30,000 dis­placed from Fallujah

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

BAGH­DAD—Fight­ing in the Iraqi city of Fallujah has dis­placed at least 30,000 peo­ple in three days, the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil said Sun­day, warn­ing that a hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter was un­fold­ing.

Iraqi forces achieved a break­through on Thurs­day, tak­ing over the cen­ter of Fallujah while the ISIS group re­treated to ar­eas in the north of the city. That al­lowed thou­sands of civil­ians who had been used as hu­man shields to flee the city, a key mil­i­tants strong­hold west of Bagh­dad that had been besieged for months.

“The es­ti­mated to­tal num­ber of dis­placed from Fallujah in just the last three days is now at a stag­ger­ing 30,000 peo­ple,” the NRC said in a state­ment. The aid group,

HISHAM MELHEM T was a moral ra­tio­nal Cri de Coeur for tak­ing steps to end the car­nage in Syria, but it was also grounded in equally clear and com­pelling strate­gic im­per­a­tives. For weeks, scores of State Depart­ment of­fi­cers in Wash­ing­ton and in U.S. em­bassies in the Mid­dle East have been cir­cu­lat­ing a draft of a sharply crit­i­cal “dis­sent ca­ble” of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s fickle poli­cies to­wards the tragic war in Syria, and force­fully urg­ing the United States to end its dither­ing and carry out mil­i­tary strikes if nec­es­sary to com­pel the As­sad regime to end its sys­tem­atic mass mur­der of Syr­ian civil­ians.

About two weeks ago the mes­sage ti­tled Syria Pol­icy was posted on the “Dis­sent Channel” signed by fifty one mostly mid­dle rank­ing and ju­nior of­fi­cers who worked over the last five years on as­pects of Syria pol­icy, and who were ex­posed to the daily gut-wrench­ing ac­counts that came across their desks of the de­mor­al­iz­ing and very de­press­ing depre­da­tions, mostly from the As­sad regime.

The Dis­sent Channel was set up dur­ing the Viet­nam War as a ve­hi­cle for of­fi­cers who had strong po­lit­i­cal and moral dis­agree­ments with of­fi­cial poli­cies, to ex­press their dis­sent to their se­nior of­fi­cials

Iwhich runs dis­place­ment camps around Fallujah, said another 32,000 peo­ple had al­ready been dis­placed since the start of the gov­ern­ment of­fen­sive against the ISIS bas­tion nearly a month ago.

It said it be­lieved dozens of fam­i­lies were still inside Fallujah, in­clud­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble civil­ians such as preg­nant women, the sick and the el­derly. The aid com­mu­nity has been over­whelmed by the in­flux of peo­ple and many were sleeping in the open, in the scorch­ing sum­mer sun and wait­ing for a tent at one of the dis­place­ment camps.

“We im­plore the Iraqi gov­ern­ment to take charge of this hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter un­fold­ing on our watch,” NRC’s Iraq di­rec­tor Nasr Mu­flahi said in the state­ment.—Agen­cies with­out fear of re­tal­i­a­tion.

Al­though the mil­i­tary rec­om­men­da­tions in the dis­sent mes­sage are thought­ful and the sig­na­to­ries be­lieve that “per­haps most crit­i­cally, a more mus­cu­lar mil­i­tary pos­ture un­der U.S. lead­er­ship would un­der­pin and pro­pel a new and rein­vig­o­rated diplo­matic ini­tia­tive.” It is very un­likely that Pres­i­dent Obama, who pur­sued half-heart­edly and with stun­ning de­tach­ment sev­eral ten­ta­tive, in­com­plete and con­tra­dic­tory ap­proaches to Syria will fun­da­men­tally al­ter his cur­rent pol­icy, which in­volves only crit­i­ciz­ing the As­sad poli­cies but steer­ing away from un­der­min­ing him or his regime, and fo­cus in­stead on con­tain­ing the threat of ISIS.

A his­tory of dis­sent: ur­ing the Viet­nam War a num­ber of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil staff, in­clud­ing An­thony Lake, who served later as Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s first Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor re­signed in protest over the war. Dur­ing the Bos­nian war in the 1990’s, a num­ber of mi­dlevel young of­fi­cers in­volved in that con­flict re­signed out of frus­tra­tion with the bulk of Amer­i­can troops in Ja­pan. Also con­tentious is a plan to re­lo­cate a Ma­rine Corps air sta­tion to a less-pop­u­lated part of the south­west­ern is­land. The re­lo­ca­tion plan de­vel­oped af­ter pub­lic anger erupted in 1995 over the rape of a girl by three Amer­i­can ser­vice­men.

The killing of the lo­cal woman, who had been miss­ing for sev­eral weeks when her body was found last month, set off out­rage on Ok­i­nawa, where ten­sions pe­ri­od­i­cally run high over crime linked to Amer­i­can troops. The U.S. con­trac­tor, a for­mer Ma­rine, was ar­rested on May 19 on sus­pi­cion of aban­don­ing the woman’s body, but has not yet been charged with killing her. Ok­i­nawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga told the crowd at the rally in Ok­i­nawa’s cap­i­tal, Naha, that he wanted to apol­o­gize to the woman for fail­ing to pro­tect her, even af­ter what hap­pened in 1995. “We had pledged never to re­peat such an in­ci­dent,” he said. “I couldn’t change the po­lit­i­cal system to pre­vent that. That is my ut­most re­gret as a politi­cian and as gov­er­nor of Ok­i­nawa.”

About 65,000 peo­ple at­tended the rally, ac­cord­ing to the Ky­odo News agency. Many peo­ple held signs de­mand­ing the Marines leave and the over­all mil­i­tary on Ok­i­nawa be scaled back. Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s gov­ern­ment is be­hind the se­cu­rity agree­ment with the U.S., and wants Ja­pan to take on a big­ger mil­i­tary role on the in­ter­na­tional stage. But those at the rally said they wanted a more peace-ori­ented Ja­pan.—Agen­cies Pres­i­dent Obama re­mained im­mune to the shame of the many Sre­breni­cas that the As­sad regime has com­mit­ted in Syria.

The con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tors to Amer­ica’s poli­cies to­wards the wars of Viet­nam, the Balkans and Syria have al­ways been mi­dlevel and young of­fi­cers, maybe be­cause group think and bu­reau­cracy have not jaded them enough, and maybe be­cause of their youth they don’t have bur­den­some fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,

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