History Repeats Itself in Iraq

In a Presentation at European Parliament in Brussels on 29th January the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, likened Iraq’s justice system to “processing animals in a slaughterhouse”.

She also accused Iraq’s justice system of being “too deeply flawed to warrant even a limited use of the death penalty, let alone dozens of executions at a time.” Torture, sexual abuse and the threat of rape and actual rape are frequently inflicted on detainees, regardless of their gender.

In January this year 38 people were hanged in two days. Last October 42 prisoners were executed in two days, acts Pillay called “obscene and inhuman”. Iraq now has the third highest execution rate on earth, according to Amnesty International.

US, UK: selective condemnation of tyrants

However, the US and UK are seemingly remarkably selective when it comes to tyrants who “kill their own people”.

Not only have they failed to censure their tyrannical Iraqi puppet, Nuri al-Maliki, but they are also arming him to the teeth with the same weapons which are linked to the horrific birth defects, and cancers throughout the country, which he is now using on “his own people”.

Moreover, if allegations from very well informed sources that he holds an Iranian passport are correct, to say that US-UK’s despot of choice appears in a whole new political light would be to massively understate.

To facilitate Al-Maliki’s assault on Iraq’s citizens, the US “rushed” 75 Hellfire missiles to Baghdad in December. On 23rd January Iraq requested a further 500 Hellfires, costing $82 million – small change compared to the $14 billion in weapons provided by America since 2005.

The AGM-114R Hellfire II, nauseatingly named ‘Romeo’, clocked in at: $94,000 each – in 2012. A shopping spree on weaponry in a country where electricity, clean water, education and health services have all but collapsed since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The re-invasion of Iraq

Two weeks ago an “American cargo jet loaded with weapons” including 2,400 rockets to arm Iraqi attack helicopters also arrived in Baghdad.

Subsequently a contract was agreed to sell a further 24 AH-64E attack helicopters to Iraq “along with spare parts and maintenance, in a massive $6.2 Billion deal.”

With them comes the reinvasion of Iraq, with: “hundreds of Americans” to be shipped out “to oversee the training and fielding of equipment”. Some are “US government employees” – read ‘military’ – plus a plethora of “contractors” – read mercenaries.

According to Jane’s Defence Weekly, on 15th November 2013 Iraq also took delivery of “its first shipment of highly advanced Mi-35 attack helicopters as part of a $4.3 Billion arms purchase from Russia”, out of an order of “about 40 Mi-35 and 40 Mi-28 Havoc attack helicopters”.

The all to “attack his own people” in the guise of defeating ‘Al Qaida’ in Anbar province and elsewhere where the people have been peacefully protesting a near one man regime of torture, sectarianism, kangaroo courts which sentence victims who have also had confessions extracted under torture.

Thermobaric weapons – do not try these at home

So now Al-Maliki is to unleash weapons of mass destruction on any who oppose his reign of terror. Hellfire missiles, also used by the US forces in Fallujah are described as “Thermobaric Hellfire Missiles … Their effective performance in Fallujah led to major production contracts in 2005.”

“Thermobaric weapons use high temperature/high pressure explosives as anti-personnel incendiary weapons. They char or vaporise victims in the immediate target location, or suffocate and collapse internal organs with their extended blast/vacuum effects.”

“These weapons use a new generation of reactive metal explosives, some of which are suspected of using Uranium for the high temperature and increased kinetic blast effects. If Uranium enhanced warheads were used in Fallujah these may have contained between ten and one hundred kgs of Uranium per warhead, depending on weapon type.” Ongoing.

They also contain a fuel air explosive (FAE) of which, according to the US Defence Intelligence Agency:

“The (blast) kill mechanism against living targets is unique and unpleasant … What kills is the pressure wave, and more importantly, the subsequent rarefaction (vacuum) which ruptures the lungs …

“If the fuel deflagrates but does not detonate, victims will be severely burned and will probably also inhale the burning fuel. Since the most common fae fuels, ethylene oxide and  propylene oxide are highly toxic, undetonated fae should prove as lethal to personnel caught within the cloud as most chemical agents.”

Syria watchers please note. (Emphasis mine.)

The temperature within the detonation can reach 4,500 to 5,400 °F (2,500 to 3,000 °C). Outside the cloud, the blast wave travels at over two miles per second (3.2 km/s) – 7200 mph.

White phosphorus, napalm

There are also reports of white phosphorous or napalm having being used by Maliki’s forces in Falluja. Certainly if one 2-minute video is authentic, as it appears to be, a tell tale inflammatory weapon which cannot be extinquished is well apparent. (in Arabic, but the visual speaks for itself.)

On 28th January World Bulletin recorded: “Some 650 people have been killed or injured and 140,000 displaced by indiscriminate army shelling in Iraq’s western city of Fallujah”, according to Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama Nujaifi.

The people of Samarra, whose eye wateringly beautiful, golden domed Al-Askari Mosque was blown up in 2006, offered their homes and hospitality to the people fleeing Fallujah and Anbar province.

But al-Maliki’s security warned Samarra residents not to accept any displaced Fallujah and Anbar families. They were given 24 hours to leave Samarra, writes a friend in Iraq, adding:

“Can you believe such criminality? Forcing the kicking out the refugees who left their houses due to heavy bombing by al-Maliki’s criminal forces?”.

Falluja’s injured

On Thursday 30th January a source with contacts in Fallujah gave the names behind the statistics of just a few of the injured arriving at Fallujah General Hospital:

Iman Mohammed Abdul Razzaq – 40 years old (female)

Isaac Saleh Mohammed – 4 years (Male)

Abeer Mohammed Saleh – 18 years old (female)

Shorooq Borhan Ali – 7 years (female)

Ashoaq Mohammed Jassim – 25 years old (female)

Sarah Mohammed Odeh – 13 years old (female)

Fatima Mohammed Odeh – 15 years old (female)

Saleh Mohammed Abdul Razzaq – 45 years old (male)

The hospital has been repeatedly shelled, the latest attack on the night of 9th-10th February. Al-Maliki’s militia have been filmed dragging the body of a young man behind a car and setting bodies alight.

Nobel Peace Laureate Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron’s regimes are as culpable for their continuing support and facilitating of al-Maliki’s crimes against humanity as were Bush and Blair in the lies that delivered Iraq’s ongoing death and destruction.

The US’s 935 lies about Iraq

In context, according to a 2008 study, during the two years following 11th September 2001, (vi) George W. Bush “and seven top officials – including Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, made 935 false statements about Iraq.”

Further, on 5th February 2003, addressing the UN on Iraq’s non-existent nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Colin Powell’s fictional fantasies were jaw dropping:

“Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option … The United States will not and cannot run that risk to the American people …

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence …

“Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions. These are facts, corroborated by many sources, some of them sources of the intelligence services of other countries.”

One source, the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iraq’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ which could be deployed in ’45 minutes’, of course came from Tony Blair’s Downing Street.

A bit more relevant historical context, as to what has brought Iraq, ten bloody years on, to the uprising. One man did buying fairy tales.

The truth is dangerous

Five days later after Powell’s UN nonsense. on 10th February 2003, German Green MP Joschka Fischer, then Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor, stunned an international security conference in Munich’s opulent 19th century Bayerischer Hof hotel.

The topic of discussion was the proposed invasion of Iraq, and at a key moment Fischer banged on the table, switched to English to guarantee Donald Rumsfeld understood and shouted of the US arguments for war:

” … I am not convinced.” As he spoke, he stared at the then US Defence Secretary over his silver, half framed spectacles, concluding: “That is my problem, I cannot go to the public and say, ‘these are the reasons’, because I don’t believe in them.”

A stony faced Rumsfeld was described as: “gazing at Mr Fischer through a tropical plant … he looked like a tiger in the jungle, ready to pounce.”

The astute Herr Fischer recognized a pack of lies when he heard them and saved Germany from enjoining a war of aggression – Nuremberg’s “supreme international crime” – against a country which posed no threat and had no way of defending itself against the world’s most devastating and destructive weapons, whose poisonous residual pollution will continue to maim and kill generations to come for all time.

Iraq – better off under Saddam

Both Tony I’d do it again” Blair and George W. Bush face a citizen’s arrest when appearing in public. Blair reiterating, with others responsible for bombing Iraq back to a pre-industrial age (again) that the country is a better place without Saddam, “a tyrant who killed his own people.”

In fact even the woeful Western trumpeted mass graves found in Iraq were from the 1991 war and subsequent US encouraged uprising and it’s predictably violent suppression.

That is not to exonerate Saddam Hussein for human rights abuses, but in context a refrain often heard in Iraq was: “He doesn’t bother us if we don’t bother him.”

Heaven help you if you did, indeed – as of Western allies throughout the region. It took just a year of the invasion for people of all political persuasions, including many previously formerly fiercely anti-Saddam, to say: “We wish Saddam was back.” Saddam was preferable to the “liberators”.

In November 2006, Dr. Abbas Khalaf, a former Russian translator for Saddam Hussein, was interviewed by the CTV Moscow Bureau. He decried how Iraq turned into a violent and fragmented entity. When asked about Saddam’s tenure as president of Iraq, he stated:

“You could agree or disagree with him, but now even those who were secretly against him are saying he understood us better than we understand ourselves.”

In Kurdistan, where the people in the Iran border are were terribly caught in the crossfire from the weapons used by both devastated sides in the Iran-Iraq war (and sold to both sides by the US) Saddam Hussein was firmly in the firing line for the terrible deaths at Halabja, also highlighted by Colin Powell at the UN.

Who really murdered Halabja’s Kurds?

However a meticulous 1990 US War College Report threw doubt on the facts of even that horror, stating: “Iraq was blamed for the Halabja attack, even though it was subsequently brought out that Iran too had used chemicals in this operation, and it seemed likely that it was the Iranian bombardment that had actually killed the Kurds.”

So back to the uprising. It should be noted that the escalation of the unrest in Fallujah began on the 30th December, the anniversary of Saddam Hussein’s execution – which was carried out by a man who was also called Al-Maliki.

America’s imposed Prime Minister has further enraged a justifiably angry population with a speech on TV talking of the interference of other countries and their support for terrorist groups.

The response was to point out his apparent amnesia over the fact that he entered Iraq on the back of the American tanks in an illegal invasion – and there is still the question of that alleged Iranian passport.

Tareq Aziz still in jail – for knowing too much?

In an interview with Former (Christian) Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tareq Aziz, before the impending invasion, he reminded me of Iraqis’ intense nationalism:

“Madam Felicity, when I was ten years old I was handing out leaflets on the streets of Baghdad, putting them though people’s doors” warning of the British plans to take over Iraq’s oil. He added: “I will not give up on Iraq now.”

He did not and remains frail and in jail. He also reminded me of the intolerance with imposed governments: “Iraqis are quick to revolt, as they did in 1921, 1931, 1947, 1957 and 1968.”

Given the Iraqi’s record of running out of patience with externally engineered governments, al-Maliki should watch out.

The last such was under another Prime Minister called Nuri (al-Said) who as Wikipedia puts it, “ignored poverty and social injustice, became a symbol of a regime that failed to address these issues, choosing a course of repression, to protect the privileged.”

He met a very unpleasant end.

Iraq’s history repeats itself in uncanny ways.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a freelance journalist.

This article originally appeared in The Ecologist.