How is Fallujah doing?
Pretty well, if this report is any indication.
Amid the ruins of Fallujah, white flags are emerging - alerting US and Iraqi forces to the presence of Iraqi families moving back home, clearing the rubble, and trying to renew hope.I'm not sure if the Sunnis failed to vote out of fear or because of the clerics. In any case, the Fallujan's behavior is an indicator that if the Sunnis had felt secure, they would have voted in larger numbers.
Residents say that the insurgents who made the city a virtual no-go zone are gone. They were violently cut out of this former stronghold by US forces during a monthlong battle in November - the toughest urban combat for US forces since Vietnam - that pulverized this city of some 300,000.
But now, the US Marines and the Iraqi government face a new challenge: convincing Fallujans that the insurgency here is overand that their ravaged homes can and will be rebuilt.
"This is probably the safest city in the country," says US Marine Lt. Col. Keil Gentry, executive officer of Regiment Combat Team 1 (RCT1), that controls Fallujah. "Is it blooming everywhere? No. But it's like the beginning of spring, with signs of green emerging here and there."
An unexpected measure of success came on election day last week. Nearly 8,000 people here defied insurgent threats and voted, according to US military officials. That figure accounts for 44 percent of all votes cast in Anbar Province, which includes the Sunni triangle, where antielection feeling was so strong that less than 7 percent voted at all.
UPDATE: CSM has added a slide show with pictures of Fallujans and American soldiers.