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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Falluja Troubles a Bellwether for Iraq?

After all, by last year the city, a former insurgent stronghold, was considered one of the safest places in the country. Local Sunni sheiks had driven out the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and held successful elections, and American engineers were hard at work on a showcase reconstruction project: a $100 million wastewater treatment plant meant to be a model for civilian advances in Iraq.

Then a series of troubling attacks began cropping up this year. One in particular, at the end of May, seemed to drive home the possibility that things were changing for the worse. On a heavily patrolled military road between a Marine camp and the wastewater plant, a huge buried bomb tore through an armored American convoy, killing three prominent reconstruction officials and striking directly at hopes that the way was completely clear for peacetime projects.

With the June 30 withdrawal deadline for American combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns drawing near, that attack and others like it are particularly ominous for officials who see Falluja as a test case for the rest of the country. Security here is becoming a solely Iraqi operation, and while the United States military says the number of attacks remains encouragingly low, there are signs that Falluja could again plunge into violence.

link: Rumblings in Falluja Threaten to Disrupt Script for U.S. Withdrawal -


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