US Navy names future warship after Fallujah, site of Iraq civilian killings
The US Navy has sparked confoundment by naming a warship after the site of some of the American military’s most harrowing acts of its invasion of Iraq.
In a statement released last week, the Navy said it would be naming a yet-to-exist amphibious assault warship USS Fallujah.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro was quoted in the statement as saying of the ship’s naming: "It is an honour to memorialise the Marines, Soldiers, and coalition partners that fought valiantly and those that sacrificed their lives during both battles of Fallujah."
A tweet on the naming came complete with the champagne emoji, an apparent nod to the tradition of christening a new ship by breaking a bottle of the beverage on it.
In 2004, the US military and its allies conducted two major campaigns in the western Iraqi city of Fallujah and its surroundings that killed several hundreds of civilians.
While fighting insurgents, US-led coalition forces pounded residential areas with heavy weaponry, flattening neighbourhoods. They have been accused of using indiscriminate violence against civilians trapped in the city, and of denying them access to aid.
Chemical weapons that have been linked to an upsurge in birth defects in Iraqi children were also used.
Estimates for the number of civilians killed in the operations vary, but Iraq Body Count, a monitor working to find out how many Iraqis have died due to war since 2003, said between 581 and 670 civilians were killed in the second campaign alone.
Collective Action for Iraq (CAFI), a group of UK-based Iraqi organisers, told The New Arab that the decision to name the warship Fallujah was "the ultimate disrespect" to Iraqis killed and forced to flee their homes during the operations.
"Instead of the supposed reminder of 'bravery, courage, and commitment to freedom', it only reinforces the US’ disregard for the destruction of the city by their forces, and the impacts of the atrocities committed by them on Iraqi families still felt today," CAFI said.
The decision was also met with astonishment by non-Iraqis on social media.
The Navy statement said the name selection "follows the tradition of naming amphibious assault ships after US Marine Corps battles, early US sailing ships, or legacy names of earlier carriers from World War II".
The New Arab contacted the US Navy for more information on the naming of the warship, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
With the name Fallujah now synonymous to some with US military might, an American video game developer in 2021 released a trailer for a game set in the city, called ‘Six Days in Fallujah’.
The game was slammed as "dehumanising" by critics. Its release was delayed, and it is now expected to hit shelves early next year.