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UPDATE:  Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project, January, 2005


Apologies to anyone who has been checking this website in the past couple of months for new information.  You are probably aware that Iraq Water Project raised money last summer to rebuild the Hai al-Risala municipal water treatment plant at Falluja.  This was the second time Vets for Peace effected repairs at that particular plant, and we picked Risala largely because of the extensive destruction brought upon the city by the aborted April attack and the continued airstrikes that followed.  Photographs of the newly installed equipment came in just a couple of weeks before US forces launched their last devastating attack on the city.  Because of a security lockdown imposed by the American military and the consequent absence of reliable damage assessments, for a long time we did not know the fate of Hai al-Risala.

On 27 December 2004 UNICEF released a preliminary report on damage to Falluja’s water treatment capability.  Having seen media presentations of Operation Phantom Fury’s overwhelming success, it is interesting to note that according to this report four of Falluja’s seven water plants are inaccessible to UN assessment teams, and only one quadrant of the city near the river is open to Iraqi emergency officials.  We leave it to you to draw conclusions.

Our Hai al-Risala plant is one of three water facilities accessible and visited by UNICEF.  We are relieved to pass on word that Risala is still standing and incurred repairable damage:  two pressure filters and two low lift pumps will need replacing.

It is not impossible, should the planets favorably conjoin, that IWP would undertake reconstruction here a third time.  At this moment Falluja is the most shattered city in Iraq and perhaps the closest thing to Stalingrad seen in many years.  We know that the water ministry building has been flattened, and LIFE, our partner NGO in Iraq, has finally had to close its Falluja office, which it had managed to keep open during the most intense fighting.  No one knows how many people were killed or how many Falluja refugees will continue to die in their squalid encampments.  This story is far from over.  How far the American administration will go in its operations against this city, should it decide its goals are unmet, is not entirely predictable.

Whether in Falluja or somewhere else, the Iraq Water Project will continue its efforts.  In the aftermath of the United States 2003 invasion, water quality throughout the country (excluding the Kurdish north) has sunk even further.  The formerly very, very bad has now become abominable, and people get sick and die.  As long as contributors maintain faith in us, and our courageous partner LIFE for Relief and Development is able to carry out the physical work, IWP will keep trying to help.  We hope to preserve your trust. 

In substitution for a more detailed report on our Falluja water plant, not yet available, I append a piece picked up a few weeks ago on the Internet.  This description, which of course we cannot corroborate, was written by a Russian medic, a survivor of Grozny who was serving in a Falluja clinic during the assault.  Needless to say, there is much in this letter you will never see in major American media.  Thanks again, everyone, for your interest and support.

--Art Dorland, VFP Iraq Water Project Chair, January 2, 2005



Lords of the flies

"And here I am going through the city and cannot say a word in shock. I
cannot recognize the city. Only ten days ago it was an Iraqi town with its
regular for centuries Arabic life. Boling bazaars, noisy streets. And here I
am going through the empty dead city, between the ugly "pyramids" of
destroyed buildings, broken streets, whole quarters wiped from the face of
earth. The city is killed and dismembered by some monstrous maniac.
Beelzebub - the lord of the flies. Under the flag of stars and stripes,
where the stars look so alike to thick flesh flies. "
One of our readers (newspaper "Zavtra") happened to be in Fallujah, besieged
by American troops. He escaped from the destroyed city and sent us his
...Together with Americans the flies invaded the city. They are millions.
The whole city seems to be under their power. The flies cover the corpses.
The older is corpse, the more flies are upon it. First they cover a corpse
as by some strange rash. Then they begin to swarm upon it, and then a gray
moving shroud covers the corpse. Flies swarm upon some ruins as gray
monstrous shadows. The stench is awful.
The flies are everywhere. In the hospital wards, operating rooms, canteen.
You find them even where they cannot be. In the "humanitarian" plastic
bottle with warm plastic-stinking water. The bottle is almost full, simply
someone opened it for a second and made a gulp, but this black spot is
already floating there...
It is a general crisis with water. There are simply no clean sources. The
local residents fetch water from the river, muddy, gray and dead. You can
buy anything for water now. The sewage system is broken, the water supply is
broken, and electricity is absent in the city.
I am afraid to imagine what will happen in two weeks. Hepatitis will take
toll of thousands. They say already that people at the outskirts are in
fever with the symptoms of typhus. But one cannot verify it. They prohibited
moving in the city.
Everybody knew that they would storm the city. But nobody could imagine HOW
it would be happening. Honestly speaking, even I did not believe that I
would once again be in hell. After the hell in Grozny I thought that nothing
similar would ever happen. That the storm on Grozny was a national Russian
masochism, a return to medieval times, a stupidity mixed with a crime. And
Baghdad, yielded practically without a fight, made one think that this storm
would not last for long. That they would shoot at the outskirts to show off,
bomb out a couple of buildings and everything would be finished. The
fighters would hide and the Americans would report their mission
My friend "fighter" Abdullah suggested me to go. He stubbornly calls me
"hakim". It means something like "wise man" in Arabic.
-Hakim, go away! There is big battle coming. Our people will not leave the
city. We want to show these jackals how Iraqis can fight. The blood of
occupants will flow like a river along the streets... I thought it was
It is a pity that I did not listen to him. On the second day they simply
started to demolish the city. Close explosions rocked the floor rocked under
the feet. The plaster fell off the ceiling, the windowpanes burst. You could
talk only by shouting because of the continuous gunfire. But the most
terrible has begun already on the first day. The wounded started to come
into the hospital like a flow. One of the doctors tuned in to BBC by his
pocket radio. The news announcer mumbled something about the precision
weapons and high professional level of soldiers, about collateral damage
reduced to minimum.
I do not know in which place they employed their precision weapons, we had
an endless stream of wounded children, women, and elders. Not dozens -
hundreds! On the third day the medicines started to come to the end.
Especially anesthetics and antibiotics. But the stream did not exhausted.
Only on the fourth day we have had a less number of wounded. But it was not
because the storm calmed down. On the contrary, now the fights raged in the
streets. Simply Americans captured the hospital quarter.
Americans. I have the impression that there are no other words except "fuck"
and "shit". Each communication, each order is accompanied by a flow of
'fucks', 'shits' and 'bullshits'. I look at Americans with a pity. The
Russian language is much more powerful with emotional expressions.
Observing Americans, I catch myself thinking that they are incredibly
similar to Russian soldiers, whom I saw in Grozny in January 1994. The same
infinite weariness, "burnt out" eyes. The same dull expression on the faces,
when the conscience is tired to react to outer stimuli. The same repulsion
from the outer world, "autism". In the whole world they have now only them
and the rest is wicked and evil.... Yes, to storm the cities is a nasty
business. As Stalingrad, as Grozny, as Fallujah.
But you have differences, too. The complete order in the uniform and
ammunition jumps to the eye. It seems that a half of what each soldier
carries could have been left at the base, but everything is put on and fixed
anyway. Their discipline of wearing the uniform and ammunition is well
The second is their collectivity. The Americans do not move alone at all. I
even did not see them in pairs. If they appear, they arrive by the whole
party. And nobody walks away from his party. Even when their detachment
fights, they are all within each other's sight.
Americans started the shootout with the fighters across the road of our
hospital. It was strange to see how a dozen of GIs stood together along the
wall and the whole rank fired along the street before them, like on the
barricades in 19th century. Had one mortar shell or mine exploded behind
them, they would all be gone...
They search in the hospital. They check the documents of everybody. The
Iraqi translators bustle. The nastiest sort of people. They combine all the
worst things.  Obliging, ingratiating to their American "masters" as only Arabs can do,
they are shamelessly impudent and pompous with their own people. They make
their business on translation all the time. If the American demands the
house to be ready for inspection, then the translator will certainly add
that the house will be searched, and he, translator, needs a bribe so that
the Americans would not go to the women's part of the house. Although
according to the order, the women's part should only be visited by Iraqi
police. This said, the Americans do not follow the order closely...
A dark-skinned hawk-nosed GI, pure Peruvian by his look, noticed me among
the "wax-skinned" Iraqis and menacingly moved to me. The edge of his helmet
was at the level of my chin, and I could not see his eyes. This was
"Who are you?" asked he. My English is far from perfection, but his is even
... Generally, it is very notable how many various "colored-skin" soldiers
are among the Americans. Suddenly I remembered my service near Baikal Lake
in Siberia and my company of hundred people, which included only thirty
Russians, five people from Caucasus like me, and all the others from Central
Asia. Among the "colored-skin" GIs "Latinos" are largest group, then
Africans and semi-Africans. The officers are mostly whites but there are
also blacks... But I cannot understand at all, why the US Army soldiers
speak broken English!!
I explain to him that I am a doctor, the humanitarian mission
representative. I show my plastic "badge". He suspiciously examines the
document. The barrel of his rifle hits my hip at his every movement. My
Turkish passport confuses him completely. The soldier takes me by the sleeve
and pulls somewhere. I understand that it is useless to argue and follow
him. In the corridor I am handed over to the sergeant. The sergeant is
white. I repeat everything that I said before. Another man studies my ID
with the same suspicion. Then he demands that I take off my surgical coat
and the T-shirt. Well, I passed it many times in Chechnya and Serbia. I take
off my clothes. The sergeant and the soldiers closely examine my shoulders,
looking for the bruises from the rifle's butt. Finally I am allowed to dress
When I button my coat, the sergeant, with a barking commander's voice,
suddenly asks me whether I treated the fighters. I almost laugh at that. I
have a weird feeling - as though I watch the film about the Second World War
with me as an actor, and the large German in his helmet (the American
helmets look pretty much German) asks me, "Where are the Partisanen?" I
shrug my shoulders. I tell him that they bring everyone to us. But without
weapons. Who is the fighter, who is civilian - we cannot tell. The sergeant
loses his interest in me after it. I cannot help but ask him how strongly
the fighters resist? The sergeant's face turns stone. Then the whole flood
of 'fucks', 'bullshits' towards the fighters. Out of this flood I pick up
that the marines would already capture the city and wipe the fighters long
time ago, but the commanders look back at politicians and spare bombs and
shells. And it is hard for soldiers because of that. But the victory is
I recall two days of bombing and think that if it is "spare the shells",
then what is not to spare them?
When I return to the staff room, the search is at the full speed. The
soldiers inspect the wards, by first cautiously peeking inside, and then
bursting into the room by the whole party. Clanking of weapons, tramping,
orders. The main attention towards the young males. For some reason they
look for those who are with bullet wounds. But we have here only in very
serious condition, mostly unconscious. A whole crowd of relatives beside
every bed. A continuous cry over the whole hospital.
Yesterday Dr. Ahmed brought half a liter of iodine from somewhere in the
bottle of Chivas Regal. He put is to the refrigerator, defrosted long ago.
One of GIs opens the refrigerator, sees the bottle. Looking around his
shoulder, he takes it out quickly. Apparently noticing that it is open, he
turns away the cap and smells the liquid. After that he winced and, with
already familiar 'fuck', throws it to the wall. The iodine splashes the
treatment room by red shower. It smells by the sea and alcohol. GI goes away
without a word. We do no speak, too. This iodine was the last one.
Finally they go away. They take three wounded Iraqis with them. They are
suspected fighters.
In the next two days, the searching procedure is repeated twice. Every time
they carry away somebody.
In the evening we receive the wounded teenager. He has two bullet wounds in
his chest. By him is a woman - his mother and an old man. They shout,
explaining something. I hear familiar "min faldik!" - please! - "Aunni!" -
help!.. The teenager is taken to the operating room. He has no chances - we
are practically without the medicines. And even if the operation will be
successful, there will be nothing to carry out [post operational treatment].
Abdul Karim gloomily opens the pack of cigarettes. He just finished
listening to the long confused explanations by the old man.
-- After interrogations, the Americans give the usual detainees to our
traitors ... -- he calls the new Iraqi army by this word -- and those shoot
them. This boy was executed together with three other men. Bastards...
The rumors about the shootings without trial become true. Many wounded tell
that somebody was executed or finished off before their eyes. After all I
saw these days I begin to believe it. The American army evidently has broken
The surgeon comes out after an hour. The teenager has died. The crying
mother is led away by the old Iraqi. He is her brother. The surgeon sits
down on the sofa and closes his eyes.
-- Aneh teben! -- I am so tired! ...
During the five days, while the count was yet conducted, more than three
thousand wounded passed through our hospital. These were the people who
lived nearby. The people who could be delivered to us. Nobody knows how many
people in the city are dead. Nobody will ever know...
Tomorrow the mission's car will pick me up. How the driver could break into
the city, only God knows. Maybe the insignia on the hood and the doors
worked out.
And here I am going through the city and cannot say a word in shock. I
cannot recognize the city. Only ten days ago it was an Iraqi town with its
regular for centuries Arabic life. Boling bazaars, noisy streets. And here I
am going through the empty dead city, between the ugly "pyramids" of
destroyed buildings, broken streets, whole quarters wiped from the face of
earth. The city is killed and dismembered by some monstrous maniac.
Beelzebub - the lord of the flies. Under the flag of stars and stripes,
where the stars look so alike to thick flesh flies.
I go and ask the skies again, like five years ago in bombed out Kosovo, will
anybody ever answer for this barbarism? But the skies do not respond. Only a
few US battle helicopters pass nearby my road towards the ruins of the city.
The killings continue.

Russian original text -- "Завтра" № 48 (575), 24.11.2004

translated by dari890