END THE OCCUPATION AND THE WAR IN IRAQ
September 23, 2005 In solidarity with national actions against the war
End the War on the Iraqi PeopleWhile it is true that there are many Iraqis being killed by other Iraqis (and a relatively small number of foreigners, other than Americans, in guerilla actions), much of the destruction in Iraq can be traced back to US policies. Beginning with the 13-year-long sanctions regime, which crippled Iraq's economy and left its infrastructure and health care system in shambles (imposed August 6, 1990); the "first Gulf War" (to force Iraq's troops out of Kuwait, January 16-March 3, 1991), which targeted Iraq's electrical and water treatment plants; and stretching through the invasion (March 19, 2003) to today, Iraq has been under siege for 15 years. Many have pointed out that prior to the US invasion, there was never a suicide bombing in Iraq's 7000 years of civilization.
The US says it is not interested in staying in Iraq permanently, yet in early September, according to the Toronto Sun, "the US Air Force's senior officer, Gen. John Jumper, stated US warplanes would remain in Iraq to fight resistance forces and protect the American-installed regime 'more or less indefinitely.' While President Bush hints at eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major, permanent air bases in Iraq. The US now finds itself in a similar position as demonized Saddam Hussein[:] battling Sunni insurgents, rebuilding Saddam's dreaded secret police, holding 15,000 prisoners and torturing captives, as the Abu Ghraib outrage showed" (9/4).
Attacks on Iraqi civilians by US forces continue as well. In August, 26 Iraqi workers were wounded by US military gunfire by "troops who mistook them for insurgents" ( Agence France Presse, 8/16). Three US airstrikes in Western Iraq aimed at specific homes killed fifty-six people on August 30 (CNN, 8/30). And three members of an Iraqi special forces unit responding to a suicide blast in Baquba were killed in error by US troops, who mistook them for "insurgents" (BBC, 8/23).
The US also seems to be resorting to Vietnam-era "destroy the village to save it" tactics. Following last November's near-complete destruction of Fallujah, combined US/Iraqi forces raided the Western city of Tal Afar in a major assault in early September, killing over 200, and cutting off all contact for the civilians living there (Reuters, 9/12).
Iraq Constitution Emphasizes Fractionalism, Limits Women's Rights, Allows Permanent BasesThe draft Iraqi constitution slated for a vote on October 15 poses many problems for peace. One huge issue driving resistance to US presence is the question of permanent military bases in Iraq. Describing ways in which the US interfered with drafting the constitution, Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert who oversaw the process, said it was significant that "One article contained in a previous draft provided that setting up foreign military bases in Iraq was to be forbidden ... this article was dropped from the final draft" (Inter Press Service, 9/6).
The draft constitution is creating deep divisions in Iraq's ethnic/religious communities (Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim Arabs and non-Arab Kurds), making the possibility of a civil war more real than ever. "Its provisions for regional autonomy [for Kurds in the North and Shi'a in the south] will hasten the country's descent into a sectarian civil war that could eventually draw in neighboring states." (Asia Times, 8/30).
Sectarian strife similar to divisions which plunged Yugoslavia into civil war in the 1990s was becoming visible in Iraq as Shi'ites began moving out of Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad fearing for their safety. Knight Ridder reported on September 21, "Government officials and academic experts agree that the virtual expulsion of some ethnic groups from mixed communities is troubling and threatens the nation's stability. Some worry ... that homogenous neighborhoods could become future battlegrounds in the capital."
Beyond religious strife, the constitution strips women of many rights which previously made Iraq one of the most liberal for women in the Middle East. Safia Taleb al-Souhail, the Iraqi woman who raised her ink-stained finger following the Iraqi vote in February at President Bush's State of the Union Address, now doubts the future of her nation. She said, "When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years" (Independent, 8/28).
Corporations Thrive, Iraqis Go Without Power, Billions MissingWhile Iraqis continue to scrape by with intermittent electricity, nearly no clean water, and limited sewage treatment, some in the West continue to make money. Of the firms which are poised to make billions of dollars from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Honeywell and United Technologies posted all- time best-ever profits in the first half of this year and they still have a huge list of orders" (Taipei Times, 8/24).
Meanwhile, Iraqi investigators believe $1 billion has been siphoned from their country through fraudulent weapons contracts "involving unnecessary, overpriced or outdated equipment" (Knight Ridder, 8/11).
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