No pursuit into mosques without Iraqi troops. Loudspeakers in mosques permitted to broadcast prayers for the defeat of America. And the US is spending $200 million on reconstruction projects in Fallujah. And for what? None of this dents the jihad ideology. Clearly, they still hate us — no surprise there. And when chaos fully erupts again in Fallujah, the US-funded reconstruction projects will probably be the first to be looted and set ablaze.
“Under fire, US marines hand off battered Fallujah,” by Scott Peterson for the Christian Science Monitor:
FALLUJAH, IRAQ – From Observation Post Blazer, marines view Fallujah through a thick sheet of bullet-proof glass – already tested with numerous impacts. Or they stare through night-vision goggles or a thermal imaging scope that can pick up the heat of a dog
hundreds of yards away.
The marines still patrol key roads. The US military, which still travels boldly through town despite a surge in deadly sniper attacks and roadside bombs, is spending $200 million on 60-plus projects to rebuild the city, heavily damaged in fighting two years ago.
But with just 300 marines, the US military footprint is smaller in this Sunni stronghold of more than 300,000 than it has been in two years. As the marine presence shrinks and Iraqis take more control, Fallujah – once a template for counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq, where US forces have controlled all the variables – is likely again to set a standard for the rest of the country.
“A lot of us feel like we have our hands tied behind our back,” says Cpl. Peter Mattice, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. “In Fallujah, [insurgents] know our [rules of engagement] – they know when to stop, just before we
“They say we are here to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, but I just don’t see that happening,” says Corporal Mattice, of Gladwin, Mich. OP Blazer is perched on the northern edge of the city, looking due south down a main street known to the marines as Ethan, site of numerous roadside bombs.
Each precinct in Chicago or Detroit, makes 100 to 150 arrests per night per 300,000 people,” says Major Kolomjec, a lawyer who notes that Fallujah’s population is similar. “Here you take 12 to 40 people per day, and people are up in arms. You can’t expect stability, when you are not even doing the same level of policing as Detroit.”
Another source of frustration: Pursuit in mosques is forbidden without the presence of Iraqi Army units. Marines say some of Fallujah’s 76 mosques are used to hide weaponry. Some broadcast messages such as, “God help us defeat the Americans.”
“Many would ask: What other war would we allow the enemy to broadcast calls for our defeat, for the sake of cultural sensitivity?” says O’Neill.