With Ali al-Fadhily
BAGHDAD - Renewed raids at Iraqi homes by joint U.S.-Iraqi security forces
are angering Iraqis – while failing to improve the worsening security situation.
"Operation Forward Together should be called 'To Hell Together,'"
53-year-old Hamid Fassal, an estate broker from the Dora region of Baghdad,
told IPS, referring to the major U.S.-Iraqi joint security campaign launched
in June. "They should be ashamed of what's going on after four years of
plans and such huge expenditure. The result is only more deaths and more agony
for all Iraqis."
U.S. troops accompanied by Iraqi soldiers have conducted raids across much
of the Sunni region of Iraq in search of death squads. Several Iraqis say they
are surprised about the areas searched because they say U.S. forces know that
the majority of death squads are located in the Shia areas.
"I do not understand what they are really looking for and whether they
are doing it right," Salim al-Juboori of the Sherq Journal in Baghdad
told IPS. "They searched Amiriya, Adhamiyah, Dora, and other places in
Baghdad where citizens are the victims of gangs who come from other places under
government flags, and during curfew hours."
Residents of the Amiriya neighborhood of Baghdad recently faced a week-long
blockade after U.S. troops raided more than 6,000 houses. Residents had to face
checkpoints and body searches.
"They detained many innocent people and robbed lightweight valuable materials
from the houses they raided," a member of the Amiriya local council told
IPS. "It seems they were searching for gold, cash, and expensive mobile
devices. They know very well where to search for criminals, so why destroy Amiriya?"
Similar complaints have come from Dora, Adhamiya, and other Sunni areas of
Baghdad, and other cities throughout the primarily Sunni province of al-Anbar
west of Baghdad. "Hasn't Fallujah had enough?" asked Mansoor al-Kubaissi
of the Fallujah Youth Center. "Those Americans are raiding our houses,
looting our savings and business capital, and detaining our sons again and again,
as if there were a feud between us. Look at the result of their doings: they
are being attacked several times a day, and their soldiers are falling dead
Kubaissi was referring to joint U.S.-Iraqi security force raids in central
Fallujah over this past weekend.
On Sunday Sept. 17, five car bombs and another tied to a bicycle exploded in
Fallujah. The bomb attacks targeted U.S. and Iraqi troops during their routine
patrols and home raids.
U.S. forces have detained many people, including Reuters/BBC/al-Jazeera correspondent
Fadhil al-Bedrani. Bedrani is well known to people in Fallujah for his professional
reporting during more than three years of U.S. occupation.
Associated Press (AP) photographer Bilal Hussein, who is also from Fallujah,
has been detained for five months by the U.S. military. Hussein was accused
by U.S. forces of being a "security threat," but they have never filed
charges or permitted a public hearing. Executives from AP say they did not find
any sign of inappropriate contact with resistance fighters. Bedrani and Hussein
are only two among an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military
across the world.. At least 13,000 of these are in Iraq.
Most have been held without charge and have been given no date for a court
appearance or tribunal hearing where they might argue for their freedom.
The home raids and neighborhood searches that are leading to more such detentions
continue to anger Iraqis. Many say the raids are only worsening the already
chaotic and violent situation.
"Their searches always end up with terrible failures," Col. Kathum
Jawad of the previous Saddam security directorate told IPS in Baghdad. "Two
days after their search in Adhamiya, 14 roadside bombs exploded within a quarter
an hour, killing soldiers. This failure only means the Iraqi problem is not
coming to an end as long as those people are in power."
(Inter Press Service)