Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Fallujah Revisited

by HAIFA ZANGANA

It took the British government five weeks to take note of the mass demonstrations in Iraq.  These started last week of 2012 and are comparable in size, energy, and peaceful nature to the protests that toppled other Arab regimes, albeit expanding mainly in the capitals of the four central Iraqi provinces.

Minister for Middle East, Alistair Burt, finally commented on 28 January 2013, about clashes between protesters and the Iraqi army. At least the Minister did separate the death of the unarmed protesters from the subsequent attack hours later on an army unit few miles away from the protest site.  The events centre on Fallujah, west of Baghdad, one of the main cities where mass protest is mounting by the day.

The first shooting, resulted in 5 death and about 40 injured is clearly video-recorded. The second ended with 2 soldiers killed and 3 abducted. In the chaos of claims by an ever changing official narrative and statements by a committee of investigators these two incidents are often deliberately handled together with potential for escalations. Now the withdrawal of army and federal police units from Fallujah, and the assigning of security to local police announced by the Defence  Ministry spokesman immediately after the shooting on Friday 25 January may well not be implemented as a result of the chaotic political and security breakdown  in the country maintain  the dominant the total mistrust amongst all the players taking part in the “ political process” on one hand and among them and the people on the other.

The Iraqi city of Falluja, which 9 years ago became a symbol of heroic Iraqi resistance against the brutalities of the US/UK occupation, is now at the forefront of another battle.

Young Omar Ali Al Ani, a father of a three-year-old girl, was one of the five people killed on Friday 25th January and his picture was the first placed on the web sites.  The names of  the victims were listed on the banners during the mass funerals on Saturday 26th.

The victims were on their way to join the vigil in Sahet al Karama “ Dignity  square “ and to take part in a communal Friday prayer carried on in many Iraqi cities since 25th Dec 2012. The communal prayer of both Sunni and Shi’a Muslims is a practice Iraqis often resort to at times of crisis and colonial threats, most famously during the 1920 revolution against British occupation, practiced widely in the first year of the US/UK occupation in 2003,   and once more It has been embraced recently in cities in the provinces of Baghdad Nineveh, Salahuddin, Diyala, Kirkuk and Anbar to assert the unity of Iraqis in defiance of the party-sectarian policy of Nouri Al Maliki’s regime.

The demonstrations began with a few hundred people in both Anbar, west of Iraq, and Nineveh in the North, arising in anger at the news of rape of women detainees at the hands of the Iraqi security forces under Maliki’s command as Commander in Chief. Maliki’s rivals and partners in government and in the parliamentary ‘political process’ established by the US occupation and despised by the public, tried to use this issue to avoid being steadily marginalised by him through imprisonment of their body guards accused with charges of terrorism, and with an eye on municipal elections in a few months time.   Within few days the protests morphed into a genuine mass movement and a vigil, not unlike what happened in the Arab spring.   In fact the Anbar demonstrators adopted a resolution to disallow any minister or Member of the parliament from mounting the podium.

The demand for the release of women detainees gained a wide support, igniting a gradual escalation.  Some of the women have been tortured, raped or threatened with rape according to reports by the committee of human rights in the parliament . The regime’s various spokesmen gave out contradictory responses: from denying the existence of women detainees arrested as hostages to force the surrender of their male relatives, admitting that some “terrorist” women were arrested, promising swift release, denying rape, to finally setting up a panel of religious personalities and officials to investigate.  Other demands focused on release of prisoners and the repeal of section 4 in the Terrorism Act which allows the arrest of anyone without a warrant and without submitting him/ her to courts: The Iraqi version of Guantanamo.  In different provinces lists of a dozen demands were approved by mass acclamation in the protest squires, with very similar wordings. Coordination grew within and between the provinces but no central body emerged.

Most observers and politicians, including people till recently allies to Maliki,  could only regard these demands rather basic in essence, calling for government reforms, respect human rights, implement justice according to international laws and end the endemic sectarianism and corruption.  There have been several Iraqi parliamentarian and international reports on such human rights abuses calling for an end to the systematic torture practised in various detention facilities. Commonly reported methods of torture are “suspension by the limbs for long periods, beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks, breaking of limbs, partial asphyxiation with plastic bags, and rape or threats of rape. Torture was used to extract information from detainees and “confessions” that could be used as evidence against them in courts.”

Another demand is to abolish or suspend the Justice and Accountability Law which have been used to target political dissidents labelling them Ba’athist, i.e. belonging to the Saddam Hussein regime before the occupation in 2003. Protesters say this law is used for sectarian purposes since many high levels Baathist who have switched alliance to the ruling Shii political groups are in prominent positions now while even low-level state employees whose jobs under that regime depended on some form of affiliation to the ruling party, are targeted and deprived of liberty or work or pension, mainly because they do not support Maliki.

Al Maliki’s initial response to the demands was no less than late Qadafi’s response. He described the demonstrators as “bubbles” whose demands are “stinking sectarian”, threatening them that they have to “end their protests or they would witness their own end”.

When Adnan Pachachi , former foreign minister and a member of  Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) which was installed by US occupation, was asked by  Sky News Arabia ( 10 January, 2013) about the possibility of erupting violence at  demonstrations, he said : “if that’s happen,  the source of it will be the government itself, because it is the party that has the capacity”.

Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi novelist, artist and activist. Her recent books are “Dreaming of Baghdad” and “City of Widows: An Iraqi woman’s account of war and resistance” and co authored “ The Torturer in the Mirror” with Ramsey Clark and Thomas Ehrlich Reifer. Haifa is co-founder of Tadhamun: Iraqi Women Solidarity, founding member of the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) and advisor for UNDP on “Towards the Rise of women in the Arab world”. Currently she is a consultant at ESCWA.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]