As confusion grew again on Sunday about the situation in Fallujah, background reports revealed that the installation of an Iraqi general is an attempt on the part of U.S. marines to try a ploy used by Saddam Hussein to quell a revolt there nine years ago. The key to the tactic: tribal identity. America, meet the Dulaimi...
MARINES INSTALLING IRAQI GENERAL TOOK PAGE FROM SADDAM'S PLAYBOOK
By Henry Adams
** America, meet the Dulaimi **
United for Peace of Pierce County
May 2, 2004
As confusion grew again on Sunday about the situation in Fallujah, background reports revealed that the installation of an Iraqi general is an attempt on the part of U.S. marines to try a tactic used by Saddam Hussein to quell a revolt there nine years ago. The key to the tactic: tribal identity.
Although the mainstream press is echoing neoconservative preoccupations by fretting over whether Maj. Gen. Saleh was a Baathist, what counts in the current context is that he is something few Americans have ever heard about: a Dulaimi.
The Dulaimi are a 400,000-member Sunni tribe that dominates the Fallujah environs. They are notoriously proud and fearless. Regardless of what happens, their successful resistance to a three-week-long siege by the most powerful army on earth has earned them a place in the history books and will only add to their reputation, and to their pride.
In 1995, they dared to revolt against Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi president made the mistake of executing one of their own. But Saddam knew better than to try to crush the revolt outright. Instead, he "deployed soldiers from the same Dulaimi tribe as the officer[s], and the insurgents agreed to lay down their arms and turned them over to their cousins," according to an Apr. 12 report in Middle East Online.
On Sunday, the Iraqi general installed there riled U.S. authorities by saying that "there are no foreign fighters in Fallujah" and that he is not turning anybody over to the U.S. military.[1,2,3]
U.S. officials insisted that there are foreign fighters in Fallujah, and that they amount to 15-20% of those who fought against the marines. But Gen. Saleh's remarks may well be closer to the truth than those of U.S. officials.
However that may be, Maj. Gen. Saleh was installed by U.S. Marine Corps leaders in a deal worked out by commanders on the ground on Thursday in an end run around the neoconservatives in the Pentagon whose policies have proved so disastrous.
This would appear to be a sort of minor palace coup, with Iraq policy architect Paul Wolfowitz and others at the Pentagon being cut out of the loop. Instead, the move was approved by Condoleezza Rice's National Security Council. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Feith, and company must have been furious.
Now some parts of the Pentagon leadership seems to be resisting what happened.
In what amounts to a direct challenge to the authority of the Iraqi general Major General Jasim Mohammed Saleh, the chairman of the joint chiefs, Gen. Richard Myers, a Rumsfeld protÈgÈ, went on FOX News to say that reports that Gen. Saleh was in command were "very, very inaccurate."[2,3]
Meanwhile, Patrick Coburn of the Independent reported that the fact that Maj. Gen. Saleh is a member of the Dulaimi tribe makes him anathema to Ahmed Chalabi, another Rumsfeld protÈgÈ and member of the ironically named "Governing Council" in Baghdad. Chalabi has fallen from favor in the recent shift of U.S. policy, but he is refusing to accept being sidelined.
The Dulaimi tribe of central Iraq -- principally based in Fallujah and Ramadi -- is notoriously independent. Saddam Hussein also faced revolt from Fallujah's Dulaimi in 1995 and 1998. An Apr. 12 piece published by Middle East Online reveals that the decision of marines facing resistance in Fallujah to choose a Dulaimi leader as a way out of confrontation was a case of borrowing from Saddam Hussein's playbook.
A report by one of three UC Berkeley journalism grads published last August corroborates this information, and adds details about the 400,000-member Dulaimi tribe, calling them "the largest, meanest, and most powerful tribe in Iraq."
There is a bitter irony in the fact that just as the marines make use of Saddam's playbook, it is being revealed to the general public that Army intelligence and the CIA have been doing likewise in Abu Ghraib, site of some of Saddam's most notorious torture chambers.
Saddam was long an ally of the United States, and chances are that the longer the U.S. stays in Iraq, the more its policies will resemble those of its former ally.
IRAQI GENERAL REFUSES TO GIVE UP FALLUJA FIGHTERS
By Rory McCarthy
The Guardian (UK)
May 3, 2004 [posted May 2]
FALLUJA -- The Iraqi general chosen to run a new security force in Falluja yesterday distanced himself from the US military by refusing American demands to give up foreign fighters supposedly hiding in the city.
As a flood of civilians returned home after four weeks of a ferocious assault on the city by American marines, Major General Jasim Mohammed Saleh said the US had provoked a backlash from ordinary Iraqis.
"The reasons for the resistance go back to the American provocations, the raids and abolishing the army, which made Iraqis join the resistance," he said.
American commanders say 200 foreign fighters are holed up in Falluja and have demanded that the city hands them over. But Gen Saleh, an ex-Republican Guard officer who has been mooted to run a 1,000-strong local security force, has refused. "There are no foreign fighters in Falluja and the local tribal leaders have told me the same," he said.
His remarks have put him at odds with the US-led coalition.
Yesterday America's most senior military officer, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, added to the confusion about Gen Saleh's role by denying that he had been put in charge of Falluja.
"There's another general they're looking at," Gen Myers told ABC's This Week. "My guess is, it will not be General Saleh. It will not -- he will not be their leader ... He may have a role to play, but that vetting has yet to take place."
Gen Myers, who stressed that the marines were not withdrawing from Falluja, did not respond to a question earlier on Fox News about whether Gen Saleh, one of Saddam Hussein's generals, had been involved in brutally suppressing Iraq's Kurdish minority.
He told Fox: "The goals and objectives ... in Falluja have been what they've been all along. We've got to deal with the extremist and foreign fighters, we've got to get rid of the heavy weapons and we've got to find the folks that perpetrated the Blackwater atrocity," in which four American contract workers were killed and mutilated by a mob.
Yesterday Iraqi police and members of the new Iraqi Civil Defence Corps were positioned along the main street in the city, but many of the back roads were still under the control of men with their faces wrapped in scarves and armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades.
In a back street behind the ICDC's headquarters, young recruits gave their names to register for the new security force. Once approved by a local former Iraqi army officer they received a uniform and a pair of desert boots. Several tried to sell the boots almost immediately, asking for 15,000 dinars (£8) a pair.
"What the people want now is security and that is what we are providing," said Salah Noori, 22, a Fallujan student who studies management at Baghdad University and signed up yesterday to join the new force. "But you know this big battle in Falluja wasn't just to get the Americans out of our city, it was to get the Americans out of Iraq. We have had a great victory in Falluja. The Americans have all these weapons and we had nothing, and we fought them."
Until now the police and civil defence corps, both created by the US military, have struggled to assert any authority in Falluja. Marked out as collaborators, they regularly face attack.
"The core of the problem is when you bring people to provide security who have been chosen by the Americans and not by the people of Falluja," said another recruit, Ahmad Khudair, 32. "Gen Saleh is not chosen by the Americans and he is supported by the people here. He will bring the right solution."
Several of the families returning to the city called at the football stadium, which at the start of the fighting was turned into an impromptu graveyard. At the entrance a white cloth banner hung from the wall, leading to the "martyrs cemetery of Falluja." Doctors say at least 600 Iraqis died in the fighting, and many are buried here.
Yesterday each grave was marked with a simple concrete slab for a headstone, a name and an epithet quickly painted on. "The courageous martyr Nasser Hussein. Killed doing his duty on April 15 and buried the same day," read the first.
Others were unidentified. "Here lies an unknown martyr, a big security guard with a blue shirt ... found near the industrial area with a chain of keys," said one. A pair of brown boots stuck out from one mud heap. The inscription on the stone read: "An unknown worker from the industrial area, wearing a black shirt with yellow pants, found inside a white Oldsmobile car."
Some were women, while other graves held more than one body. Many of those at the graveyard came not to search for relatives, but just to look. "What can I say?" said one man. "Just look for yourself at this."
JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: REPORTS ABOUT IRAQI GENERAL 'INACCURATE'
May 2, 2004
WASHINGTON -- America's U-S military chief says reports concerning a former general from Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard have been "very, very inaccurate."
Joint Chiefs Chairman General Richard Myers denies that the Iraqi general has been given command of a local brigade now controlling Fallujah. On "Fox News Sunday," Myers said the Iraqi general has not been "vetted" yet and most likely will not be the one in command.
After U.S. Marines ended their three-week siege in Fallujah, an Iraqi force entered the city -- and was welcomed by crowds who waved Iraqi flags and cheered. Many people flashed "V" for victory signs.
Myers says he is glad to have the Iraqi brigade in place and says it's the kind of set-up that the U-S military would like to see all over Iraq.
FORMER GENERAL OF ELITE GUARD IS RULED OUT AS THE IRAQI COMMANDER
By foreign staff
The Scotsman (UK)
May 3, 2004 [posted May 2]
A FORMER general from Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard has not been given command of an Iraqi force that entered Fallujah after US marines ended a three-week siege, a US military chief said yesterday.
Major-General Jassim Mohammed Saleh was last week reported to have been appointed commander of the 1,100-strong Iraqi force set up to quell the insurgency in Fallujah.
But yesterday, US General Richard Myers said news media were "very, very inaccurate" in their reporting about Maj. Gen. Saleh, who was said to have had a major role in organising the "Fallujah Brigade" and lifting the siege.
The denial came as US troops continued to face attacks across Iraq, with 11 soldiers killed yesterday. In the most lethal incident, six US troops died and about 30 were wounded in a mortar barrage at an army base near the city of Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad.
The latest attacks brought the US death toll to 151 since a wave of violence began on 1 April. At least 753 US troops have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
An attack in north-west Baghdad killed two other soldiers and wounded two Iraqi security officers and another American, the military said. And one US soldier was killed and ten wounded when insurgents set off bombs and opened fire on a coalition base near Kirkuk.
Overnight, Shiite militiamen attacked a US convoy with small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades near Amarah, 180 miles south of Baghdad. Two soldiers were killed.
The deadly violence came even as US marines continued to pull back from the siege of Fallujah, between Ramadi and Baghdad.
The marines have now completely handed over the southern side of Fallujah to the new Fallujah Brigade, a force made up of former soldiers from Saddam Hussein’s army and led by one his former generals. Marines remain on the northern side of the city, but US commanders have said they will hand over their positions to the Iraqi brigade in the coming days.
The marines handed over their positions under a surprise deal announced last Thursday, when Maj. Gen. Saleh was named as commander of the force. Speaking from Fallujah yesterday, he dismissed US insistence over the presence of foreign fighters in the city.
"There are no foreign fighters in Fallujah," he said. Maj. Gen. Saleh also said he had yet to receive information on the men wanted for the murder and mutilation of four US contractors which sparked the siege.
But speaking from the US yesterday, Gen. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Saleh was not, and was unlikely to be, the commander because US officials were still checking into his background. "He has not been vetted yet and probably won’t be the one in command," Gen Myers said.
There was no word whether Maj. Gen. Saleh, who effectively commands a force of several hundred armed men between the marine positions and the city, would accept being removed.
"There are people who know his record, know what he’s done in the Saddam regime," Gen Myers said. "They’re going to have to find an appropriate role -- if a role at all -- for him."
The secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, agreed that "those who’ve committed crimes have no business getting involved" in the Iraqi people’s security forces.
But "this was a large army. I don’t think all of them committed atrocities, but most of the leadership is gone," Mr Annan said. "But those who are clean, I think, can be used."
Elsewhere in Iraq over the weekend, two civilians were killed and an aide to rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was arrested in a raid by troops of US-led occupation forces in Hilla.
Officials of the Polish-led contingent of multinational troops deployed in the area said they had no information on the incident.
Hilla residents said soldiers stormed a meeting of religious students and tribal representatives in the city on Saturday, and opened fire.
Television footage of the site of the raid showed pools of blood and human remains, as well as bullet holes pockmarking interior walls of the building where the meeting was held.
An aide to Sadr -- whose followers rose up last month against US troops in Baghdad and allied forces in southern Iraq after the arrest of one of his lieutenants -- said the raid was part of a US campaign against the cleric, who has denounced the occupation of Iraq.
US military officials say they will capture or kill Sadr, who has been in Najaf and the nearby city of Kufa since the start of the uprising.
AMERICAN HOSTAGE RUNS TO FREEDOM AFTER THREE-WEEK ORDEAL
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent (UK)
May 3, 2004
BAGHDAD -- The American truck driver, seized three weeks ago by resistance fighters who ambushed his convoy, escaped early yesterday from a house where he was held and was picked up by an Allied patrol. Thomas Hamill, 43, a farmer from Mississippi working for a contractor in Iraq, found fame in the most frightening fashion when he was shown on television soon after being captured sitting in a car sandwiched between masked gunmen.
Mr Hamill was being held in a house south of Tikrit some way from Abu Ghurayb where he was taken prisoner on 9 April. But he was able to force open a door and run half a mile down a road to a US patrol.
The return of Mr Hamill was one of the few positive items of news received by the US-led coalition in recent weeks. Another four US soldiers are known to have been killed over the weekend. Two died when their convoy was attacked between Amara and Basra by guerrillas from the Mehdi Army, followers of the radical Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr.
Earlier, six British soldiers were wounded in a fight with Mr Sadr's militia in Amara, 180 miles south of Baghdad. A worrying development for the US is that its forces are coming under attack in Shia areas of the country, where previously they were largely safe. Nearer Baghdad, the failure of the US troops to wipe out the resistance in Fallujah, despite a three-week siege, is seen by many Iraqis as a defeat for the US army.
American generals were trying yesterday to play down the role of Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a Republican Guard general of the old Iraqi army whose 1,100 men, wearing the uniforms of Saddam Hussein's army, have taken over the city.
Gen. Saleh, whose force has been called the 1st Battalion of the Fallujah Brigade, will also have annoyed the US by saying there are no foreign fighters in Fallujah. This contradicts the claim, long made by occupation spokesmen though without evidence, that the insurgency is supported by foreign fighters.
"We stick to our view that 15-20 per cent of the guerrillas in Fallujah are foreigners," said an official in Baghdad. US commanders say they expect Gen. Saleh to arrest foreign fighters and confiscate heavy weapons. If he does not do so they say they are prepared to march into Fallujah. But such a move may lead to uprisings elsewhere.
Members of the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC), such as Ahmed Chalabi, condemned the use of Gen. Saleh, a member of the powerful Dulaimi tribe, because he was a prominent member of the old regime.
Even if Gen. Saleh succeeds, he will not be given permanent command of the Fallujah Brigade, Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said yesterday. But one of the lessons of the past month is that the US-trained Iraqi security forces are not prepared to fight other Iraqis on US orders. Half of these forces deserted or joined the other side during last month's crisis.
Also worrying for the IGC is that Gen. Myers said the solution to the bloody confrontation in Fallujah was "a microcosm of what we want to happen all over Iraq." This would mean that outside Kurdistan the US would look to traditional leaders and ignore many of the returned exiles and opposition politicians to whom it has hitherto looked for advice.
FALLUJAH INSURGENTS' PROFILE By Ahmad Faddam
** Insurgents of ‘the city of 100 mosques’ are young, deeply religious, suspicious of foreigners, proud of tribal heritage **
Middle East Online
April 12, 2004
FALLUJAH -- The insurgents who have been resisting a week-long onslaught by the US war machine in this Sunni Muslim bastion are for the most part young, deeply religious, proud of their tribal heritage and highly suspicious of foreigners.
"We are above all free men," said one of them who would not give his name.
"We accept only God's authority," another said.
Fallujah's Sunni Muslim residents are known to be stronged-willed people united by deep tribal ties.
Even the now ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had trouble controlling the Dulaimi tribe in Al-Anbar province around Fallujah.
After Saddam ordered the execution of Muhammad Mazloum Dulaimi, a local man and an airforce officer, in 1995, the people from the area revolted, burning a police station and other government buildings.
To put down the rebellion, Saddam chose subtlety over force, according to an older rebel.
He explained that the former leader deployed soldiers from the same Dulaimi tribe as the officer[s], and the insurgents agreed to lay down their arms and turned them over to their cousins.
The people are deeply religious in this town known as "the city of 100 mosques."
"When the former regime fell, many turned to sheikhs, who became the shepherds of the people in the absence of real power," another rebel said.
"These are the spiritual guides. Today, they handle distribution of food supplies and they decide whether captured foreigners are saboteurs or honest people," he added.
A correspondent saw the cameraman of an Arab satellite channel taken to a local sheikh at the Al-Hadra Mohamadiya mosque Sunday, because the anti-coalition fighters accused him of filming them without their permission.
The sheikh screened the film and ordered the cameraman to leave the city.
Mistrustful of foreigners, the insurgents are posted at strategic positions around the city and check all people who enter.
"We all know each other and as soon as there is a new face, we question him," a rebel said.
The insurgents are made of three major groups "all under the umbrella of Islam" but it is difficult to determine their ideological differences.
"Each has its leaders, its intelligence arm and its hierarchy," said a member of one of these groups.
"We do not accept the new American law, we do not accept the (coalition-installed interim) Governing Council, we do not accept the occupation."
In the current showdown with US marines, many residents have joined the guerrillas. Most of the insurgents are aged between 18 and 35 and some sport beards and salt-and-pepper mustaches.
They wear civilian clothes, carry Kalashnikov assault rifles, anti-tank rockets and even Russian-made Strela ground-to-air missiles.
"We are defending our district, our city. Everybody is mobilized. No able-bodied man can refuse to take up arms," said an elderly man.
"I am defending my city. I am from the Golan district and I have had no news from my family for a week. We are in the hands of God," said a resident in his 40s.
The guerrillas have asked families to leave town because of the fierce fighting.
"Who would have imagined that a small city like ours could resist the mightiest power on earth," a local fighter said proudly.
HATERS OF FREEDOM
By Brandon Sprague
August 2, 2003
[T]he Baghdad bureau chief, Wadah Khanfar . . . said he was sure the attacks started after 18 protesters were killed by U.S. troops in the wild western town of Fallujah in April. The attacks on the soldiers were revenge killings, then. Iraqis, especially ones from the Dulaimi tribe, take a blood debt very seriously and so the troops picked the wrong group of people to accidently slaughter, people tell us. The Dulaimi are hard core and are the largest, meanest, most powerful tribe in Iraq.
They are based in Fallujah and the nearby town of Ramadi, where the seven Iraqi police officers were killed earlier this month. The Dulaimi tribe, which boasts 400,000 members, is characterized in the press as being pro-Saddam but the tribe revolted a number of times (in 1995 and 1998) against the regime. "Saddam couldn't fight the Dulaimi," Abu Abdullah told me. "One day as a show of strength they just blocked the road between Fallujah and Ramadi and so Saddam sent his closest body guard, Arsheit, to mediate. Only after he promised them many things did they open the road."
Wadah told us that whoever these people are they getting a certain amount of sympathy from the general populace. The dignity of Iraqis, he said, has been trampled by the misdeeds of soldiers. He agreed that wild rumors abound about the U.S. soldiers, but some of them he thinks are true.
"You have one man calling our office saying that the soldiers have come into his home, stolen his cash, stolen his gold and looked at his women when they are uncovered, believe me, that man is a liar. But when you have 2,000 people calling telling the same story, we are going to report it," he said, adding that he heard of army personnel stepping on civilians' heads with their boots to pacify them -- and that is the worst insult to an Arab. Even inadvertantly showing the bottom of your shoe as you cross your legs is offensive.
The British, unlike the Americans, know how to deal with the Iraqis, many people have told us. They don't treat us arrogantly, they say, like they know what's good for the Iraqis.
Of course, the Brits have learned the hard way. The shia in the south and the sunnis in central Iraq -- including the Dulaimi -- put aside their differences in 1920 and revolted against the British viceroys -- killing some 3,000 British soldiers -- after the administrator there, Sir Arnold Wilson, rigged a couple of plebicite votes, figuring that he knew best what the people of Iraq. Bremer, people say, should be careful not to make the same mistake.