So whatever happened to Fallujah? Hard to get news from the city. Can they drive personal cars again, yet? Apparently the US military has built blast walls around each of 10 districts in the city. As the US prepares to withdraw from al-Anbar, there are worries about there not being enough local police to provide security.
McClatchy reports that on Tuesday, “A rocket targeted Fallujah police directorate missed its target and hit a residential house causing damages to the house and no casualties. Police said ten suspects were detained from Al Masalma area southern Fallujah were the rocket was launched from.”
And, BBC “Monitoring International Reports” carries a translation from the USG Open Source Center of an interview on the situation in al-Anbar and Fallujah by Al-Arab al-Yawm, a Jordanian newspaper, with Dr. Tariq Khalaf Abdullah, head of al-Anbar Reconstruction Commission. Abdullah, from a strongly Sunni region, blames tensions between Sunnis and Shiites on the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki: “so long as there is a sectarian government in Iraq, it is highly likely that it will seek to divide the country.” He blames terror attacks on nihilists and the Iranians: “There are two types of occupation now in Iraq, the American and the Iranian . . .” He doesn’t actually seem to have a problem with people attacking Americans– he refers to them as the “resistance.” But he complains about those who conduct random violence against Iraqis, implying that many are backed by Iran and also by the United States!. Moreover, he blames the Iranian presence and influence on the United States: “the United States was the main reason that helped Iran come into Iraq.” He is clearly eager to get the US out of the towns and cities of al-Anbar Province, and thinks their presence provokes violence. So to sum up, he dismisses the Iraqi government as “sectarian,” sees Iraqi Shiites as cat’s paws of Iran, wants the US out of his province, and blames the US for bringing Iran into it and well as for secretly backing death squads. And this is a Concerned Local Citizen with strong ties to the Awakening Council! Oh, yeah, the US is sitting pretty in Iraq now.
“January 15, 2008 Tuesday
IRAQI OFFICIAL DISCUSSES IMPROVED SECURITY IN AL-ANBAR, AL-FALLUJAH
Text of report by Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab al-Yawm on 14 January
[Report by As’ad al-Azzuni to Al-Arab al-Yawm: “In an Interview With the Head of the Iraqi National Effort Unification Commission, Dr Tariq al-Abdallah: Calm has Started To Spread in Al-Anbar and the Americans are Withdrawing From the Small Towns and Villages”]
Shaykh Dr Tariq Khalaf al-Abdallah, head of the National Effort Unification Commission in Iraq, and head of the Al-Anbar Construction Commission, has confirmed that the situation in Al-Anbar is now calm, that the Americans have withdrawn from the small towns and villages and have also pledged to withdraw from the centres of Al-Fallujah and Al-Anbar.
In an interview with Al-Arab al-Yawm, he said that they are moving forward with plans to rebuild Al-Anbar and that studies are under way to restore the electricity supply, maintain the Bayji pipeline to Al-Anbar, and build modern refineries.
Following is the text of the interview:
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Could you please describe for us the course of events in Al-Anbar?
[Al-Abdallah] These days, the Al-Anbar region is witnessing noticeable calm and great improvement on the security level. We believe that there is a great opportunity now for Al-Anbar to begin reconstruction very soon. Many committees have been set up for this purpose.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Who is behind these committees?
[Al-Abdallah] We have formed a higher commission called the Al-Anbar Higher Commission, which will be entrusted with managing the affairs of Al-Anbar. This commission comprises the head of the local Al-Anbar Council, the Al-Anbar mayor, and the head of Al-Anbar Central Council; in other words, it is under my chairmanship. There will also be Shaykh Ahmad Abu-Rishah and the representative of the Al-Anbar shaykhs, Shaykh Hamid al-Turk.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] You talk about terrorism while you are under occupation. What does this mean?
[Al-Abdallah] There are two types of occupation now in Iraq, the American and the Iranian; both are using groups from outside Iraq under the names of Al-Qa’idah or terrorism. Sometimes, these sides are managed by both parties and conduct activities inside Iraq. For this reason, the Iraqis are confronting them, because the features of the third party are not known. It tries to kill Iraqis, nothing more. It is not actually resisting the Americans or the Iranians, but targeting the Iraqis only.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] As a commission, do you have any contacts or coordination with the Americans?
[Al-Abdallah] By virtue of the presence of the Americans inside Al-Anbar Governorate, there is coordination with them with the objective of withdrawing from inside the cities. We have pledges from them that the security file will be transferred to the local police elements and volunteers from among the tribes in the area. In fact, the Americans have started withdrawing from some of the smaller towns and villages. In accordance with their pledges, they will be withdrawing soon from the centres of both Al-Fallujah and Al-Anbar.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Do you believe that the Americans will withdraw just like that without any resistance?
[Al-Abdallah] I confirm 100 per cent that their withdrawal in itself is the result of the honourable national Iraqi resistance, which has been confronting them since the first day of the occupation to this day.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] What is the situation in Al-Fallujah these days?
[Al-Abdallah] The situation in Al-Fallujah is similar to that of Al-Anbar, where the town is witnessing a relative improvement in the security situation. I was there some 10 days ago, and noticed a marked improvement in the security situation there.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] What are the reasons for that?
[Al-Abdallah] This has happened because Al-Qa’idah elements have left the city.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Where is the Iraqi resistance in Al-Anbar then?
[Al-Abdallah] The Iraqi resistance is still in Al-Anbar, and most of them are the ones who fought the infiltrators and those supported by Iran.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Is Iraq heading towards division?
[Al-Abdallah] We are against division, and we have great hopes that division will not be the ultimate fate of Iraq. But, so long as there is a sectarian government in Iraq, it is highly likely that it will seek to divide the country. However, we have pledged to our God and people that we will oppose this scheme.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Are there any details regarding the plan to rebuild Al-Anbar?
[Al-Abdallah] We are in the process of conducting some detailed studies on restoring the electricity supply. Some electricity stations were under construction, but the government was unable to finalize them for what we believe were unconvincing reasons. Therefore, we will intervene directly by forming a special committee for this purpose. This committee’s mission will be to follow up on the contracts that relate to these refineries and that have been referred to companies that are not capable of implementing them, so that they implement them as quickly as possible. Thus, when the electricity supply is restored, we will be able to operate some of the factories that require electricity. This will lead to employing a large number of unemployed people. Furthermore, we are in the process of maintaining the pipeline for petroleum by-products from Bayji to Al-Anbar to help operate the electricity stations and a modern refinery. When the crude oil pipeline starts to operate, it will also help operate a modern refinery, which in turn helps provide petroleum by-products to the people of the governorate.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] What is the source of your funding?
[Al-Abdallah] There is a plan to invest the Al-Anbar allotted quota of funds for re-building the governorates. Al-Anbar has been deprived of this quota due to the previously alleged security situation. Now, after security has been established, we will demand the Al-Anbar quota in full. We will also demand compensation for the quotas we did not acquire previously.
[Al-Arab al-Yawm] Some five years have passed since the occupation of Iraq. What do you, as Iraqis, have to say about that?
[Al-Abdallah] We blame ourselves first and foremost. We should not blame anyone else because, as a result of our division and the distance between the Shi’is, Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds, we have made ourselves an easy morsel for others. We have become easy prey for the occupation. After suffering from this bitter experience, we hope that this will be a factor of unity, not of division, so that we can all stand in one rank against the occupation, from which we are all suffering, whether it is regional or by the United States. This is because the United States was the main reason that helped Iran come into Iraq.
Source: Al-Arab al-Yawm, Amman, in Arabic 14 Jan 08 “