We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.

In particular, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq’s people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
  3. An end to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Another massacre, same old justification

By: Haifa Zangana

While the US-led alliance continues its airstrikes against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis) in Iraq, and while it continues to supply the Iraqi government with weapons and troops in the guise of "advisers" and "trainers", the Iraqi people are struggling to survive the deadly cycle of militias' retaliations.

On Monday 26 January
in the village of Barwana, near the town of Muqdadiya in the Iran-bordering province of Diyala, 72 unarmed men were taken from their homes by militias.

Heads down and bound together, they were led in small groups to a field, forced to kneel, and shot, one by one.
Iraqi troops watched, say survivors. 

Women are among the 35 others that remain missing. After the militia left the village, women and children came out to mourn their dead.

War rhetoric

Those killed were not members of IS, but civilians who had fled to Barwana's relative safety from Sinsil, about 5km to the southwest, where fighting between IS troops and militias believed to be Iranian-sponsored and backed by US-led alliance's airstrikes had broken out.

In a move that brings to mind US military statements after the 2003 invasion whenever a massacre was committed by Washington's troops,
 the Iraqi government now accuse IS forces of carrying out the killings and call for investigations only in rhetoric. Over the years, Iraqi officials have proven themselves to be tenacious implementers of the former occupiers' propaganda.

The Haditha massacre 
was one of the Iraqi government's primary lessons.  

The curriculum went like this: On 19 November, 2005, a squad of US marines went on a five-hour rampage in the Iraqi city of Haditha, in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, killing 24 civilians - including seven women, three children and elderly men - who were shot multiple times at close range while unarmed. 

It was an act of retaliation after a roadside bomb hit their Humvee, killing the driver. The initial US military statement the following day reported that the death of the civilians was a consequence of a roadside bomb and attacks by Iraqi insurgents:
"A US marine and 15 civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha. Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms fire. Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another."


Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who led the squad, attempted to justify the killings of unarmed civilians in their homes. "We cleared these houses the way they were supposed to be cleared," he said.

The blueprint

A similar statement followed
 the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim al-Janaby, a 15-year-old girl who was killed by US troops alongside her father, mother, and nine-year-old sister in Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, on 11 March 2006.

The crime 
was, as usual, ascribed to "Sunni Arab insurgents active in the area", contrary to local eyewitness reports.

Crimes committed by the US-led occupation with impunity have became the blueprint for subsequent Iraqi regimes
: retaliation rather than reconciliation,  sectarianism rather than citizenship, and loyalty to foreign powers rather than to Iraq as a country.

The cumulative injustice all but 
provides local incubators for the growth of IS and any other extremist group.


Civilians in fighting zones are carrying the brunt of collective punishment by a foursome of vicious groups: the Iran-led sectarian militias, the security forces of the nominal government, the US-led airstrikes (2,000 sorties within six months, apparently paid for by Iraqi money), and the Islamic State group itself. 

Hiding in plain sight
On the ground outside the IS controlled territories, the rulers today are a bunch of militias masking their daily killings with clean-shaven faces occupying seats in the parliament in Baghdad's Green Zone. 

There are now at least 30 of these militias, and they are mushrooming fast. Their powers extend to controlling city streets and daily life - including in the capital, Baghdad.

Aside from adopting the massacre rhetoric of the US occupation
the militias are evolving their propaganda techniques. They name their role "jihad" and "protecting the shrines". More recently, they have called themselves "the Islamic resistance". Huge black shrouds and four-storey banners around Baghdad proclaim their presence.  
These religious brand names are intended to cover up their daily atrocities and let these militia enjoy the same impunity the US Marines had during the occupation, long before the emergence of IS. Fighting IS, in fact, has provided Iran-led militias with the pretext to carry on their sectarian killings in the areas surrounding the capital and in the Diyala province - through which runs the main road from Iran to Baghdad.

And they are doing all this in the open while benefiting from internationally implicit support or international silence.
 


The reality is, together with slicing up of "disputed areas" by the Kurdish Peshmerga, those militias are serving a strategic function - to change the demographic make-up of Iraq, while coupling collective humiliation with intimidation and terror. 
The Iraqi government's sectarian war rhetoric contributes to the ever-increasing power of the militias - and the US-led international support, while it continues its sectarian policy and human rights violations under the guise of anti-terrorism, will only lead to more bloodshed. 

http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/4329b70f-6951-41c5-b618-5d6e363c67dc

Monday, 8 December 2014

Iraq - it could take years

Ten weeks after Parliament voted to bomb IS (Islamic State) in northern Iraq, US Secretary of State has admitted that it could take years for them to be defeated. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/03/us-isis-iran-islamic-state Since Parliament’s vote in September, other European countries have lined up to take part in the campaign - but it remains uncertain whether these actions will materially alter the balance of forces on the ground.

The murderous nature of IS is not in question. Three months ago they kidnapped hundreds of women from the Yazidi sect and subjected them to physical and sexual abuse, slavery and forced marriage. http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=3575
 In Iraq, there are reports of former election candidates being hunted down and publicly executed in areas now under their control.
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-militants-hunt-down-publicly-execute-former-election-candidates-n257616  In Syria, children are being recruited, given religious training and sent off to fight. http://news.yahoo.com/islamic-state-group-recruits-exploits-children-110950193.html

But serious questions are now being raised about the air strikes intended to destroy their forces by the US and its allies. There is evidence of 100 or more non-combatants killed since the US bombardment began in August. In one particular incident, an estimated 65 civilians, mainly women and children, were bombed in a crowded market, an atrocity scarcely reported in western media. http://ninanews.com/english/News_Details.asp?ar95_VQ=HHEGIH
Yet the Pentagon has no plans to pay compensation for those killed in error - a significant departure from its practice in recent conflicts.

A recent article in Foreign Policy in Focus expresses fears this might play into IS hands. It quoted a terrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch: “The U.S. and its allies began making no-fault payments for civilian casualties in Afghanistan after their failure to acknowledge these tragedies created a backlash and handed a recruiting card to groups like the Taliban. While states have no international legal obligation to compensate for so-called ‘acceptable collateral damage,’ doing so is the right move morally and strategically.” http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/12/03/pentagon-in-denial-about-civilian-casualties-of-u-s-airstrikes-in-iraq-and-syria/?wp_login_redirect=0


The US-led Coalition against IS continues to grow. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are bombing IS targets in Syria and the Europeans - the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, France, Belgium, as well as Canada and Australia - are active in northern Iraq. In a move that could well backfire politically, Iran too has joined the bombardments. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the action. Singapore is the latest country to send military personnel. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/141202/singapore-sends-personnel-combat-terrorism-iraq-and-syria

Boots on the ground are supplied by the notoriously corrupt Iraqi army. Patrick Cockburn has documented how salaries and  equipment were claimed for some 50,000 “ghost soldiers”. It was this state of affairs that led to the army’s military collapse in Mosul earlier this year, leading to the town’s seizure by IS.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/02/iraqs-ghost-army/

The New York Times confirms this: “The Iraqi military and police forces had been so thoroughly pillaged by their own corrupt leadership that they all but collapsed this spring in the face of the advancing militants of the Islamic State — despite roughly $25 billion worth of American training and equipment over the past 10 years and far more from the Iraqi treasury.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/world/middleeast/graft-hobbles-iraqs-military-in-fighting-isis.html


Despite the removal of former prime minister Nouri Al-Malaki whose sectarian policies fuelled the Sunni uprising from which IS extremists have profited, the Iraqi military continues to behave in a sectarian manner, targeting Sunnis indiscriminately. According to a recent New York Times report, when the Euphrates Valley farming town of Jurf al-Sakhar was recaptured from IS, the town's last remaining civilian residents - about 70,000 Sunnis -were driven out of town. The army was helped in its work by the Shia militias that accompanied it.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/06/world/middleeast/sunnis-fear-permanent-displacement-from-iraqi-town.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0  There have been reports of these militias carrying out the most brutal reprisals. http://online.wsj.com/articles/shiite-militias-win-bloody-battles-in-iraq-show-no-mercy-1417804464

In a classic mission creep, US combat troops are gradually returning to Iraq too. Under the new puppet prime minister Haider al_Abadi, the Pentagon has secured for its forces what was denied by his predecessor: immunity for US soldiers from prosecution for any offence. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/04/us-troops-in-iraq-will-get-immunity Bush’s discredited war looks like being part of Obama’s legacy too.

In the UK, it’s tempting to be discouraged by the large numbers of MPs who voted to join the bombing of northern Iraq eleven years after British forces invaded. But talking to some of them, it’s clear that they are profoundly ignorant of the situation. They have bought the line that IS are “pure evil” and that other forces in play are well-meaning, including the puppet Iraqi government, that is in fact led by the same Shia party that unleashed a sectarian conflict in Iraq that fuelled the Sunni rebellion that IS have been able to capitalise on. It’s worth trying to explain patiently to some of these MPs - especially those who rebelled against the 2003 invasion - what’s really happening.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

By  
As journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti observed in 2004, “Fallujah was once called the city of minarets. It once echoed the Euphrates in its beauty and calm. It had plentiful water and lush greenery. It was a summer resort for Iraqis. People went there for leisure, for a swim at the nearby Habbaniya lake, for a kebab meal.”
At that time, Fallujah was a centre of resistance. Fallujah was the symbol of a whole region in defiance of an occupation. That is why Fallujah was destroyed – now 10 years ago. In Fallujah, the largest high-tech army in history applied its fire-power on one of the most densely populated areas in Iraq.
Fallujah was largely treated as a “free-fire zone”. Before ground forces searched houses for “terrorists”, homes were flattened with bulldozers – regardless of the consequences. Fallujah is Guernica, Fallujah is Grozny. Fallujah is the Srebrenica of the USA. But the Fallujah massacre has been kept in silence.
During the US/Coalition-occupation of Fallujah, which started after the Iraq War of 2003, aggressive street patrols, house raids, intimidations, detentions into Abu-Ghraib prison and killings of Fallujah’s citizens provoked resistance against the Coalition. The people of Fallujah were consequently labelled as “insurgents” and “terrorists”. That was a distortion. Essentially, the uprising in Fallujah was a legitimate resistance that struggled against an illegitimate foreign occupation.
In 2004, the US/Coalition army set up a “counterinsurgency operation” in Fallujah to crush the resistance. In reality, the “operation” resembled collective punishment. This was indicated by the “operation’s” designs and outcomes, “Eight weeks of heavy bombardments expelled about two thirds of Fallujah’s 300,000 inhabitants. Many people stranded in “squatters’ camps without basic facilities” and tens of thousands have remained refugees for years to come.”
In early November, Fallujah was sealed off, while males between the age of 15-55 where prevented from leaving the city. The military “cut off the city’s water, power and food supplies”.
In his book Failed States, Noam Chomsky commented as follows, “The plans resembled the preliminary stage of the Srebrenica massacre, though the Serb attackers trucked women and children out of the city instead of bombing them out.”
US/Coalition forces conducted a full-scale military attack. The US/Coalition used heavy weapons and ordnance such as AC-130 gunships with automatic cannons, Cobra gunships firing anti-tank missiles, F-18s, Abrams tanks firing 120mm rounds, Bradley tanks firing 25mm rounds, explosive coils to clear minefields containing 1,800 pounds of explosives, 500 and 2,000 pound bombs, rocket assisted shells with a 55 yard killing range, 155-millimeter artillery shells, howitzer shells, mortar rounds, heavy cannons, and high velocity machine guns.
On 10 November, the German Süddeutsche Zeitung published a report by Reuterswhich cited Lt Col. John Morris stating that US troops would slog through Fallujah “like a fist” (US-Truppen Erreichen Zentrum Falludschas,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10 November, p. 1., 2004).
How the military hit through Fallujah can be read from exemplary descriptions in newspaper coverage. In the Independent, Kim Sengupta and Justin Huggler reflected on early operational tactics, “An AC-130 gunship raked the city all night long with cannon fire as heavy explosions from US artillery continued well into the morning. The city was pounded all day with air strikes, artillery and mortar fire. War planes carried out some two dozen sorties against the city, and four 500-pound bombs were dropped over Fallujah before dawn.”  (Battle for Fallujah Rages,” The Independent, 9 November, pp. 1, 4, 2004)
The New York Times’ Dexter Filkins, who was embedded with the US military in Fallujah, depicted the soldiers’ “firing a 200-yard cord containing 1,800 pounds of explosive southward from the berm, toward downtown Fallujah” (Urban Warfare Deals Harsh Challenge to Troops,” New York Times, 9 November, p. 1, 2004). This was a mine clearing-system called Miclic that had firstly been used on D Day to sweep the beaches of the Normandy. The Times’s defence editor Michael Evans commented:
“The Miclic is normally designed for open spaces because it generates tremendous pressure, setting off mines over a large area. […] It is highly effective but also indiscriminate, and not normally considered suitable for an urban environment.” (Deadly Rockets Blast Way Through,” The Times, 10 November, p. 9, 2004)
Robert F. Worth, of the New York Times cited a website journal by NBC journalist Kevin Sites, who was embedded with Marines in Fallujah and who wrote that the military had operated “with liberal rules of engagement”. According to Worth, the writing went “on to quote a marine saying everything to the west of his position in Falluja was ‘weapons free.’ It continues, ‘Weapons free means the marines can shoot whatever they see – it’s all considered hostile.’” (Newsman Who Taped Marine Shooting Captive Keeps Silent,” New York Times, 18 November, p. 15, 2004)
Consequently, and as Jacqui Spinner wrote in the Washington Post, civilians in Fallujah had stated “they had simply been caught up in a sweep for insurgents that unfairly targeted all military-age males” (Fallujans Staying at Mosque Get Grim Task: Grave Digging,” Washington Post, 20 November, p. A 12, 2004).
In fact, there is evidence that US/Coalition forces may have indiscriminately killed civilians. For example, US-American independent journalist Dahr Jamail reported at the time in the New Standard online newspaper, “Men now seeking refuge in the Baghdad area are telling horrific stories of indiscriminate killings by US forces during the peak of fighting last month in the largely annihilated city of Fallujah.”
In an interview with The New Standard, Burhan Fasaâ a, an Iraqi journalist who works for the popular Lebanese satellite TV station, LBC, said he witnessed US crimes up close. Burhan Fasaâ, who was in Fallujah for nine days during the most intense combat, said Americans grew easily frustrated with Iraqis who could not speak English. “Americans did not have interpreters with them,” Fasaâ a said, “so they entered houses and killed people because they didn’t speak English. They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and [they] shot people because [the people] didn’t obey [the soldiers’] orders, even just because the people couldn’t understand a word of English.”
Consider that according to official estimates by The Emergency Working Group which comprised of the UN, the Red Cross/Crescent and various ministries of the Iraqi Interim Government, about 50,000 civilians were expected to hide in Fallujah, a dense city with the size of about 3 x 3,5 kilometers in square. Consequently, the “operation” destroyed about 70% of the city and killed up to an estimate of 6,000people.
In a documentary for the RAI broadcasting channel, Italian Journalists Sigfrido Ranucci and Maurizio Torrealta called this event The Hidden Massacre.
Yet, until today, Fallujah has largely not been described as a massacre in Western intellectual and media culture. Without any legal investigation, the Fallujah massacre has been kept in silence.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Tadhamun in Reading


This link contains video footage of a recent meeting organised by Reading Peace Group in conjunction with Tadhamun (Iraqi Women Solidarity) on the human rights crisis in Iraq.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bombing Iraq: just the start?

Barely a week after Parliament voted for air strikes on Iraq, Isis are on the outskirts of Baghdad and there is a growing call from military hawks for the deployment of western ground troops. Belgium and Denmark are the latest countries to join the coalition of western military action against Iraq, but in practice it is the US that is leading the campaign, having now carried out hundreds of sorties, to little effect. Why is this?

George Galloway provided part of the answer when he spoke in the parliamentary debate at the end of September. Speaking of ISIS, he said. “It does not have any bases. The territory that its personnel control is the size of Britain and yet there are only between 10,000 and 20,000 of them. Do the maths. They do not concentrate as an army. They do not live in bases. The only way that a force of that size could successfully hold the territory that it holds is if the population acts as the water in which it swims.” http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0002.htm#14092616000877

So Isis are tolerated in some of the areas they control because the alternative is often worse. Thanks to the sectarian policies of the Shia-dominated government of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Sunni majority regarded the Iraqi army as a hostile, occupying force. Isis were part of a broader Sunni uprising against this army, which ran away from Mosul without firing a shot. The real problem is how to isolate Isis from the broader Sunni population, which feels justifiably menaced by the attacks of equally murderous Shia militias. This is not going to be achieved by bombing.

Isis are undoubtedly barbaric, but they are the creation of a very barbaric Occupation that began over a decade ago. There was little religious sectarianism in Iraq before the invasion of the US and its allies. It was they who instituted electoral slates based on religious affiliation and they who supported the now defunct sectarian Shia government of al Maliki, which persecuted Sunnis. Even today the Iraqi Government’s bombing of Fallujah continues and Shia militias mobilised by this Government continue to commit atrocities of their own, for example recently executing 15 Sunnis and hanging them by electricity poles in a public square in a town northeast of Baghdad.

Isis have benefited from the huge amount of war materiel that has flooded into the region. When the Iraqi army fled Mosul, they gained a massive trove of US-supplied weaponry. On at least one occasion, the Iraqi air force accidentally dropped food, water and ammunition on Isis forces instead of their of their own troops.
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/iraq-pilots-mistakenly-gave-food-ammunition-isis-militants-n214956

There is evidence too of weapons from Saudi Arabia - now part of the supposed coalition against Isis - finding their way into the hands of Isis, just as “moderate” opponents of Assad, trained by the US, later defected to Isis.

Isis also have other sources of support. Oil revenues alone bring in $2 million a day and then there is trafficking in antiquities, hostage taking and ransoms. Isis are now the richest terrorist group in the world, paying twice as much to their members as any other group in the region. Their wealth offers a promise of prosperity to areas they take over which have long been deprived, even before they fell victim to sectarian government policies.

As for the Iraqi army, the problem is far greater than incompetence. While the Pentagon may be exasperated at how little there is to show for the $41.6 billion in military aid it has given the Iraqis in the last  three years, for the recipients it has been a bonanza.

The culture in the military is so corrupt that many soldiers bribe their officers to be as far from the front line as possible. These soldiers are often referred to as “astronauts”, because they are so far away from where they are meant to be. According to local reports, “this means that sometimes when a general sends a battalion to fight, only half the soldiers are there.”
http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=3549

It’s estimated that only one in three soldiers of the 30,000 supposed to be in Mosul  were present when the city fell. Needless to say, the top brass still claim salaries and equipment  for all these phantom soldiers, the profits on the sale of which they share among themselves. Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent, commented recently, “A colonel of a battalion nominally of 600 men would get money for 600 men, [but] in fact there were only 200 men in it, and would pocket the difference, which was spread out among the officers. And this applied to fuel, it applied to ammunition… I remember about a year ago talking to a senior Iraqi politician, and who said look: the army’s going to collapse if it’s attacked. I said surely some will fight, he said: no no no, you don’t understand. These officers are not soldiers, they’re investors! They have no interest in fighting anybody; they have interest in making money out of their investment. Of course you had to buy your position. So in 2009, you want to be a colonel in the Iraqi army, it’ll cost you about 20,000 dollars, more recently it cost you about $200,000.”
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/29/the-rise-of-isis-and-the-origins-of-the-new-middle-east-war/

Writing on the \Left Futures blog after the debate, Grahame Morris MP estimated it would cost £1 million a year to fight Isis and could take at least three years. Military action alone would not work, he concluded, and like other MPs who oppose the bombing, he is alarmed by the lack of an exit strategy. http://www.leftfutures.org/2014/10/why-i-opposed-intervention-in-iraq/

Far from exiting, escalation is now the talk of the day. If it is to be “boots on the ground”, will MPs get a vote on that as well, and  will that policy be any more effective? More importantly, what is the future for Iraq, after a dozen years of economic sanctions, a military occupation that killed a million people and displaced double that, now facing endless military operations, piling failure upon failure, disaster upon disaster and promising unending destruction and misery for its people?

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Parliament debates bombing Iraq

Reading the Hansard record of Friday September 26ths debate on going to war, one is struck by the paucity of voices raised against this folly. Caroline Lucas, the sole Green MP and George Galloway, the Respect MP, both made telling points, but of the 24 Labour MPs who voted against, very few got to do more than interject with some challenging questions. One exception was Jeremy Corbyn MP who spoke powerfully against the motion:
“This is the third time during my lifetime in Parliament that I have been asked to vote to invade or bomb Iraq. I have voted against on previous occasions, and I will not support the motion today. I ask the House to think a little more deeply about what we have done in the past and what the effects have been. We have still not even had the results of the Chilcot inquiry.
The current crisis descends from the war on terror, the ramifications of which have been vast military expenditure by western countries and the growth of jihadist forces in many parts of the world. Many people have lost their lives, and many more have had their lives totally disrupted and are fleeing warzones to try to gain a place of safety. Only two weeks ago, it was reported that 500 migrants had died trying to cross the Mediterranean to get into Malta, and many die every day trying to get to Lampedusa. Many of those people are victims of wars throughout the region for which we in this House have voted, be it the bombing of Iraq, the bombing of Libya, the intervention in Mali or the earlier intervention in Afghanistan…
We are right to talk about ISIL’s appalling human rights record, but we should be careful with whom we walk. The Prime Minister pointed out that there had been a ministerial visit to Saudi Arabia to get it on side in the current conflict. We sell an awful lot of arms to Saudi Arabia, and there is an awful lot of Saudi money in London in property speculation and various other investments. Saudi Arabia routinely beheads people in public every Friday, executing them for sex outside marriage, religious conversion and a whole lot of other things, but we have very little to say about human rights abuses there because of the economic link with Saudi Arabia. If we are to go to war on the basis of abuses of human rights, we should have some degree of consistency in our approach.
One should be cautious of the idea that bombing will be cost-free and effective. There was a military attack in Tikrit on 1 September, as reported by Human Rights Watch. It was an attempt to strike at a supposed ISIL base of some sort in a school. It resulted in 31 people being killed, none of whom was involved in ISIL, which was nowhere near. We will get more of that.”
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0002.htm#14092616000877
Also called was Labour MP Paul Flynn, who was suspended from the House of Commons last year for a month for remarking that “ministers lied and soldiers died” in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan. He warned:
“This motion is the thin end of a bloody and ugly wedge that will grow and expand and mission-creep into a prolonged war with unforeseeable consequences…
When we went in into Iraq in 2003, only a minority were involved in al-Qaeda, and they hardly figured at all. Now we find, to our horror, that young children who were born here, brought up here and absorbed our values through education are suddenly, in their adolescent years, having their idealism twisted and marching off to behave like mediaeval barbarians. How on earth has this happened? It has not happened because of the mosques or the imams, who were not much in touch with them, but because of the internet and the propaganda that comes from it…
We are living in a world of a war in which on one side there are marvellous, sophisticated, clever weapons, but those are not needed to fight terrorist activity. It did not need a nuclear weapon to bring down the twin towers or a smart bomb to murder a soldier on the streets of Britain. In this asymmetric warfare, there is no military solution. That solution will bring its own consequences in more terror. We must look to having an independent foreign policy free from the United States.”
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0003.htm#14092616000889
Diane Abbott MP was the only other Labour MP opposed to bombing who was able to make a significant contribution. She concluded:
“Some people have said that this is not 2003. Sadly, this reminds me too much of 2003. Yes, it is legal, but there is the same rhetoric: national interest, surgical strikes and populations begging to be liberated. I think that it was Walpole who said of another war that the population are ringing the bells today, but they will be wringing their hands tomorrow. We know that the public want something to be done, but as this war wears on and as it drains us of millions and billions of pounds, the public will ask, “What are we doing there? How are we going to get out?” I cannot support this military intervention. I do not see the strategy, and I do not see the endgame.”
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140926/debtext/140926-0003.htm#14092616000895

Just 43 MPs voted against military action. The anti-war movement is a long way from the defeat for the Government last year, when Parliament voted against military action in Syria, breaking the usual cosy bipartisan consensus on foreign policy. A great deal of work lies ahead.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

In Iraq, A Bombing Program Designed for the Weapons Industry

US warplanes are taking out US military equipment as a deadly, but profitable, cycle continues
Bombing Iraq, as retired Air Force lieutenant colonel William Astore indicates this week in “The American Cult of Bombing,” has become a national pastime.  (These days, you can’t be president without sending in the bombers and drones.)  So let’s try to get our heads around the latest U.S. air strikes in northern Iraq against the forces of the new “caliphate.”  It's a campaign that President Obama has already indicated is likely to go on for months and may soon enough spread south to the Baghdad area.  It looks like Washington has finally created the perfect machine for the weapons industry.
Think of it this way: first Washington provides the Iraqi military with training and massive infusions of military equipment to the tune of $25 billion.  Next that military, faced with its first serious opposition, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), numbering in the thousands against security forces in the hundreds of thousands, collapses.  In June, two full divisions, 30,000 Iraqi troops, flee the city of Mosul, abandoning their posts in the face of the advance of ISIS fighters.  In all, four divisions of the country’s 14-division army disintegrate throughout the north.  Left behind is a massive trove of U.S.-supplied weaponry, including 1,500 Humvees, 52 U.S.-made M198 howitzers, tanks, trucks, rifles, and ammunition.
ISIS militants, who seem remarkably capable of operating such equipment without an American trainer or adviser in sight, then turn some of that weaponry (as well as weapons captured from the Syrian military) on U.S.-backed forces, including, in the north, Kurdish pesh merga militias.  (They have evidently even brought tanks into play near the Turkish border.)  To save its Kurdish allies from disaster, the Obama administration then sends in the U.S. Air Force (both fighter-bombers and Predator drones) in close support of the beleaguered Kurdish forces.  Doing what air power seems most capable of, the planes begin destroying the armored vehicles and artillery pieces ISIS has brought to bear in Kurdish areas.  In other words, U.S. air power is called in to take out U.S. military equipment (and anyone manning it).
To complete the circle, both the Iraqis defending Baghdad and the Kurds now desperately need new weaponry, and Washington is already starting to supply it in the north and soon undoubtedly in the south as well.  Can there be any question that this is a win-win situation for the American arms industry and the military-industrial complex?  It gives new meaning to American bombing campaigns that, since 1991, have proven to be disastrous regional destabilizers.  Think of this as an innovative profit center for American industry and a jobs-creation exercise of the first order: we provide the weapons, we destroy them, then we provide more.
Given Astore’s “cult” of bombing and its remarkable futility in policy terms, this is a significant development.  And don’t for a second think that it’s a one-of-a-kind situation. After all, Washington has put at least $50 billion in weaponry and training into Afghanistan’s security forces. So the future is bright.
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/08/20/iraq-bombing-program-designed-weapons-industry