the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) issued a demand
early on Saturday that the US cease its military action against Fallujah and stop
employing "collective punishment."
Not only has what many Iraqis call "the puppet council" taken a stand against
Bush administration tactics in Iraq, but individual members are peeling off.
Shiite Marsh Arab leader Abdul Karim al-Muhammadawi suspended his membership
in the council on Friday. A Sunni member, Ghazi al-Yawir, has threatened to
resign if a negotiated settlement of the Fallujah conflict cannot be found.
Old-time Sunni nationalist leader Adnan Pachachi thundered on al-Arabiya televsion,
"It was not right to punish all the people of Fallujah, and we consider these
operations by the Americans unacceptable and illegal." For him to go on
an Arab satellite station much hated by Donald Rumsfeld and denounce the very
people who appointed him to the IGC is a clear act of defiance. There are rumors
that many of the 25 Governing Council members have fled abroad, fearful of assassination
because of their association with the Americans. The ones who are left appear
on the verge of resigning.
This looks to me like an incipient collapse of the US government of Iraq. Beyond
the IGC, the bureaucracy is protesting. Many government workers in the ministries
are on strike and refusing to show up for work, according to ash-Sharq al-Awsat.
Without Iraqis willing to serve in the Iraqi government, the US would be forced
to rule the country militarily and by main force. Its legitimacy appears to be
dwindling fast. The "handover of sovereignty" scheduled for June 30 was always
nothing more than a publicity stunt for the benefit of Bush's election campaign,
but it now seems likely to be even more empty. Since its main rationale was to
provide more legitimacy to the US enterprise in Iraq, and since any legitimacy
the US had is fading fast, and since a government appointed by Bremer will be
hated by virtue of that very appointment, the Bush administration may as well
just not bother.
The Interior Minister, Nuri Badran, who was dismissed by Paul Bremer on Thursday,
appears to have gone into exile in Jordan. He was probably let go because he objected
to the twin US assaults, on Fallujah and on the Sadrist Shiites, or at least to
the way it was being done.
The degree of hatred for the United States in the Muslim world is growing
by the minute, as the events in Fallujah are broadcast throughout the region.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's warning to Bush that by invading Iraq he
would be creating 100 Bin Ladens may well come to pass. For more on this see
Part of what caused this incipient collapse of the US-appointed Iraqi government
is that the US military decided to besiege the entire city of Fallujah to get
at insurgents who killed 4 US Blackwater mercenaries last week, even though reports
indicated that the guerrillas left the city after the killings. Those guerrillas,
supported by civilian demonstrations and desecration of the mercenaries' bodies,
announced that they were taking revenge for the Israeli murder of Hamas clerical
leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Just as the Israelis and their American amen corner
helped drag the US into the Iraq war, so they also have inflamed Iraqi sentiment
against the US by spectacular uses of state terror against Palestinians. Both
the Sunni and the Shiite uprisings in Iraq in the past week in a very real sense
were set off by Sharon's whacking of Yassin, a paraplegic who could easily have
been arrested. (Only once Muqtada al-Sadr announced his support for Hamas was
he targeted by the Neocon-dominated Coalition Provisional Authority for arrest,
convincing him that he had nothing to lose and had better launch an insurgency).
The siege and assault on Fallujah during the past 5 days have killed some 400
Iraqis and wounded 1000, according to eyewitnesses. The civilians in the city
had begun wanting for food and water. On Friday, the US appears to have spread
panic by broadcasting warnings of an imminent attack and encouraging women and
children to leave. Large numbers have streamed out. Some attempted to take their
men with them, but Marines refused to allow male civilians out. Some families
chose to remain together and face further bombardments rather than split up.
One Marine was killed and another wounded at Fallujah on Friday.
AP said, ' Throughout the afternoon, fighting was reduced to sporadic gunfire.
But when night fell, heavy explosions resumed as an AC-130 gunship strafed targets
and soldiers and insurgents engaged in a mortar battle. Marines said they had
come under fire and wanted to return fire. The AC-130 hit a cave near Fallujah
where insurgents took refuge after attacking Marines. A 500-pound laser-guided
bomb also struck the cave, said spokesman 1st Lt. Eric Knapp. '
The US announced a pause in the fighting to allow the Iraqis to "tend to their
dead." This statement of Paul Bremer's is obviously a cruel taunt, and indicative
of the fury and hatred of the American administration of Iraq toward the people
of Anbar province, who have fiercely resisted the American occupation, largely
out of Iraqi nationalist or Sunni fundamentalist motives.
At the western edge of Baghdad, guerrillas set off a spectacular explosion when
they hit a fuel convoy, killing a US soldier and an Iraqi driver, and wounding
12 others. (Eyewitnesses spoke of lots of bodies, so the casualties are probably
greater). Two American soldiers and several mercenaries may have been taken hostage.
Another US soldier was killed in Baghdad when his base was attacked. Substantial
guerrilla groups engaged US troops in Baqubah and Muqdadiyah north of the capital.