The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

After the battle of Falluja, the Iraqi insurgency grows

Nov 22, 2004

A week after the U.S. began its massive assault on Falluja, it declared victory. And in the following days, military spokesmen crowed about killing 1,200 insurgents and capturing their headquarters, safe houses and storehouses of weapons and explosives. U.S. military commanders called them "treasure troves."

Yet, despite the announcements, there was no indication that the resistance inside Falluja itself had been broken. Guerrillas still roamed the streets, setting up ambushes of U.S. troops and convoys. And Iraqi snipers continued to harass U.S. patrols and positions. U.S. jets and gun ships were trying to blast at what they guessed were Iraqi positions.

A top secret report by U.S. Marines intelligence in Iraq leaked to the press admitted the fleeting nature of the U.S. victory in Falluja. It warned that if U.S. troop levels in the Falluja area were reduced, as had been planned, the insurgents would rebound from their defeat. And it predicted that despite taking heavy casualties, the insurgents would continue to grow in number.

Neither did the U.S. assault on Falluja appear to "break the back" or even weaken Iraqi resistance elsewhere, as U.S. authorities had promised. Just the opposite, battles escalated in cities throughout central and northern Iraq.

In Baghdad, the capital and largest city, U.S. troops, with some Iraqi soldiers, stormed a prominent mosque in which the imam had reportedly called for the defeat of the U.S. After word got out, throngs of outraged Iraqis converged on the mosque to confront the U.S. troops. But the U.S. troops had already been pulled out. The next day, insurgents stormed a police station in the same neighborhood. In Ramadi, the insurgency was so strong, it controlled most of the city. The U.S. troops were only able to maintain a symbolic presence at the government center and a few outposts downtown.

In the northern city of Mosul, with a population close to two million people, guerrillas opened up a second front against U.S. forces. On November 11, in a series of coordinated attacks, groups of guerrillas seized five bridges that cross the Tigris River. Other groups of guerrillas stormed a half-dozen police stations and made off with weapons and uniforms after setting fire to buildings and squad cars. Five days later, a U.S.-led operation, involving up to 2,500 U.S. troops, swept through western part of Mosul in an effort to try to retake their police stations.

The question is, retake it for who? The guerrilla attacks on the police stations led to the disintegration of the city's 4,000 member police force, with most Iraqi police either fleeing or joining the resistance. The U.S. may claim that it is building up an Iraqi army and police force. But this Iraqi force has consistently failed at the first signs of trouble. Even the most reliable Iraqi force that the U.S. took to battle with it into Falluja was racked by the desertion of at least 400 troops when the battle first began.

The battle of Falluja shows that while the U.S. may be able to win any direct military battle due to its overwhelming force and destructiveness, it can fail to "break the back" of the Iraqi insurgency. The enormous human toll of this latest U.S. "victory" simply sows more and more anger and hatred among the Iraqis against the U.S. occupation. It actually strengthens the Iraqi resolve to drive the U.S. occupiers out of their country.

The U.S. should get out now!