Friday, April 04, 2008
Of War Crimes
By Ghali Hassan
”The colonial invasion of Iraq and the ugliest of lies of the lie machine that propagated and justified these barbarous acts will forever remain among the greatest and unpardonable crimes against humanity.” — Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero of Spain, 20 May 2005.
Five years after the U.S.-Britain initiated unprovoked aggression against the Iraqi people, U.S. leaders and their allies commemorate the mass atrocity of Iraqi civilians with empty rhetoric and the usual outright lies reserved especially for similar occasions.
Five years of illegal and murderous Occupation, the Iraqi people continue to endure an unimaginable suffering under the highest form of tyrannical dictatorships. Credible surveys estimated at least 1.3 million innocent Iraqis — the majority of them women and children — have been brutally murdered in cold blood, making the Iraq’s Genocide the biggest single mass murder of modern time. Almost every Iraqi family has lost at least one close relative. The mayhem is continuing in an endless genocide waged by the world's largest and most offensive military machine, almost entirely against defenceless population.
In addition, some 2.5 million have fled Iraq to neighbouring countries, and another 2-3 million Iraqis are “internally displaced”. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have bee wounded and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, including thousands of women and children, are languishing in militias and U.S.-run prisons and torture centres throughout Iraq. They are subjected to horrific torture and abuses of human rights. Thousands more have simply disappeared in a systematic campaign of terror.
Recent reports by Western NGOs, including Amnesty International (AI) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (CICR) concluded that the situation in Iraq is disastrous. According to AI report; “Hundreds of Iraqis are being killed every month in the pervasive violence, while countless lives are threatened every day by poverty, cuts to power and water supplies, food and medical shortages, and rising violence against women and girls”. The U.S Occupation has imprisoned women and denied them their equal human rights. According to Iraq’s Ministry of Education, more than 70 percent of girls and young women are no longer attending school or college. The literacy rate for women, once the highest in the region, is now among the lowest as families fear risking kidnapping and rape by sending girls to school. Women who once went out to work stay home. Meanwhile, more than 1 million women have been displaced from their homes, and millions more have become widows and are unable to earn enough to eat.
Furthermore, the decision of the U.S.-installed puppet government, or Iraq’s Vichy regime, to submit to the World Bank dictates and end the rationing of food system to poor families (the brainchild of Saddam Hussein which was lauded by the UN as the ‘world’s most effective tool to prevent hunger’ and has saved millions from starvation) has increased the rates of malnutrition among families with no income, women, children and the elderly. ‘Depriving Iraqis of the only lifeline they have left will make them more vulnerable and is likely to generate more insecurity inside Iraq’, commented Kristele Younes of Refugees International.
The education system, once the envy of people in the region is nearing collapse. Hundreds, if not thousands of academics, including teachers and professors from universities across Iraq have been murdered, in a systematic campaign targeting Iraqi professionals in order to destroy the Iraqi nation. At least 3000 academics have fled the country Schools and universities are barely functioning. Some one million children have stopped attending primary school and only half of those who completed primary school continue with their education. As a result of the invasion and the murderous Occupation, there are an estimated 4.5 million orphans in Iraq, 500,000 of them are homeless. Some 250,000 refugee children in neighbouring countries are denied their right to education (UNESCO).
The CICR warned that the humanitarian situation in Iraq remains among the most critical in the world today. ‘Iraq’s 27 million populations have no functioning drinking water and 80 percent lack basic sanitation’. Electricity supply has become as scarce as drinking water, affecting the operations of hospitals and health care centres. The CICR report says Iraq’s healthcare system is now in its worst shape ever and on the verged of total collapse. Of 34,000 doctors living in Iraq in 2003, 12,000 have migrated and more than 2,000 have been murdered. Is there another way to destroy a country?
A report by Oxfam International found a dramatic increase in malnutrition among Iraqi children. The report estimated 28 percent of Iraqi children are malnourished, compared to 19 percent before the 2003 invasion. More than 11 percent newborn babies were born underweight in 2006, compared with 4 percent in 2003. The combination of malnutrition and lack of water, along with deteriorating sanitary conditions, places Iraq among countries with the highest rates of infant mortality. Cholera which was non-existence before the invasion is now ravaging the country.
In the city of Fallujah, a once vibrant city before the invasion, Dr. Kamal Al-Ani of Fallujah Hospital told Islam Online; “Every day 20 children die here, seven in this very room”. The Hospital lacks “drugs, fuel, electricity, generators, a water treatment system, oxygen and medical equipment”, he added. The city remains destroyed as it was in 2004, when it was savagely attacked and destroyed by U.S. forces indiscriminately killed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.
Despite this enormous atrocity, a highly deceptive and misleading report, The Iraq Commission Report, published recently by the British think-tank, Foreign Policy Centre argued that: “Whilst much has been achieved by the coalition in ending the regime of a brutal dictator and the holding of elections, it is now clear that the initial, over ambitious vision of the coalition can no longer be achieved in Iraq” .
Firstly, nothing has been “achieved” that is beneficial to the Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein is replaced by an illegal and murderous foreign military occupation. The U.S.-staged elections were a farce designed to manipulate public opinion and justify an illegal aggression and the occupation of a defenceless nation. Secondly, to argue that the Anglo-American’s “over ambitious vision can no longer be achieved” is evident that the aggression was the result of well-planned strategy to permanently destroy Iraq as a nation for the “convergent ambitions of the Neocons, or Neo-fascists in Washington and the extreme far-right regimes of Israel”, wrote John Pilger.
Five years after the illegal invasion, the objectives of U.S. imperialist strategy in Iraq remain the same; (1) the division of Iraq into smaller fiefdoms (colonial dictatorships), dependent on U.S. military presence and serving U.S.-Israel Zionist interests in the Middle East, including control over Iraq’s oil resources; and (2) the permanent destabilisation of the region – openly called “creative chaos” – through ongoing U.S.-Israel political interference and state-sponsored terrorism. In fact the U.S. refusal to withdraw its troops from Iraq and the illegal construction of military bases throughout Iraq, including the world’s largest CIA station (‘U.S. Embassy’) in central Baghdad are just the obvious factors. The Washington Post reported (March 07, 2008), that the Bush Administration will use the 2002 vote in Congress authorising aggression against Iraq to keep indefinite U.S. forces in Iraq and to be at war in Iraq forever with no limitations.
No where in the Iraq Commission Report do the “authors” explain that the destruction of Iraq is based on outright lies and false pretexts (Centre for Public Integrity). And that the U.S. and British empty rhetoric about ‘rebuilding Iraq’ is part of the post-invasion propaganda in order to justify the illegal invasion and the ongoing occupation of the country.
Even those expatriate Iraqis (who allege to have opposed the government of Saddam Hussein) working for the Occupation are contemplating the good days under the late president. “The country would be better off if Saddam Hussein was still in power”, said one expatriate who entered Iraq on the back of U.S. tank. With them they brought into Iraq a culture of corruption and crimes unheard of in the country’s history before the invasion.
The puppet government proved to be incapable of looking after the interests of the Iraqi people. While the main players in the puppet government are trying to give the impression that normality is returning to Iraq and that they are in charge, the reality on the ground is far different. Iraq is occupied by more than 160,000 U.S. troops and at least 180,000 foreign mercenaries. Decisions are made by the US. Administration and the Occupation.
The role of the puppet government is to serve the Occupation and legitimise U.S. military presence. It is kind of a U.S.-manufactured façade. It is an extension of the Occupation, not a sovereign entity. Hence, it has no legal right to negotiate on behalf of the Iraqi people and request the ongoing presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. We know that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people, including more than half of the ‘legislators’ in the puppet government are demanding the full withdrawal of U.S. forces and foreign mercenaries from Iraq.
Completely discredited by the Iraqi people and isolated, the puppeteers have to maintain symbiotic/parasitic relationships with the Occupation in order to survive. They are happy to continue the status quo than address the political situation on the ground and serve the interests of the Iraqi people. So, the U.S. is happy to play the racist-colonial card of “Iraqis are not ready to govern” spewed by the Anglo-American leaders trying to justify the Occupation.
Meanwhile, the so-called Bush’s troop “surge” – an extra 30,000 troops and 500 percent increase in airstrike on population centres – has been a tactical propaganda success for the U.S. Administration. The media played its faithful and deceptive role in this propaganda campaign which aimed at manipulating American public opinion. A according to a study by the Pew Research Centre Project for Excellence in Journalism, ‘the decline in U.S. news coverage from Iraq, particularly accounts of daily attacks, coincides with improved public opinion about the war just as the 2008 presidential campaign heads to an early showdown’ in Iowa.
Although violence against Iraqi civilians has increased with hundreds of Iraqis killed every month, Western media continue to distort facts on the ground and spread misinformation. In February alone, at least 800 Iraqis were killed, a 33 percent increase from January. There are almost no independent journalists in Iraq, and many who dared to tell the truth have been murdered. The U.S.-created violent environment made Iraq the last resort for independent journalists and allows the mainstream media to dictate and control the news from Iraq to fit their audiences.
A global Western propaganda of disinformation and mind control, led by the BBC, CNN and their variants, have managed to normalise the atrocity in Iraq and removed it from Western consciousness by deliberately not reporting or underreporting the number of Iraqi killed by U.S. forces and their collaborators. Even if reported, Iraqis are always reported to have been killed by “suicide bombers” or by ‘al-Qaeda’. With a satiable appetite to enforce Western racism, the BBC presents Arab (Iraqi) lives as being far less worthy than those in the West, and allows U.S. forces to commit crimes in deep silence. It is the same old racist-colonial cliché of “Arabs killing Arabs” that has become the BBC distinct label.
The Bush’s “surge” proved to be a disaster for the Iraqi Capital, Baghdad. The ethnically-mixed city is now a collection of ghettos. The once cohesive communities of Baghdad are now divided from each other by concrete walls and military check-points. Thousands of Iraqis (mostly young men) were taken prisoners and held without charges. The propagated “fall” in the death rate of Iraqi civilians - if it is true –, is due partly to the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad and to the fact that more than a million residents have fled the city to escape the violence.
As I have pointed out several times in the past, it is well-established that the violence in Iraq is a U.S.-made and U.S. controlled violence to suit the U.S. agenda. Form the sadistic torture of Abu Ghraib to the mass murder of innocent civilians in Baghdad, Baquba, Fallujah, Haditha etc., the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq is the biggest human rights atrocity and the greatest humanitarian disaster in the history of modern warfare. The contempt for human lives cannot be clearer than in occupied Iraq. According to Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell; U.S. soldiers and U.S. marines think, "Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives, their deaths are just the cost of doing business, and that the marines need to get 'the job done' no matter what it takes”. As I write these lines, U.S. forces have committed another massacre in the city of Baquba. Some 30 Iraqi civilians, including at least 15 people of a single family, have been killed in separate incidents, according to the Deutsche Presse Agentur.
The U.S. response is the usual. Every time U.S. forces bombed a house and knowingly massacred innocent Iraqi civilians, they justify the crimes as “al-Qaeda safe house legitimate target”. Every time U.S. troops and their collaborators killed Iraqi civilians, the U.S. military and Western media falsely claimed that ‘al-Qaeda’ had taken responsibility for the massacre.
The exaggerated presence of ‘al-Qaeda’ terrorism in Iraq is simply a well-orchestrated Western propaganda designed to distort the images and blacken the name of legitimate Iraqi Resistance movement. The primary aim is to associate a legitimate Iraqi self-defence and liberation struggle with terrorism. By doing so, the U.S. and the U.S.-installed puppet government are deliberately misleading the world by denying the existence of the Iraqi Resistance and claiming to fight ‘al-Qaeda’ terrorism in Iraq. It is important to know that the Iraqi people have the legal and legitimate right to resist this genocidal Occupation by all means available to them, including armed resistance.
From the outset of the invasion and subsequent Occupation, terrorism is used as an instrument to advance U.S. imperialist agenda, despite lack of any hard evidence to link Iraq to terrorism (e.g., ‘al-Qaeda’). It is a useful tool not only to justify aggression, but also to frighten and scare the population at home. The creation of ‘al-Qaeda’ phantom in Iraq is a case in point. It is used to justify rejection of any demand for U.S. troop’s withdrawal from Iraq, and increase repression at home.
A full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq would reduce the violence, and would lead to gradual reconciliation among Iraqis, as reported by media sources and shown in consistent polls from Iraq. A recent poll found that the majority of Iraqis (86 percent) in the Province of Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, rightly accused the British of fomenting violence and creating chaos by encouraging criminal gangs and militias to prey on the local population. Only 2 percent of Iraqis in Basra believe the occupying British forces provided security. Indeed, violence in Basra dropped by 90 percent after British occupying troops withdrew from the city to Basra Airport last year.
Furthermore, citing a study by focus groups conducted for the U.S. military, Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post reported recently that; “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation”. According to DeYoung, the study adds that; ‘the current strife [U.S.-generated violence] in Iraq seems to have totally eclipsed any agonies or grievances many Iraqis would have incurred from the past regime, which lasted for nearly four decades -- as opposed to the current conflict, which has lasted for five years.’ The report provides very strong evidence that; “A sense of ‘optimistic possibility permeated all focus groups . . . and far more commonalities than differences are found among these seemingly diverse groups of Iraqis’” . So, the pretext that the U.S. is in Iraq “to prevent” civil war is an outright lie. It is the presence of U.S. troops which prevents peaceful reconciliation between the different Iraqi communities.
There has never been a civil war in Iraq. With longstanding national and cultural traditions, Iraqis share common beliefs and values, and have shown the capacity to live together peacefully free of U.S. oppression. The U.S. aim is to incite divisions among Iraqis and justify the ongoing illegal Occupation of Iraq. As long as the Iraqi people were too divided to resist the Occupation effectively, the Occupation and the looting of Iraq’s oil wealth will continue. A united, sovereign Iraq and an advanced Iraq is to the benefit of Iraqi people and the stability of the region.
The Occupation-generated violence is political, not sectarian. The creation, financing and arming of different militia groups by the U.S. to do the Occupation’s “dirty work” has nothing to do with religion. Religion is used by each militia group to achieve its aim. As I pointed out earlier, by inciting Iraqis to fight each other (fratricidal killing), the U.S. aim is to protect the Occupation. Indeed, the deliberately-induced brutality of these thugs towards Iraqi detainees intended to instil fear among Iraqi civilians and gives the occupying forces a human face. Bribed and coerced by the U.S., these militia thugs (e.g., ‘Awakening Forces’ or ‘Concern Local Citizens’) are not fighting ‘al-Qaeda’; they are fighting among themselves and protecting the Occupation. Hence the decline death rates of U.S soldiers in the last few months.
Finally, while millions of people opposed the war on the Iraqi people in 2003, the last five years there has been no genuine moral opposition to the ongoing U.S. genocide in Iraq. The West-orchestrated campaign of Islamophobia and anti-Muslims hatred has contributed to moral erosion in Western societies. Western leaders would not be able to commit war crimes on such scale and get away with it were it not for the apathy and equanimity of their people. One assumes they share responsibility. After all, George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard were re-elected while their armies were engaged in an illegal and murderous war against Iraqi people.
According to the Nuremberg Charter, to initiate a war of aggression is, very simply, the “supreme international crime”. As rightly stated by Francis Boyle, a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois; “In international legal terms, the Bush Administration itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, due to its formulation and undertaking of aggressive war policies that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the Nazi regime”. By initiated unprovoked aggression against Iraq, U.S. leaders have grievously violated the Nuremberg Charter.
If Westerners judge the war of aggression against the Iraqi people by the same standard laid-down by the Nuremberg Tribunal – not the policy of complete silence–, the current president of the United States, George Bush and his accomplices have committed the same unpardonable crimes against humanity for which the Nazis were tried and hanged. There can be no peace without justice.
 The Foreign Policy Centre (2007).The Iraq Commission Report. London, UK: Author.
 Karen DeYoung (2007, December 19). All Iraqi Groups Blame the U.S. invasion for Discord, Study Shows. Washington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2008.
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