April 5, five days after the American security contractors were killed.
I don't have an opinion about it formed quite yet, but tentatively, I think handing security over to Saddam's former officers isn't the best of ideas.
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Old 04-30-2004, 09:07 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sparhawk
Latest Update on Fallujah, not Najaf:

I don't have an opinion about it formed quite yet, but tentatively, I think handing security over to Saddam's former officers isn't the best of ideas.
I agree. I guess from another story I read the leader is a Fallujah native who was a high-ranking General in Saddam's army? So we're re-arming Saddam's former generals and soldiers? This doesn't seem like a good idea.

On the other hand, the USA marching into the city and waging a months-long urban war doesn't seem like a good idea either. At least we're working with the Iraqi people now on some sort of joint solution, not charging in with guns drawn.

I think the US is realizing that banning all the old Baathist party members from working just created a well-armed, pissed-off group of people that had nothing better to do than cause trouble, since they couldn't work. Perhaps giving the former military jobs guarding their own tribe will help.
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