Wednesday :: Oct 27, 2004

Despite The White House Rhetoric, US About To Lose Control Of Ramadi

by Steve

Despite the happy talk from the White House about how things are going in Iraq, and the fact that the media doesn’t seem to care anymore, it turns out that we are about to lose Ramadi, and along with it, a chance to regain control and maintain it in Fallujah.

Check out this sobering piece by journalistic all-star Edward Wong in Thursday’s NYT and remember that Bush says he has always given our military whatever it needs:

The American military and the interim Iraqi government are quickly losing control of this provincial capital, which is larger and strategically more important than its sister city of Falluja, say local officials, clerics, tribal sheiks and officers with the United States Marines.

"The city is chaotic," said Sheik Ali al-Dulaimi, a leader of the region's largest tribe. "There's no presence of the Allawi government," he added, speaking of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Most of the military's resources are channeled into controlling a bomb-infested, four-and-a-half-mile stretch of road that runs through downtown and connects two bases. Insurgents pop out of alleyways, mosques and a crowded market and fire at marines at will, then disappear when the Americans give chase.

Ramadi lies at the heart of rebellious Anbar Province and astride the major western supply route to Baghdad. The city, whose 400,000 residents have at best merely tolerated the foreign military presence, is seen as a crucial part of American efforts to plant a secular democracy in Iraq. But the disintegration of authority puts in jeopardy both the Bush administration's plan to stage nationwide elections by Jan. 31 and any sense of legitimacy such elections might have. It also complicates the American military's plans to invade Falluja, because of the close coordination between insurgents in the two cities.

With a powerful mix of propaganda and intimidation, well-financed guerrillas have turned the people of Ramadi against the American occupiers and their allies, Iraqis and marines here say.

"The provincial government is on the verge of collapse," said Second Lt. Ryan Schranel, whose platoon does 24-hour guard duty at the besieged government center opposite the main bazaar. "Just about everybody has resigned or is on the verge of resigning."

Compounding the problems, guerrillas have been streaming in since the marines stepped up airstrikes against the mujahedeen in Falluja, Marine officials say.

"We hit the deck one and a half months ago, and the area has changed for the downhill very quickly," said Staff Sgt. James Keefer, one of six civil affairs officers attached to the Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, which arrived here in early September. "We used to go to civilian areas in one or two Humvees to look at hospitals and other places. Now it's too dangerous, and we need four Humvees for a convoy, and we don't have the resources."

They don’t have the resources? WTF!

Wong’s piece has it all: understaffed, disrespected, and ill-equipped American forces; corrupt local officials; virtually worthless and defecting American-trained Iraqi security forces; and reconstruction projects put on hold due to a basic lack of security.

And, oh yeah, a declining degree of hope from all involved.

Steve :: 10:38 PM :: Comments (2) :: Digg It!