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The war is over (except for Iraq)

by Independent U.K. Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 3:19 AM

President George Bush will declare tonight the war in Iraq is all but over. But his speech, far out at sea – aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which is heading back from the Gulf – will not convince many Iraqis.

The war is over (except for Iraq)

As Bush prepares to announce an end to hostilities today, more Iraqis are killed by American troops

By Phil Reeves in Fallujah, Iraq

01 May 2003

President George Bush will declare tonight the war in Iraq is all but over. But his speech, far out at sea – aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, which is heading back from the Gulf – will not convince many Iraqis.

For the people of Fallujah – where two men in their twenties, Sa'aleh al-Jumaili, and Ghanam al-Jumaili, were killed yesterday – the war with the American and British occupiers seems to be just beginning. Hatred is taking hold here, and throughout Iraq. It was sown this week by US troops who fired into a demonstration, shooting dead 13 people, and sealed by soldiers who blasted into a crowd again yesterday, killing two more. This on the day that General Tommy Franks declared the main combat phase of the operation was over.

Hatred was present in the taunts of the youths goading the American troops face-to-face, calling them "babies" and waving a banner that said "Sooner or later, US killers, we'll kick you out". And it was there in the burning eyes of the man outside Fallujah General Hospital, who began bellowing about the "lies of the Western press" and the wickedness of the American occupation after we arrived to see the bloodied victims of the latest US shooting.

In a country that has lost some 2,500 civilians in the conflict, with at least 10,000 of its soldiers, resentment runs high. Still today, 40,000 of Baghdad's five million citizens rely on the Red Cross for water.

And as the Americans prepared to move from a war footing to beginning the enormous task of rebuilding and reconstruction, public disillusionment and simmering violence is growing. It threatens to undermine the prospects of a peaceful future and wreak havoc with the plans for a democracy in Iraq.

Donald Rumsfeld, the wisecracking US Defence Secretary, attracted some welcoming waves from Iraqis during his first visit to Baghdad yesterday where he thanked US troops and told Iraqi people the soldiers would stay only as long as it took for Iraqis to make the transition from "tyranny to freedom".

Travelling unannounced from Kuwait with black-clad soldiers as bodyguards, Mr Rumsfeld held a meeting at Baghdad airport. There he told Iraqis: "Iraq belongs to you. We do not want to run it.

"Our coalition came to Iraq for a purpose – to remove a regime that oppressed your people and threatened ours."

All this did not reflect the growing popular dissatisfaction on a range of issues including electricity shortages, insecurity, looting, the absence of jobs and of a viable Iraqi government, petrol shortages and the shooting and killing of Iraqi civilians by US troops.

The events of the past 48 hours in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, go to the heart of the problems the US forces face on the ground in a country that – although glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein – is ambivalent about living under occupation.

Yesterday morning hundreds of people had taken to the streets of Fallujah, to demand the Americans – the 82nd Airborne Division – get out of town.

For the past day and a half, this Sunni town has been seething over death and injury inflicted by a company of US troops who opened fire on a crowd on Monday night. Those emotions were further stoked by the wildly implausible and inadequate explanations provided by the military.

As US Apache helicopters circled low over their heads, the crowd gathered yesterday outside a Baath party building – the Scientific and Cultural Centre – taken over by the troops.

Several US military trucks drew up. Troops inside the trucks opened fire, killing two men. According to Iraqi officials, 15 others were injured.

The American version of events was delivered by Major Michael Marti, who was to be found standing outside the Fallujah mayor's office, where US commanders were meeting religious, tribal and city leaders in an effort to calm the tense and volatile climate.

The major said a group of Iraqis had begun hurling stones at an American convoy of several vehicles, and two men armed with Kalashnikovs in the crowd opened fire on them.

The US Central Command (Centcom) said that the army base – a primary and secondary school – was being fired at by 25 armed civilians interspersed among several hundred protesters and also positioned on the neighbouring roof tops.

Across the country, there is no doubt many, many people warmly welcome the removal of Saddam Hussein and his terrible regime. But they are also suspicious of American motives. And, having watched daily TV instalments of the fate of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza at the hands of the Israelis, they recoil with particularly strong distaste at the concept of occupation.

The Americans and British have launched an intense public relations drive to win over Iraqi support. The Fallujah affair has undermined it, although many Iraqis will be unaware of the details because they are still without electricity, and are not watching the TV. The electricity outages, the lack of jobs and the atmosphere of insecurity – looting is still rife – are also undermining the Allies' efforts to get the country back on its feet. In Baghdad, there is considerable frustration over the chaotic state of public services, the devastation inflicted on the ministries after the Americans arrived and the slow progress of the team led by Jay Garner, the retired general leading the reconstruction and transition.

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 10 posted about this article.
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When they are all dead it doesn't matter. Heil Bush! Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 3:21 AM
When Bush is Dead it will be better for all impeac bush Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 11:58 AM
Simple Simple Simon Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 12:23 PM
However... Diogenes Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 12:27 PM
Simple Simple Simon Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 12:32 PM
Simple Simon mymicz Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 2:23 PM
mymicz mymicz Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 2:25 PM
Impeachment and Trial? daveman Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 2:30 PM
To all advocates of my impeachment George W. Bush Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 3:29 PM
Boobies! John Ashcroft Saturday, May. 03, 2003 at 4:45 PM

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