Ten years ago during the Iraq War, Fallujah residents endured the bloodiest U.S. military assault since the Vietnam War. Massive ground and air bombing, including depleted uranium and white phosphorus, turned the city into a slaughterhouse; its toxicity led some to compare it to Hiroshima. The justification for such carnage on a city heroically opposed to the U.S. military occupation? To free it from the “control of terrorists.”
At the end of 2012, protesters in Fallujah launched an Occupy-style nonviolent movement with tent encampments. Those taking part were mainly Sunnis, but Shiites were involved as well. They demanded that the government stop excluding Sunnis from Iraqi politics and promoting a segregated state divided by religious sects. They also called for the end of Prime Minister Maliki’s dictatorial regime and for fair elections. Thirty percent of Iraqis were reported to support these demands.
Maliki unleashed his security forces on the demonstrators in January, a year after their movement began, killing, jailing and torturing them and destroying their tent cities. Many of the dissidents then took up arms to defend themselves. Hellfire missiles sold to Iraq by Washington began raining down on Fallujah. In just a week, more than a hundred civilians were slain, and many thousands have had to flee the city.
No comment from the White House, as it prepares to send more drones and more missiles.
The Iraqi regime’s excuse for its war crimes today matches the U.S. fig leaf a decade ago: “Stop terrorism!” In nearly every media outlet in the world, from Al Jazeera to England’s Guardian and the New York Times, the headlines roar “Fallujah falls to Al-Qaida!”
In fact, local fighters who are not affiliated with jihadist “outside agitators” are leading this battle against the government. The false spin on the clash in Fallujah is one more example of the powers-that-be denying that grass-roots resistance lives on in the Middle East.