So the battle in Fallujah is almost over. We all knew the Marines and Army would win this battle, as it was obvious that this was in no way similar to the siege in April. With close air support from the Navy and Air Force, the issue was never in any doubt.
The really important matter at hand is: how will the Iraqi security forces perform? It's hard to get good information about this, but there are hints in the Iraqi blogs. The message is very mixed, some very good and some very bad.
During the April battle in Fallujah, Iraqi and foreign Arab opinion was wildly pro-terrorist. The battle was portrayed as a revenge for the four guards who were murdered and hung from the bridge. It was made out as an American slaughter of innocents, a collective punishment, a war crime. (Let us be serious. If we really were targeting civilians deliberately, there would be no one left alive. Ask the people of Darfur what really happens when civilians are deliberately targeted.) This time, the Arab media seems confused about Fallujah. Maybe the terrorists wore out their welcome with their behavior? Not that the Arabs suddenly like us at all. They still hate us, but maybe they're lacking someone to cheer for?
Zeyad of Healing Iraq as usual has the most honest and objective report, in which things are like the war in March of last year. His post paints a picture of police and National Guard units hard pressed, but at least putting up a fight this time. But the thugs are still powerful enough to disrupt life completely: electricity is cut, water is cut, gasoline deliveries are nearly cut off. Even the black market is out of gas. Zeyad barely avoided being killed in a firefight. They can still bring the city to a halt and force everyone inside. So the good news is the security forces are actually fighting, but the bad news is they cannot control things. Why does this seem dire for the future in Fallujah? Because eventually the U.S. forces there will have to move on, and the Iraqis will have to control it themselves...
Alaa the Mesopotamian tells us about the Triangle of Death south of Baghdad, and how seriously those people are trying to cut off Baghdad from the Shi'ite south. He and Hammorabi Sam mention this area often, of Mahmoudiaya, Latifiya, Yousifiya, and Iskandariya. The IP are mostly helpless here--Alaa has several times said that the IP are unfairly handled, with not enough weapons and deployed in a traditional manner that makes them easy targets. The U.S. will probably have to strike this area like it did Fallujah, since it seems to be an independent rebel state in the same way, which makes it all the more worrisome--Uncle Sam can't be everywhere at once.
(Possibly interesting sidenote: Iskandar is Arab for "Alexander" as in The Great, so you see how old a city Iskandariaya must be.)
Nabil is at least honest about the opinions of Iraqis he knows. Some fervently against the attack on Fallujah, and some strongly in favor.
Since this blog has Cry Me A River as its grandfather, we have to look at Riverbend. As usual, Uncle Sam is a cold-blooded murderer. As usual, River speaks for all Iraqis. Our subject is the Iraqi security services, so here's her take:
How do people feel about the Iraqi troops? There's a certain rage. It's difficult to sympathize with a fellow-countryman while he's killing one of his own. People generally call them "Dogs of Occupation" here because instead of guarding our borders or securing areas, they are used to secure American forces. They drive out in front of American cars in order to clear the roads and possibly detonate some of those road mines at a decent distance from the American tanks. At the end of the day, most of them are the remnants of militias and that's the way they act.
Yup, all those guys standing in line, risking suicide bomb attacks, all to keep River from being some muji's fourth wife, they're 'dogs.'
Remember Gee in Baghdad? He's now the Iraqi jounalist with the big brass ones. Look at these articles he's written from inside Fallujah:
Of course the worst news was the near takeover of Mosul by a determined attack of Islamist thugs, probably Ansar al-Sunna, the thugs who threatened the Christian women of Mosul to wear the hijab or else. The Mosul police melted like butter.
Here's the news from Rose of Baghdad:
Mousle had been almost fallen in the hand of armed insurgents. there is NO presence for police or the national Guard, and not even the American army. My sister lives there. The police station near them has been taken and burned. She said that there are many fighters carrying RPG and other weapons in their street and no one could do anything. My sister in law lives in Mosul too. She said we see many armed fighters but no one there to stop them. there are battles from time to time but it seems that the fighters are handling the situation not the government.The house of Mosul governor was also burned. Some lootings happened in some places there too.My sister was terrified to death, she said the fighters are shooting some rockets near her house and she was afraid that the American will shoot them and her house and she did not know what to do.
Ibrahim Khalil lives in Mosul, and here's his post about the fighting. He also explains his opinion about the police:
The new government allowed many of Saddam's former systems to join in the police system and this became a very big problem in my opinion. I can not understand why they accepted some of those who were members in Fidaeen which were the most Saddam's honest to join in police. I know many of those who were in Fidaeen and then after the liberation they joined to the police system.
I know that now if the local government will chuck all those policemen who left their position in the last events, then most of them will join in the resistance. but I still think that it is better than to accept them in police system.
It seems that the police quit but the NG fought in Mosul--apparently because the NG up there are Kurds. When the Sunni Salafis attacked the local Kurdish party HQ, they got smacked but good, so we know that if the security forces had put up a real fight Mosul could have been adequately protected. Isn't it maybe time to give up on the Sunnis in Mosul? Perhaps the security up there should just be turned over to Kurdish units and be done with it?
Poor Aunt Najma is in great distress. She's mixed up and has conflicting feelings, plus I think some of the adults around her are filling her with ideas about 'resistance.' She's just a kid, but she's taking a lot of crap in her comments page from red-blooded chicken hawks. Unlike the Jarrars or Riverbend, she has the courage to open her comments, and actually read them. So she has mixed feelings, so what? She's under huge stress and is very young, so lay off her.
Her post is worth reading, because it shows how a civilian guerilla organization works to turn the population over to their side, by driving a wedge between the people and the MNF.
Why is it that all the Iraqi bloggers are in Baghdad or Mosul? Very occasionally we get reports from Basrah when one of the dentists has to pull duty down there. It would be nice to have a regular eyewitness in Basrah, or Kirkuk.
So the situation is unclear with the Iraqi security. For every story that shows them fighting and clearing mosques and houses, there is another story of failure, desertion, or collaboration. We'll never get out of Iraq until they can fight on their own. But will they? A Vietnam veteran in my local club has said to me in the past, with a sad twisted smile, "You just can't fight for people who won't fight for themselves."
(Note: please notice that there are three contributors to this blog. Louise and Torchbearer might not agree with everything I write, and vice versa.)