The Acts of the Democracies
In Baghdad, over 100 people die every day from violence unleashed by the USA-UK invasion of the country in 2003. It is estimated that 180 attacks on the occupying forces and their collaborators occur each day. Only sectarian attacks are reported in the Western media. The "Iraqi government" cannot leave a fortified area of Baghdad called the Green Zone. Members of the government have stated that they are not allowed to move a single company of soldiers without USA permission. The Western media treats this "government" as a real entity.
Police are involved in kidnapping and there are death squads, the result of the USA policy known as the Salvador Option, based on deaths squads trained by the USA in Central America in the 1980s. Many of the death squads that commit multiple murders are under the control of the USA-backed government.
Ethnic cleansing is being committed by the different communities as the country heads to a civil war. The governments of the USA and UK blame anti-democratic forces, Iran, Syria, the media and everyone apart from their policies. According to the United Nations, 1,800,000 Iraqis are refugees outside the country while 1,600,000 are internally displaced. The following figures were compiled at the beginning of 2007:
|Iraqis who have died since the invasion||655,000|
|Estimated strength of anti-occupation resistance||30,000|
|USA and UK troops killed||3,006|
|Percentage of children suffering malnutrition||33%|
|Population with access to clean drinking water in 2003 (before invasion)||12,900,000|
|Population with access to clean drinking water in 2007||9,700,000|
|Iraqi refugees outside the country||1,800,000|
|Iraqi refugees inside the country||1,600,000|
The USA hand over the deposed president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, for execution. The execution is filmed on mobile (cell) phones and broadcast on the internet. His executioners (members of a different community) can be heard taunting him in his final moments. Hussein's final words about Iraqis overcoming the occupation of their country and support for the Palestinians are described as "sarcastic" by the UK's BBC who fail to inform their viewers of them.
A group of UK soldiers who had been filmed beating Iraqi civilians escape facing criminal charges. The soldiers had also abused a dead Iraqi's body while providing "amusing" comentary for the videos.
The USA backed government approves a new hydrocarbon law that will allow USA and UK companies generous concessions to the oil reserves of Iraq. The USA government helped to draw up the law with the help of a USA company called Bearing Point. This law will allow companies like British Petroleum, Shell (UK), Chevron and Exxon (USA) to take on 30 year contracts to extract the oil and take 75% of their profits out of the country. Foreign ownership of Iraq's oil plus the removal of profits has been illegal in the country since 1972. The USA illegally changed the constitution of Iraq in 2004 to allow this - occupying powers that change constitutions are in violation of the Haigue Convention.
In March 2003 the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, stated that oil was not the reason for the invasion and that Iraq's oil wealth would be managed by a United Nations trust fund. Also in 2003, Colin Powell, Secretary of State in the USA, had assured the world that "... the oil of the Iraqi people belongs to the Iraqi people: it is their wealth, it will be used for their benefit. So we did not do it for oil." In May 2003, the UK and USA co-sponsored a United Nations resolution (1483) that would give the two nations control over Iraq's oil revenues.
Iraq has the third largest oil reserves in the world, estimated at 115,000 million barrels.
The new legislation was scrutinised by the USA government, the major oil comanies and the International Monetary Fund. Very few members of the Iraq parliament had seen it by early 2007. The law allows for disputes to be settled internationally, undermining Iraq's sovereignty. It also allows for companies to take out their profits tax free and to freely sell shares to non-Iraqi institutions.
Iraqi trade unionists who met in Jordan have suggested that the terms of the law would cause problems in Iraq once its terms became known:
"The Iraqi people refuse to allow the future of their oil to be decided behind closed doors. The occupier seeks and wishes to secure energy resources at a time when the Iraqi people are seeking to determine their own future, while still under conditions of occupation. Iraqi public opinion strongly opposes the handing of authority and control over the oil to foreign companies, that aim to make big profits at the expense of the people. They aim to rob Iraq's national wealth by virtue of unfair, long term oil contracts that undermine the sovereignty of the State and the dignity of the Iraqi people. History will not forgive those who play recklessly with our wealth.... We consider the new law unbalanced and incoherent with the hopes of those who work in the oil industry. It has been drafted in a great rush in harsh circumstances."
Very liitle of the story of this law is covered by the Western media.
Since the 2003 invasion the USA has kept full control of the award of contracts in Iraq for the restoration of infrastructure, electricty and gas networks, securty, development of media, schools and hospitals, financial services and the oil industry. The USA company Halliburton has received $ 13,000 million - the USA Vice President, Dick Cheney, one of the loudest advocates for the invasion, used to be one of their directors. Other USA beneficieries include Bechtel, Bearing Point (the company that drafted the oil law and has also donated heavilly to the ruling political party in the USA) and General Electric. Over 150 USA companies haver been given contracts worth more than $ 50,000 million. Despite the amount of money given to USA companies in preference to Iraqi companies, clean water, sanitation and electricity are below pre-invasion levels.
Unreported in the Western media, food shortages begin to appear in Iraq. The Inter Press Agency (IPS) quotes 60-year-old Um Muthanna, a food vendor from Baghdad, "Look at us begging for food despite the fortunes we have. A country with two great rivers should have been the biggest exporter in the world, but now we beg for food from those who participated in killing us."
The Iraqi import laws were changed in 2004 by the former USA administrator, Paul Bremer. This constitutional change (illegal under international law) resulted in dropped tariffs on import of foreign products. This made it impossible for Iraqi farmers to compete. Countless Iraqi farms went bankrupt. Iraq was forced to import but prices of imported goods increased. By 2007, most of the food in Iraqi markets is imported, and more expensive due to increasing fuel costs and lack of government regulation. Imported foods like chicken, fruits and vegetables cost more than locally grown foods.
Food rations put in place in the 1990s have been cut due to their cost. As 35 year old mother of five children, Um Jamila, told IPS, "What food ration are you talking about. The whole country has been stolen from us. If this goes on another six months, we will be just like any starving country."
In January, a report released by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) showed that 1,500,000 internally displaced people in Iraq lack basic necessities such as adequate food, drinking water, sanitation, and health and education facilities.
In late February, USA soldiers raid and ransack the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad. Guards are arrested. Computers and electricity generators are taken. According to Youssif al-Tamimi of the ISJ: "The Americans have delivered so many messages to us, but we simply refused all of them. They killed our colleagues, closed so many newspapers, arrested hundreds of us and now they are shooting at our hearts by raiding our headquarters. This is the freedom of speech we received."
Aidan White, general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists issues a statement saying that "anyone working for media that does not endorse U.S. policy and actions could now be at risk. In the past three years more than 120 Iraqi journalists, many of them Syndicate members, have been killed, and now their union has been turned over in an unprovoked act of intimidation."
Hashim Jawad of the Iraqi Lawyers Union in Baghdad: "The Americans and their Iraqi government followers are destroying social activities and civil unions so that no group can oppose their crimes and plans. The press is our remaining lung to breathe democracy in this country and now it is being targeted."
Reporters Without Borders lists over 148 journalists and media workers killed in Iraq since the beginning of the USA-led invasion in 2003. The group also compiles an annual Press Freedom Index for countries around the world. In 2002, before the USA invasion, Iraq ranked 130th. In 2006 Iraq had fallen to 154th.
Mansoor Salim, a retired journalist, told IPS: "I only wish the U.S. administration and our government would stop lying about freedom in Iraq. How stupid we were to have believed their statements about freedom. I admit that I was one of the fools."
After pressure from the USA, Egypt closes al-Zawraa television station which broadcasts from the Iraqi resistance.
On the fourth anniversary of the USA invasion of Iraq, the United Nations reports that nearly 2 million Iraqis have left the country as refugees. The majority have gone to Syria and Jordan with smaller numbers heading for Turkey and Iran. Some have been admitted to European countries but very few have been taken in by the USA whose invasion caused the refugee crisis. In addition just under 2 million Iraqis are displaced internally.
The reasons vary from sectarian violence, the occupation, torture (both by the state and by militias), lack of water and electricity, crime, lack of medical supplies and malnutrition.
Palestinian refugees who left Palestine when the state of Israel was set up settled in Iraq. Many of them have become refugees again fleeing from the USA occupation as well as sectarian violence. These people are effectivel stateless and many hundreds remain stranded on the border of Iraq with Jordan and Syria.
Al Iraqiya, a USA-financed national televisions station, broadcasts a reality program called Terrorism in the Grip of Justice. This program shows captured insurgents "confessing" to their crimes in front of the camera. Human rights groups condemn the program as violating the Geneva Conventions as none of the participants are charged before judicial authorities prior to appearing. Many show signs of violence. In one program a former policeman with two black eyes confessed to killing two police officers in Samarra. A few days later, his body was delivered to his family.
The detainees shown on television are captured by Iraqi commandos trained and supervised by USA advisers.
Peter Maass writing for the USA publication, New York Times Magazine, says that this is part of a USA strategy of getting local militias to do their fighting for them, the so-called Salvador option:
"The template for Iraq today is not Vietnam, to which it has often been compared, but El Salvador, where a right-wing government backed by the United States fought a leftist insurgency in a 12-year war beginning in 1980. The cost was high - more than 70,000 people were killed, most of them civilians, in a country with a population of just six million. Most of the killing and torturing was done by the army and the right-wing death squads affiliated with it."
In March, the Arab American Institute (AAI) and Zogby International, a polling organisation, release the results of a survey conducted among the populations of five Middle East countries with pro-USA governments and media. The poll asked if it was thought that USA influence in Iraq was positive or negative. Most said negative; for example for heavilly censored Saudi Arabia the figure was 68%, in Egypt it was 83%, Jordan with its large numbers of Palestinian refugees was at 96%.
Al-Jazeera present a report describing conditions for many children in Iraq on the 4th anniversary of the USA led invasion. Many children have lost their families to the violence and are forced to live on the streets during a civil war and occupation, surviving by living in dumps and eating whatever food they can find. According to the report, poverty in Iraq has reached new levels in the last four years. Many children have little or no access to basic necessities, like clean water, health care or education.
4% of all children die before the age of five. 25% (more than three million children) are malnourished and 20% do not go to school.
Sijad Ali is typical - both his parents died when he was 5 years old. He lived on the streets until taken to an orphanage. "The National Guards and the Americans used to beat and arrest me, suspecting I was a terrorist. No matter how much I told them I wasn't. Then I ended up here. It's a comfortable place and we have full rights."
In April, Iraqi troops, supported by USA helicopters, raided a mosque in the middle of old Baghdad. The muazzin (the man who calls from the minaret), Abu Saif and another person were executed in public. Local people attacked the troops. 34 people were killed in the resulting fighting, including women and children. A military statement drafted by the USA forces stated that USA and Iraqi forces were continuing to "locate, identify, and engage and kill insurgents targeting coalition and Iraqi security forces in the area".
The Western media tends only to report attacks on civilians if the USA is not involved. The occupation forces and their collaborators routinely break into homes and arrest people.
According to the International Red Cross, "the number of people arrested or interned by the multinational forces has increased by 40% since early 2006. The number of people held by the Iraqi authorities has also increased significantly."
An artical in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, discusses the little reported treatment of female detainees in a society that is deeply conservative: "Many of the security detainees are women who have been subjected to abuse and rape and who are often arrested as a means to force male relatives to confess to crimes they have not committed. According to the Iraqi MP Mohamed al-Dainey, there are 65 documented cases of women's rape in occupation detention centres in 2006. Four women currently face execution - the death penalty for women was outlawed in Iraq from 1965 until 2004 - for allegedly killing security force members. These are accusations they deny and Amnesty International has challenged". Amnesty International reports that 65 people were executed in Iraq in 2006, a number only exceded by China, Iran and Pakistan.
The Western media continue to report that Iraq is suffering a civil war. A study by the independent US research institute, Brookings, showed that 75% of recorded attacks are against occupation forces, and a further 17% on Iraqi government forces. The remaining 8% are the subject of most news items in the USA and UK. The average number of attacks against the occupation doubled during 2006 to about 185 a day in 2007. That is more than 5,500 a month.
A leaked document explains how the USA attempted to trick one of Iraq's leaders, Muqtada al-Sadr, into a meeting where they would trap and kill him. al-Sadr opposes the USA occupation, the building of military bases, and the Hydrovarbon Law.
In June oil workers strike in Iraq over the Hydrocarbon Law, which gives foreign companies control of the counry's oil for 30 years. This story remains unreported in the Western media. The USA-backed government in Iraq issues arrest warrents for the strike leaders.
The most contentious aspects of the new law are:
In July, Australian Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, states in an interview that oil is the main reason that Australia has troops in Iraq. This is immediately denied by the Prime Minister.
USA company Blackwater comes under the spotlight after a number of Iraqis are killed. Blackwater have been paid $ 832 million by the USA government to provide "security". In fact they are a privatised mercenary army. They were awarded their contarct in Iraq (and Afghanistan) without having to bid. The 1000 strong private army is not subject to any laws (either USA or Iraqi).
In mid September, at least 28 civilians were killed when members of this private army fired indescriminantly into a feeing crowd of men women and children in central Baghdad. The shots incinerated cars with their occupants still inside - in one a mother and her infant died, their bodies fused together by the heat. One lawyer, Hassan Jabar Salman, was shot four times in the back while his car was riddled with eight bullets: "I saw womwn and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot. But still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about ten leaping in fear from a minibus, he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him, she jumped out after him, and she was killed."
The victims included Iraqi police and soldiers. A private attack helicopter was called in which added to the carnage.
A month later a USA Congressional report finds that Blackwater was involved in over 200 shootings between January 2005 and October 2007. In 80% of the incidents, the mercenaries had fired first. In one incident a drunken Blackwater employee shot and killed a bodyguard of an Iraqi vice president. His punishment was to be sacked and returned to the USA. The company paid the man's family $15,000. The USA government later offered the men immunity from prosecution.
Blackwater are one of many companies providing mercenaries in war zones, mainly for the occupying powers. The industry is worth $ 120,000 million world wide. 177 of these companies operate just in Iraq using 48,000 people. Over 800 have been killed between 2003 and 2007 - these deaths are not generally included in casualty figures. Companies include:
In October, a USA airstrike in the Lake Thar Thar region kills 34 people including 15 women and children. The news was covered on the UK BBC television news as a statement from the USA military which essentially blamed the Iraqis themselves for the deaths: "These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence". This statement ignores that fact the the Iraqi victims were in their own country while the USA military were not.
Days earlier another USA raid on the village of Khalis (a Shia city) killed 25 people.
A group pf ex-soldiers from the USA called Iraq Veterans Against the War publish statements from soldiers who had fought in Iraq condemning the invasion. The interviews were conducted in the magazine, The Nation (30 July 2007). The statements include reasons why they oppose the war:
Russian author, Professor Adel Safty, writes that "the picture that emerges from the interviews is that of a depraved and brutal colonial war and a deeply oppressive occupation, in sharp contrast to how the Bush administration and the influential media have been portraying the war."
He continues: "The veterans� accounts revealed a pattern of behaviour that showed callous disregard for Iraqi civilian lives, and dehumanization of the Iraqi people on a daily basis. 'Dozens of those interviewed,' the report states, 'witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings�' Although many interviewees said such acts were perpetrated by a minority, they described such acts as common and often go unreported.
Jeff Englehart from Colorado (USA), who was with the Third Brigade in Baquba admitted: "I guess while I was there the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi."
John Bruhns, a Sergent from Philadelphia (USA) fought in Baghdad and Abu Ghraib. He participated in hundreds of raids on Iraqi homes. He describes the process:
"You grab the man of the house. You rip him out of bed in front of his wife. You put him up against the wall. You have junior-level troops� will run into the other rooms and grab the family, and you'll group them all together. Then you go into a room and you tear the room to shreds�and you get the man of the home, and you have him at gunpoint, and you'll ask the interpreter to ask him: 'Do you have any weapons? Do you have any anti-US propaganda�?' Normally they'll say no, because that's normally the truth. And if you find something, then you'll detain him. If not, you'll say, 'Sorry to disturb you. Have a nice evening.' So you've just humiliated this man in front of his entire family and terrorized his entire family and you've destroyed his home. And then you go right next door and you do the same thing in a hundred homes."
Note the question about "Do you have any anti-US propaganda".
Sergent Patrick Campbell (California, USA) "said his unit fired often and without much warning on Iraqi civilians in a desperate bid to ward off attacks."
Many soldiers reported that the killing of unarmed Iraqis was common. Such killings were sometimes justified by framing innocents as terrorists. American troops would plant AK-47s next to the bodies of those they had just killed to make it seem as if the civilians they had just shot were combatants.
This reality of the occupation of Iraq is rarely aired on USA or UK television news.
According to the UK newspaper, Financial Times, the war in Iraq has cost UK tax payers over $ 13,000 million (till 2007). In the USA the cost to the people averages $ 10,000 million every month. Over $ 50,000 million is being spent by the USA every year building between six and twelve large permanent bases from which to control Iraq.
The USA "embassy" in Baghdad will cost around $ 600 million and is due to be completed during 2007. David Phinney, a researcher with CorpWatch says that this "embassy" "may be the most lasting monument to the U.S. occupation in the war-torn nation." The huge walled structure in a prime location in the city is being built by Asian migrants who work long hours earning around $500 a month. It will be a city within a city and have its own water and sewage system separate to the rest of the city. It will, in fact be a colonial headquarters.
Dahr Jamail, an unembedded (i.e. non USA controlled) journalist in Iraq makes a telling point about the large bases being constructed around Iraq (an example is a huge air base at Balad). He writes that these bases are "very similar as far as amenities, and infrastructure of the base, and the size, and the number of people there as you would see in, for example, [permanent] American bases in Germany, American bases in Okinawa, American bases in South Korea, American bases in other parts of the Middle East. [...] these are the same types of bases that are being built in Iraq."
According to Associated Press, the number of bombs dropped on Iraq during the first six months of 2007 increased by five times compared with the same period in 2006. Over 30 tonnes were cluster weapons, which take a heavy toll on civilians. F-16 airctaft were moved into Balad air base near Baghdad. This base conducts 10,000 air operations a week. Work is underway to strengthen its runways to handle the increase in air activity.
Improving the runways has allowed the USA Air Force to move B1-B bombers from Diego Garcia (an island in the Indian Ocean) to Balad. These large aircraft carry out daily strikes. A B1-B can carry over 20 tonness of bombs.
A study of "excess deaths" caused by the Iraq-USA war by the UK medical journal Lancet found that air attacks were responsible for 13% of deaths of Iraqis. This figure was 76,000 in June 2006. It also found that that 50% of deaths of children under 15 were caused by air strikes.
In October, 49 people are killed by USA forces in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad. Victims of the USA, normally labelled as "militants", are labelled as "criminals". Many of the dead were killed when USA forces called in air strikes in the middle of a city. The Reuters news agency reported an interview with Abdul-Mehdi al-Muteyri: "Most of those killed and wounded were women, children and elderly men which shows the indiscriminate monstrosity of the attacks on this crowded area."
A statement by the USA military denied that women and children had died: "Ground forces reported they were unaware of any innocent civilians being killed as a result of this operation." This statement fails to explain why the USA has the right to accuse, try and execute Iraqis in their own country.
Results of a study by UK polling group ORB are published but not widely publicised. The report states that over a million Iraqis (1,220,580) had died between 2003 and late 2007 as a result of the USA-led invasion and occupation. This is more than the Rwanda genocide.
The following breakdown of the cause of death was found:
|Cause of Death||Percentage|
|Other blast / ordnance||6%|
The USA newspaper, Washington Post, publishes a report that USA soldiers use a secret tactic of leaving weapons as bait and shooting or arresting anyone who picks them up. Anyone killed is then labelled an "enemy combatant" and used to proclaim success of USA military policy. The statement by Captain Matthew Didier was typical: "Basically we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against the US forces". "Engage the individual" is a military euphamism.
A USA television programme called 60 Minutes interviews Frank Wuterich, a staff sergent in the USA army who was the patrol leader in the massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha in 2005. In the interview he describes how he was trained to break down the front door of a house and "prep" the inside rooms by opening the door a crack and rolling a grenade inside. The interviewer, Scott Pelley, asked "But when you roll a grenade in a room through the crack in the door, that�s not positive identification, that�s taking a chance on anything that could be behind that door." Wuterich answered: "Well that�s what we do. That�s how our training goes."
In December, Turkey bombs Kurdish areas in Northern Iraq killing hundreds of people. The attacks are supported by the USA and are little reported in the Western media. In 2007, the USA has made 1447 air bombing raids over Iraq. No casualty figures have been published.