'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, May 19, 2005

My Last Post About Operation Matador, Probably 

Look, it's becoming pretty clear to me that the corporate press is looking right past a big story.

The story is that Operation Matador was a huge bloody blunder, civilian infrastructure was targeted and destroyed with no pay-off of any kind. Its planners expected to kill or capture hundreds of foreign fighters. This simply didn't happen; spokespeople claim 125 insurgents were killed, offering no information on the nationalities of these insurgents or any reason to believe that they actually were insurgents. Given the massive amounts of lying going on lately I'm not sure why anyone should believe that the 125 insurgents existed anywhere besides in the statements made by Pentagon spokespeople.

On top of being a failure, Matador has created what amounts to a humantarian crisis. The New Standard's Chris Shumway provides a good round-up of the coverage of its aftermath: destroyed towns, perhaps 8000 displaced people, houses serving as hospitals because the hospitals were bombed, and god knows how many dead. Here's Shumway:

US military commanders were quick to declare victory after a massive, weeklong offensive that involved air and ground attacks against villages in Western Iraq, saying that marines had "neutralized" an important haven for insurgents in the region.

But local residents, doctors and relief agencies described something more akin to a humanitarian disaster, saying the campaign killed dozens of people, displaced thousands more -- leaving many without adequate food, shelter or water -- and flattened scores of buildings.

Dr. Hamid Al-Alousi, director of the main hospital in Al-Qa’im, the largest town in the region, told reporters that the fighting between US forces and suspected rebels had killed more than 42 Iraqis and wounded another 80. He also said it was impossible to differentiate between civilians and fighters.

The Al-Qa’im hospital was so badly damaged in the fighting that Al-Alousi said doctors have been treating the wounded in makeshift facilities set up in private homes.

Due to a lack of medical supplies, Al-Alousi told IRIN News that doctors had to perform more than eleven amputations without the use of anesthetics.

The source of most of the new information in Shumway's report is this story from the IRIN news service. I hadn't read before the IRIN story that al-Qaim's hospital had been destroyed. The assault on Fallujah in November began with the targeting of hospitals and clinics.

Another intriguing point in the Shumway piece is that "other residents of Husaybah reported there were never any foreign militants in their town, only Iraqis defending their country against US forces," which flies in the face of all of the corporate media accounts. News stories agreed with military spokespeople that the foreign fighters existed, concluding that the marines simply didn't manage to engage them because the militants had already fled, perhaps across the Syrian border. Anyway, here's the source of the assertion that residents claim there were never foreign fighters in Husaybah -- it's Mohammed Barakat, who, as I have noted before, produced some of the only decent mainstream coverage of this catastrophe.

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