FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Kirkuk’s Dr. Death

by PATRICK COCKBURN

Kirkuk, Iraq.

When policemen, soldiers and officials in Kirkuk who were injured in insurgent attacks arrived in the emergency room of the hospital, they hoped their chances of surviving had gone up as doctors tended their wounds.

In fact, many of the wounded were almost certain to die because one of the doctors at the Republic Hospital was a member of an insurgent cell. Pretending to treat the injured men, he killed 43 of them by secretly administering lethal injections, a police inquiry has revealed.

“He was called Dr Louay and when the terrorists had failed to kill a policeman or a soldier he would finish them off,” Colonel Yadgar Shukir Abdullah Jaff, a senior Kirkuk police chief, told me. “He gave them a high dosage of a medicine which increased their bleeding so they died from loss of blood.”

Dr Louay carried out his murder campaign over an eight to nine-month period, say police. He appeared to be a hard working assistant doctor who selflessly made himself available for work in any part of the hospital, which is the largest in Kirkuk.

He was particularly willing to assist in the emergency room. With 272 soldiers, policemen and civilians killed and 1,220 injured in insurgent attacks in Kirkuk in 2005, the doctors were rushed off their feet and glad of any help they could get. Nobody noticed how many patients were dying soon after being tended by their enthusiastic young colleague.

Dr Louay was finally arrested only after the leader of the cell to which he belonged, named Malla Yassin, was captured and confessed. “I was really shocked that a doctor and an educated men should do such a thing,” said Col Jaff.

The murderous work of Dr Louay is symbolic of the ferocity of the struggle for the oil province of Kirkuk. The dispute over its fate is the most important reason why the political parties in Baghdad have failed to create a new government three months after the election on 15 December. The Kurds, expelled from Kirkuk and replaced with Arab settlers by Saddam Hussein, captured the city on 10 April 2003. They have no intention of giving it up. “We will never leave Kirkuk,” said Rizgar Ali Hamajan, the former Kurdish peshmerga (soldier) who heads the provincial He recalls that when he was 18 months old, his parents fled with him from his village north of Kirkuk moments before the Iraqi army destroyed it.

But Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Prime Minister, has frustrated Kurdish demands, enshrined in the new constitution, for Kurds to be allowed to return to Kirkuk and Arabs settlers to be removed to their original homes. The Kurds expect a referendum in Kirkuk that would lead to the province joining the highly autonomous Kurdish region ruled by the Kurdistan regional government in northern Iraq.

For the 1.9 million Kurds, Turkomens and Arabs of Kirkuk province, oil has brought few benefits. They live on top of at least 10 billion barrels of oil which was first exploited in 1927. Despite that, people wanting to buy petrol in Kirkuk wait all day in queues of battered vehicles. “It is the most devastated city in all Iraq,” said Mohammed Othman, deputy head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the most powerful Kurdish party in Kirkuk.

All Iraqi provinces were seriously damaged under Saddam Hussein but few on the scale of Kirkuk. Sinister mounds in the fields mark where Kurdish villages once stood before they were destroyed. Often the Iraqi army poured concrete into the village wells to prevent people returning. Saddam Hussein also bulldozed four districts in Kirkuk after the failed Kurdish uprising in 1991. Between then and 2003 at least 120,000 Kurds and Turkomens were expelled, in addition to those forced out in the previous 40 years.

Some Kurds have returned, but not to a land of plenty. In the old sports stadium in Kirkuk, hundreds of families are squatting amid the garbage and sewage. The guerrilla war continues at a low but persistent level and the Arabs are not going to leave or be marginalised without a fight.

Smoke was rising over Kirkuk this week as children set ablaze tyres to celebrate the Nowruz, the Kurdish spring festival.

Kirkuk is not a place where many people would like to live–but the battle to control it may yet destroy Iraq.

 

 

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail