Fallujah was a militant stronghold and it has been quiet for months, but the success of the Surge still depends on creating conditions within the city that make its inhabitants feel confident peace will remain on a long term basis. Although Marines have not fired ashot in combat in nearly three months, basic facilities within the city are still not operating. Hamaed Ahmed, an influential tribal sheik, points out, “the government in Baghdad always said they couldn’t help because Fallujah was too dangerous and too filled with terroriists. Now Fallujah is more secure than Baghdad– and still there is no help.” According to Ahmed Rija al-Essavy, a Fallujah city councilman, “If Fallujah is ignored, if there is no forward proress now, the city will go back to how things were.”
The list of problems in the city is long and complex. Unemployment is about 70%, schools are overcrowded, fuel is too expensive and there is lack of power to fuel basic necessities. Iraq’s government claims it is just starting the task of restoring basic necessities, but even that may not be sufficient if people lack jobs and their children are unable to obtain a good education. President Bush, as always, emphasizes the wrong things about Iraq. Killing militants in itself will not lead to creation of a vibrant Iraq. He has never been able to understand the importance of political and economic action.