The Acts of the Democracies
The USA bars Russia, France and Germany from rebuilding contracts in Iraq. The UK supports this stand even though it was not made by the representatives of the Iraqi people.
Since the invasion of Iraq, over 355 people have been killed by terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey and Spain.
The USA announces a handover of power to Iraqis on 30 June. The handover will not be to an elected body but to the USA appointed Iraq Governing Council (known as "the Governed Council" by most Iraqis).
In March the Iraq Governing Council signs a new interim constitution which states that "The laws, regulations, orders, and directives issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority . . . shall remain in force".
These laws include the USA'a hated Order 39, which drastically changes Iraq's previous constitution to allow foreign companies to own 100% of Iraqi assets, and to take 100% of their profits out of the country. Other orders place USA auditors into Iraqi ministries to enforce and monitor Order 39, grant foreign contractors immunity from Iraqi laws, allow USA banks to purchase up to 50% of Iraqi banks, drop the corporation tax rate from 40% to 15% and caps income tax at 15%, suspend all tariffs for good coming into Iraq (this one has put financial pressures on Iraqi small businesses). These laws are a form of neo-colonialism and allow privatisation of most of the country's industries.
With this clause, it means that the occupation will not end on 30 June. As Iraq based journalist, Naomi Klein, puts it, the occupation "will simply be outsourced to a group of hand-picked Iraqi politicians with no democratic mandate or sovereign power. With its new Iraqi face, the government will be free from the ugly perception that Iraq's national assets are being auctioned off by foreigners, not to mention being unencumbered by input from Iraqi voters who might have ideas of their own."
The new constitution also contains the following provisions:
Interestingly, although the USA has changed the economic laws to benefit its companies, it has not altered anti-trade union laws imposed by the previous regime in 1987. In a related development, the USA selected one of the largest palaces in Baghdad as its future embassy. USA Senator, Joseph Biden, writing in the Washington Post described the policy thus:
"Our goal should be to take the 'American face' off the occupation so that we are not blamed for everything that doesn't go right in Iraq... Instead, the Bush administration's current plan is to have a new U.S. ambassador call all the shots, at the risk that Iraqis will think the occupation has not really ended on June 30. Indeed, we will be going from the CPA -- which at least has some international flavor -- to an exclusively American operation with a 'Super-Embassy.'"
USA writer, Jonathan Schell, put it more accurately:
"Instead of saying, 'On June 30, the Coalition will hand over sovereignty to the Iraqi people,' we should say, 'On June 30, the re-election campaign of George W. Bush will hand over the appearance of responsibility for the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq to certain of its local appointees'."
Two Iraqi journalists are killed by USA troops.
In April, USA forces close a newspaper, Al-Hawzah, which opposes the occupation. The USA newspaper, New York Times, justified the closure by saying: "Although the paper did not print any calls for attacks, the American authorities said false reporting, including articles that ascribed suicide bombings to Americans, could touch off violence". The USA appointed Minister of Communication, Haider Al-Abadi, is not informed. He asks: "Is this how we are going to run the country in the future sending soldiers to shut down newspapers?"
The closure provokes demonstrations. Iraqi soldiers, trained and controlled by the USA, open fire on demonstrators in Baghdad. As the demonstrators return to their homes in the poor neighbourhood of Sadr City, USA troops with tanks, helicopters, and planes, fire at homes, shops, streets, and ambulances. According to local hospitals, 47 people are killed and many more injured. Rasool Gurawi, a spokesman at the al-Sadr office, asked, "This is democracy? Attacking peaceful demonstrations? Killing people and destroying buildings?"
The injured include Ali Hussein (16) shot in the spine from a helicopter; Gailan Ibrahim (29) shot in the back by a USA plane; Ali Faris (14) shot while inside his home.
In Najaf, 20 demonstrators are killed and more than 150 injured.
In the town of Fallujah, four USA citizens are lynched. They are described in the Western media as "security contractors", but actually part of an army of mercenaries, who are unaccountable and outside military discipline. Over 400 companies provide security in Iraq, all paid for by UK and USA tax payers with the profits going to the USA companies awarded the contracts. The mercenaries include people from Chile who had served under the dictatorship of Pinochet and from apartheid era South Africa. Casualty figures for mercenaries are not normally given by the USA and UK authorities.
In retaliation, Fallujah (population 300,000) is sealed off and bombed as the USA attempts to crush anti-occupation resistance. During the attack, ambulances are barred from entering. The power station is bombed. The attack was with artillery, snipers, Apache helicopters, 500-ton, laser-guided bombs, cluster bombs (which shred human flesh) and F-16 jets. Entire residential areas, including mosques and schools are destroyed. Arabic stations like Al-Jazeera show the carnage but CNN (USA) and the BBC (UK) ignore the footage.
Sixteen children and eight women are killed when a house is attacked by aircraft. Forty people are killed when an F-16 jet fires a laser-guided missile into a mosque. In a single week, over 600 people are killed (including 200 women and 100 children). Thousands of refugees, stretching for 10 km, are stopped from leaving by USA troops.
USA forces close the bridge over the River Euphrates which means the population is cut off from the main hospital. Doctors are forced to close the hospital and set up a number of small, less well-equipped clinics. According to the organization, Doctors Without Borders, USA marines occupy the hospitals, preventing hundreds of wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fire from the rooftops at anyone who tries to approach. These events are not reported or shown in the Western media.
Makki al-Nazzal, manages a small clinic. The clinic is busy as USA snipers shoot at people entering and leaving the main hospitals. Al-Nazzal also describes ambulances, women and children being shot by USA snipers. He says, "I have been a fool for 47 years. I used to believe in European and American civilization".
Jouralist Rahul Mahajan looked for verification and found "An ambulance with two neat, precise bullet-holes in the windshield on the driver's side, pointing down at an angle that indicated they would have hit the driver's chest (the snipers were on rooftops, and are trained to aim for the chest). Another ambulance again with a single, neat bullet-hole in the windshield. There's no way this was due to panicked spraying of fire. These were deliberate shots designed to kill the drivers."
Mahajan describes the scene at the clinic "we saw perhaps a dozen wounded brought in. Among them was a young woman, 18 years old, shot in the head. She was seizing and foaming at the mouth when they brought her in; doctors did not expect her to survive the night. Another likely terminal case was a young boy with massive internal bleeding. I also saw a man with extensive burns on his upper body and shredded thighs, with wounds that could have been from a cluster bomb; there was no way to verify in the madhouse scene of wailing relatives, shouts of 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great), and anger at the Americans."
Another journalist, Dahr Jamail, also visited the clinic: "One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning. The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life. After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive. Two of the last victims that arrived at the clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs -- they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded. One of the bodies they brought to the clinic was that of an old man who was shot by a sniper outside of his home, while his wife and children sat wailing inside."
One of the fighters in Fallujah (who calls himself Abu Freedom) is asked by UPI reporter, Mitchell Prothero, why he fights. His answer: "I don't want to see Americans in charge of my country". The USA calls these people, "rebels" and "haters of freedom".
Of the 1,800 people injured, over 200 are children. No names are given in the Western media and no interviews are conducted with any families. As part of its conditions for a cease fire, the USA insists that the Al-Jazeera news crew be handed over to them.
290 people are killed in other cities, over 30 of them children.
According to Robin Cook, former UK foreign secretary, the tactics used by the USA are similar to Israeli tactics in Palestine: "It is a vicious irony that having promised that victory in Iraq would bring a road map to peace in the Middle East, the Bush Administration has in practice brought to Baghdad, Sharon's military tactics against the Palestinians with precisely the same result in consolidating local opposition."
These images were not shown on Western media but were widely shown around the Arab world.
The uprising spreads so that the USA-led occupation simultaneously loses control in Basra, Najaf, Kerbala, Nasiriyah, Kufa, Kut, Diwaniyah, and in several Baghdad suburbs (Thawra, Shuala, and Kadhimiyah).
In Najaf, Spanish troops close a teaching hospital giving its 200 doctors two hours to leave. USA troops close another hospital in Qaim.
Shaykh Sadun al-Shemary, a former member of the Iraqi army told reporter Rahul Mahajan: "Things are exactly the same as in Saddam's time -- maybe worse."
The USA transfer the deposed leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to their military base in Qatar without informing the country's rulers.
USA engineers begin the construction of 14 "enduring bases" in Iraq. These will be capable of housing thousands of USA troops. The bases are planned for Baghdad, Mosul, Taji, Balad, Kirkuk and in areas near Nasiriyah, near Tikrit, near Fallujah and between Irbil and Kirkuk. Airfields in Baghdad and Mosul are to be renovated and enhanced, and 100km of road will be upgraded.
No elected Iraqi has been consulted over these plans.
The USA-appointed Iraq Governing Council create a new flag for Iraq. All members of the resistance immediately take up the pre-invasion flag as their banner.
Photographs taken by soldiers and showing USA and UK soldiers torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners are published in newspapers. The story, which had been supressed by the USA military for several months, is headlined around the world (except in the USA where it initially appears on page 24 of the Washington Post). The prison is Abu-Ghraib in Baghdad, once used by former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Some pictures showed USA troops smiling, posing, laughing or giving the thumbs-up sign as naked, male Iraqi prisoners were stacked in a pyramid or positioned to simulate sex acts with one another. The fact that female soldiers were involved causes shock and outrage in the Muslim world. The most iconic image shows a hooded prisoner standing on a small box with wires attached to his stretched-out arms.
Seymour Hersh, a USA journalist, asserts that most of the Iraqi prisoners were civilians picked up at checkpoints. He was writing for USA magazine, New Yorker and quoting from a secret military report written by Major-General Antonio Taguba in January 2004. He describes many tortures used on Iraqi prisoners: "Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee".
Taguba's report states that the abuse is systematic and also included punching, slapping and kicking detainees, forcing male detainees to wear women's underwear, forcing male detainees to masturbate while being photographed, pulling detainees by dog chains placed around their necks, and a case of a male guard having sex with a female detainee.
Terry Charman, museum historian at London's Imperial War Museum, describes the images: "This is on par with the images of the Holocaust and of the Nazis taunting their prisoners, shaving the heads of orthodox Jews, which they did a lot of when they took over Poland. It has a similar resonance. Now these images show that members of the Coalition are treating these people in exactly the same way he treated his people. The sort of thing is very counterproductive." His advice is that "You should never denigrate or underestimate your enemy in wartime. The humiliation you are heaping on them may be felt or revisited upon the troops who are on the ground."
The USA and UK governments describe the incidents as isolated. The UK government attacks the newspaper that published the photographs. However, Amnesty International reports that the torture of Iraqi prisoners by USA and UK soldiers is "not an isolated incident". During the year of occupation Amnesty International reports "frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by coalition forces during the past year" which included sleep deprivation, beatings, prolonged hooding and restraint in painful positions, and exposure to bright lights and loud music. The International Red Cross also says that these abuses have been occurring for a year. Their reports had been ignored.
Confirmation comes from USA soldiers. Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederik says he was told to use these techniques on prisoners to "soften them up" for interrogation. Staff Sergent Camilo Mejia says that Military Intelligence instructed him to deprive detainees of sleep and stage mock executions.
The USA newspaper, Washington Post publishes accounts by ex-detainees: Hasham Mohsen Lazim, a used tyre dealer spent four months in USA custody. He was one of the hooded men in the photographs.He was hooded and stripped. His body was covered with writing with a felt tip pen. He heard the laughter of females.
For three hours he and other men were made to masturbate against a wall, crawl on top of one another to form a pyramid and ride each other as if they were riding a donkey. He was left naked for two days.
He was handcuffed to a bed for several days. He had to sleep and urinate where he was. Haidar Saber Abed said: "They forced us to walk like dogs on our hands and knees". According to Ameen Saeed Al-Sheikh, "They forced me to eat pork and put liquor in my mouth". Liquor (alcohol) and pork are both forbidden to Muslims. Mohanded Juma says that the prison guards "...used to throw the food into the toilet and said 'go take it and eat it'".
No criminal charges can be brought against a USA soldier in Iraq because the USA-appointed Iraqi Governing Council has given the American military a blanket amnesty from prosecution. Secondly, with the coerced backing of many countries, no USA soldier or citizen can be prosecuted for war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Thirdly, many of the interrogators are non-military "security personnel" (mercenaries) who are not subject to USA military discipline.
Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi, summed up the views of many around the world: "This is the straw that broke the camel's back for America. The liberators are worse than the dictators. They have not just lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis but all the Third World and the Arab countries".
According to Mahmoud Walid, a 28-year-old writer from Egypt, "These soldiers are being touted as the saviours of the Iraqi people and America claims to be the moral leader of the world, but they have been caught with their pants down, they have been exposed, the whole world sees them as they really are". Khadija Mousa, an ordinary woman from Syria put the view of many Arabs: "They keep asking why we hate them? Why we detest them? Maybe they should look well in the mirror and then they will hate themselves . . . What I saw is very, very humiliating. The Americans are showing their true image".
Nelson Madela, the ex-President of South Africa, makes a speech to the parliament in Cape Town as he retires from politics. In part of the speech, he criticises USA and UK actions in Iraq:
"We watch as two of the leading democracies ... get involved in a war that the UN did not sanction: we look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in the in own country". The speech is not broadcast on UK television which instead shows a prime time television program ("Beneith the Halo", Channel 4) attacking Mandela and his legacy.
According to Amnesty International, over 13,000 people are held at Abu-Ghraib prison, without trial, their families not allowed to meet them. In thousands of cases people are not even aware that their family members are there. During one news item by the UK television station, BBC, one woman told the cameras that she was a mother of five children before the interviewers were told not to film.
In all, over 18,000 prisoners are being held in Iraqi prisons by the USA. Including prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Diego Garcia, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the USA is holding over 25,000 detainees in violation of the Geneva Conventions.
USA Private Lynndie England pointing to the genitals of hooded Iraqi male prisoners.
Charles Grainer, a USA marine pictured with naked male Iraqis who were forced to simulate sexual acts on each other.
Terrified naked prisoner threatened with guard dogs. The next photograph in the sequence shows this man after having been bitten by one of the dogs.
Naked detainee covered in excrement being made to walk along a coridor.
Naked Iraqis forced to simulate sexual acts.
Three television stations (Canal Plus from France, ABC from USA, and CBC from Canada) broadcast a video taken from a USA Apache helicopter.
The video shows a 30mm gun fired at a clearly wounded man, crawling on the road in December 2003. In the soundtrack, the pilot says "Someone wounded". The reply is "Hit him, hit the truck and him". Deliberately shooting a wounded man is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.
No other Western television station shows the film.
Amnesty International criticises the USA record in Iraq saying that its forces have "shot Iraqis dead during demonstrations, tortured and ill-treated prisoners, arrested people arbitrarily and held them indefinitely, demolished houses in acts of revenge and collective punishment".
There is also criticism of the USA and UK for not keeping records of the number of Iraqis killed during the invasion and under the occupation. The UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, describes this failure as "odd".
In the eyes of people in the Middle East, the USA's actions resemble those of Israel in Palestine.
UK soldiers force four youths into a canal in Basra. One of the boys, 16 year old, Ahmad Jabbar Kareem, drowns. This is one of a number of cases of deaths in UK custody investigated by the Ministry of Defence. Other victims include Baha Mousa, 26, a hotel receptionist, kicked and beaten to death, and Abd al-Jubba Mousa, 53, a headmaster who was hit with rifle butts as he was taken away by troops.
USA forces attack the main mosque area in Kerbala killing over 25.
In the holy city of Najaf, over 110 people are killed. USA tanks conduct operations in the cemetery. This cemetery is full of ornately carved tombs; it the largest in the world and one of the holiest sites for Shia Muslims. The attack also damages the Shrine of Imam Ali, holiest of Shia buildings.
One resident, Ali Wasi, says "I feel humiliated, our sanctity has been violated". Demonstartions break out in Iran, not normally on friendly terms with Iraq.
In London (UK), an organisation called Child Victims of War (CVW) describes how children in Iraq are suffering because of the legacy of Depleted Uranium. This is a radioactive metal used in artillery because of its hardness. It was used by the USA and UK to destroy tanks in Iraq during the 1991 and 2003 conflicts. Radiation levels from destroyed Iraqi tanks has been measured to be 2,500 times higher than normal and 20 times higher than normal in the surrounding area.
Depleted Uranium produces dust that is rapidly absorbed by the body. The effects include children born with severe deformities (including shortened limbs and eye defects), several leukaemia cases per week (before 1991 this condition was almost unknown). The number of deformed babies has increased from 3.04 per thousand in 1991 to 22.19 per thousand in 2001. The number of Down's Syndrome children has increased by five times since 1991. It is estimated that around 300 tonnes of the metal was used in 1991 and 1,500 tonnes in 2003.
CVW also stated that child malnutrition, the supply of drinkable water and the amount of hospital medical supplies have all worsened since the 2003 invasion. According to CVW, every child in Iraq has "had a degree of psychological trauma". Many children ("hundreds" according to Human Rights Watch) are still being killed by unexploded cluster bombs.
A USA helicopter fires on a wedding party in Makradheep, a desert village in western Iraq close to the Syrian border. According to Sheikh Nasrallah Mikfil, the head of the local tribe, 41 people, including 10 women and 15 children, are killed. The USA calls the victims "foreign fighters", even though they themselves are the foreign occupiers. Major General James Mattis refuses to accept blame, declaring: "I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my men". Among the dead was Hussein Ali, a well-known wedding singer, who was killed along with his brother Mohammed. Both had been performing at the wedding. According to eye witnesses, 40 missiles were used during a one and a half hour attack on a village of 25 houses.
The Western media show very little of the filmed burials whereas the Arab world sees the bodies of brightly dressed women and decapitated children. No names of the victims are given unlike the detailed coverage when Europeans or Americans are killed. The UK BBC television news calls the massacre a "public relations disaster for the Americans" and "more bad news for George Bush" rather than a tragedy for the Iraqi families slaughtered.
On the same day, the Arab world watches images of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators killed and maimed by Israeli tank shells and helicopter missiles in Gaza.
The USA also attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan in 2002, killing 50 people.
The USA and UK attempt to draft a United Nations resolution that will give immunity to their troops for all acts committed in Iraq.
The USA backed Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, had arrived in Iraq with the USA invasion force and had been groomed to become the new leader of Iraq. After criticising the occupation, his house is searched and his property destroyed by Iraqi police with USA operatives present. Between 1992 and 2004, Chalabi's political party, Iraqi National Congress, had been given $ 100 million by the USA government.