Silvio Siefke

Fallujah under siege again

Who followed the terrible attacks of the U.S. troops on Fallujah 2004, could hardly imagine, that worse could be in store of the town on the Euphrates. But the former"city of mosques" is bombarded and besieged by government troops since a successful popular uprising in January 2014 and it was in the summer of 2014 also under the rule of the Daesch. Since February, all supply routes to the city are interrupted. The last reserves are exhausted, starving thousands inhabitants. The attack on the city is now imminent. It threatens, as previously Tikrit and Ramadi, the widespread destruction and the remaining population revenge actions of Shiite militias.

This is the so far toughest situation so to Hussein, a citizen of the city, which has experienced with all attacks on the city since 2003 on March 30 against Al Jazeera, “the people stuck in the city and there is no safe route to escape.” The Daesch control the town of Interior, the Government troops and militias from the outside. “No one should leave.” You have lost any sympathy with the people of Fallujah and leave thema slow death. “The kids in town cry from hunger. What do we tell them?”

The Arabic “Guernica”

Fallujah is probably the Iraqi city, which was most affected by war and occupation suffered. Seventy percent of the buildings were devastated in the second major attack of the U.S. troops in November 2004. The city became the “Guernica of the Arab world”. According to the inventory, which by the Government “Compensation Commission established for the citizens of Fallujah”, the attacker 36,000 homes, 8400 shops, 60 schools and 65 mosques, and two power plants, three wastewater plants and the entire water - and the city’s telephone system destroyed. The army began outlawed phosphorus bombs in heavily depleted uranium munition and chemical weapons like that. The ‘study centre for human rights and democracy in Fallujah" (SCHRD) estimates the number of victims at 4,000 to 6,000. The city became the “Guernica of the Arab world”.

Successful uprising and “Daesch”

Since January, 2014, the city is once again under attack. To the extent of the wide civil protest movement of the Sunni population against their systematic exclusion and oppression by that of the United States created regime under Nuri al-Maliki 2013 was bloodily suppressed in the course of the year, the protests in Sunni provinces were passed in many places in an armed insurrection. When in December 2013 Government troops stormed a large protest camp in the Centre factions once again caused a bloodbath among peaceful demonstrators, was the population of the city at the barricades and drove out of town the army and national police. A “military Council” of tribal leaders, former army officers, religious and other leading personalities took control. Units of the “Daesch in the Iraq and the Levant”, who sought to take advantage of the situation, were banished to the outskirts of the city. In the following months, the jihadists were how the Middle East team of the transatlantic think tank international crisis Group (ICG) and the New York organization human end Rights Watch (HRW) April or Late May reported, operate only from the edge of the city.Nevertheless, the media wrote, Fallujah was in the hand of islamist, and Baghdad gained international support for military action against the alleged “terrorist stronghold”.

The Iraqi regime under Nuri al refused any negotiations with the representatives of the city Maliki, lived in at that time more than 300,000 people, and she was under attack. The United States provided weapons for this and also the United Nations Mission in the Iraq turned behind Maliki, without speaking once with representatives of the city. She endorsed the attacks on Fallujah, although had been in the first four weeks, at least 109 civilians killed by artillery fire and wounded 632 people.

Citizens of factions had nothing for the β€œIS” left, so the ICG in its report about the events, but the continuous attacks increased the hatred of Central Government and army week, while the jihadists helped to repel their attacks time and again. This in turn could the Government using to justify further attacks - a vicious circle, the ICG came from which the city subsequently more out. With the strengthening of Daesch and increase his control over large parts of Western Iraq he was the dominant force in Fallujah.

Reports of clashes between the jihadists and other combatants show that he is not unchallenged. But the enemies at the gates of the city, also the differences may be how strong, be considered worse by the majority of the inhabitants as essential.

Fallujah is starving

After the conquest of Ramadis in December 2015, Government forces and Shiite militias joined the last supply routes in the city with support of the U.S. Army. Quickly went to the remaining stocks of food, medicines and other essential goods to end. At the same time, leaves no one Daesch reportedly more out of town and block possible escape routes according to the UNHCR also the besiegers. Furthermore, as many people are still in it, the data diverge. “Up to 50,000 inhabitants faced starvation and death”, Grande, said Lise Chief of the UN Mission for the Iraq in its alarm message in early April with. The World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations proceeds remaining residents from 30,000 to 60,000, an Iraqi Brigadier said Al Jazeera from 80,000 to 100,000 100,000.

All are agreed that the humanitarian situation has deteriorated dramatically in the last three months, and the city is facing a disaster. HRW had the name received in early April of 140 people, mainly old people and children who have died already due to the lack of food and medicine – this may be only the tip of the iceberg. In the report of the WFP to the position in March means it that shops and markets could get no supplies of food more since January, no wheat, no rice, no vegetables,no lenses. There is no cooking gas and only a few hours a day power. The few foods which still exist, would be sold at exorbitant prices. For one kilogram of flour, which costs 30 cents in Baghdad, you must put $15. Many are forced to eat soup made from grass, so HRW. Arabic media reports that people in their need would eat grass and leaves from trees.

Children who eat leaves and horrendous studies, this was earlier this year of also the lead story in many reports about the dramatic situation in the “Syrian hungry city Madaja”. Unlike Fallujah wide sympathy in the West was sure her because she was been circled by the Syrian army, so the common enemy. The situation there was relax rapidly. Relief supplies could be returned after international mediation between the anti-government militias that controlled the city and the army after a few days after Madaja. There is no help for Fallujah.

While watching the world, are ordinary people with acute malnutrition and faced hunger, so the living in London, Iraqi Turkmen writer Nazli Tarzi. While it should but no matter, when it comes to aid for needy people, that they live in a city conquered by the Daesh. By means of an online campaign under the title “Fallujah is being killed by starvation. Iraqi journalist Mohammad Arab attempts to move the international community, to promote the lifting of the siege. An appropriate appeal comes from the EU. Struan Stevenson, President of the "European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA)” calls on behalf of his organization, to immediately end the “inhuman blockade” of the city. Stevenson served as President of the “delegation of the European Parliament for relations with the Iraq” from 1999 to 2014, a member of the Scottish conservatives in the European Parliament, and from 2009 to 2014.

HRW also calls promptly to lift the siege on the city and generally a greater international attention to the situation in the besieged cities of the region. Martial law forbid not the siege of enemy troops, so HRW, but it prohibits the starvation of the civilian population. This was a war crime. All appeals so far remained without response.

Death in the air

The lives of people in Fallujah by the sustained over two years nationwide bombardment by government troops is acute as the hunger and militia threatened that goes down to a large extent on civilian targets. So, the children’s Hospital of the town of aircraft bombs was taken, for example, on the 3rd March 2015 an elementary school and the hospital in the Jamhouriya neighborhood, three days later the Garma hospital and on the 13 August 2015. The U.S. air force is involved in the attacks on positions in the city and its surroundings and is the book on the international air war against the Airwars project, Daesch and other militias in Syria and Iraq leads, documented on his side, responsible for many civilian deaths.

Death by Daesh, and by air attacks threaten the citizens if they flee, if they remain, na Tarzi summed up their hopelessness. Medic from Fallujah told HRW that between January 2014 and March 2016 total 3.455 combatants and civilians through air and artillery attacks were killed and wounded 5.769 - around a quarter of them women and children. According to the Chief of the Central Hospital of Fallujah by the July 2015, 8.488 dead or severely wounded civilians were been registered already by then had become victims of “Military attacks and arbitrary bombardment”. The actual number is also here probably around several times about it.

Beyond Daesch - massacre, pillage and displacement by devoted militia

While the Iraqi army in other cities who temporarily almost completely by the Daesch occupied province of Anbar, managed to win the support of some Sunni tribes inthe fight against the jihadists, all local tribes in Fallujah refuse any contact. The same is true also for armed organizations, such as the “brigades of the 1920 revolution” or the “Mujahideen Army”, the is date of submission under or resisted cooperation with Daesch. They continue to see the larger enemy within the regime dominated by Shiite parties in Baghdad.

From 2013 they performed during the crackdown on the protest movement in the majority Sunni areas more in appearance, by going out on their own against Sunni opposition. When Daesch pushed in the summer of 2014, in the direction of Baghdad,they also expanded their attacks against strongholds of the Sunni opposition.

After the call to the spiritual leader of the Shiites, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to defend the country against the extremist militia, many new Shia militias emerged under the umbrella of the so-called “popular mobilization units” (Arabic “Hashd al-Shaabi”).The most the old famous, infamous because of its atrocities during the civil war organizations benefited from the following mobilization with their close links to the Iran: the Badr Brigades, the “League of the righteous” and Iraqi Hezbollah. By a huge supply of modern weapons and military support from the Iran, they were soon more powerful than the army.

You the most contributed to stop the advance of the ISIL and to retaliate in many places. Their victories were however accompanied by reprisals against the remaining population. The reports by human rights groups and UN agencies about massacres and the systematic destruction of Sunni villages in reconquered territories it piled up quickly.

Revenge campaigns and expulsions

After Government troops, Shiite militias and Kurdish nestled end of August 2014 with the help of air strikes of the U.S. air force Daesch breaking three-month siege of the Shiite Turkmen town Amarli the jihadists against the West could push back, the Shia militias, as well as some army units began to invade Sunni towns around the 150 kilometers north of Baghdad. Through many of them was Daesch on his rise pulled through. Large parts of the inhabitants had fled before him, the remaining remained but until then largely unmolested. Now were many as alleged sympathizers killed or abducted, most of the houses looted and burned.

By HRW evaluated satellite image show that 30 of the 35 villages in an area of 500sq km of the province of Salah were largely destroyed ad-Din. Displaced residents and witnesses, including Kurdish nestled commanders who were involved in the military operation, report \u2012 by at least 47 predominantly Sunni towns, ravaged methodically driven so HRW, “of revenge and an attempt” to change the demographic composition of the traditional mixed province.

Destroyed Towns

Also in the similarly ethnically and religiously mixed Diyala province, was expelled from the Daesch again largely many areas which are affected, the man who believes that by Raad al-Dahlaki, a Sunni member of Parliament who heads the Committee on immigration and expulsion, must refer to as “ethnic cleansing”. The Government do nothing to to stop driving Shiite and Kurdish militias, who do everything to prevent to return to their homes because the fleeing.

Dozens of prominent local figures and sheikhs were already killed in these areas by the militias and the destruction of numerous Sunni mosques urged the United Nations to a formal condemnation. On a tour through shortly before by the Daesch recaptured areas, the Washington Post reporter saw villages where every house was been burned. In the village of Barwana, the bodies were found by 70 Sunni men, that after the withdrawal from Daesch had been executed. They were civilians who had sought refuge in Barwana before the fighting.

The leaders of the militias make little secret of their goals. So threatened Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the Badr Brigades and Transport Minister under the previous Government, on 29 December 2015 the residents of the town of Muqdadiyah and its surroundings, which is “Day of reckoning” come. “We will attack the area.”

The Sunni tribes and organizations who want to win the Iraqi Government, as well US commanders on the ground, for an Alliance against Daesch have be also their conclusions from what happened in Tikrit a year ago. The capital occupied in June 2014 of the jihadists, the province of Salah ad-Din had been conquered back in a major offensive in the American Camp aircraft had intervened at the end in the course of the March 2015. While about two-thirds of the ground troops were Shiite militias. They began here directly after deduction of the last units of the Daesch with comprehensive reprisals against the population that flat rate militia look at them as supporters of the jihadists. You carried out mass executions, looted and sacked. “Tikrit is inthe chaos, the location is ad-Din out of control so Ahmed Al Krayam, the Chairman of the provincial Council of Salah, told reporters.” Police and authorities can stop the militias.“ According to research by HRW, while 950 residences and 95 shops "deliberately and without apparent military reason” in the air have been chased or burned. The more than 200 deportees its citizens who registered the Organization, including children, since each track is missing.

In the following months, the situation did not improve. Tikrit is a badly damaged ghost town since then. A return was previously too dangerous most of the 200,000 residents who fled from Basilis5 or the fighting. In addition to the militia also criminal gangs pull freely through the streets and the remains of administration and police are not able to ensure order. Water and power supply hardly more there is no sign of reconstruction.

If so a victory looks…

The reconquest of Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar with three hundred to four hundred thousand inhabitants will have also encouraged not Sunni tribal leaders, politicians or insurgents or politicians, to ally themselves with the government forces. When supported by the US Air Force with 600 attacks major offensive around 80 percent of the city were destroyed. When a reporter to the NYT in the face of huge piles of rubble which could no longer be seen, where once stood the building, the accompanying him Iraqi General asked, in which apartments for residents who fled could return, he answered apartments? There is no more homes. Sabah Karhout, the chairman of the provincial council of Anbar estimates that for the reconstruction of the town 12 billion dollars be necessary. Ramadi is now a ghost town, with no international aid will not be rebuilt.

According to estimates, Iraqi authorities were in the provinces affected by the war against Daesch probably 80 percent of infrastructure - roads and bridges over power supply, drinking water and sewage systems to medical care - damaged or destroyed.

If the US defense talks in connection with the plans for the expulsion of Daesch from Mosul, a city of 1.5 million people, Raqqa with 200,000 inhabitants, Fallujah and many other cities of destruction operations, so get this concept in view of the results of previous offensives an dangerous significance, so Tom Engelhard in his article “When Ramadi is as a victory against ISIS looks, then we are in trouble.” Would they still undoubtedly the literal destruction of the urban infrastructure of significant parts of the region bring.

The besiegers of Fallujah have begun on 23 May the circle around the city draw even closer. More than 20,000 soldiers, special forces and Shiite militiamen, supported by Iranian advisers, are now directly outside the gates. US consultants who control the air attacks are embedded in the Iraqi elite troops. With the help of the U.S. air attacks, they can probably occupy Fallujah, so the Kurdish Governor of Kirkuk, Najmaldin Karim, opposite the British independent. The city will be destroyed however. While the highest Shiite authority in the country, great Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged the attacker on May 25, to take account of the civilian population, Shiite militia leader called all open, Sunni residents, supporters of the be Daesch to take revenge and to take advantage of the opportunity, the “cancer of Fallujah to eradicate”. At the same time destroy the ever more intensive bombing of the US-led “IS Alliance” on Mosul increasingly its civilian infrastructure and called for hundreds of victims among the civilian population. The propaganda Department of the Daesch this “help” picks up grateful.

The approach supported by the Federal Government Baghdad, Washington and Tehran against the terrorist militia will not hunt them, but further exacerbate the conflict of the Sunni population of the Shiite forces dominating the country.

While in the Iraqi capital a strong opposition movement against the regime developed under U.S. occupation, not least directed against its sectarian orientation and the Division of the country along ethnic and sectarian lines, the West involved continued on a war that is aimed not only against the “Islamic State”, but against large parts of the Sunni population. The international “anti-IS Alliance” tries a separation in the fight against the Daesch as little as Baghdad a clear separation between the jihadists and Sunni insurgent forces, as was required by the international crisis group, from the very beginning by experts, such as the Middle East team.

Despite individual successes against Daesch, this can only - like its predecessor between 2006 and 2008 - are completely eliminated with the support of a majority of Sunnis. Who wants to conquer in fact, therefore, must ensure that the legitimate political concerns of Sunnis met and whose interests are adequately represented in Baghdad. He needs to stand up for the formation of a government that actually represents all relevant powers granted to the provinces more autonomy and ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources.