Since terrorism’s tragedy is again in the news, it is timely to revisit perhaps one of the biggest acts of terrorism in modern history – the illegal invasion and destruction – ongoing – of Iraq.
March 20th marked the thirteenth anniversary of an action resulting in the equivalent of a Paris, Brussels, London 7th July 2005, often multiple times daily in Iraq ever since. As for 11th September 2001, there has frequently been that death toll and heart break in Iraq every several weeks.
America and Britain have arguably engaged in and generated the legacy of one of the longest recorded attacks of terrorism since World War Two.
There are no minute silences or Eiffel Towers bathed in the colours of the Iraqi flag – or indeed those of the other ongoing Western engineered catastrophes, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen – or to commemorate the forty three dead and two hundred and thirty nine injured in Beirut in November, reportedly by ISIS, the day before the Paris attack.
The Eiffel Tower did not display the Russian colours after ISIS claimed the October 2015 crash of a Russian airliner which took off from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport killing all two hundred and twenty four passengers. ISIS mass murders in Africa are also mostly ignored.
Since ISIS was spawned by the Iraq “liberation” (“Operation Iraqi Liberation” – OIL) it is worth revisiting Tony Blair’s speech to Parliament on 20th March 2003, the day of the invasion. (1)
“On Tuesday night I gave the order for British forces to take part in military action in Iraq.
“Tonight British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea.
“Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction”, said Blair.
Little Britain’s “mission” was to remove from power the President of a country whose “sovereignty and territorial integrity” was guaranteed by the UN.
As for “weapons of mass destruction”, probably millions of words have given the lie to their existence and to both the US and Britain’s near certainty that there were none after nearly ten years of exhaustive work by the UN weapons inspectors.
” ‘ this new world faces a new threat of disorder and chaos born either of brutal states like Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction or of extreme terrorist groups”, stated the would be Butcher of Baghdad.
“Both hate our way of life, our freedom, our democracy.
“My fear, deeply held, based in part on the intelligence that I see is that these threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and our world.
“These tyrannical states do not care for the sanctity of human life – the terrorists delight in destroying it.”
The world, of course, faced no threat from Iraq. Even Iran, with which Iraq had fought the horrific 1980-1988 war – with the UK and the US arming both countries and profiting handsomely from the blood, heartbreak and destruction on both sides – stated repeatedly that Iraq posed them no threat.
As for hating “our way of life, our freedom, our democracy”, until the embargo was imposed on Iraq in August 1990, Iraq contributed millions to the British and US economies sending post-graduate university students to gain further degrees in the West, ensuring an educational broadness in the advantage of studying in both academic spheres.
Visiting homes of those with the money to travel it was usually just minutes before the photo albums were produced showing joyful holidays in the UK, US and across Europe.
There were of course, near no Middle East allied “terrorists ‘ destroying” entertainment venues, metro stations, commercial centres until the Iraq invasion. Attacks in Europe were near always home grown separatist groups usually feeling victims of historical injustices. Lessons are clearly never learned.
There is, however, the darkest irony in Blair’s fears that: “threats come together and deliver catastrophe to our country and our world.” His and Bush’s actions have delivered just that.
Saddam Hussein and fundamentalism were two different planets and any inkling of a threat was instantly dealt with – yes, sometimes brutally – but Iraq and the region remained secular and apart from domestic criminalities common to all nations, the streets were safe and life continued as normal. In Baghdad, until the deprivation and desperation wrought by the 1990 embargo and the 1991 bombing, people did not even lock their doors.
“Should terrorists obtain these weapons now being manufactured and traded around the world, the carnage they could inflict to our economies, to our security, to world peace would be beyond our most vivid imagination”, Blair continued. Indeed. The US-UK spawned ISIS who obtained arms from the US disbanded Iraqi army, arms from the US trained new Iraqi army as they fled multiple conflicts in multiple areas leaving behind their armaments, and indeed ISIS have “obtained these weapons” dropped from the air to them on multiple occasions by the US.
Blair is also clearly clairvoyant:
“My judgment as Prime Minister is that this threat is real, growing and of an entirely different nature to any conventional threat to our security that Britain has faced before.” His infatuation with George W Bush and the “dodgy dossiers”, produced under his premiership to attempt to justify the legally unjustifiable, delivered exactly that of which he warned.
And here is a whopper of staggering scale:
“Removing Saddam will be a blessing to the Iraqi people: four million Iraqis are in exile, 60% of the population dependent on food aid, thousands of children die every year through malnutrition and disease, hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes or murdered.”
The result of “removing Saddam” (read: lynching Saddam) has been a blood soaked daily litany for thirteen years. The majority of Iraqis in exile under Saddam fled to send money back home to keep their families and extended families during the decimating embargo which had resulted in basic food stuffs increasing in price often over eleven thousand fold.
The “thousands of children” were indeed dying “every year” – from “embargo related causes” according to the UN. The government set up a ration distribution system to try and counter the food crisis (Iraq had imported 70% of its necessary goods). The UN called the efficiency of the system exemplary, but the embargo prevented imports of food and other essentials. Even soap, toothpaste, shampoo and sanitary requirements had become luxury items. Prior to the embargo, the country had a free health service, food was inexpensive and plentiful, and water borne diseases had been mostly eradicated. Between the embargo and the bombing, all was destroyed.
The Kurdish complexities indeed led to displacement but Iraq too felt threatened with the CIA and Mossad ensconced in Kurdistan, which had been given near autonomy. As for “murdered”, the “Iraq mass graves” became a catch-all mantra. The tragic majority found were from the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 war and the subsequent US encouraged uprising. Even Iraq’s part in the monstrous deaths at Halabja are thrown in to question by a 1990 Report from the US Army War College. (2)
Blair blathered on to Parliament:
“I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our enemy is not you but your barbarous rulers.
“Our commitment to the post-Saddam humanitarian effort will be total.
“We shall help Iraq move towards democracy and put the money from Iraqi oil in a UN trust fund so it benefits Iraq and no-one else.”
Never in the field of human conflict have so many lies been told to so many by so few – to misquote Churchill.
Now to the nub of the statement: “Neither should Iraq be our only concern.
“As so often before, on the courage and determination of British men and women serving our country the fate of many nations rest.” Usually, when the British and US get involved “the fate of” the people of nations is dispatched to mass graves.
The “fate” of Iraq of course, was to be threatened, distorted and their people hung in the balance, as so many warned, including the then head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa: “If Iraq is invaded, the Gates of Hell will open.”
“President Bush and I have committed ourselves to peace in the Middle East based on a secure state of Israel and a viable Palestinian state.” Ah, as ever about Israel. Saddam sent aid to Palestinians. The demonised, also secular, President Assad, also supports the Palestinians.
“Dictators like Saddam. Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, threaten the very existence of such a world.”
Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda again linked together. The former never threatened the world, al-Qaeda’s offshoot ISIS, non-existent in Iraq under Saddam, now threatens the Middle East, Europe, the US, and Africa.
Blair concluded: “That is why I’ve asked our troops to go into action tonight.”
Blair was not alone making it up as he went along, singing from his pal Bush’s hymn sheet as well as Benjamin Netanyahu’s, who six months earlier (September 2002) had assured the US Congress: “If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region’ The task and the great opportunity and challenge is not merely to effect the ouster of the regime, but also to transform the region.” (3) It has certainly done that. The Cradle of Civilization is now a valley of tears, widows, widowers and orphans.
President Nobel Obama has commemorated the 20th March anniversary by sending more troops to Iraq and by bombing Mosul University, killing around ninety people and injuring up to one hundred and fifty including Professor Dhafer al Badrani, Dean of Computer Sciences and his wife.
According to an academic from the city: “The whole faculty residential buildings were destroyed, university headquarter, girl’s dormitory, science college, central publishing center of the university, and womens’ education college. The university is built on very close to the Nimrud archeological entrances to the Assyrian empires (2500 B.C.) I am sure using bunker buster bombs destroyed most of these historical sites.”
In Fallujah, besieged by militias and according to another contact: ” ‘ bombed since 1 January 2014 by the government (armed by the USA and with US military advisers this whole time) and since August 2014 by the US Coalition”, the people are starving: ” On 17th March a husband threw himself his wife with their three children into the river (Euphrates) from a bridge and drowned. They were desperate from hunger ‘” And the bodies of: “Nearly four thousand killed civilians have been taken to the hospital since January 2014.”
On 26th March, forty one people were killed and one hundred and five injured at a soccer match by a suicide bomber at a stadium thirty kilometres from Baghdad.
A few days ago an Iraqi in Baghdad commented: “We only had two bombs today, people went out.”
On 27th March Tony Blair was back giving his views. (4) They broadly include invading Iraq, Syria and Libya to save Europe from ISIS, remarking of ISIS: “‘ This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance”, said the man who was interested in neither and enjoined a “Crusade” – an equally thousand year outdated fundamentalism.
Anyone who listens to the advice of the author who did so much to spawn the horror, genocide, destruction, insanity, barbarism and who should be facing a war crimes tribunal for his part in the matter, is arguably insane.
Talking of insanity, the UN has designated 20th March as International Day of Happiness, a day founded to recognize happiness as a “fundamental human goal.” Tell that to the people of Iraq.
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This post was written by Felicity Arbuthnot