February 4, 2014 – San Francisco, CA – PipeLineNews.org – In what was the most savage fighting during the Iraqi war - Operation Iraqi Freedom - from April through December 2004 American forces twice fought for control of the key al-Qaeda stronghold of Fallujah.
The first battle [Fallujah is in Anbar province] came as a result of a particularly grotesque display of violence. On March 31, 2004 a convoy of armored vehicles was attacked by local al-Qaeda forces resulting in the death of four contractors working under the employ of Blackwater USA [now Academi].
The contractor's remains were then hung on a bridge spanning the Euphrates river, a public taunt intended to demonstrate that the American intervention in the country had come to naught.
Responding, in April, American Marines launched an attack on the city. However that effort ended in an imposed standoff, victory prevented by a restrictive "Rules of Engagement" placed upon U.S. military operations combined with an intense and coordinated media campaign led my America's leftist media, with nearly every major newspaper daily screaming a front-page U.S. casualty count, the tragic loss of life dealt with as if it were a sporting event.
U.S. and world press had a field day decrying the "civilian" death toll as well as the bombing of mosques which everyone on the ground knew were widely used throughout the conflict to harbor al-Qaeda irregulars and weapons caches.
A hasty "ceasefire" was arranged and the Marines were withdrawn, having captured less than half of the city.
During the first week of November, the Marines and other Coalition Forces returned, this time with blood in their eyes, proceeding in short order to meatgrind their way through the city, fighting house-to-house. Though eventually subduing Fallujah the cost had been enormous, hundreds of casualties including over 100 who gave their lives. The re-taking of Fallujah proved to be the most costly battle over the duration of the war.
We mention the above to provide some manner of perspective against which to understand the Obama Administration's malfeasance regarding Iraq, which is quite rapidly sinking back into chaos.
As the Washington Times reports:
"Since the U.S. pullout two years ago, a defeated al Qaeda in Iraq has reassembled, brought in fresh fighters, freed prisoners and unleashed waves of deadly car bombings. Last week, al Qaeda claimed control of Fallujah, the town in western Anbar province where scores of Americans lost their lives in house-to-house fighting in 2004…" [Rowan Scarborough, Chaos in Iraq could be omen for Afghanistan without U.S. troops: Islamist groups wait for open gates to power]
As this writer noted in a previous piece, Iraq is coming unglued, and we have Mr. Obama to thank for this state of affairs.
"Though we have major disagreements with Senator McCain and his cohort, the estimable Lindsey Graham, their assessment of Obama's failure to come to some accommodation with the Iraqis is spot on.
"I know what they [the Iraqis] said to us, they were ready to sign, and Obama did not want to stay in Iraq, and that's what it was all about," he says. Joining McCain in blasting Obama is South Carolina's Lindsey Graham, a fellow Republican on the Armed Services Committee. "If we'd had a residual force of 10- to 12,000, I am totally convinced there would not have been a rise of al-Qaida," Graham says. "The political process would've continued to move forward." [source, David Welna, McCain Lays Al-Qaida Surge In Iraq At Obama's Feet, National Public Radio]
The best analysis that we have seen regarding the resurgence of AQI was undertaken by the well respected Institute for the Study of War an organization described by General Petraeus as "connecting policy with actual implementation. This has been an organization that has truly been value added."
The two part investigation spans 80 pages. Its executive summary states:
"…al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) has reconstituted as a professional military force capable of planning, training, resourcing, and executing synchronized and complex attacks in Iraq, in particular waves of Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED), and combined arms attacks involving VBIEDS, mortars, suicide bombers, and small arms fire. This assessment derives from careful study of the 24 VBIED waves and 8 prison attacks observed during AQI's "Breaking the Walls" campaign from July 21, 2012 to July 23, 2013..."
Not only does the much strengthened and professionalized AQI threaten to plunge Iraq back into chaos, but the enemy's strategy is designed to not only destabilize that country but also to facilitate AQI linking up with its affiliates in Syria, with obviously dire consequences. [source, Al-Qaeda in Iraq Continues to Gain Strength, January 9, 2014 PipeLineNews.org
Complicating matters, the Maliki government is using the turmoil to further suppress the nation's Sunni minority, which is increasingly pushing that segment of the population into the arms of al-Qaeda.
As former Secretary of Defense Bill Gates states, "Al-Qaeda affiliates in Iraq have exploited Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's antagonism toward Sunnis, fueling an escalating conflict…" [source, Tony Capaccio, Gates Says al-Qaeda in Iraq Seizes on Anti-Sunni Maliki , Bloomberg News]
Had the President the inclination to have negotiated a Status of Force Agreement with Iraq, it would have allowed the United States enough of a military and diplomatic presence in the country to help guard against both a resurgent al-Qaeda as well as assisting Maliki in understanding that his anti-Sunni pogrom was hastening the demise of Iraq.
As Iraq implodes, it is Obama who must be held to account.
America's armed forces served with great distinction and valor in Iraq. 4,500 flag-draped coffins were the price of attempting to stabilize this key Middle Eastern country and this president has largely thrown that sacrifice away, to his great dishonor.
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