Iraq: October 17, 2004


 Negotiations with the tribal and religious leaders of Fallujah have broken down. Apparently the Sunni Arab leaders in Fallujah refused to turn over terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Many of the Fallujah leaders dislike al Zarqawi and his followers, but they also fear them. Al Zarqawi's followers are mostly foreigners, and they consider themselves "holy warriors." Most of the suicide bombers come from the al Zarqawi crew, and the Fallujah leadership don't want to lose a lot of their people fighting suicidal foreigners. Moreover, many of the religious leaders in Fallujah, which has always been a center of Sunni Arab Islamic conservatism, admire or agree with al Zarqawi and his followers. The breakdown in negotiations led to an increase in American bombings overnight and, this morning, the advance of American and Iraqi troops into the outskirts of Fallujah. This sort of advance has been seen before in the last two weeks, but each time it was done to trick armed groups in Fallujah to react as if it were a major attack. This allows American intelligence troops to closely observe how the enemy would respond to a major attack. But it is thought that today's advance may be the real thing.


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