July 10, 2014
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In case any had forgot these gems!!
February 10, 2014
August 9, 2010
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March 20, 2010
Thursday 18 March 2010
by: Dahr Jamail, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed
The 2008 National Defense Strategy reads:
“US interests include protecting the nation and our allies from attack or coercion, promoting international security to reduce conflict and foster economic growth, and securing the global commons and with them access to world markets and resources. To pursue these interests, the US has developed military capabilities and alliances and coalitions, participated in and supported international security and economic institutions, used diplomacy and soft power to shape the behavior of individual states and the international system, and using force when necessary. These tools help inform the strategic framework with which the United States plans for the future, and help us achieve our ends.”
“… Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the US. To accomplish this, the US will require bases and stations within and beyond western Europe and Northeast Asia.”
In light of such clear objectives, it is highly unlikely that the US government will allow a truly sovereign Iraq, unfettered by US troops either within its borders or monitoring it from abroad, anytime soon.
The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the Iraqi and US governments indicate an ongoing US presence past both the August 2010 deadline to remove all combat troops, and the 2011 deadline to remove the remaining troops.
According to all variations of the SOFA the US uses to provide a legal mandate for it’s nearly 1,000 bases across the planet, technically, no US base in any foreign country is “permanent.” Thus, the US bases in Japan, South Korea and Germany that have existed for decades are not “permanent.” Technically.
Most analysts agree that the US plans to maintain at least five “enduring” bases in Iraq.
Noted US writer, linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky, said, “Bases [abroad] are the empire. They are the point of projection of power and expansion of power.”
Chalmers Johnson, author and professor emeritus of UC San Diego commented, “In a symbolic sense [bases] are a way of showing that America stands there watching.”
Longtime defense analyst from George Washington University, Gordon Adams, told The Associated Press that in the broader context of reinforcing US presence in the oil-rich Middle East, bases in Iraq are preferable to aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. “Carriers don’t have the punch. There’s a huge advantage to land-based infrastructure. At the level of strategy it makes total sense to have Iraq bases.”
According to Professor Zoltan Grossman of The Evergreen State College, who has been researching military bases and participating in the global network against foreign bases for several years, the US has no intention of releasing control of its bases in Iraq. The Pentagon, he believes, has many old tricks to mask a military presence and armed pressure.
In an interview with Truthout he observed:
“Since the Gulf War, the US has not just been building the bases to wage wars, but has been waging wars to leave behind the bases. The effect has been to create a new US military sphere of influence wedged in the strategic region between the E.U., Russia and China. The Pentagon has not been building these sprawling, permanent bases just to hand them over to client governments.”
Grossman’s prediction for Iraq:
“Look for a Visiting Forces Agreement – of the kind negotiated with the Philippines – that allows supposedly ‘visiting’ US forces unrestricted access to its former bases. Similarly, constant joint military exercises can keep US troops continually visible and intimidating to Iraqis. Even after 2011, nothing in the Iraq Status of Forces Agreement prevents US bombers (stationed in Kuwait and elsewhere) from attacking Iraqi targets whenever they want, just as they did between 1991 and 2003. Nothing prevents the type of missile or Special Forces attacks like we’re seeing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Nothing prevents CIA or contractors from participating in Iraqi missions or intelligence operations.”
Adding credence to this, we have Article 6 of the US/Iraqi SOFA discussing “agreed facilities,” Article 27 mentions “mutually agreed … military measures” after 2011 and Article 28 talks of a scenario where Iraq is able to “request” US security in the International Zone (Green Zone.)
Chapter six of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Report stated:
“In February 2009, President Obama outlined the planned drawdown of US forces in Iraq to 50,000 troops and the change in mission by August 31, 2010. By this time, US forces will have completed the transition from combat and counterinsurgency to a more limited mission set focused on training and assisting the Iraqi Security Forces ($2 billion has already been set aside for this for FY2011); providing force protection for US military and civilian personnel and facilities; and conducting targeted counterterrorism operations and supporting US civilian agencies and international organizations in their capacity-building efforts.”
The report further clarifies that US troop drawdowns “will occur in accordance” with the SOFA, but that “the pace of the drawdown takes into consideration Iraq’s improved, yet fragile, security gains” and “provides US commanders sufficient flexibility to assist the Iraqis with emerging challenges.”
On May 15, 2006, Gen. John Abizaid, overseeing US military operations in Iraq at the time, said, “The United States may want to keep a long-term military presence in Iraq to bolster moderates against extremists in the region and protect the flow of oil.”
On March 12, 2010, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commander of US troops in Northern Iraq, told reporters during a conference call that it might be necessary to keep combat troops involved in the security mechanism that maintains peace between Iraqi national and Kurdish regional forces beyond the August deadline.
The National Security Strategy for US Missions abroad proposes to “Ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade and pressing for open markets, financial stability, and deeper integration of the world economy.” This fits perfectly with the policy outlined by the Quadrennial Defense Review Report, which says there is a stated ability for the US military to fight “multiple overlapping wars” and to “ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system.”
Such gray language and loopholes in policy documents have been common since the US invaded Iraq seven years ago. This has not changed with the SOFA.
“The likelihood of the US planning to keep troops in Iraq after December 31, 2011 has to be measured in the context of the history of US violations of other countries’ sovereign territory, airspace, etc.,” Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project with the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, explained to Truthout. “At the moment, this is perhaps most obvious in Pakistan – where the US has been routinely attacking alleged Taliban or al Qaeda supporters with both air and [limited] ground troops in Pakistani territory despite the stated opposition of the Pakistani government which is nominally allied to the US.”
“The early public discussions of ‘re-missioning’ combat troops, changing their official assignment from combat to ‘training’ or ‘assistance,’ thus allowing them to remain in Iraq after the August 2010 deadline for all combat troops to be removed from the country, provides the model for how such sleight of language will occur,” Bennis said, adding, “It may or may not be linked to a future ‘need’ for US troops to remain to protect the increasing numbers of US government civilians assigned to Iraq as the official number of troops decreases.”
Bennis explained that the language of the SOFA is grounded in the claim that Iraq is a sovereign nation and that the government of Iraq is choosing freely to partner with the US government. But the reality, according to Bennis, is that the SOFA was negotiated and signed while Iraq was (and continues to be today) a country occupied and controlled by the United States. Its government is and was at the time of the SOFA’s signing dependent on the US for support.
In Article 27 of the SOFA, the text stated, “in the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq that would violate its sovereignty, political independence, or territorial integrity, waters, airspace, its democratic system or its elected institutions, and upon request by the Government of Iraq, the Parties shall immediately initiate strategic deliberations and, as may be mutually agreed, the United States shall take appropriate measures, including diplomatic, economic, or military measures, or any other measure, to deter such a threat.”
While the agreement is ostensibly binding only for three years, Article 30 permits amendments to the SOFA, which could, of course, include extending its timeframe – and with the Iraqi government still qualitatively dependent on US support, this appears likely. The same is true for Article 28, which states, “The Government of Iraq may request from the United States Forces limited and temporary support for the Iraqi authorities in the mission of security for the Green Zone.”
“There is no question that the US has wanted for many years to establish and maintain military bases in Iraq, whether or not they are officially designated as “permanent.” I do not believe the Pentagon is prepared to hand them all over to Iraq, despite the language in the agreement mandating exactly that. Instead, I think the formal arrangement following expiration of the current SOFA may be through some sort of officially “bilateral” agreement between Washington and Baghdad, allowing for the US to “rent” or “lease” or “borrow” the bases from an allegedly “sovereign” government in Iraq on a long-term basis. The likelihood of this increases with the growing number of statements from US military and political officials hinting broadly at the possibility of a long-term presence of US troops in Iraq after December 31, 2011, “if the sovereign government of Iraq should request such an idea…”
Faculty Director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University in New York, Professor Michael Schwartz, has written extensively on insurgency and the US Empire.
He pointed out to Truthout that President Obama’s “… actions have made it very clear that he is unwilling to sacrifice the 50,000-strong strike force, even while he has also said he would abide by the SOFA and remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. In the meantime, Gates and various generals have released hedging statements or trial balloons saying that the 2011 deadline might be impractical and that various types of forces might stay longer, either to provide air power, to continue training the Iraq military, or to protect Iraq from invasion. Any or all of these could translate into the maintenance of the 50k strike force as well as the five ‘enduring bases.'”
That the Obama administration intends to maintain a significant military presence in Iraq after 2011 is obvious from its continued insistence that in Iraq “democracy” must be guaranteed.
“In Washington speak this means that the government of Iraq must be an ally of the United States, a condition that has been iterated and reiterated by all factions (GOP and Democrat) in Washington, since the original invasion. Given the increasing unwillingness of the Maliki administration to follow US dictates (for example, on oil contracts, on relations with Iran, and on relations with Anbar and other Sunni provinces), the removal of troops would allow Maliki even more leeway to pursue policies unacceptable to Washington. Thus, even if Maliki succeeds himself in the Premiership, the US may need troops to keep the pressure on him. If he does not succeed himself, then the likely alternate choices are far more explicit in their antagonism to integration of Iraq into the US sphere of interest … the Obama administration would then be left with the unacceptable prospect that withdrawal would result in Iraq adopting a posture not unlike Iran’s with regard to US presence and influence in the Middle East.”
His grim conclusion:
“All in all, there are myriad signs that withdrawal of US troops might result in Iraq breaking free from US influence and/or deprive the United States of the strong military presence in that part of the Middle East that both Bush and Obama advocated and have struggled to establish. Until I see some sign that the five bases are going to be dismantled, I will continue to believe that the US will find some reason – with or without the consent of the Iraqi government – to maintain a very large (on the order of 50k) military force there.”
Expanding the Base
The US embassy in Iraq, already the largest diplomatic compound on the planet and the size of the Vatican City, is now likely to be doubled in size. Robert Ford, the deputy chief of mission in Baghdad, told reporters in January, “If Congress gives us the money we are asking for, this embassy is going to be twice the size it is now. It’s not going down, it’s getting bigger.”
In 2005, The Washington Post reported:
“An even more expensive airfield renovation is underway in Iraq at the Balad air base, a hub for US military logistics, where for $124 million the Air Force is building additional ramp space for cargo planes and helicopters. And farther south, in Qatar, a state-of-the-art, 104,000-square-foot air operations center for monitoring US aircraft in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa is taking shape in the form of a giant concrete bunker … the US military has more than $1.2 billion in projects either underway or planned in the Central Command region – an expansion plan that US commanders say is necessary both to sustain operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and to provide for a long-term presence in the area.”
Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III, who oversees Central Command’s air operations pointed out, “As the ground force shrinks, we’ll need the air to be able to put a presence in parts of the country where we don’t have soldiers, to keep eyes out where we don’t have soldiers on the ground.”
In 2007 in a piece titled “US Builds Air base in Iraq for the Long Haul” NPR reported, “The US military base in Balad, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, is rapidly becoming one of the largest American military installations on foreign soil … The base is one giant construction project, with new roads, sidewalks, and structures going up across this 16-square-mile fortress in the center of Iraq, all with an eye toward the next few decades.”
It is so big that, “There is a regular bus service within its perimeter to ferry around the tens of thousands of troops and contractors who live here. And the services are commensurate with the size of the population. The Subway sandwich chain is one of several US chains with a foothold here. There are two base exchanges that are about as large as a Target or K-Mart. Consumer items from laptop computers to flat-screen TV’s to Harley Davidson motorcycles are available for purchase.”
The report added, “Several senior military officials have privately described Balad Air Base, and a few other large installations in Iraq, as future bases of operation for the US military.” The term used is “lily pad,” a description of the military jumping from base to base without ever touching the ground in between.
In September 2009 The New York Times reported about Balad:
“It takes the masseuse, Mila from Kyrgyzstan, an hour to commute to work by bus on this sprawling American base. Her massage parlor is one of three on the base’s 6,300 acres and sits next to a Subway sandwich shop in a trailer, surrounded by blast walls, sand and rock. At the Subway, workers from India and Bangladesh make sandwiches for American soldiers looking for a taste of home. When the sandwich makers’ shifts end, the journey home takes them past a power plant, an ice-making plant, a sewage treatment center, a hospital and dozens of other facilities one would expect to find in a small city. And in more than six years, that is what Americans have created here: cities in the sand…. Some bases have populations of more than 20,000, with thousands of contractors and third-country citizens to keep them running.”
Camp Anaconda, as the Balad base is named, also has an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The bottling company there provides seven million bottles of water a month for those on base. This base also contains two fire stations and the single busiest landing strip in the entire Defense Department.
A 2006 Associated Press story, “Elaborate US Bases raise long-term questions,” gave the following account:
“[At Balad] the concrete goes on forever, vanishing into the noonday glare, 2 million cubic feet of it, a mile-long slab that’s now the home of up to 120 US helicopters, a “heli-park” as good as any back in the States. At another giant base, al-Asad in Iraq’s western desert, the 17,000 troops and workers come and go in a kind of bustling American town, with a Burger King, Pizza Hut and a car dealership, stop signs, traffic regulations and young bikers clogging the roads. The latest budget also allots $39 million for new airfield lighting, air traffic control systems and upgrades allowing al-Asad to plug into the Iraqi electricity grid – a typical sign of a long-term base. At Tallil, besides the new $14 million dining facility, Ali Air Base is to get, for $22 million, a double perimeter security fence with high-tech gate controls, guard towers and a moat – in military parlance, a “vehicle entrapment ditch with berm.”
Truthout contacted renowned journalist and filmmaker John Pilger for his views:
“Like Afghanistan, the occupation of Iraq is more a war of perception than military reality. I don’t believe the US has the slightest intention of leaving Iraq. Yes, there will be the “drawdown” of regular troops with the kind of fanfare and ritual designed to convince the American public that a genuine withdrawal is happening. But the sum of off-the-record remarks by senior generals, who are ever conscious of the war of perception, is that at least 70,000 troops will remain in various guises. Add to this up to 200,000 mercenaries. This is an old ruse. The British used to “withdraw” from colonies and leave behind fortress-bases and their Special Forces, the SAS.
“Bush invaded Iraq as part of a long-term US design to restore one of the pillars of US policy and empire in the region: in effect, to make all of Iraq a base. The invasion went badly wrong and the “country as base” concept was modified to that of Iraq indirectly controlled or intimidated by a series of fortress-bases. These are permanent. This is also the US plan for Afghanistan. One has to keep in mind that US foreign policy is now controlled by the Pentagon, whose man is Robert Gates. It is as if Bush never left office. Under Bush there was an effective military coup in much of Washington; the State Department was stripped of its power; and Obama did as no president has ever done: he brought across from a previous, discredited administration the entire war making bureaucracy and gave it virtually unlimited power. The only way the US will leave is for the resistance to rise again, and for Shiites and Sunni to unite; I think that will happen.”
Captain, My Captain
On March 4, 2010, as a guest on NPR’s “The Diane Rehm Show,” Thomas Ricks, who was the military correspondent for the Washington Post, referring to President Obama’s promises to withdraw from Iraq, said, “I would say you shouldn’t believe [it] because I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think we’re going to have several thousand, several tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq on the day President Obama leaves office.”
Gen. George Casey, the chief of staff of the US Army, stated last May that his planning for the Army envisions combat troops in Iraq for a decade as part of a sustained US commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. “Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction,” he said, “They fundamentally will change how the Army works.”
Senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who served under seven presidents – from John Kennedy to George H. W. Bush – explained to Truthout, “Since 2003 I’ve been suggesting that the Iraq war was motivated by the acronym OIL: oil, Israel, and Logistics (military bases to further the interests of the first two).”
In January 2008, McGovern wrote of statements signed by George W. Bush when he was in the White House:
“Contrary to how President George W. Bush has tried to justify the Iraq war in the past, he has now clumsily – if inadvertently – admitted that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was aimed primarily at seizing predominant influence over its oil by establishing permanent (the administration favors “enduring”) military bases. He made this transparently clear by adding a signing statement to the defense appropriation bill, indicating that he would not be bound by the law’s prohibition against expending funds:
“(1) To establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq,” or
“(2) To exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.”
At the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on November 20, 2006, in a speech titled “A Way Forward in Iraq,” Sen. Barack Obama, who had not yet become the commander in chief of the US military, declared:
Drawing down our troops in Iraq will allow us to redeploy additional troops to Northern Iraq and elsewhere in the region as an over-the-horizon force. This force could help prevent the conflict in Iraq from becoming a wider war, consolidate gains in Northern Iraq, reassure allies in the Gulf, allow our troops to strike directly at al Qaeda wherever it may exist, and demonstrate to international terrorist organizations that they have not driven us from the region.
On March 16, 2010, Gen. David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, told lawmakers that the US military may set up an additional headquarters in northern Iraq even after the September 2010 deadline. Petraeus said that putting a headquarters in northern Iraq was “something we are looking at.”
What reason is there to doubt our commander in chief ‘s assertion that there is need to maintain an (approximately 50,000 strong) US “strike force” in or near Iraq to guarantee US interests in the Middle East, to allow Washington to move quickly against jihadists in the region and to make clear to “our enemies” that the US will not be “driven from the region”?
Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report.
—–Inline Attachment Follows—–
** Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches **
** Visit Dahr Jamail’s website http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
March 20, 2010
Reflections on the targeted killings of academics
on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the war in Iraq
Prof. Lieven De Cauter, President of the BRussells Tribunal (18 March 2010)
[Staatsvernietiging als oorlogsdoel ]
While the anniversary of the war in Iraq is approaching, I think of what I wrote seven years ago: that this illegal invasion had nothing to do with the war on terror but was planned well in advance and was not about bringing democracy but about the destruction of Iraq. I was openly taunted for it. At best, they considered me endearing or pathetic in my anger, but not on the level when it came to world politics.
In preparation for an evening on the occasion of this seventh anniversary on March 20, I am reading a book: Cultural Cleansing in Iraq. Why museums were looted, burned libraries and academics murdered. The basic thesis is, believe it or not, that the purpose of the war was from the onset the destruction of the Iraqi state. But there is more: cultural cleansing, tolerating the looting of museums, the burning of libraries and the murder of academics was part of the war strategy, the authors argue. State ending will certainly become established as a concept, alongside genocide and its derivatives as urbicide (destruction of cities), sociocide (destruction of the social fabric) mnemocide (destruction of the collective memory). We do hope so, because unfortunately these concepts and their intertwinement, do not only apply to Iraq.
There was a lot of press coverage about the looting of the museums, albeit the press reports didn’t put the responsibility with the occupying powers, as the international laws of war stipulate; and without identifying it as a strategy of “mnenocide”. In contrast, all these years a deafening silence has reigned on the hundreds of academics who have been victims of targeted assassinations. Strange. In the first three months of the occupation 250 academics were killed. The BRussells Tribunal has now a list of 437 casualties, a list that serves as a worldwide reference. Because the professors, who documented these killings and disappearances, have been killed or fled the country, it is increasingly harder to keep this list up to date. According to the Christian Science Monitor, by June 2006 already 2500 academics were killed, kidnapped or driven out of the country. Nobody knows how many have been murdered until today. We do know that thousands have been threatened – often through envelopes with bullets – and fled. Alongside the academics also media professionals, doctors, engineers and spiritual leaders have been targets of intimidation, kidnapping and murder. It is important to know that, in the case of academics, it’s not about sectarian murders, because statistics show that there is no pattern in the killings. However, especially professors in leading positions have been targeted, and not just Baathists.
These murders have never being investigated, the culprits never found, let alone prosecuted. How come? Perhaps because both the occupiers and the new rulers thought it was not important. Or maybe because the use of death squads is part of the strategy, like formerly in El Salvador. That is what the book claims: the murder of academics was and is part of the “Salvador Option”.
Conclusion of the authors? The goal was to liquidate the intellectual class, which should be the basis for the new democratic state. It is that sinister. So sinister that it is difficult to believe. And yet it is true: the elimination of academics and other professionals from the middle class served the first and highest war aim: the destruction of the Iraqi state. “State-ending” instead of “nation building”. According to the editors of the book this war objective was a decision where three parties found each other: the neoconservatives who wanted permanent bases in a geographical strategy of military domination, the Israeli state that did not want a powerful state in its backyard and the oil industry that wanted to lay its hand on one of the largest oil reserves in the world. This I have also written seven years ago. Now it’s there, in black and white, with many footnotes, well documented in a book published by an internationally renowned publishing house (Pluto Press). Perhaps the world will now finally start to realize.
Worldwide protests from the academic community would be nice. But one minute of silence for their murdered colleagues will not suffice. Because, and that makes it so overwhelming, all this is just the tip of the iceberg: the children who are born severely deformed by the use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium, the lack of potable water, electricity and healthcare, the destruction of the educational system which results in a lost generation, the 1.2 million deaths and 5 million refugees – all these things combined make the war in Iraq the biggest war crime and the largest man-made humanitarian catastrophe in decades. And, it continues. There is little or no hope of improvement, especially not after the recent elections. Add to this the countless bomb explosions and the sectarian disintegration of the country and you have a picture of hell. And we, we all look more and more the other way. Because we are sick and tired of Iraq after seven years. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to see that I have been proven right with my thesis about the destruction of Iraq, that so many thought was absurd. Even Bush has been proven right with his famous show on the deck of the USS Lincoln that first May of 2003: “Mission accomplished”. Indeed, Iraq is destroyed. Happy birthday, Mr. President! Yes, tu quoque Obama.
Lieven De Cauter,
philosopher, president of the BRussells Tribunal
Lieven De Cauter
Department of Architecture and Urban Planning, Kuleuven
Mediaschool Rits, Brussels
Berlage Institute, Rotterdam
Tel: 0032 2 428 47 41
Mobile: 0032 477 617 420
Member BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee
Coordinator SOS Iraq
February 26, 2010
More than 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels or radiation and dioxins, with three decades of war and neglect having left environmental ruin in large parts of the country, an official Iraqi study has found.
Areas in and near Iraq’s largest towns and cities, including Najaf, Basra and Falluja, account for around 25% of the contaminated sites, which appear to coincide with communities that have seen increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years. The joint study by the environment, health and science ministries found that scrap metal yards in and around Baghdad and Basra contain high levels of ionising radiation, which is thought to be a legacy of depleted uranium used in munitions during the first Gulf war and since the 2003 invasion.
The environment minister, Narmin Othman, said high levels of dioxins on agricultural lands in southern Iraq, in particular, were increasingly thought to be a key factor in a general decline in the health of people living in the poorest parts of the country.
“If we look at Basra, there are some heavily polluted areas there and there are many factors contributing to it,” she told the Guardian. “First, it has been a battlefield for two wars, the Gulf war and the Iran-Iraq war, where many kinds of bombs were used. Also, oil pipelines were bombed and most of the contamination settled in and around Basra.
“The soil has ended up in people’s lungs and has been on food that people have eaten. Dioxins have been very high in those areas. All of this has caused systemic problems on a very large scale for both ecology and overall health.”
Government study groups have recently focused on the war-ravaged city of Falluja, west of Baghdad, where the unstable security situation had kept scientists away ever since fierce fighting between militants and US forces in 2004.
“We have only found one area so far in Falluja,” Othman said. “But there are other areas that we will try to explore soon with international help.”
The Guardian reported in November claims by local doctors of a massive rise in birth defects in the city, particularly neural tube defects, which afflict the spinal cords and brains of newborns. “We are aware of the reports, but we must be cautious in reaching conclusions about causes,” Othman said. “The general health of the city is not good. There is no sewerage system there and there is a lot of stagnant household waste, creating sickness that is directly affecting genetics. We do know, however, that a lot of depleted uranium was used there.
“We have been regulating and monitoring this and we have been urgently trying to assemble a database. We have had co-operation from the United Nations environment programme and have given our reports in Geneva. We have studied 500 sites for chemicals and depleted uranium. Until now we have found 42 places that have been declared as [high risk] both from uranium and toxins.”
Ten of those areas have been classified by Iraq’s nuclear decommissioning body as having high levels of radiation. They include the sites of three former nuclear reactors at the Tuwaitha facility – once the pride of Saddam Hussein’s regime on the south-eastern outskirts of Baghdad – as well as former research centres around the capital that were either bombed or dismantled between the two Gulf wars.
The head of the decommissioning body, Adnan Jarjies, said that when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived to “visit these sites, I tell them that even if we have all the best science in the world to help us, none of them could be considered to be clean before 2020.”
Bushra Ali Ahmed, director of the Radiation Protection Centre in Baghdad, said only 80% of Iraq had so far been surveyed. “We have focused so far on the sites that have been contaminated by the wars,” he said. “We have further plans to swab sites that have been destroyed by war.
“A big problem for us is when say a tank has been destroyed and then moved, we are finding a clear radiation trail. It takes a while to decontaminate these sites.”
Scrap sites remain a prime concern. Wastelands of rusting cars and war damage dot Baghdad and other cities between the capital and Basra, offering unchecked access to both children and scavengers.
Othman said Iraq’s environmental degradation is being intensified by an acute drought and water shortage across the country that has seen a 70% decrease in the volume of water flowing through the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
“We can no longer in good conscience call ourselves the land between the rivers,” she said. “A lot of the water we are getting has first been used by Turkey and Syria for power generation. When it reaches us it is poor quality. That water which is used for agriculture is often contaminated. We are in the midst of an unmatched environmental disaster.”
February 26, 2010
There were two wars being fought in Westminster yesterday. There was Iraq, where the heat and dust of the battle is being examined in a chilly room by men as grey as the sky overhead. Then there was Afghanistan, where our mission was being defended by the quivering moustache that is Bob Ainsworth at the Defence Select Committee for the first time.
Iraq had all the glamour, the TV, the press, the previews. This was perfect timing for Bob. Indeed, if I believed Bumbling Bob was capable of such a thing, I would say that he’d organised it on purpose, as his appearance has been rescheduled three times. Still, the room in the Commons corridor was packed.
So was the Iraq Inquiry for, oh, at least an hour or two. One thing about Iraq, which we should all recall, is that the glamour fades fast. By the afternoon the public and much of the media had lost interest. Sir John Chilcot, a mandarin who, confusingly, looks a bit like a koala, provides not even one particle of spectacle. I don’t know why but it seemed in keeping that, directly above the inquiry room at the QEII centre, there was a conference on chlamydia testing.
I ran between Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq is now as dry as a desert wind but I could understand what was being said (though the stenographer at one point referred to Eric instead of Iraq). I watched in the room reserved for the public, in which there was only one actual member of the public, Michael Culver, an actor who wore a T-shirt that said “Karadzic Now, Blair When?”. He proved an invaluable translator: every once in a while he would say something like, “This man is lying through his teeth!”
As the civil servant witnesses, who were straight out of central casting, droned on about no-fly zones, I asked Mr Culver what he thought. “The whole point of this is to bore everybody into the ground,” he announced. He speaks the truth.
It was much more chaotic in the room with Bumbling Bob. Actually Bumbling Bob has had a change of consonant. He is now Mumbling Bob. I saw entire chunks of war zone disappear behind that little triangular moustache.
Still, we got the idea that things weren’t going so well. Bob tried to explain why the MoD couldn’t find its equipment, particularly its Bowman battle radios. Mumbling explained that they didn’t know where they were but they were not lost.
“We will return to this. The difference between losing equipment and not knowing where it is strikes me as not very big,” said Tory MP James Arbuthnot in his slow grave baritone voice.
Bob blinked furiously. He was losing the hearts and minds of Britons, much less Afghans. Why? Bob told us, and I paraphrase because I have no choice, that it’s too far away and too complicated. “Nobody is interested in history,” he said (tell that to the Iraq inquiry).
I felt grateful when he was asked a really easy question about Christmas posting arrangements. But Bob embarked on another marathon mumble which include something about too many unsolicited cakes sent to Helmand. “That is our biggest worry.”
Is it? It’s only a bit of cake, Bob. Still, it’s Afghanistan and, yesterday, it was much messier than Iraq.
The Times online.Ann Treneman.
February 19, 2010
Britain Losing the Plot in Afghanistan as Losses Mount
Politics / Afghanistan
Aug 17, 2009 – 05:22 AM
Lesley Docksey writes: So far, the cost to the British taxpayer of our current ‘Great Game’ in Afghanistan is £12 billion(1). If only our eight years there had cost nothing but money. Leaving aside the horrendous cost to the Afghan people and their land, Britain’s forces have suffered loss, not least, because of the muddle, ignorance and incompetence of those who sent them to war, a loss of face.
As it is, the loss of British soldiers in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan goes on(2), while Government spokesmen trot out a changing array of reasons, excuses and justifications for fighting such a war and the soldiers wonder why they’re there. With every sad death reported in the media, up pops an officer to talk about what a brave hero he was, such a first rate soldier, who died doing the job he loved. But still they go on dying.
And although the Ministry of Defence (MoD) provide figures for casualties (see notes 14 and 15), the figures mention everything but those personnel who may have died from their wounds, or complications arising from them, some weeks after they have been air-evacuated to this country for treatment. So, although at the time of writing, the total killed in action in Afghanistan is over 200, I do not think that this figure represents the real tally of those who have died for the misguided aims of those in power. The US Department of Defense apparently has a cut-off point for reporting a soldier dying as a result of being injured in action of about 2-3 weeks(3). Die within that time and you join the list of heroes. Die after that from your injuries and you are invisible, not one of the ‘glorious dead’ – which accords no value to the dead and no respect for those left to mourn. Where America leads, Britain follows. Certainly I have never seen it reported that someone has died from wounds he received some months ago, and the number of dead having risen because of it. And for each one killed, some will be injured, horribly or invisibly.
Take the invisible ones first. In 2007 Combat Stress warned they had seen a 53% increase in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cases since 2004. They were already dealing with cases returning from two war fronts, but that wasn’t the only reason for the increase. First, those who deal with ex-servicemen suffering from PTSD will tell you that it can take up to 14 years either for the damage to fully surface or for those affected to seek help. Second, the first (short) Gulf war took place 14 years before the noticed rise in cases. Our forces have been fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last 8 years.
In November 08 the MoD were insisting that, of 195,100 serving personnel, only 0.45% suffered from mental disorders(4). Yet in March 09 a senior military psychiatrist admitted that the Government has “no idea” how big a problem it faces in the number of traumatised troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan(5). What trouble is to come? And will the Government ever take responsibility? Because the constant bleat coming from both Ministers and, sadly, commanding officers, is that only a small percentage of personnel are affected by PTSD, and those receive first rate care. That doesn’t explain why, of the British male prison population, up to 10% are ex-servicemen serving long sentences for murder, manslaughter and other violent crimes committed because of undiagnosed PTSD. Or that, on any night of the year there could be up to 35,000 homeless ex-service personnel on our streets(6). Nor why British forces should be so much more immune that US forces. Last year the RAND Corporation produced a report saying that ‘some 300,000 U.S. troops are suffering from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 received brain injuries’(7). Frightening figures.
The physically injured are a little more visible, or what’s left of them is. But again, despite the fine words, the Government seems to be more concerned about financing the damage that has been done in our name. Figure this: in July this year the MoD was defending the practice of spying on servicemen suspected of lodging false claims for damages for injuries(8). It said the tactic helped stop fraudulent claims and saved millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. Since 2000, 284 claims have been secretly tracked and monitored. This, said the MoD, was less than 1% of all claims. Not a lot, is it?
Not until you do the maths. 284 is 1% of 28,400. That means that in the last 8½ years, there have been around 28,500 claims for damages because of injuries. And that is over 7% of the total Armed Forces strength(9), or over 16% of the regular Armed Forces. Take out all those engaged in office or non-combatant jobs, and suddenly a very large problem appears. Either there is a compensation culture within the Armed Forces (hard to believe seeing how desperate many injured soldiers are to get back on active duty with their units), or an awful lot of people are getting hurt badly enough that they need and seek compensation. Admittedly some of the injuries would have occurred anyway, through accidents or negligence. But the majority must surely be for injuries sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some will be for loss of hearing, most affecting those serving in Afghanistan. In October 2008 the Times reported that ‘nearly one in ten soldiers serving with one regiment have hearing defects that could bar them from further frontline service and affect their civilian job prospects’(10). And the compensation for total hearing loss was £46,000, due to be increased to £92,000. No wonder the MoD wants to claw back what it can. But there must be many more than we know who have lost limbs, suffered serious brain damage or are paraplegic. Modern medicine can work miracles, and keep people alive who even a few years ago would have died. And the one ‘positive’ result of violent conflict is that medical knowledge is advanced as surgeons become more practised at dealing with horrific injuries.
And yet – there is something odd about the figures of injuries sustained by British Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are proportionately more people dying of the injuries they have received in action now than in previous years. For instance, in Iraq in 2003, 39 were ‘killed in action’ and only one ‘died of wounds’. Yet in 2006 18 were killed in action and 9 died of wounds. And the following year 24 were killed in action and 13 died of wounds(11). In Afghanistan things were a little better but followed the same trend. In 2006 20 were killed in action and only one died of wounds, but from January to 15 July 2009, 41 were killed in action and 5 died of wounds(12). Are they running out of field hospitals and medical supplies? Is the lack of transport to get the wounded into medical care the problem? Or is it because they are not in tanks any more, but in vehicles which the MoD say are armoured, but in practice insufficiently so? Considering the MoD’s record for kitting out the forces it has committed to fighting its wars, it would come as no surprise.
For the MoD’s record on procurement and supply is truly terrible. It has been known for years that MoD procurement deals often wildly exceed their budget, sometimes by as much as 40%(13). A recent report by the National Audit Office, being sat upon by the Government, is believed to say that £2.5bn is wasted every year on equipment projects(14). From the start of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq there have been stories about shortages of essential equipment, some basic like body armour, and some expensive like helicopters. The helicopter shortage is a long-running saga of incomplete orders, helicopters built to the wrong specifications, helicopters waiting to be refitted and helicopters promised with a delivery date of 2014. At one point the Conservatives produced figures saying that only a third of the Armed Forces helicopters were usable(15). The shortage was made very clear when General Sir Richard Dannatt, on his last trip to Afghanistan before retirement, was interviewed by the BBC while hitching a ride in a US helicopter because no British helicopters were available. The latest story to surface is that Air Commodore Simon Falla, deputy commander of Britain’s joint helicopter command, had suggested Britain could only send a limited number of helicopters to Afghanistan because of a shortage of parking spaces(16). All this of course gives rise to another outburst of excuses and justifications from the men at the top.
But without helicopters to move the troops around, they have to travel on land, constantly at risk from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or roadside bombs. Properly armoured vehicles, like helicopters, are thin on the ground. A number of Ridgebacks, built to replace the Snatch Land Rovers in which 37 soldiers have died, and armoured to withstand IEDs, have been sitting in Dubai because there were no planes available to fly them to Afghanistan(17). While they wait, soldiers are using vehicles like the Jackal which is supposed to give greater protection than the Snatch Land Rover. Except that 13 soldiers have already died in Afghanistan while travelling in one of these. According to Dr Richard North, the Jackal design is fundamentally flawed.
‘The driver sits over the front wheel, the most vulnerable part of the vehicle which is also the most likely to trigger, and so take the full force of, a mine. The bottom of the Jackal is flat, meaning the blast is not dissipated. Reinforcing the bottom with more armour – as with the Jackal II – means that the vehicle will flip over with the force of a blast and crush its passengers…… The Jackal is just the latest failure by the Ministry of Defence to provide a mine-resistant vehicle to both Iraq and Afghanistan. A quarter of the 195 service personnel to have died in Afghanistan were travelling in poorly protected vehicles. Such is the problem from mines that convoys travel at four miles an hour, with a minesweeper on foot walking in front’(18).
At the same time modern warfare doesn’t work in an ancient land with guerrilla fighters. Tanks work against tanks not hit and run insurgents. Nor can Snatch Land Rovers, Jackals and similar vehicles succeed against IEDs. Because modern warfare can’t cope with the nature of fighting in Afghanistan the sniper is being resurrected (19). Mind you, judging from the photos of the camouflage being used I suspect it won’t be long before the insurgents start targeting anything that looks like a small mobile haystack. Worzel Gummidge with a Kalashnikov isn’t in it.
And as a final blow to the Armed Forces sagging self-esteem, there is this. According to a leaked Army memo Britain’s war effort in Afghanistan is being hindered by a number of frontline troops too fat to fight(20). The memo from Major Brian Dupree, of the Army physical training corps in Wiltshire, said basic fitness policy “is not being carried out”. Units were routinely failing to fulfil the Army’s basic fitness regime of two hours of physical exercise a week, he added. Two hours a week? What on earth do they do for the other 166 hours a week, apart from eat? Surely the British soldier was supposed to be the epitome of physical fitness. Are the dreaded route marches with full kit restricted to less than 15 minutes a day?
Can one even begin to picture it? Our Army, so full of ‘brave heroes’ and ‘first-rate soldiers’, so ‘fully supported’ (and kitted out) by the MoD, reduced to this – a convoy of not quite well enough armoured vehicles crawling across the Afghan landscape at 4 mph, preceded by a walking man with a red flag (sorry, mine sweeper), hopefully watched over by some small protective haystacks concealing the army’s best sharpshooters(21). They also, presumably, have at times to move at 4 mph. Who volunteers to walk in front of the convoy like this? Or will the unlucky man have been ‘volunteered’ because, being a little overweight, it was thought some extra exercise was called for? How else find someone willing to be such a sitting duck? After all, not all the moveable vegetation in Helmand will be British.
Truly, while Afghanistan weeps over its thousands of dead, the Taliban must be crying with laughter.
Lesley Docksey is Editor of Abolish War, www.abolishwar.org.uk
1. Revealed: £12 billion hidden costs of Afghan war, Independent, 26 July 2009
2. Ditto the American Forces and those of the other nations caught up in this situation. The Canadians in particular seem to be taking a disproportionately hard hit in relation to the size of their force operating in Afghanistan.
3. A look at the war-dead in Afghanistan. Occupation Soldiers, the Resistance, the Civilians and the Future by Les Blough, Axis of Logic
4. Forces mental illness figures out, BBC News, 4 November 2008
5. MoD doctor: we’ve no idea how many troops suffer from trauma, Independent, 17 March 2009
6. Memorandum from Robin Short, Martin Kinsella and David Walters, Select Committee on Defence, written evidence, 28 June 2007
7. Mental health injuries scar 300,000 U.S. troops, Associated Press, 17 April 2008
8. MoD defends ‘spying’ on soldiers, BBC News, 18 July 2009
9. Regular Armed Forces: 191,900; Regular Reserves: 191,300; Volunteer reserves: 42,300. giving a total strength of 425,500 (2006 figures). 2007 figures put the Regular Armed Forces at 195,100.
10. Deafness is the new scourge of British troops in Afghanistan, Michael Evans, The Times, 30 October 2008
11. Op Telic Casualty and Fatality Tables, Ministry of Defence
12. Op Herrick Casualty and Fatality Tables, Ministry of Defence
13. Lewis Page, a former naval officer, claims in his book Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs that the MoD spends two to three times more than it needs for its equipment.
14. MoD accused of wasting millions, BBC News, 20 July 2009
15. UK rationalizes helicopter fleet between Iraq and Afghanistan, Global Security 21 May 2008
16. Why the helicopter shortage in Afghanistan is down to parking, Guardian, 14 August 2009
17. ‘Life-saving’ Afghanistan vehicles stranded in Dubai, Telegraph, 4 August 2009
18. Revealed: How Army’s new armoured vehicle is a death trap too, Independent, 9 August 2009
19. Return of the Sniper, Independent 4 July 2009
20. Troops ‘too fat’ to fight, Independent, 2 August 2009
21. Have you noticed that the Rifle Brigade, the home of the sharpshooter for at least two hundred years, is now registering casualties in Afghanistan?
Global Research Articles by Lesley Docksey
© Copyright Lesley Docksey , Global Research, 2009
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.
June 4, 2009
The Honourable Ms. Luisa Morgantine,
Members of the European Parliament Ladies and Gentlemen.
Allow me to thank you very much, as well as our colleagues who have given us this opportunity to have the honour in meeting with you and speaking to you to convey to you a clear and honest picture of the health situation as well as the dire humanitarian situation experienced by the afflicted people of Iraq. It is an excruciatingly tragic and unbearable situation which cries out to all the liberals of the world and to all those interested in the lives of people in this vast universe, to get seriously and effectively involved, to proclaim the word of truth and to standup and work to save mankind, to provide and preserve the minimum of the simplest and most basic rights for a happy and dignified life, freedom, secure habitat and prosperous employment in a state of mental and physical energy without suffering and pain, hardship and discrimination, especially when this person lives in a land and country like Iraq, to which God has given such great natural wealth of water, oil, precious metals, and a rich soil all of which guarantee achieving a decent living.
I come from Mesopotamia, (The Land Between The Two Rivers), very ancient and has always been called “the black land” because of its prosperity, its crowded population and its abundance of good living conditions; because of its people’s ancient civilization and its contributions to human civilization: the first letter and alphabet, the pen, and law, thousands of years ago, as you have read in ancient history.
Iraq, ladies and gentlemen, with its wealth and its generosity, attracted many peoples and ethnicities over the ages, as a result of which the aforesaid elements have made up a mosaic of the people. It has been inhabited by peoples of numerous different nationalities, ethnicities and religions in security and peace, as well as in compatibility, harmony and stability in spite of the fact that it has experienced numerous foreign waves of invasions, and large attempted invasions, desirous of its great wealth and its geopolitical strategic position over the ages. Iraq has come out of these experiences after fighting to the death and defending its land and territory to emerge victorious, united and unified.
I, an experienced doctor and cardiac specialist, who is experienced in the treatment of heart disease and who has served in his specialty in The State of Iraq for the past 4 decades, stand in your presence and addresses you. I have lived with and through the rule of several successive governments and political regimes which you know. I havenl any particular party or political fealty and affiliation. My people as well as my students and my colleagues in Iraq bare witness to my service in the medical, health and military and civilian medical services fields, professionally as well as academically. I specialized and trained in European hospitals in England. Italy. Ireland, France and here in Belgium, specializing in heart disease during the critical periods of the long war and the chocking embargo. I transferred the most up to date technical skills and research you had achieved in the cardiac field in order to benefit Iraq’s patients as well as its doctors at a time when
Iraqis suffered from the scourge of a technical, scientific and economic embargo which lasted for 13 years; I also witnessed the invasion of Iraq and when I also saw with my own two eyes, on the 9* and 10^ April, 2003, how the invading tanks invaded my cardiac center and burned, looted and plundered the largest center for cardiac surgery in the center of Baghdad in plain sight of the entire world, for it to be left open for further plunder for many days to come under the invader’s auspices.
In this center we used to perform 8 open heart surgeries on Iraqi adults and children, daily. European doctors from England, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain and Germany volunteered their work there as a humanitarian contribution to the center. I recall a telephone call from a colleague from the South of France who had worked in the past with us in the Center, when Baghdad and the area In which the center is situated was undergoing heavy aerial bombardment, during the invasion, begging me to leave the center with the rest of my colleagues in order to escape because the center was a target, as he seemed to believe from the direct satellite pictures. I remember when tears poured down my cheeks whilst watching the Cardiac Center burn and I was screaming at the commanding officer of the group which supervised the operation from the top of a tank, saying to “me stop your tears, we will build you a greater, larger and more up to date Center.
Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament and Distinguished audience, when my colleagues and medical students in Iraq knew that I was going to be present amongst you, I was asked by their Union which was lately formed and carries a membership of more than 350 doctors, to carry forth their concerns and suffering as a result of the seriously deteriorated health situation in Iraq; their letter which arrived 2 days before my arrival, here, is in my possession. I left Iraq after continuing to work and restore parts of the Center with my colleagues, up to 5fh March, 2005, when I received a letter threatening to liquidate and kill me in company with 10 other colleagues who are all cardiac specialists, should we not leave Iraq before this date. Its letters still follow me like ghosts and the style in which it was written still fills me with horror and pain.
Gentlemen, before the invasion and despite the cruel embargo, there were 18 Faculties of Medicine, six of which were established during the period of the embargo, six dental colleges, four pharmacological faculties, and tens of colleges, institutes and schools of nursing, assistant doctors and aides, in Iraq. The first Faculty of Medicine in Baghdad, was opened in 1927 whose first dean, for a very long time, was the English Doctor, Sanderson, the author of the golden memories of his decades long medical service in Iraq called “10,000 Nights and a Night in Iraq”.
In Iraq, we had more than 39,000 hospital beds in efficiently run teaching hospitals, as well as city and town hospitals, as well as medical clinics and centers in the country. We had more than 34.000 registered doctors, 20% of whom were specialists and we used to graduate more than 1,000 doctors annually. We also had 30 Post Graduate Studies of Medical Specialization, granting the Iraqi Board to more than 250 doctors annually. These personnel earned out their duties and responsibilities with great efficiency towards the injured and the disabled during a long war and during the period when Iraq was boycotted scientifically for a very long time.
The Founding Constitution of The Iraqi State in the 1920s granted the right to all Iraqis to free education and state medical treatment and preventative medicine (national health insurance). These services were established throughout Iraq’s countryside, villages and cities, throughout all its provinces.
The Educational system in Iraq is British in its method since its establishment, and Europe understands and knows the standards and efficiency of Iraqi doctors as well as the standards of medical teaching and health care in Iraq; a large percentage of these doctors, today, is spread throughout Europe and Britain. The World Health Organization, UNESCO, UNICEF, THE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF RED CROSS, and other world organizations evaluated Iraq’s achievements positively in vaccination programmes, family medical care, general health, child health, rehabilitation of the disabled, birth control and the decline in mortality of the under 5s and of the newly born since 1980, which put an end to the spread of infectious diseases and epidemics such as Cholera, Infantile Paralysis, Meningitis, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough, and Tuberculosis. In addition to this, Iraq was the foremost in the region in controlling HIV Aids and in fighting addiction and drug abuse as well as establishing School Health Programmes and establishing Protective Child and Maternal Centers as well as establishing specialized centers for Fertility, Cancer, Cardiac and Vascular, Orthopedic, Glandular, Radio Isotopes, Nerves, Ophthalmology. Paralysis, Rehabilitation and Prosthetics, Toxicity, Herbal Medicine, and even Acupuncture Treatment.
Iraqi women have contributed heavily to Iraq’s medical journey and history, and in addition to all the aforementioned the great success of The Food Programme and the Dispensing of Medicines for all chronic disease, as well as the widespread institution of local health clinics and national health insurance. The beneficial use of the Oil For Food and Medicine Programme led to mitigating the bad effects of the imposed embargo on Iraq on its medical imports before the occupation.
The method of importing medicines and medical equipment and supplies since the 70s in the last century was successful in importing safe, effective and solid medicines from international, multi national solid, well-known companies, so was the local manufacture of medicine, enjoying the same specifications as that of the imported, both of which succumbed to identical analyses and tests as well as to efficient central registry in order to safeguard society from its possible resultant catastrophic effects. The importation of medicines was limited to the Organization for Medicinal Imports – The Ministry of Hearth, with scientific supervision of a committee specially chosen for its efficiency.
Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament and Distinguished Colleagues and Audience;
What did the invasion of Iraq after April 2003 do to the health and humanitarian situation in Iraq, as we commemorate its repugnant and abominable anniversary?
To abbreviate my talk, and because of the constraints of time, leaflets in English will be handed out to you which will give you a clear picture in numbers which reflect the state of my country’s health. These numbers are not a figment of the imagination, but numbers extracted from studies and follow up reports carried out by international professional and humanitarian organizations, institutions and societies, referred to, opposite each fact and number mentioned.
As for the reality on the ground, CDs will be handed out to you which will, in pictures, reflect and document a little of the suffering of the Iraqi people from the terror of bombardment and bombing, the destruction of infrastructure, violence and terror, the killing which has targeted the people and its doctors, its efficient professionals, and its scientists and academics as well as the forced displacement of people inside and outside Iraq; the suffering of women as well as the widows and the orphans and the spread of crime and sickness and epidemics; the spread of commercialization of bad medicines and addictive
drugs; the internally displaced refugee camps; their conditions as well as the condition of the detainees in the prisons of the occupation as well as in those of the imposed authority. However, suffice it for me to state that we are in a country that:
1- 70% of its doctors have emigrated.
2- It has lost more than 5,500 of its scientists and academics, killed, imprisoned, or emigrated.
3- 70% of its hospitals have minimum standard performance, below the required standards in the remnants of what is destroyed, raided, or stolen.
4- 90% of medicines in pharmacies is neither analysed nor is it registered or is bad or corrupt and contaminated; it is brought on to the black market across the borders by ghost companies and a country in which thousands of unlicensed pharmacies and drug depots exist, run by people who are not pharmacists.
5- Its hospitals are used as centers for ethnic and sectarian physical liquidation and terror by the militias.
6- The Ministry of Health is part of a sectarian quota division system that specifies the identity of the minister and the directors general and is controlled by the theocratic political parties as well as the religious and sectarian militias. It is an institution in which financial and administrative corruption prevails and according to the Transparency Committee, more than 2 Billion US Dollars have disappeared as a result of phony ghost contracts and bribery.
7- There is no supervisory or monitoring role to be mentioned by the present parliamentarians who are doctors, but on the contrary, their interference may cause a negative effect on the size and the nature of the financial and administrative corruption.
8- Widespread mental illness and drug addiction and the widespread growth
of opium poppy plantations and opium for the first time since occupation.
9- Alteration of basic medical purchase requirements and their replacement with
insignificant lists and invoices.
10- The spread of epidemics and the loss of credibility of all statistics and the lack of
statistics of cholera, Measles, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough, and Toxoplasmosis and a worsening situation of Tuberculosis and HIV Aids.
11- Unsafe imported foods.
12- A rise of incidence in cancer and the nature of the registered cases recently and
a rise in cases of congenital malformation as due to the aggravated
complications as a result of radioactive pollution and the burning down of trees.
Pollution of rivers, as a result of the collapse of the sewage system, particularly
in the Middle and the South caused by the use of Depleted Uranium and White
Phosphorous as well as Cluster Bombs, and the prevention by the occupation
forces of remedial measures and surveys to discover the polluted locations for
sterilization and cleansing.
13- The proliferation of landmines in the sites of the old wars, as well as unexploded
ordinance, especially in Basra and in the border areas.
14- Loss of cooperation and harmony with the humanitarian and voluntary
organizations, such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and others,
as well as financial corruption in the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, and the
escape outside Iraq, of its President with US protection.
15 – Lack of medicines and supplies and, as well as minimal financial allocations,
since they did not exceed 4% of the overall budget allocations in the best of cases, and because of rampant corruption.
16 – Lack of safe potable water for more than 70% of the population and the
continuing lack of electricity as well as the lack of proper sanitation.
17 – The highest rates of infant and newborn mortality in the world.
18 – In Iraq after the occupation:
o More than five million are displaced.
o More than 4 million are below poverty level.
o Approximately, 2 million widows.
o Five million orphans.
o Insufficient food for more than eight million.
o More than 400,000 have been detained and prisoned.
o More than 28% of the population is unemployed.
It is clear that human health and safety is being targeted as well as the Iraqi identity; depersonalization, and interference in the process of education and upbringing in order to weaken and divide Iraq by depletion of its capabilities and its scientific resources which is being implemented by devising a political process and service institutions based on ethnic and sectarian quotas which are inconsistent with efficiency, integrity and reconstruction, transparency and construction.
Distinguished Members of the European Parliament; Occupation, invasion, murder, terrorism, intimidation, and threats would not put an end to the aggravated violence because of the worsening oppression of peoples and unjustified wars that do not create freedoms and democracy. All that the occupation built is a political process which it alleges to be legitimate, has proved that it is a failure, for the Government of Iraq is classified as the most failed in the world, and the most financially and administratively corrupt.
Thus, I urge you to work on expelling the occupation out of Iraq as soon as possible and to allow the Iraqi people and international will to achieve genuine national reconciliation between the patriotic forces and the components of the mosaic of our people and its factions so that it is an Iraqi solution with regional and international support and so that rt is not a forced solution as a result of force, invasion and threats.
International law obliges the occupying power to pay equitable compensation for all the damage committed after the occupation while the country was under its patronage. We also hope that all those involved in all the political administrations formed during the occupation, be made accountable and tried for their planning for, and execution of the invasion of Iraq, without any justification. Your stance with the will and aspirations of the ill-fated Iraqi People is required and is basic for what it expresses in its message of justice and support for all the oppressed peoples, in opposition to and a cessation of all lethal wars and all occupation and imperialistic projects in the world, for they will only contribute to further violence, tension and political and economic instability which threaten the world today, with choking crises as well threatening the heart of humanity and the achievements of the peoples of the world.
Finally, please accept from our people and ourselves, words of the deepest gratitude, of thanks and of praise as I also ask of The Brussels Tribunal for helping in granting me this opportunity.
Dr. Omar Al-Kubaisy
March 18th, 2009.
June 3, 2009
Nuremberg set a valid precedent for trials of war-crime suspects in Iraq’s destruction
The Japan Times 27 maggio 2009
NEW YORK — The Nuremberg Principles, a set of guidelines established after World War II to try Nazi Party members, were developed to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles can also be applied today when considering the conditions that led to the Iraq war and, in the process, to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, many of them children, and to the devastation of a country’s infrastructure.
In January 2003, a group of American law professors warned President George W. Bush that he and senior officials of his government could be prosecuted for war crimes if their military tactics violated international humanitarian law. The group, led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, sent similar warnings to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
Although Washington is not part of the International Criminal Court (ICC), U.S. officials could be prosecuted in other countries under the Geneva Convention, says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ratner likened the situation to the attempt by Spanish magistrate Baltazar Garzon to prosecute former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet when Pinochet was under house arrest in London.
Both former President George W. Bush and senior officials in his government could be tried for their responsibility for torture and other war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.
In addition, should Nuremberg principles be followed by an investigating tribunal, former President Bush and other senior officials in his administration could be tried for violation of fundamental Nuremberg principles.
In 2007, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, told The Sunday Telegraph that he could envisage a scenario in which both British Prime Minister Tony Blair and then President Bush faced charges at The Hague.
Perhaps one of the most serious breaches of international law by the Bush administration was the doctrine of “preventive war.” In the case of the Iraq war, it was carried out without authorization from the U.N. Security Council in violation of the U.N. Charter, which forbids armed aggression and violations of any state’s sovereignty except for immediate self-defense.
As stated in the U.S. Constitution, international treaties agreed to by the United States are part of the “supreme law of the land.” “Launching a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify,” said Justice Jackson, the chief U.S. prosecutor for the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Benjamin Ferencz, also a former chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials, declared that “a prima facie case can be made that the United States is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity — that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.”
The conduct and the consequences of the Iraq war are subsumed under “Crimes against Peace and War” of Nuremberg Principle VI, which defines as crimes against peace “(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; (ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).” In the section on war crimes, Nuremberg Principle VI includes “murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property.”
The criminal abuse of prisoners in U.S. military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo are clear evidence of ill- treatment and even murder.
According to the organization Human Rights First, at least 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror,” eight of whom were tortured to death.
As for the plunder of public or private property, there is evidence that even before the war started, members of the Bush administration had already drawn up plans to privatize and sell Iraqi property, particularly that related to oil.
Although there are obvious hindrances to trying a former U.S. president and his associates, such a trial is fully justified by legal precedents such as the Nuremberg Principles and by the extent of the toll in human lives that the breach of international law has exacted.
by Cesar Chelala, a cowinner of the Overseas Press Club of America award, writes extensively on human rights issues.
Source > The Japan Times | May 26