So there's a new pseudo-agreement today between US forces and the local clerics of Fallujah - which means there's really no agreement yet at all - just an agreement to try to get an agreement. The clerics may not have sufficient control over the resistance fighters to get them to lay down their weapons. [Remember: Sadr is in Najaf, not Fallujah.]
But check out this passage from first story quoted above:
In the statement, the Americans agreed to allow better access to hospitals and graveyards and ease the movement of "official ambulances" throughout checkpoints. Marines have said gunmen have been using ambulances to move.
I'd actually just heard this on TV, and was like 'huh?'. It reminded me of something I'd read earlier today, which I can't find right now, but it was a blog report from a British humanitarian aid who was shot at by a US sniper every time (s)he tried to run across the street to the hospital. Now, maybe you are inclined to believe that 100% of the injured in this civilian city are resistance fighters (not even US forces claim 100%), but if you have a healthy mistrust of your government (you should), then you'll know otherwise. The US's collective punishment arrangement has to be outlawed by the Geneva Conventions. Of course, it is immoral to punish a civilian population for a country's military actions. That's why armies aren't supposed to attack civilians. That's what supposed to happen - in theory, anyways. How many civilians are suffering and dying from lack of access to the hospitals? How many civilians inside the hospital are suffering and dying as a result of supplies not being able to get through?
Now, as for the resistance fighters giving up their heavy weapons...I guess, if one were inclined to smoke very large and potent crack rocks for 24 hours straight, then one might be inclined to believe in the possibility that this 'disarmament' could actually occur. I haven't been down with the crack rock lately - so I'm inclined to believe that this is yet another pseudo-success headline from the US to give the US public the impression that things are still going swell in Iraq, and that the US is exercising all possible diplomatic avenues before flattening the town - resistance fighters and terrorists and civilians alike. Wish they could have done that before invading, but hey, nobody's perfect...
In yet another show of weakness by the US military, the US has backed-off a pledge to 'kill or capture' those responsible for the attacks on the four US military contractors - leaving that task to the local clerics - a job I'm sure they would work very hard at.
End of the day - Bush & Co. don't want too many more US deaths this month, so they're holding off on the full-scale invasion of the city. If the US military continues the starvation of the city for another couple of weeks, they're hoping that the resistance fighters will be significantly weakened. I don't doubt that their bodies will be weakended, but Iraqis and Muslims everywhere will cheer their heroic fight to the death against the superior US military - the world's lone superpower. Arabs and Muslims everywhere are already hearing the stories of the valiant freedom-fighters from Fallujah and Najaf. The starvation of the city of Fallujah by US forces just looks like barbarism - it is. The events of Fallujah and Najaf will probably serve to lift Iraqis to new heights of anti-Americanism, and will propel many of them over the ledge from resistance sympathizer to resistance fighter.
UPDATE: Found that 'British humanitarian aid' story about how the US has cut off access to the hospitals. Here's a brief clip:
People have been under bombardment for the last eight days. A lot of people are trapped in their houses still - despite the ceasefire - without food, without water and terrified to leave. Food and medical aid is now arriving but the problem is getting the aid around the city. A lot of it is delivered to the mosque, but then getting it to the hospitals, past the American snipers, is proving to be impossible.