Friday, August 10, 2007

Perspective: Two months in, Fallujah vehicle ban hurting some, helping others

Above: Soldiers provide security as other troops distribute food in Fallujah in June.

Residents of Falluja have seen their streets emptied of cars, motorbikes and even bicycles for more than two months under a vehicle ban aimed at curbing violence in the Sunni Arab town.

And they are split. While some welcome the increased security, many complain that it is a form of collective punishment against a town which is synonymous with the insurgency against U.S. forces in Iraq's western Anbar province.

"The decision to stop car movement is very unjust and an attempt to increase depression and poverty on the city," said Abdul-Karim Khalid, a 30-year-old car mechanic. "My work has stopped and I have been forced into unemployment. I have spent all my money to ensure my family lives."

But his friend Saad Farhan says the vehicle ban is preferable to the violence that has blighted the town.

"Before this was implemented, we greatly feared masked gunmen who killed civilians and escaped using cars," said the 33 year old, who sells car accessories.

"We do suffer from a lack of work, but we have the blessing of relative quiet now," Farhan said.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet