6 US Military Personnel Killed, 13 Wounded at Fallujah
A bomber targeted a Marine convoy near Fallujah coming back from a checkpoint, then guerrillas sprayed machine gun fire. They killed 6 Marines, including 4 women, and wounded 13, 11 of whom were women.
The American women were deployed at the checkpoint to pat down Iraqi women. Arab culture insists on gender segregation, and it is considered unacceptable for male foreigners to pat down Muslim women.
The Marines appear to have had their guard down. Fallujah has been relatively quiet since it was invested by US troops last November, and much of its population is still living elsewhere as refugees. There have been occasional firefights in the city, or firing of mortar rounds by guerrillas. Friday’s attack was the most audacious since the city was reduced.
The guerrillas clearly had the women under surveillance and deliberately targeted them. Attacking each other’s women is a major feature of imperial warfare in history. The Sepoys in India in 1857 who rebelled against their British officers often invaded the British cantonments and attacked their women. Indeed, when the British troops were sent out from Britain to reconquer North India in 1857-58, they underlined avenging the massacres of white women as among their primary goals. In Bosnia, Serb irregulars used rape as a deliberate tool of war. In most cultures, ideals of masculinity are wrought up with the protection of women (feminism hasn’t penetrated most militaries), so attacking the enemy’s women is a way of humiliating and rattling him
The Marines responded by putting all of Fallujah under a strict curfew. Al-Jazeera is saying that the Marines are sending automobiles through the streets with loudspeakers, calling on the residents to inform on the guerrillas to the Americans, and threatening that if they did not, they would be trapped in their homes by a continued curfew. The US military frequently employs forms of collective punishment in Iraq, and resorts to locking down an entire city where it feels it necessary.
“gunmen on Friday killed an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric. Police said two bodyguards were also killed trying to protect Shiite cleric Samara al-Baghdadi, who represented al-Sistani in Baghdad’s predominantly Shiite al-Amin district. Iraqi security forces also discovered the bodies of eight beheaded men – at least six of whom were Shiite farmers – in a region north of Baghdad on Friday. It was unclear why the men were killed.”
Al-Hayat reports that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari privately asked congress to tighten its economic boycott of Syria as a way of forcing Damascus to be more forthcoming about policing the Syrian borders to prevent the infiltration of Sunni jihadis into Tel Afar and other flashipoints. Jaafri will travel to Damascus himself soon, though I think his reception just got chillier.
al-Sharq al-Awsat also says that a young men in Najaf are being arrested for wearing blue jeans.