US military 'loses control' of key
Iraqi province By Dahr Jamail
and Ali al-Fadhily
RAMADI, Iraq - The US
military has lost control over volatile al-Anbar
province, Iraqi police and residents say. The area
to the west of Baghdad includes Fallujah, Ramadi
and other towns that have seen the worst of
military occupation, and the strongest resistance.
Despite massive military operations that
destroyed most of Fallujah and much of cities such
as Haditha, al-Qa'im and Ramadi, real control of
the city now seems to be in the hands of
In losing control of
this province, the United States will have lost
control over much of Iraq. "We are talking about
nearly a third of the area of Iraq," said Ahmed
Salman, a historian from Fallujah. "Al-Anbar
borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the
resistance there will never stop as long as there
are American soldiers on the ground."
Salman said the US military is working
against itself. "Their actions ruin their goal
because they use these huge, violent military
operations which kill so many civilians, and make
it impossible to calm down the people of
The resistance appears to be in
control of the province now. "No government
official can do anything without contacting the
resistance first," said a government official in
Ramadi. "Even the governor used to [get] their
approval for everything. When he stopped doing so,
they issued a death sentence against him, and now
he cannot move without American protection."
Recent weeks have brought countless
attacks on US troops in Haditha, Ramadi and
Fallujah and on the Baghdad-Amman highway. Several
armored vehicles have been destroyed and dozens of
US soldiers killed in al-Anbar province, according
to Iraqi witnesses and the US Department of
Long stretches of the
550-kilometer Baghdad-Amman highway, which crosses
al-Anbar, are now controlled by resistance groups.
Other parts are targeted by highway looters.
"If we import any supplies for the US Army
or Iraqi government, the fighters will take it
from us and sell it in the local market," said
trader Hayder al-Mussawi. "And if we import for
the local market, the robbers will take it."
Witnesses in Ramadi say many of the
attacks are taking place within their city. They
say the US military recently asked citizens in
al-Anbar to stop targeting them, and promised to
withdraw to its bases in Haditha and Habaniyah
(near Fallujah) soon, leaving the cities for Iraqi
security forces to patrol.
"I do not think
that is possible," said retired Iraqi police
Brigadier-General Kahtan al-Dulaimi. "I believe no
local unit could stand the severe resistance of
al-Anbar, and it will be the last province to be
handed over to Iraqi security forces."
According to the group Iraq Coalition
Casualty Count, 964 coalition soldiers have been
killed in al-Anbar, more than in any other Iraqi
province.. Baghdad is second, with 665 coalition
Residents of Ramadi said the US
military has knocked down several buildings near
the government center in the city, the capital of
In an apparent move to
secure their offices, US Army and Marine Corps
engineers have started to level a 500-meter
stretch of lowrise buildings opposite the center.
Abandoned buildings in this area have been used
repeatedly to launch attacks on the government
"They are trying to create a
separation area between the offices of the puppet
government and the buildings the resistance are
using to attack them," a Ramadi resident said.
"But now the Americans are making us all angry
because they are destroying our city."
troops have acknowledged their own difficulties in
doing this. "We're used to taking down walls,
doors and windows, but eight city blocks is
something new to us," marine First Lieutenant Ben
Klay, 24, said in the US Department of Defense
newspaper Stars and Stripes.
Fallujah, residents are reporting daily clashes
between Iraqi-US security forces and the
"The local police force, which
used to be out of the conflict, is now being
attacked," said resident Abu Mohammed. "Hundreds
of local policemen have quit the force after
seeing that they are considered a legitimate
target by fighters."
The US forces seem to
have no clear policy in the face of the sustained
"The US Army seems so confused
in handling the security situation in Anbar," said
historian Salman. "Attacks are conducted from
al-Qa'im on the Syrian border to Abu Ghraib west
of Baghdad, all the way through Haditha, Hit,
Ramadi and Fallujah, on a daily basis."
added: "A contributing factor to the instability
of the province is the endless misery of the
civilians, who live with no services, no
infrastructure, random shootings and so many
According to the new
Pentagon quarterly report "Measuring Security and
Stability in Iraq", Iraqi casualties rose 51% in
recent months. The report says the Sunni-based
insurgency is "potent and viable".
report says that in a period since the
establishment of the new Iraqi government, between
May 20 and August 11 this year, the average number
of weekly attacks rose to nearly 800, almost
double the number of attacks in early 2004.
Casualties among Iraqi civilians and
security forces averaged nearly 120 a day during
the period, up from 80 a day noted in the previous
quarterly report. Two years ago they were
averaging roughly 30 a day.
the Pentagon announced that it was increasing the
number of US troops in Iraq to 140,000, which is
13,000 more than the number five weeks ago.
At least 65 US soldiers were killed in
August, with 36 of the deaths reported in
al-Anbar. That brought the total number killed to
at least 2,642.