BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 28 - While American troops have been battling Islamic militants to an uncertain outcome in Najaf, the Shiite holy city, events in two Sunni Muslim cities that stand astride the crucial western approaches to Baghdad have moved significantly against American plans to build a secular democracy in Iraq.
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American efforts to build a government structure around former Baath Party stalwarts - officials of Saddam Hussein's army, police force and bureaucracy who were willing to work with the United States - have collapsed. Instead, the former Hussein loyalists, under threat of beheadings, kidnappings and humiliation, have mostly resigned or defected to the fundamentalists, or been killed. Enforcers for the old government, including former Republican Guard officers, have put themselves in the service of fundamentalist clerics they once tortured at Abu Ghraib.
In the past three weeks, three former Hussein loyalists appointed to important posts in Falluja and Ramadi have been eliminated by the militants and their Baathist allies. The chief of a battalion of the American-trained Iraqi National Guard in Falluja was beheaded by the militants, prompting the disintegration of guard forces in the city. The Anbar governor was forced to resign after his three sons were kidnapped. The third official, the provincial police chief in Ramadi, was lured to his arrest by American marines after three assassination attempts led him to secretly defect to the rebel cause.
The national guard commander and the governor were both forced into humiliating confessions, denouncing themselves as "traitors" on videotapes that sell in the Falluja marketplace for 50 cents. The tapes show masked men ending the guard commander's halting monologue, toppling him to the ground, and sawing off his head, to the accompaniment of recorded Koranic chants ordaining death for those who "make war upon Allah." The governor is shown with a photograph of himself with an American officer, sobbing as he repents working with the "infidel Americans," then being rewarded with a weeping reunion with his sons.
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If Iraqis and American soldiers weren't being killed wholsale, Presdient Ballbag's fuckups would be funny in a Gomer Pyle-esque kind of way.