This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Waiting Out The Siege

"Daesh (Arabic acronym for ISIL) executed 16 Haditha traders last night."
"The victims were transporting mostly food goods, such as vegetables, from Baiji to Haditha. They were stopped at a checkpoint and abducted. They then executed them, some by shooting them, others by slitting their throats."
"The people are suffering a lot because of the siege. Then also Daesh (ISIL) are attacking all the time."
"Everyone agrees that there are two things that have helped us. The existence of Haditha dam and Ayn al-Asad base."
"They [the U.S.-led coalition] appear only when the battle is very hard and the danger is very close to us." Baiji city mayor, Abdelhakim al-Jughaifi

"It's like we're not living in Iraq. There's no way in or out. It's like we are an island in the desert."
Israa Mohammed, Haditha, Iraq

"We have been forgotten. But we've agreed to all fight together until we die."
Awad Halaf, Haditha police officer

File photo of ISIL terrorist elements operating in Iraq © AFP
File photo of ISIL terrorist elements operating in Iraq © AFP

Thousands of Iraqis have been slaughtered as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group began tightening their grip on the western province of Anbar in Iraq. Fallujah, Ramadi and the community of Hit have all fallen. Haditha, however, continues to resist. The tribal people and the Iraqi army continue to fight in the face of ongoing attacks. These are Sunni tribes living in Haditha, and the Iraqi army along with the Iran-backed militias aiding them are Shiites.

And it helps somewhat that the U.S.-led coalition along with the government of Iraq has fought to prevent the province's hydroelectric dam located at Haditha from falling into the terrorists' hands. The people of Haditha may be determined to ensure their city is kept out of the hands of ISIL, but the 96,000 people remaining there have had to struggle to survive in their town, completely cut off from the world outside.

Reporters gaining entry to Haditha for the first time in over a year discovered the besieged city coping under dreadful conditions. Doctors have left the city, and medication is difficult to obtain. Power is on for three hours daily, and gasoline now sells for four times the national price. The ten-kilometre-long dam is a prize that ISIL would dearly love to capture as the country's second-largest producer of hydroelectric power.

The town defenders are under immense pressure, warned by ISIL through an audio message that they are on the verge of entering the town. At the base of the dam, the army command centre is headed by Maj.Gen. Ali Daboun, who spoke of the latest assault by 37 suicide car bombs. "All the sectors in the country have a hard job, but we have an exceptionally hard job", he stated, resigned and fatigued with strain.

Residents of the town have complained that a few aid convoys that had been escorted to them by tribal fighters or the army ensured that none of the aid reached them, and was diverted instead to their own tribes, or to be sold on the black market. "From time to time, supplies arrive, and we don't get anything", said Samir Mishal. Which led aid workers and Iraqi officials to travel with a convoy to bring in 21 tons of food last week.

Attacks on Haditha increased markedly once government forces lost Ramadi. Mayor Jughaifi's tribe has been leading the fight to protect the city. Understanding full well that without the Iraqi military and U.S.-led coalition protecting the nearby military base of Ayn al-Asad where 300 U.S. Marines are stationed on a training mission, their parlous situation would be even worse. 

Iraqi soldiers and Shia fighters from the popular committees hold a post as they fire towards ISIL positions in the Garma district of Anbar province west of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on May 19, 2015. ©AFP

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