It is hard to imagine that anything worse could befall Fallujah after the war crimes and criminal assaults by the US military in 2004. At the time, one correspondent wrote: “There has been nothing like the attack on Fallujah since the Nazi invasion and occupation of much of the European continent – the shelling and bombing of Warsaw in September 1939, the terror bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940.” (1)
Seventy percent of houses and shops were reported destroyed, with those still standing damaged. Iraqi doctor, Ali Fadhil, described a city: ” ‘ completely devastated, destruction everywhere. It looked like a city of ghosts. Fallujah used to be a modern city, now there was nothing. We spent the day going through the rubble that had been the centre of the city; I didn’t see a single building that was functioning.” (City of Ghosts, The Guardian, January 11, 2005).
Nicholas J. Davies, author of “Blood on our Hands – the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq”, has written: “The Fallujah Compensation Committee reported in March 2005 that the assault destroyed 36,000 homes, 9,000 shops, 65 mosques, 60 schools, both train stations, one of the two bridges, two power stations, three water treatment plants and the city’s entire sanitation and telephone systems.”
Now, Human Rights Watch has written a Report (2) indicating that near unbelievably, twelve years on, all has deteriorated to the extent that: “Residents of the besieged city of Fallujah are starving. Iraqi government forces should urgently allow aid to enter the city, and the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which captured the city in early 2014, should allow civilians to leave.”
Fallujah is now under siege by the US imposed Iraqi puppet government and ISIS – as people demonstrate in thousands in protest at yet another American backed administration which has brought nothing but misery to the population. Incredibly US Vice President Joe Biden and Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani have come together: “to make clear ‘ that no attempt should be made to unseat” the current Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi. (“US, Iran Keep Iraqi PM in Place”, Reuters, 6th April 2016).
“The people of Fallujah are besieged by the government, trapped by ISIS, and are starving”, states HRW Deputy Middle East Director, Joe Stork.
“Since government forces recaptured nearby Ramadi, the capital of Anbar governorate, in late December 2015, and the al-Jazira desert area north of Fallujah in March 2016, they have cut off supply routes into the city, three Iraqi officials said. Tens of thousands of civilians from an original population of more than 300,000 remain inside the city.”
HRW obtained a list of one hundred and forty people, including young children, said to have died in the last few months “from lack of food and medicine.” The names have been withheld for fear that ISIS, which forbids the population making contact outside the city “would punish the relatives of the dead.”
Residents are reported to be eating bread made from flour from ground date stones and soup made from grass. Food still available is sold at staggering prices. “A 50-kilogram sack of flour goes for US$750, and a bag of sugar for $500.” In Baghdad, just seventy kilometres away: ” the same amount of flour costs $15 and of sugar $40 ‘ each day starving children arrive at the local hospital ‘ most foodstuffs are no longer available at any price ‘ the hospital has run out of baby food.”
The World Food Programme has stated weakly that it is “concerned” about the food situation. In the annals of shamefully pathetic UN responses to tragedies of enormity this may be this 2016’s winner.
Sources told HRW that both Iraqi government troops and the Popular Mobilization Force, one of about forty militia forces under the Ministry of the Interior are preventing food and essential goods from reaching the city.
Those trying to leave the city are in danger of being murdered by ISIS. On 22nd March, one man who went to one of their checkpoints saying he had to leave, he could not take the situation any longer, was taken back into the city and executed.
In late February a family trying to leave were also killed. On 30th March it was reported that thirty five people trying to leave had also been executed.
Moreover: “Government aircraft and artillery have carried out numerous attacks, which Fallujah residents say have killed many civilians.”
Aircraft and artillery supplied by the US.
“Neighbors reported to one former resident that on November 27, 2015, bombings killed 12 people in his neighborhood, including nine children.
“On August 13 (2015) aerial bombs struck Fallujah’s children’s hospital, killing several people ‘ A medical source in the city, whose information Human Rights Watch could not confirm, said that since January 2014, 5,769 combatants and civilians have been injured and 3,455 killed, roughly one-fourth of them women and children.”
It seems it is Iraq’s plight to be starved and bombed as a result of US-UK policies. Thirteen years of the most draconian embargo ever administered by the UN, driven by the US and UK, with the UK heading the Sanctions Committee, the 1991 bombing, twelve subsequent years also of illegal US-UK bombing. Under Saddam there was a rationing system, ironically, commended by the UN for its efficiency – although hugely restricted by the UN for lack of imports. Since “liberation” Fallujah is another symbol of the sheer Western driven wickedness and iniquity that has befallen Iraq since 2003.
Perhaps it is time Tony Blair – whose officials authored the dodgy dossiers that gave the excuse for the illegal invasion – lived up to the farcical Global Legacy Award presented to him by Save the Children in November 2014 and pitched up in Fallujah with desperately needed aid from his multi-million pound charity and from his own millions. It would be trivial amends, but it would be a start.
Perhaps Save the Children could also atone for awarding a man who many eminent legal minds argue should be accounting for himself at the International Criminal Court in The Hague by doing the same.
I feel a petition coming on.
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This post was written by Felicity Arbuthnot