Unilateral “Negotiations” and Collective Punishment in Falluja

This is an interesting proposition in light of how this all began. First the U.S. invaded Iraq. Just afterwards, in April 2003, American soldiers gunned down several people in Falluja during a demonstration against the military occupation of a school there.

Then, utilizing their usual heavy-handed tactics, the military responded with collective punishment: mass home raids, detentions, power and electricity cuts, and military patrols through the city on a daily basis.

In the beginning of April, some residents of Fallujah killed four Blackwater Security mercenaries in their flashy white SUV while the professional militants were guarding a food shipment through the city. Since then, the U.S. military has traded scores of its soldiers? lives (and over 800 Iraqis) in an attempt to seek revenge for the desecrated bodies of the security contractors, which were brutally dragged through the streets, the scorched remnants then hung from the bridge over the Euphrates River.

However, as an Iraqi friend with relatives in Falluja recently told me, ?The people of Falluja started preparing for this immediately after the Americans shot the demonstrators there last year. They have enough weapons to fight for a year straight if they need to.?

And the fighting continues, despite the U.S. military rhetoric of supposed ?ceasefires.?

This mindset is also reflected by the adults fighting in Falluja. One of the several mujahedeen I spoke with in the middle of the city stated, ?The Americans will not take Falluja until they have killed every Iraqi in it!?

The veil of democracy and freedom has been stripped from the face of the U.S. occupation, particularly in Falluja, where the brutality takes the form of American snipers shooting grandmothers waving white flags.

He wearily said, ?For 47 years I had accepted the illusion of Europe and the U.S. being good for the world. The carriers of democracy and freedom. Now I see that it took me 47 years to wake up to the horrible truth. They are not here to bring anything like democracy or freedom.

So today the U.S. demands that the fighters of Falluja surrender their heavy weapons — to essentially disarm themselves and allow the occupiers full control of their city. To be ?pacified.? A people who were shot by soldiers for demonstrating when U.S. soldiers occupied one of their schools are being asked to surrender their ability to protect themselves from their aggressors.

No one among the occupiers seems to have considered the obvious alternative to siege, instigation and aggression: maybe the U.S. military, as part of the negotiations, should leave the residents of Falluja alone. Why shouldn?t the U.S. lay down their own ?heavy weapons?? Or cease the home raids, detentions of innocents, military patrols of neighborhood streets. Or cease allowing mercenaries to drive through the city? Or maybe U.S. soldiers should offer themselves up to be searched by the mujahedeen before entering Falluja, as the residents of Falluja are now searched, complete with being forced to show identification?

Dahr Jamail is Iraq correspondent for The NewStandard (http://newstandardnews.net/). He reported from Falluja during the peak of fighting there earlier in April, and regularly conducts interviews with Fallujans who have sought refuge in Baghdad or are still in Falluja and have access to scarce telecom equipment. Dahr’s weblog is also hosted by TNS:http://blog.newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches

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