Iraq: November 14, 2004

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The major fighting in Fallujah is over, with about 30 American and Iraqi troops, and over 1,000 anti-government gunmen, dead. There are still several hundred gunmen hiding in different parts of the city, trying to get out. But the night vision devices, and large number of American sensors out in the desert surrounding Fallujah, make it very difficult to sneak away. The Arab media are already looking for editorial angles they can use to turn Fallujah into an Arab victory. Despite the fact that phone and cell phone access to the city was cut off when the fighting began, some Arab media are claiming "massive civilian casualties" and a "catastrophe" inside the city. Most Iraqis wanted Fallujah destroyed, seeing the Sunni Arab city as a source of support for over three decades Baath Party tyranny. Fallujah has always been a very religious city, providing support for al Qaeda and the idea of religious war with the rest of the world. This is also unpopular with most Iraqis. But most nations in the region are run by Sunni Arabs, and their media will portray Fallujah as a "martyr" to Sunni Arab ideals (which include persecution of Shias and Kurds, who comprise 80 percent of the Iraqi population.)

Months of intelligence work had concluded that there were some 3,000 armed, hard core fighters in Fallujah. Only about half of those have been killed or wounded. The rest either got away before the battle began, or are among the few hundred gunmen still playing hide and seek with American troops inside the city. Many of the rest went to other cities and attacked local police stations, and set up roadblocks. This has caused a momentary loss of control in some neighborhoods. But these hard core fighters are, like their buddies in Fallujah, going to die out in the open. The death of so many gunmen in such a short time makes it difficult to recruit more of these guys. This has been seen happening before. As a result, the battle of Fallujah is about more than just one city.

 

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