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[casi-analysis] 'Submit or die': latest briefing from Voices in the Wilderness UK + TAKE ACTION

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[A] 'Submit or die': latest briefing from Voices in the Wilderness UK
[B] TAKE ACTION: Emergency demos this Saturday (17th April) in London and
Edinburgh + Contact your MP + Nonviolent Direct Action.

[A] ‘SUBMIT OR DIE': The siege of Fallujah and beyond.
A Voices in the Wilderness UK briefing
13th April 2004

Roughly 800 Iraqis have been killed in the latest escalation of US/UK
repression and killing in Iraq. In the first of series of emergency updates
voices uk looks at what’s likely to happen next and the mind-set of some of
the US soldiers fighting in Iraq.

Though a fragile – and incomplete - ‘cease-fire’ is apparently still in
place in Fallujah (AP, 12 April) on Sunday the New York Times reported that,
‘American commanders are preparing for a prolonged campaign to quell the
twin uprisings in Iraq … retaking the cities around Baghdad, if necessary
block by block against an entrenched Sunni foe’ and conducting ‘a series of
short, sharp, local strikes at small, elusive bands of Shiite militia in
southern cities, continuing until the militia was wiped out’ (11 April).

However also on Sunday - in what the LA Times described as ‘a significant
tactical shift’ - US officials announced that they were ‘seeking “political”
solutions to pacify [Fallujah]’ and disband firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr
’s militia ‘[a]s guerrillas appeared to extend their influence closer to
[Baghdad] … shooting down an Apache helicopter about 3 miles from Baghdad's
airport and cutting off communications between military posts on a key road
leading west from the city’ (12 April). At the same time ‘additional U.S.
forces have been maneuvering into place, and the military has warned it will
launch an all-out assault on Fallujah if talks there between pro-U.S. Iraqi
politicians and city officials … fall through’ (AP, 12 April).

Noting that, ‘not a single American journalist has investigated the links
between the Israeli army's “rules of engagement” - so blithely handed over
to US forces on Sharon's orders - and the behaviour of the US military in
Iraq,’ veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk reminds us that, ‘[i]n
besieging cities - when they were taking casualties or the number of
civilians killed was becoming too shameful to sustain - the Israeli army
would call a “unilateral suspension of offensive operations”. They did this
11 times after they surrounded Beirut in 1982’ (Independent, 11 April). It
is possible that this is what we are seeing right now: on Monday the top US
commander in the Middle East ‘called for at least two more brigades – up to
10,000 troops – to be sent to help quell the upheaval – and the most senior
US general in Iraq declared that ‘the mission of US forces is to kill of
capture Moqtada al-Sadr’ (Guardian, 13 April).

However even if negotiations ‘succeed’ they are likely to provide only a
temporary reprieve. According to the New York Times, ‘Pentagon policy makers
and military officers … are worried that without a successful political
process … the current military operations to restore order [sic] throughout
restive Sunni and Shiite cities may have to be repeated in months to c ome’
(12 April).  “[U]nless the political side keeps up, we’ll have to do it
again after July 1 [when ‘sovereignty’ is nominally being transferred to an
Iraqi Interim Government] and maybe in September and again next year and
again and again,” a military officer told the paper. However, since the US
continues to pursue what the Financial Times’s Middle East editor correctly
identified as its ‘desire to control Iraq’s political transition while
making it appear that it is driven by Iraqis’ (17 Jan) the prospects of ‘a
successful political process’ are, to put it mildly, bleak.

According to the Washington Post US marines are ‘eager to plunge back into
the fray’ in Fallujah. Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, who commands the 5th Marine
Battalion there told the paper that ‘Given the virulent nature of the enemy,
the prospect of some city father walking in and getting Joe Jihadi to give
himself up is pretty slim … That’s fine, because they’ll get whipped up,
come out fighting again and get mowed down ... Their only choices are to
submit or die’ (11 April).

To be sure, the men, women and children of Fallujah do appear to have been
‘mowed down’ in large numbers. On Sunday the director of the town’s general
hospital, Rafie al-Issawi, estimated – on the basis of figures gathered from
four clinics around the city as well as the hospital itself - that more than
600 people had been killed and that ‘the vast majority of the dead were
women, children and the elderly’ (Guardian, 12 April).

Lt. Col. Byrne denies this, stating that, ‘95% of those were military age
males that were killed in the fighting.’ Indeed, according to Lt. Col.
Byrne, ‘the marines are trained to be precise in their firepower … [and are]
very good at what they do’ (Guardian, 12 April).

Those who have managed to flee the city have been able to give some examples
of this precision. For example, Mohammed Hadi, who told the Telegraph that,
‘US marines snipers had taken up position in the minarets of a local mosque
and shot dead his neighbour.’ “He was just on his way to buy tomatoes,” he
told the paper. And 17-year-old Hassan Monem, who claimed that two of his
friends ‘were shot as they stood in my yard.’

Likewise, Ali, 28, who had managed to escape with part of his family,
related how “one man in an Opel drove his wife and children to the bridge so
they would walk over. As he drove back to town, an American sniper killed
him” (Guardian, 12 April). Meanwhile US author Rahul Majahan, who managed to
get into Fallujah during the ‘ceasefire’, found ‘[a]n ambulance with two
neat, precise bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing
down at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest’ and
‘another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in the windshield’
( weblog, 12 April entry)

The US has come up with a novel method for dealing with the PR problems
associated with killing large numbers of Iraqis civilians. Asked on Sunday,
what he would tell Iraqis about televised images “of Americans and coalition
soldiers killing innocent civilians,” Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the senior
military spokesman in Iraq answered “Change the channel.”’ (NYT, 12 April).
“[S]tations … showing Americans intentionally killing women and children are
not legitimate news sources,” he asserted. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it does
not appear to be working.

According to Johnathan Steele, ‘[h]undreds of families have driven out of
Falluja over the last two days … The stories they tell have a common theme:
how the Americans used to be good when they first arrived in Falluja, how
arrogance and in sensitivity gradually alienated people, and how now under
the pressure of so many deaths almost everyone supports the resistance, the
mojahedin.’ (Guardian, 12 April).

One such, Adnan Abid, a 35-year-old taxi driver from Fallujah, explained to
the Telegraph that “I used to believe it was a good thing the Americans came
to Iraq. Now I have lost all hope until the occupation ends” (12 April). His
wife, Hakima, added “There was little resistance in Fallujah before this
week …Now everyone belongs to the resistance.” Outside a Fallujah school
16-year-old Soran Karim told the New York Times that ‘killing Americans was
not just a good thing’: “It is the best thing. They are infidels, they are
aggressive, they are hunting our people” (11 April).

‘Falluja captured the world’s headlines,’ the Guardian’s Johnathan Steele
notes ‘but all over the Sunni areas there have been mini-Fallujas for
months. US troops respond to attacks with artillery fire and air strikes,
clumsy house-to-house searches, and mass arrests. In the process they create
more enemies and provoke a desire for revenge.

“We have even lost our right to get undressed for bed," a businessman in the
town of Muqdadiya,” told him ‘recount[ing] how American troops had burst
into his home after dark, handcuffed him in his night clothes in front of
his terrified wife and children, and taken him away … His ordeal was short
compared with the torture he suffered … under Saddam … but he said it left a
deeper wound. “Under Saddam they summoned you to the security police
headquarters, and that was where the torture began. They didn't humiliate
you in sight of your family,” he explained.’ (Guardian, 12 April).

Abdul Razak al-Muaimy, a 32-year-old laborer, told the New York Times that
American soldiers had humiliated him in front of his children: “They
searched my house. They kicked my Koran. They speak to me so poorly in front
of my children. It's not that I encourage my son to hate Americans. It's not
that I make him want to join the resistance. Americans do that for me.”  (11

Similar stories abound. Thus David Blair notes the ‘gleams of loathing’
lighting up the eyes of two Iraqis, who had been found, unarmed in Central
Baghdad and were now ‘squatting in the dust their hands tied by plastic
restraints’ (Telegraph, 10 April). “We picked up these guys for wearing
black,” explained one soldier from the 1st Armoured Division. “All of Sadr's
guys wear black. It's like a Viet Cong thing.” ‘Gunmen loyal to Moqtada
al-Sadr, the radical Shi'ite leader, do indeed wear black,’ Blair notes ‘But
so do Shi'ite pilgrims - and hundreds of thousands are now converging on …
Najaf and Karbala for the Shi'ite festival of Arba'een. Saddam Hussein's
regime … rounded up pilgrims around the time of Arba'een by the simple
expedient of arresting men in black.’

Plus ca change.

In an e-mail quoted in the New York Times, Maj Gen James N. Hattis,
commander of the First Marine Division, states that “We will always be
humanitarian in our efforts. We will fight him on our terms. May God help
them when we’re done with them” (11 April).

Others are less sanguine about the US approach. For example, a senior UK
army officer, who has told the Sunday Telegraph that “when US troops are
attacked with mortars in Baghdad they use mortar-locating radar to find the
firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though
the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated
residential area … They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in
the way the British are’, ‘they view [Iraqis] as untermenschen [the Nazi
expression for “sub-humans”]. Their attitude towards the Iraqis is tragic,
it’s awful’ (11 April).

Based on ‘statements on individual incidents by the US military, Iraqi
police and hospital officials’ Associated Press estimates that ‘about 880
Iraqis [have been] killed around the country’ over the past week (AP, 12
April) whilst the Independent on Sunday estimates the Iraqi civilian death
toll for the period 4-10 April at 541, with over 1370 civilians injured (11
April). By contrast US military deaths were placed at 36, and non-US
military deaths at 16.

Last October Kofi Annan observed that ‘as long as there’s an occupation, the
resistance will grow’ (IHT, 15 Oct). ‘[US] commanders say they have no doubt
they can achieve [military success], given their force’s superior strength
and enough support from Washington and the American people’ (NYT, 11 April,
emphasis added). We can and must deprive the US (and the British) Government
of that support for without an end to the US/UK military occupation the
future for Iraq’s people looks grim indeed.

Voices UK has been campaigning on UK policy towards Iraq, in solidarity with
the Iraqi people, since February 1998. For more information, to receive
further updates or to join our free mailing list please contact: voices in
the wilderness uk, 5 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DX.   Tel. 0845 458 2564
(local rate call)     E-mail:   Web:

[A PDF version of this briefing, to print and distribute, will be available
shortly on the Voices web-site:]


Demos. have already taken place in London (see eg. and in over fifty towns and
cities across the US (
Please let us know of any forthcoming actions in your area in addition to
the ones below.

[1] The Stop the War Coalition has called an Emergency Lobby 10 Downing
Saturday 17 April, 12-2pm, outside 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, Central
London. Tubes: Westminster, Charing X.
Called by Stop the War Coalition. Supported by CND and the Muslim
Association of Britain.

[2] The Edinburgh Stop the War Coalition have also called an emergency demo.
for next Saturday:

Stop the Massacres in Falluja, End the US & British occupation of Iraq,
Bring the British Soldiers Home with the Spanish.
Saturday April 17th 12.00 noon, Parliament Square, Edinburgh

[3] Contact your MP.

Even if she/he is completely useless you need to contact them in order to
'shake the tree' so that public outrage can filter up the system.

** You can find an alphabetical list of MPs, including (where they have
them) their web-sites, e-mails etc... on-line at:

** If you know your postcode you can also fax your MP on-line using

** If you want to leave a message for Jack Straw, the main switchboard # at
the Foreign Office for general enquiries is 020 7008 1500.

** You can fax the Prime Minister on 020 7925 0918 or send him an e-mail via Alternatively you can write
to him at 10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA

** You can phone the Defence Attache's Office at the US embassy by calling
(0207) 894 0745, fax it on 020 7894-0726 or e-mail According to the Embassy's web-site
( the DAO 'performs
representational functions on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, the
Secretaries of the Military Services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chiefs
of the U.S. Military Services and the Commander of European Command. The
Defense & Naval Attaché at the American Embassy, London is Captain David L.
Wirt, USN.'

** Contact the MoD: a list of contacts is available on-line at You can write to them at Ministerial
Correspondence Unit, Ministry of Defence, Room 220, Old War Office,
Whitehall, London SW1A 2EU or e-mail them at
(including your postal address).

[4] Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Disobedience.

* Use the internet resources that are out there to organise your own action
eg. and

* Keep your ear to the ground and take part in actions organised by others
eg.,, and

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