Continuing U.S. Occupation
June 3, 2003
U.S. military occupation weighs heavily on the people of Iraq. And, in turn, the people are stepping up their struggle against U.S. colonialism.
On May 28, the U.S. army was forced to withdraw from the down of Hit, 90 miles northwest of Baghdad, after the people organized several mass demonstrations and burned down a police station used as a U.S. army headquarters. The protests were triggered by U.S. soldiers conducting house-to-house searches in the city.
Also during the last week of May, at least 6 U.S. soldiers were killed and a dozen wounded in armed clashes with Iraqi partisan forces.
The U.S. Defense Department is responding to this growing resistance by scrapping plans to reduce U.S. troop strength in Iraq to 70,000. Instead the Pentagon is extending the tours of duty of U.S. soldiers and sending more into the country. Ten thousand additional U.S. troops are being sent to the town of Falluja which has been a focal point of Iraqi resistance. On May 29, Lt. General David McKiernan, commander of U.S. ground forces, said that "the war has not ended" and announced new military tactics to try to stop the "hit-and-run" attacks of Iraqi partisan forces. More than 250,000 U.S. and British soldiers are already deployed in Iraq and Kuwait.
The following items give a small glimpse of the toll which this U.S. occupation takes on the people of Iraq.
- On May 22, after U.S. troops came under fire from snipers, U.S. tanks fired randomly in the center of the city, destroying numerous shops and killing two people. One eyewitness stated that "They [U.S. soldiers] went crazy, they fired everywhere." Other residents said the U.S. troops went on a "shooting spree," after barging into homes and firing randomly throughout the center of the city.
Last month, in Falluja, 16 Iraqi demonstrators were killed by U.S. troops. On May 1, a grenade attack injured seven U.S. soldiers in the town.
- On May 20, the new U.S. chief civilian administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer III, announced a new "weapons proclamation" that will require all Iraqi citizens to surrender their arms. According to the new ban, only U.S.-trained Iraqi policemen will be authorized to carry guns. All other Iraqis will be prohibited from possessing any weapons and subject to arrest.
- On May 15, 500 heavily-armed U.S. troops stormed into a village near the city of Tikrit, arresting over 300 people. During the 5-hour sweep, U.S. troops sealed off the village with humvees, howitzers and Bradley fighting vehicles, and went house-to-house, taking people into custody. Residents were zip-cuffed (had their hands tied with plastic) and ordered to kneel on the roads outside their homes. Similar raids have been carried out in many cities and on a daily basis.
- On May 13, U.S. military officials announced that U.S. troops will have the authority to "shoot-to-kill" Iraqi "looters" on sight. The new measure is supposedly being implemented as part of a "tough new security setup" imposed by the U.S. administrator Paul Bremer III.