Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Curious Ramadi Victory

The population of Ramadi in Iraq was around 456,000 in 2004; it housed an estimated 1,000 distinct clans, each with its chief.

What that population is today no one seems to know—and for a good reason. According to Iraqi News (link) 80 percent of the city had been destroyed even before the new allied bombings began; if anybody still lives there, the city is, ah, far from working. But back to numbers. The German Frankfurter Zeitung puts today’s population at 300,000—and one assumes that FZ expended no thought on that number; others, probably still highly dubiously, go back to a 1987 number: 192,000.  If we accept the last number (not that I do), Ramadi is about the size of Grand Rapids, MI. The few pictures we are shown (over and over and over again) only show half a dozen Iraqi army soldiers celebrating amidst dreary, empty ruins; a 2008 picture—from a time when two pairs of American boots are also shown—features four Ramadi citizens going about their business. Still using Iraqi News accounts, the government dropped leaflets over the city around December 26 urging the public to clear the city; but since then we’ve not been shown masses (192,000 is a mass) flooding into the desert trying to escape allied bombardment. And if they fled, where would they have gone? East of them is Fallujah (said to have been 326,000 people in 2010); Fallujah is still in ISIS hands. West, south, and north of them is desert. So what is really left of the governing city of Anwar province—beyond rubble?

A curious victory indeed. Ramadi is 79 miles west of Baghdad. Now its rubble has been liberated. Much closer to Baghdad is Fallujah, still under  ISIS control. Why did the Iraqi government target Ramadi first? Was it because it wasn’t either populated or functional? And how did they get there? Bypassing Fallujah which, like Ramadi, is on Highway 1 and on the Euphrates river. It makes one wonder what is really going on.

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