Iraq Occupation Focus
This IOF Newsletter is produced as a free service for all those opposed to the occupation. In order to strengthen our campaign, please make sure you sign up to receive the free newsletter automatically - go to: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/iraqfocus. Please also ask all those who share our opposition to the increasingly brutal US-UK occupation to do likewise.Contents:
Three Years after "Liberation" Stephen Zunes writes (April 22nd):
Three years after U.S. forces captured Baghdad, Iraqis are suffering from unprecedented violence and misery. Over 50,000 Iraqis have been imprisoned by U.S. forces since the invasion, but only 1.5% of them have been convicted of any crime. Currently, U.S. forces hold 15,000 to 18,000 Iraqi prisoners, more than were imprisoned under Saddam Hussein.
Half of the labor force is unemployed, and the cost of living has skyrocketed. The median income of Iraqis has declined by more than half. The UN's World Food Program (WFP) reports that the Iraqi people suffer from "significant countrywide shortages of rice, sugar, milk, and infant formula," and the WFP documents approximately 400,000 Iraqi children suffering from "dangerous deficiencies of protein." Oil production, the country's chief source of revenue, is less than half of what it was before the invasion.
DetaineesUN damns 'illegal' Iraq detention
The BBC reports (April 21st): The UN's human rights official in Iraq has said the Iraqi authorities are illegally holding thousands of people.
Gianni Magazzeni said that of the 15,000 people held under Iraqi control, little more than half were under the jurisdiction of the justice ministry, the only body with the right to detain suspects for more than 72 hours. But he said thousands were also being detained by the interior ministry and hundreds by the defence ministry, in clear breach of Iraqi law. More than 14,000 people are also being held by US-led coalition forces in Iraq.
'Hundreds' involved in prisoner abuse AFP report (April 27th):
MORE than 600 US military and civilian personnel have been implicated in abuse of "war on terror" detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and at the Guantanamo detention camp, US rights groups said. The rights groups' report came as a US Army colonel was reportedly going to be charged in connection with the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, becoming the most senior officer facing legal action in the case. "Two years ago, US officials said the abuses at Abu Ghraib were aberrations and that people who abused detainees would be brought to justice," said Meg Satterthwaite of New York University's Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice, one of the groups behind the study. "Yet our research shows that detainee abuses were widespread, and few people have truly been brought to justice," Ms Satterthwaite said. The research project, also backed by Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First, examined allegations of mistreatment involving more than 460 detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, sites in Afghanistan and the Guantanamo camp in Cuba.
Inspectors Find More Torture at Iraqi Jails Washington Post reports (April 24th):
Last Nov. 13, U.S. soldiers found 173 incarcerated men, some of them emaciated and showing signs of torture, in a secret bunker in an Interior Ministry compound in central Baghdad. Since then, there have been at least six joint U.S.-Iraqi inspections of detention centers, most of them run by Iraq's Shiite Muslim-dominated Interior Ministry. Two sources involved with the inspections, one Iraqi official and one U.S. official, said abuse of prisoners was found at all the sites visited through February. But U.S. troops have not responded by removing all the detainees, as they did in November. Instead, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, only a handful of the most severely abused detainees at a single site were removed for medical treatment. Prisoners at two other sites were removed to alleviate overcrowding. U.S. and Iraqi authorities left the rest where they were.
Ordinary Life NGOs' report puts kidnappings this year at 20,000 IRIN report (20th April):
About 20,000 people, nearly half of them women and children, have been kidnapped throughout the country since the beginning of the year, according to a survey conducted by several local NGOs. About 70,000 Iraqis have been displaced due to the sectarian violence that has wracked the country since the February Samarra bombing.
Ministry copes with rising numbers of orphaned children IRIN report (April 18th):
Orphans in Iraq, who often lack protection, food supplies and medical assistance, require urgent assistance, according to officials at the Orphans Houses Department at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Orphans often live in the streets as beggars or drug addicts. Some are believed to have been used by terrorists to carry out attacks; others have reportedly been forced by criminal gangs to work as thieves, according to ministry officials.
Baghdadis say curfew prevents access to medical care IRIN reports(17th April):
Residents of the Iraqi capital are complaining that a recently-imposed government curfew, aimed at deterring ongoing violence, is hampering access to medical care. With a curfew imposed from 11pm until 6am, no resident is allowed to venture outside between these times, while security forces have the right to shoot violators on sight. In addition to problems caused by the curfew, Baghdadis have also had to endure frequent power shortages over the past four days. A shortage of potable water in many areas of the capital has also caused hundreds of families to search frantically for clean water. "Day after day, our living conditions are getting worse," said Dina Abdel-Kader, resident of the capital's Sadr district. "We have few hours of power, and water has become a luxury."
Iraqi Women Under Siege CODEPINK Women for Peace report (April 20th):
CODEPINK has released an in-depth report Iraqi Women Under Siege (www.codepinkalert.org). After the occupation, women's daily lives have been reduced to a mere struggle for survival. - Women walking on the streets face random violence, assault, kidnapping or death at the hands of suicide bombers, occupying forces, Iraqi police, radical religious groups, and local thugs. - Women trying to raise families in the midst of this chaos find themselves beset by a lack of electricity and clean water, and a dearth of social services like decent schools and health care. - Unemployment among women has skyrocketed. Of the 260,000 reconstruction contracts in Iraq, less than 1,000 have gone to female contractors. Before the occupation 70% of the public workforce, by far the largest employer in Iraq, were women. - The constant violence has trapped women and their children - particularly their daughters - inside the homes. Fewer girls go to school and illiteracy among girls is on the rise.
The Missing Girls of Iraq Time reports (April 22nd):
A seldom-discussed aspect of the epidemic of kidnappings in Iraq is sex trafficking. No one knows how many young women have been kidnapped and sold since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq, based in Baghdad, estimates from anecdotal evidence that more than 2,000 Iraqi women have gone missing in that period. A Western official in Baghdad admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue.
1,000 Iraqis at risk of nuclear contamination, says IAEA The Guardian reports (April 25th):
More than 1,000 Iraqis who live south of Baghdad within the bombed and looted complex that was once the centre of Saddam Hussein's nuclear programme are at acute risk of radioactive poisoning, the UN's nuclear authority said. The Tuwaitha complex was at the centre of Saddam's illicit nuclear projects, although it was thoroughly investigated and largely dismantled during the UN inspections in the 1990s. The Americans came under severe criticism for failing to secure the complex and standing by while it was ransacked. Tuwaitha was bombed by the invaders, and then looted by Iraqis. Uranium drums were emptied and sold, with the empty barrels used to hold water.
US Strategy Projected Iraq War Costs Soar Washington Post reports (April 27th):
The cost of the war in Iraq will reach $320 billion after the expected passage next month of an emergency spending bill currently before the Senate, and that total is likely to more than double before the war ends, the Congressional Research Service estimated. The analysis, distributed to some members of Congress, provides the most official cost estimate yet of a war whose price tag will rise by nearly 17 percent this year.
The Billion-Dollar Baghdad Embassy Leigh Saavedra reports (April 20th):
That's the estimate, though only half of it has been appropriated so far, a billion dollars to build a new US embassy in Iraq. It will be the largest on the globe, the largest the world has ever seen, the size of Vatican City in Italy. U.S. embassies typically cover ten acres. This one, a 104-acre complex, will be comprised of 21 buildings, its own water wells, an electricity plant and wastewaster-treatment facility that makes the huge compound completely independent of Iraq, whose "interim government" sold the land to the U.S. in October 2004.
The U.S. Isn't Leaving Kevin Zeese writes (April 21st):
The size of 80 football fields, six times larger than the UN, the U.S. Embassy Compound, in the middle of Baghdad - the centre for U.S. domination of the Middle East and its resources. The compound towers above the Tigris River like a modern fortress. If there is any thought that the U.S. is planning on leaving Iraq, the new embassy should make it clear 'We're staying!'
America's Terror-war in Iraq Mike Whitney reports (April 21st):
The failure to build support for the Iraq war has forced some dramatic changes in the Pentagon's approach to psychological operations. The fictional terror-mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has been jettisoned for an entirely different narrative centred on the prospect of an Iraqi civil war. Lt. General John Vines announced last week that Zarqawi has admitted strategic defeat in Iraq and was "on his way out of the country". It is, of course, completely absurd to think that Vines knows what a foreign terrorist may be thinking or where he might choose to move. The real purpose of Vine's announcement was to cancel-out Zarqawi and pave the way for the Pentagon's latest fable: civil war. Earlier in the week the Washington Post had already exposed the Zarqawi ruse when Colonel Derek Harvey admitted that the military intentionally "enlarged Zarqawi's caricature" to create the impression that the struggle against occupation was really a fight against terrorism. Zarqawi has been an effective tool for diverting attention from the occupation, but now he is being replaced by another calculated distraction: sectarian violence. What's really taking place is that American armed and trained death squads are attacking Sunnis and Shiite alike to facilitate a break-up of Iraq. There have been three occasions when allied troops have been directly connected to bombing incidents. The first was the famous incident in Basra where two British paramilitaries were caught disguised as Arabs with a truck-full of explosives in their vehicle. More proof of American involvement in terrorism in Iraq surfaced after the bombing of the Golden-domed mosque. The AFP reported that the bombing "was the work of specialists" and the "placing of explosives must have taken at least 12 hours". The blast bears all the hallmarks of a covert Intelligence agency operation. Eyewitness accounts verify that American troops and Iraqi National Guard were active in the area throughout the night. People living around the mosque were told "to stay in your shop and don't leave the area". At 6:30 AM the American troops left, just 10 minutes before the bombs went off.
Subject to the Penalty of Death Dahr Jamail writes (April 25th):
This weekend I received an email from a friend in Iraq. It read, "Salam Dahr, I was in Ramadi today to ask about the situation. I was stunned for the news of a father and his three sons executed in cold blood by US soldiers, then they blasted the house. The poor mother couldn't stand the shock, so she died of a heart attack." Sounds unbelievable, until you consider this short clip from CNN, which shows a war crime being committed by US troops in Iraq. In this clip, shot on October 26, 2003, Marines are seen killing a wounded Iraqi who was writhing on the ground, and cheering. This clip alone is evidence of violations of several domestic and international laws. In effect, all US soldiers, up to and including their Commander in Chief, who commit these violations, like the man in the aforementioned clip and the ones responsible for what my Iraqi friend reports from Ramadi, are war criminals.
Anti-war News International Seminar in Madrid 22-23 April 2006 About the assassination of Iraqi academics Dirk Adriaensens, Brussells Tribunal writes (April 23rd):
I would like to look into one major point of concern connected to this issue, and that is the so-called sectarian issue: some commentators claim that the assassination campaign of academics is part of a so-called civil war between Sunni and Shia. Another smokescreen is the claim that most of the assassinations are carried out by criminal gangs. What we are witnessing is the result of a carefully planned US campaign to liquidate every Iraqi who opposes the occupation of his country, the so-called "Salvador option". On January 1 2004, Robert Dreyfuss stated that: "part of a secret $3 billion in new funds will go toward the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups. Experts say it could lead to a wave of extrajudicial killings, not only of armed rebels but of nationalists, other opponents of the U.S. occupation and thousands of civilian Baathist. 'They're clearly cooking up joint teams to do Phoenix-like things, like they did in Vietnam,' said Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA chief of counter terrorism. Soon after this blood-money was drained to Iraq, the consequences of this secret operation became clear: Counsellor to the US Ambassador for Iraqi Security Forces James Steele was assigned to work with a new elite Iraqi counter-insurgency unit known as the Special Police Commandos, formed under the operational control of Iraq's Interior Ministry. Many of the same men in charge of training El Salvador's right-wing counter-insurgency forces during its bloody civil war are revealed to be advisors to Iraqi security forces.
SECOND THURSDAY OF EVERY MONTH, LONDON: MONTHLY MEETING OF IRAQ OCCUPATION FOCUS. 7.30 - 9.30pm, Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, W1T 6AQ (nearest tube Warren Street). Next meeting: 11th May: Keynote address: Hani Lazim: 'Democracy in Iraq; The Scheme for Continued Occupation' See www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk.
18 MAY, LONDON: TALK BY MILAN RAI Org. by Tower Hamlets Co-operative Party. More info firstname.lastname@example.org.
23 MAY, LONDON: THE CORPORATE INVASION OF IRAQ. Public meeting with Antonia Juhasz ("The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time", see www.thebushagenda.net),Greg Muttit ("Crude Designs: The Rip-off of Iraq's Oil Wealth", see www.crudedesigns.org) and Loukas Christodopoulos ("Corporate Carve-up: the role of UK corporations in Iraq", see www.corporatewatch.org.uk). 5.30pm, New Theatre, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE. Organised by LSE Staffers Against the War and supported by Voices.
16 JUNE, LONDON: PUBLIC MEETING WITH ANTHONY ARNOVE ("Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal"), TARIQ ALI ("Bush in Babylon") and GLEN RANGWALA ("Iraq in Fragments"). 7pm, Main Hall, Indian YMCA, 41 Fitzroy Square, London W1 (tubes: Warren St., Great Portland St., Euston Square). Organised by Iraq Occupation Focus:www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk.