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
June 3, 2009
This week we saw a huge milestone reached in the greatest conflict of our day: yet it passed with scarcely more than a murmur in the American press — and with deathly silence on the part of the primary architects of the occasion.
We speak of course of the final bug-out of British forces from Iraq, where this week, after six years of slavish service to America’s war of aggression, Her Majesty’s military gave up their last remaining base in the conquered land. But as the Guardian astutely points out, the Brits did not turn the base over to the completey liberated totally sovereign Iraqi goverment, but to the tender care of Pentagon, which is pouring thousands of American troops into Basra to guard the occupation’s supply lines out of Kuwait — and keep a watchful eye over the oil-rich region.
Of course, British troops had pulled in their horns in Iraq long ago, having essentially retreated to a few key bases while letting sectarian militias and criminal gangs battle it out on the streets. And indeed, in some cases, the Brits were literally driven out of their bases by Iraqi resistance, as we reported here way back in 2006:
….The Queen’s Royal Hussars, 1,2000 strong, abruptly decamped from the three-year-old base at Abu Naji last Thursday after taking constant mortar and missile fire for months from those same friendly Shiites. The move was touted as part of a long-planned, eventual turnover of security in the region to the Coalition-backed Iraqi central government, but there was just one problem: the Brits forgot to tell the Iraqis they were checking out early – and in a hurry.
“British forces evacuated the military headquarters without coordination with the Iraqi forces,” Dhaffar Jabbar, spokesman for the Maysan governor, told Reuters on Thursday, as looters began moving into the camp in the wake of the British withdrawal. A unit of Iraqi government troops mutinied when told to keep order at the base – and instead attacked a military post of their own army. By Friday, the locals had torn the place to pieces, carting away more than $500,000 worth of equipment and fixtures that the British had left behind. After that initial, ineffectual show of force, the Iraqi “authorities” stepped aside and watched helplessly as the looters taunted them and cheered the “great victory” over the Western invaders…
Just a few months ago, the UK’s Ministry of Defence was churning out “good news” PR stories about life at Abu Naji – such as the whimsical tale of the troop’s pet goat, Ben, a loveable rogue always getting into scrapes with the regiment’s crusty sergeant major, even though the soldiers “knew he had a soft spot for Ben.” The goat, we were told, had enjoyed visits from such distinguished guests as the Iraqi prime minister and the Duke of Kent. Now this supposed oasis of British power has been destroyed, with the Coalition-trained Iraqi troops meant to secure it either fading into the shadows or actively joining in with the rampaging crowds and extremist militias. Meanwhile, the Hussars are reducing to roaming the countryside on vague, pointless, impossible missions, killing time, killing people – and being killed – until the inevitable collapse of the whole shebang.
The shebang’s final toppling was a low-key affair. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was a no-show, despite being in the general vicinity this week out on the other Terror War frontier, Afghanistan (where he is upping the Anglo troop level to bolster Barack Obama’s “surge”). His predecessor, Tony Blair, was likewise absent, and silent, at the end of an action that will forever stain his legacy with its monstrous, murderous folly.
He was in the news, however, after the UK government was forced to release memos from 2004, detailing Blair’s frantic, mendacious attempts to suppress word of the rising death count among civilians in the war that he and George W. Bush engineered on the basis of knowingly false and deliberately manipulated information. In October 2004, the world’s leading medical journal, The Lancet, released a careful study showing that an estimated 98,000 people had died from war-related causes in the first 18 months of the aggression and occupation. Blair first tried to stop publication of the figures, and then later told Parliament, “We do not accept these figures at all,” the BBC reports. The memos show various ministries trying to pass off responsibility for dealing with study; no one wanted the impossible task of squaring Blair’s blatant lies to Parliament with the scientific fact of the study.
This same farce was repeated — on both sides of the Atlantic — two years later, when The Lancet reported a further study, using the same methodology, showing that a minimum of 650,000 people had died as a result of the conflict. As we noted here last year:
As we all know, there was a very brief moment of panic amongst the death merchants when a survey by Johns Hopkins experts reported in 2006 that the true count of civilians who had died as a result of the war was at least 650,000. This study, published by The Lancet, one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed medical journals, was quickly given the smear treatment, haughtily dismissed by Bush and his British moll, Tony Blair for its “unsound methodology” — despite the fact that the moll’s own officials confessed privately that the Lancet study’s methodology was sound. Indeed, it was the same methodology employed by the U.S. and UK governments to estimate the slaughters in Rwanda and Darfur, among other atrocities. But evidently the same science does not apply when those ordering the atrocities have white hands.
Very quickly, the media mandarins took up the smear, and never failed, in their very few mentions of the Lancet study, to note the “controversy” over its methodology — a controversy ginned up entirely by the warmakers and their apologists, much as revisionists like David Irving concoct “controversies” over the mass slaughter of Jews by the Nazis. Of course, Bush and his supporters are themselves very active revisionists on the Irving model — “revising,” in real time, the history of the holocaust they are carrying out in Iraq.
Last year, a follow-up to the Lancet study gave a credible estimate of more than 1 million Iraqis killed as a result of the invasion. One salient fact about this and the Lancet study should be borne in mind: there were areas of Iraq that are so dangerous that they could not be surveyed. In other words, the most deadly areas of the conquered land had to be left out of the studies. So they too are, in the end, minimum baselines for the total death count.
But of course, as we noted at the time, “it doesn’t really matter how you count the dead….when the dead don’t count.”
Neither did we hear from George W. Bush, now keeping a demure silence in his ritzy Dallas digs. (Ole George don’t cut no more brush down on that fake ranch of his in Crawford, now that there ain’t no PR value in it.) No word for his “gallant allies,” who lost 179 men and women — while dishing out thousands of more deaths, and atrocities of their own, as Robert Fisk reports in his piece on the pullout:
I remember going to the famous Basra air base to ask how a poor Iraqi boy, a hotel receptionist called Bahr Moussa, had died. He was kicked to death in British military custody. His father was an Iraqi policeman. I talked to him in the company of a young Muslim woman. The British public relations man at the airport was laughing. “I don’t believe this,” my Muslim companion said. “He doesn’t care.” She did. So did I. I had reported from Northern Ireland. I had heard this laughter before. Which is why yesterday’s departure should have been called the Day of Bahr Moussa. Yesterday, his country was set free from his murderer. At last.
Fisk takes special note of Britain’s first long-term intervention in Iraq, beginning in the First World War, and continuing on, in bloodsoaked “counterinsurgency operations” and repression by client governments, for many years thereafter:
There followed a familiar story. The British occupation force was opposed by an Iraqi resistance – “terrorists”, of course – and the British destroyed a town called Fallujah and demanded the surrender of a Shiite cleric and British intelligence in Baghdad claimed that “terrorists” were crossing the border from Syria, and Lloyd George – the Blair-Brown of his age – then stood up in the House of Commons and said that there would be “anarchy” in Iraq if British troops left. Oh dear….
So let us turn at last to T E Lawrence. Yes, Lawrence of Arabia. In The Sunday Times on 22 August 1920, he wrote of Iraq that the people of England “had been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information… Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows.”
…Iraq, begging around Europe now that its oil wealth has run out, is a pitiful figure. But it is a little bit freer than it was. We have destroyed its master and our friend (a certain Saddam) and now, with our own dead clanking around our heels, we are getting out yet again. Till next time…
What sort of country has Britain’s noble endeavor in Iraq helped to make? Well, in just six short years, the Anglo-American crusade has managed to turn one of the region’s most secular states in the Arab world into a seething cauldron of extremist, sectarian militias — including the sectarian militia that Bush, Blair, Brown and Obama have installed and maintained in power: the increasingly authoritarian Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki.
Reuters reports on the plight of women in Iraq, whose women once had enjoyed more cultural and professional freedom than any others in the Arab world:
The vast majority of Iraqi women face domestic violence on a regular basis and many commit suicide because of it, the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Iraq and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan should take measures to stop violence against women, including honour killings and genital mutilation, the UN mission in Iraq, known as UNAMI, said in a regular report on human rights…..UNAMI said it was concerned about threats against women because of the way they dressed, and it repeated a statement from November that women were threatened by rape, sex trafficking, forced and early marriages, murder and abduction.
How did this pandemic of oppression arise? Reuters again:
The 2003 U.S.-led invasion triggered a ferocious Sunni Islamist insurgency and sectarian bloodletting between once dominant Sunnis and majority Shi’ites. Religious extremists filled a vacuum of lawlessness, imposing conservative policies that were particularly intolerant of women’s rights.
We should note that a large portion of the sectarians in the “Sunni Islamist insurgency” were subsequently put on the American payroll and given large swathes of territory to rule as they saw fit. Many of the Shiite militias, of course, were already working directly for the American-installed Iraqi government.
But what about Kurdistan, where American power has allowed two powerful and repressive factions to hold sway independently since the first Gulf War? (Do recall that Saddam’s writ did not run in Kurdish Iraq — which was, curiously enough, the only place in Iraq that had any kind of “al Qaeda” associates before the American invasion of 2003. For more, see “Hubub in HibHib: The Timely Death of al-Zarqawi.”) Reuters reports:
The U.N. report, which covered the second half of 2008, said it paid special attention to the plight of women in Kurdistan, an area where ethnic Kurds, who are mostly Muslims, have enjoyed virtual independence since the end of the first Gulf War….The report expressed concern about female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, where many people think it is harmless and required by Islam. Some efforts were being made to address the problem, including the possibility of a law to make it illegal.
Still, a survey in the last quarter of 2008 by a German organisation found 98 percent of women in 54 villages in one area had undergone genital mutilation, the report said.
Oh well. You can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs, can you? Or as that other breaker and maker of nations, Joe Stalin, used to say: When wood is chopped, chips fly. Surely the mutilation, murder and subjegation of a few million women here and there is an acceptable price to pay for what our wise new president calls “the extraordinary achievement” of the Anglo-American military action in Iraq.
But what next in Iraq, now that the Brits are gone? Surely the Americans will follow them out shortly, right? After all, we know that Barack Obama is committed to “ending the war.” One of the most astute observers of the American war machine, Jeremy Scahill, has a few thoughts on that subject:
Remember when Barack Obama made that big announcement at Camp Lejeune about how all US combat troops were going to be withdrawn from Iraqi cities by June 30? Liberals jumped around with joy, praising Obama for ending the war so that they could focus on their “good war” in Afghanistan.
Of course, the celebrations were and remain unwarranted. Obama’s Iraq plan is virtually identical to the one on Bush’s table on January 19, 2009. Obama has just rebranded the occupation, sold it to liberals and dropped the term “Global War on Terror” while, for all practical purposes, continuing the Bush era policy (that’s why leading Republicans praised Obama’s plan). In the real world, US military commanders have said they are preparing for an Iraq presence for another 15-20 years, the US embassy is the size of Vatican City, there is no official plan for the withdrawal of contractors and new corporate mercenary contracts are being awarded. The SoFA Agreement between the US and Iraq gives the US the right to extend the occupation indefinitely and to continue intervening militarily in Iraq ad infinitum. All it takes is for the puppets in Baghdad to ask nicely…
Scahill points to a remarkable story in the New York Times, which has passed almost without notice. In it, we find that thousands of American “combat troops” (a distinction without a difference that is key to the Obama plan) will actually remain in Iraqi cities after the June 30 deadline “mandated” by the soft, fluffy SOFA for the withdrawal of fighting troops to bases outside urban areas. How can this be? Simple: American and Iraqi authorities are simply, arbitrarily declaring U.S. bases inside Baghdad’s city limits to be suddenly, magically outside the city limits! The NYT:
In Baghdad, however, there are no plans to close the Camp Victory base complex, consisting of five bases housing more than 20,000 soldiers, many of them combat troops. Although Victory is only a 15 minute drive from the center of Baghdad and sprawls over both sides of the city’s boundary, Iraqi officials say they have agreed to consider it outside the city.
In addition, Forward Operating Base Falcon, which can hold 5,000 combat troops, will also remain after June 30. It is just within Baghdad’s southern city limits. Again, Iraqi officials have classified it as effectively outside Baghdad, so no exception to the agreement needs to be granted, in their view.
As Scahill notes, America just has to ask nicely, and their Iraqi partners are happy to oblige. He goes on:
Camp Victory is of tremendous strategic importance to the US occupation. In addition to the military’s share of Baghdad International Airport, it includes four bases — Victory, Liberty, Striker and Slayer — as well as the US-run prison “Camp Cropper.” That’s where the US keeps its “high value” prisoners. While the US officially handed control of Forward Operating Base Freedom to “Iraqi control,” the US military is keeping the swimming pool.
Just as an aside, imagine invading a country, planting two military bases in its capital named “Striker” and “Slayer” — and then having the gall to pass yourself off as an altruistic, peace-loving liberator. The self-revealing unselfconsciousness of this brutal nomenclature is almost sublime.
Meanwhile, future plans are being laid for other US bases. Camp Prosperity is going to house US contractors and other personnel, while at Camp Union III housing is being built for several thousand soldiers, trainers and advisers.
What is abundantly clear is that there are enough cosmetic changes going on in Baghdad intended to make it look like the occupation is ending, while continuing it. Again, from the Times:
The Green Zone was handed over to Iraqi control Jan. 1, when the agreement went into effect. In addition to the United States-Iraqi patrols, most of the security for the Green Zone’s many checkpoints and heavily guarded entry points is still done by the same private contractors who did it prior to Jan. 1.
“What you’re seeing is not a change in the numbers, it’s a doctrine change,” said First Sgt. David Moore, a New Jersey National Guardsman with the Joint Area Support Group, which runs the Green Zone. “You’re still going to have fighters. Every U.S. soldier is trained to fight.”
So: thousands of troops — combat troops, “trained to fight” — in sprawling, growing, permanent bases, inside Iraq’s cities, augmented by hordes of private mercenaries, “supporting” missions against an unvanquished insurgency with ground forces and airstrikes (which, as a new study shows, kill mostly women and children). Once again, we see the hallmark of the new administration’s Terror War policies: continuity — continuity with a vengeance.