New Marine Offensive in Falluja
All the main news outlets are predicting a new Marine offensive in Falluja soon. This goes back to my earlier posting on September 13, about orders that came from Washington telling the Marines to back off during their first offensive, making them look cowardly. The first offensive started after American security contractors were killed in Falluja and strung up for all to see.
The new offensive seems as politically controlled as the first, which is tough for the Marines who have to carry it out. It seems pretty clear that it is being delayed until too late to influence the US election, or perhaps the threat of the offensive is being used to win the votes of hawks who were disappointed with the failure of the first offensive. If that’s the case, the second offensive may be more bark than bite. A New York Times article warns that the situation in Ramadi, near Falluja, is rapidly deteriorating and that guerrillas who are run out of Falluja (population 300,000) might simply move to Ramadi (population 400,000).
The problem whether there is an offensive or not, is the January elections. If there is no offensive placing Falluja under US control, elections will be less meaningful in the Sunni triangle, and a significant Iraqi constituency will be under represented. If there is an offensive, it may turn the hearts and minds of the Sunni Iraqis against the US, again with unfavorable implications for the elections.