Saturday 21 June 2014

Splitting up Iraq – It’s all for Israel

“It is no longer plausible to argue that ISIS was a result of unintentional screw ups by the US. It is a clear part of a US strategy to break up the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Now that strategy may prove to be a total failure and end up backfiring, but make no mistake, ISIS IS the strategy.”
Lysander, Comments line, Moon of Alabama
“US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the “cusp of a regional war.”
Bill Van Auken, Obama orders nearly 300 US troops to Iraq, World Socialist Web Site
Barack Obama is blackmailing Nouri al-Maliki by withholding military support until the Iraqi Prime Minister agrees to step down. In other words, we are mid-stream in another regime change operation authored by Washington. What’s different about this operation, is the fact that Obama is using a small army of jihadi terrorists –who have swept to within 50 miles of Baghdad–to hold the gun to Mr. al Maliki’s head. Not surprisingly, al Maliki has refused to cooperate which means the increasingly-tense situation could explode into a civil war. Here’s the scoop from the Guardian in an article aptly titled “Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants”:
“A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes, but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki… to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency…
The White House has not called for Maliki to go but its spokesman Jay Carney said that whether Iraq was led by Maliki or a successor, “we will aggressively attempt to impress upon that leader the absolute necessity of rejecting sectarian governance”. (Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants, Guardian)
Obviously, the White House can’t tell al Maliki to leave point-blank or it would affect their credibility as proponents of democracy. But the fix is definitely in and the administration’s plan to oust al Maliki is well underway. Check out this clip from the Wall Street Journal:
“A growing number of U.S. lawmakers and Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are pressing the White House to pull its support for Mr. Maliki. Some of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in stabilizing Iraq, say U.S. and Arab diplomats.” (U.S. Signals Iraq’s Maliki Should Go, Wall Street Journal)
Pay special attention to the last sentence: “Some of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in stabilizing Iraq”. That sounds a lot like blackmail to me.
This is the crux of what is going on behind the scenes. Barack Obama and his lieutenants are twisting al Maliki ‘s arm to force him out of office. That’s what the Thursday press conference was all about. Obama identified the group called the Isis as terrorists, acknowledged that they posed a grave danger to the government, and then breezily opined that he would not lift a finger to help. Why? Why is Obama so eager to blow up suspected terrorists in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan and yet unwilling to do so in Iraq? Could it be that Obama is not really committed to fighting terrorists at all, that the terror-ruse is just a fig leaf for much grander plans, like global domination?
Of course, it is. In any event, it’s plain to see that Obama is not going to help al Maliki if it interferes with Washington’s broader strategic objectives. And, at present, those objectives are to get rid of al Maliki, who is “too tight” with Tehran, and who refused to sign Status Of Forces Agreement in 2011 which would have allowed the US to leave 30,000 troops in Iraq. The rejection of SOFA effectively sealed al Maliki’s fate and made him an enemy of the United States. It was only a matter of time before Washington took steps to remove him from office. Here’s a clip from Obama’s press conference on Thursday that illustrates how these things work:
Obama: “The key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens inside the country, working with moderate Syrian opposition, working with an Iraqi government that is inclusive, and us laying down a more effective counterterrorism platform that gets all the countries in the region pulling in the same direction. Rather than try to play whack-a-mole wherever these terrorist organizations may pop up, what we have to do is to be able to build effective partnerships.”
What does this mean in language that we can all understand?
It means that “you’re either on the team or you’re off the team”. If you are on the US team, then you will enjoy the benefits of “partnership” which means the US will help to defend you against the terrorist groups which they arm, fund and provide logistical support for. (through their Gulf State allies) If you are “off the team” –as Mr. al Maliki appears to be, then Washington will look the other way while the hordes of vicious miscreants tear the heads off your soldiers, burn your cities to the ground, and reduce your country to ungovernable anarchy. So, there’s a choice to be made. Either you can play along and follow orders and “nobody gets hurt, or go-it-alone and face the consequences.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

ISIS’ victories revive fears of Islamic emirate in north Lebanon

An image uploaded on June 14, 2014 on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly shows a militant of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) standing next to a captured vehicle left behind by Iraqi security forces at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province. (Photo: AFP-Welayat Salahuddin)
Published Saturday, June 21, 2014
Informed Islamist sources told Al-Akhbar about a discussion that took place between Islamist groups and cells in Lebanon after the recent developments in Iraq. They pointed out that some of them proposed again the idea of establishing an Islamic emirate in northern Lebanon, along the lines of northern Iraq.
According to these sources, the proposal is based on two pillars. One, north Lebanon, and specifically Tripoli, constitute a suitable nurturing environment for declaring an emirate. Two, what happened in northern Iraq has given these Islamist groups the impression that circumstances are just right to carry out such a plan. Some of them do not believe that their small numbers could impede their plan since 10 percent of those who invaded an area 10 times the size of Lebanon in Iraq, can easily seize control of Tripoli and half of north Lebanon, if conditions are favorable.
The sources named Islamist groups, Salafi in nature, that can in a nurturing Sunni environment - available in Tripoli and the north - prepare the ground for such an action. They referred specifically to groups similar to the one led by Shadi Mawlawi and Osama Mansour, in addition to other smaller and less influential Islamist groups, as well as Syrian and Arab nationals.
This warning about the intention to establish an Islamic emirate is not the first of its kind. Its roots date back to the events that took place in the Dinniyeh region in early 2000 and in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, which were provoked by Fatah al-Islam in the summer of 2007. The ultimate warning came from former Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati who said in late 2012 that, “If it weren’t for the intervention of the army in Tripoli, an emirate would have been declared.”
Their ambitions, however, suffered a setback after the latest military developments in Syria. These recent developments, which favored the Syrian regime, led to the retreat of Islamist cells and groups. But the events in northern Iraq have brought them back to the forefront, leading them to believe that their moment has come.
However, Islamist sources believe it is unlikely that we will see a repeat of the northern Iraqi scenario in north Lebanon because “the circumstances and the surrounding environment are totally different.” Nevertheless, they do not deny that “the latest Iraqi crisis is not limited to Iraq but extends beyond it.”
According to the sources, these groups and cells “do not operate on their own and are not the ones that make decisions. They are linked to and interact with external forces.” Therefore, they rule out the possibility that “these groups would be able to exercise control on the ground in north Lebanon, similar to what happened in Iraq, for structural and logistical reasons.” They also point out that “the next war is not going to be a sectarian one, rather it is going to be a war on terrorism and these groups are going to be its most prominent victims.”
This war on terrorism will officially be spearheaded in Lebanon by the Future Movement. The latter had played a role in preparing a nurturing environment for these Islamist groups, which eventually turned into a burden for the Future Movement after the groups got out of the movement’s control. Both the ministers of interior and justice, Nouhad al-Machnouk and Ashraf Rifi, have made statements against these groups.
The decision taken by the security forces, and the Information Branch specifically, to carry out preemptive strikes against these groups and cells in parallel to what is going on in northern Iraq confirms this information. They arrested three men from the same family in the town of al-Qalamoun, considered a key stronghold for the Future Movement, on charges of links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and they found arms and ammunition with them.
This coincided with security information that armed groups affiliated with MP Khaled al-Daher are organizing “parades in some of the villages in Akkar carrying the ISIS flag.”
There was another signal yesterday in Tripoli. Supporters of Sheikh Tarek Merhi, imam of the Amira Mosque in Bab al-Raml who has been detained for years on charges of terrorism, called for a march in solidarity with him. They had planned to organize a sit-in in front of Rifi’s home but the march did not materialize because of the explosion in Dahr al-Baydar. The sit-in was ultimately cancelled after calls were made and pressure was exerted on its organizers.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

 Green light given to “suicide-bombing fest” in Lebanon أمر عمليات: إشغال لبنان وحزب الله بـ«كرنفال انتحاري»

Lebanese security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack which targeted an army checkpoint on June 20, 2014, on the main highway from Beirut to Damascus in the Dahr al-Baidar area. (Photo: AFP-Joseph Eid)
Published Saturday, June 21, 2014
For 20 years, Hezbollah has been obliged to pay the price twice. The first being the price required to achieve its successes, and the second being the price that its enemies and opponents want to force it to pay for having achieved these successes.
After what happened in Syria over the past four months, many governments, intelligence services, and terrorist cells alike realized that the confrontation with Hezbollah is difficult and complex.
Hezbollah succeeded in not only discovering and tracking down a large number of terrorists involved in attacks against its base, and in Lebanon and Syria, but the party also showed unprecedented perseverance in hunting down those terrorists wherever they may be, in Lebanon or Syria, in the areas under its influence and those of its allies, and beyond. This was no laughing matter for Hezbollah, though its intelligence abilities may only be verified by way of the results they have achieved.
Practically speaking, Hezbollah was able to destroy the main logistical bases of the suicide bombers in Syria and along the border with Lebanon. Hezbollah dealt direct and fatal blows to the majority of individuals involved in terror attacks, both in the planning and execution thereof. In collaboration with security services in Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere, Hezbollah was able to dismantle many cells that could have done a lot more damage.
True, the terrorists have been greatly weakened as a result. But Hezbollah, neither on the battlefield nor in its strongholds, has taken any practical action to suggest it is reassured by the results. Hezbollah judged that it has weakened the “lunatics” to a large extent, but the party knows their true makeup well, and it has information indicating these groups remain active and are attempting to regroup, and to gather enough support to resume their terrorist activities.

It is not logical to say that there is a full complementarity between al-Qaeda offshoots and the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. But there is a great deal of overlap, centering on the fact that these countries, in addition to the Western powers and Israel, believe that only al-Qaeda and its offshoots can stand their ground in the battlefield, especially following the series of unprecedented scandals surrounding all other armed gangs that have been described as “moderate.” In other words, the bid to weaken the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah axis is now obligated to go through al-Qaeda and its offshoots.
Everyone is acting on the basis that the terrorism that swept through Iraq recently, which has wrested entire areas out of the control of the Iraqi state, can restore equilibrium following the series of defeats in Syria and then Lebanon.
While the state of euphoria that has possessed the governments involved in supporting this brand of terrorism remains confined to the political gains they seek in Iraq and Syria, the euphoria that emerged among the supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has far exceeded these governments’ calculations. Indeed, the novel situation has prompted a considerable number of terrorist groups to restart their engines, either to emulate or complement ISIS’ feats, or appear as though they have the ability to match ISIS – something that is mostly visible among the groups affiliated to al-Nusra Front and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
These groups are interlinked, and have a central “prime mover” in our region. Meanwhile, there have been major political developments following the recent election in Syria, which granted President Bashar al-Assad a large popular base; the parliamentary election in Iraq, which reinforced Nouri al-Maliki’s position in power, and the failure of the bid to extend Michel Suleiman’s term in Lebanon. All this was expected to lead to a readjustment in the strategy of the rival camp.
It is in this context that the recent events in Iraq played out, and also the attempts to heat things up in the Syrian front to achieve a major coup in Aleppo or the south. Similarly, a decision was made to re-ignite the Lebanese arena, to put pressure on Hezbollah toward making political concessions – as related to the presidency and the government – in exchange for security, and push its back to the wall to prevent it from playing any role in Iraq similar to the role is has been playing in Syria.

It is in this climate that all alarm bells went off at once in the corridors of the security services in Lebanon. First, the Intelligence Directorate of the Lebanese army received cryptic tips from the United States about groups having arrived in Lebanon to carry out attacks against healthcare facilities. It was the view of some analysts that this meant attacks on hospitals in Beirut’s southern suburbs where wounded Hezbollah fighters are being treated.
Then there were tips from European capitals, relayed to the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces, about the arrival of cells comprising Saudi nationals into Lebanon to carry out attacks on Shias in particular. There was also information about a sudden surge in the activity of groups affiliated to the armed Syrian opposition in the Bekaa Valley, including in the town of Arsal, where al-Nusra Front has reportedly regrouped despite the security measures taken by the Lebanese government.
All these warnings indicate that a green light has been given to reignite the Lebanese arena. The goal: to undo the achievements of the Resistance in Syria though a “suicide-bombing fest” in Beirut and its suburbs, as one well-placed source puts it.
It will take time to fully understand what happened on Friday. There is no evidence that attacks were about to be carried out in Beirut nor is there overwhelming evidence that Abbas Ibrahim was the target of the suicide attack in Dahr al-Baidar, and the same goes for the rumors about a Mossad document and a journalist from a Lebanese origin who warned about Ibrahim’s assassination. Similar theories have been circulating on social media, and it seems that some have a very vivid imagination regarding events that never materialized.
But what is certain is that there are some parties trying to push Lebanon toward a return to the tension that prevailed before the battles in Qalamoun were settled. There are worrying signs from the northern regions, where those who were hurt by the government’s security plan might be seeking to bring back chaos. There is also an attempt to blackmail Hezbollah and its allies on many political and security-related issues, and all that this camp can do in the meantime is be more patient.
Ibrahim al-Amin is the editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

أمر عمليات: إشغال لبنان وحزب الله بـ«كرنفال انتحاري» 

منذ زمن بعيد، يعود إلى نحو عشرين سنة، وحزب الله مضطر إلى أن يدفع الثمن مرتين. الأول هو الثمن الذي يدفعه لتحقيق هذا الإنجاز، والثاني هو الثمن الذي يريد أعداؤه وخصومه أن يجبروه على دفعه لأنه حقّق هذا الإنجاز.

بعد الذي حصل في سوريا خلال الأشهر الأربعة الماضية، أيقنت حكومات ودول وأجهزة وخلايا إرهابية أن المواجهة مع حزب الله صعبة ومعقدة. لقد نجح الحزب، ليس فقط في كشف وتعقب قسم كبير جداً من المتورطين في الأعمال الإرهابية ضد جمهوره وضد لبنان وسوريا، بل هو أظهر مثابرة غير مسبوقة في مطاردة هؤلاء اينما توجهوا، في لبنان أو سوريا، في مناطق نفوذه أو مناطق نفوذ وسيطرة حلفائه أو خارجها أيضاً. حزب الله في هذه الحالة لا يمزح، وقدراته على الصعيد الأمني غير قابلة للتدقيق إلا من حيث النتائج التي تحققها.
عملياً، نجح الحزب في تدمير القواعد اللوجستية الرئيسية لمجموعات الانتحاريين في سوريا وعلى الحدود مع لبنان. ووجه ضربات مباشرة وقاتلة إلى غالبية الأفراد المتورطين في هذه الأعمال تخطيطاً ومشاركة وتنفيذاً. وهو نجح بالتعاون مع أجهزة الأمن في لبنان وسوريا وآخرين، في تفكيك خلايا كبيرة كان يمكنها القيام بالكثير.

صحيح أن نتائج ما حصل أضعفت إلى حد كبير قوة الإرهابيين. لكن حزب الله لم يعمد، لا في الميدان ولا في المناطق التي له فيها نفوذ كبير، إلى أي إجراء عملي من شأنه القول إنه اطمأن إلى النتائج. الحزب قدّر أنه حقق ضربات تضعف المجانين إلى حد كبير. لكن الحزب يعرف تركيبة هؤلاء، ولديه من المعطيات ما يكفي للإشارة إلى استمرار النشاط العملاني من جانب مجموعات تسعى إلى إعادة تنظيم نفسها، والحصول على الدعم الكافي لاستئناف نشاطها الإرهابي.

ليس منطقياً القول بأن هناك تكاملاً بين التنظيمات المتفرعة عن القاعدة وبين حكومات قطر والسعودية وتركيا. لكن هناك قدر كبير من التقاطعات، وأساسه أن هذه الدول، كما الغرب وإسرائيل، لا يجدون في الميدان سوى مقاتلي القاعدة وفروعها للصمود على الأرض، وخصوصاً بعد الفضائح غير المسبوقة لكل العصابات المسلحة الأخرى، ولا سيما التي وُصفت بالقوى العسكرية المعتدلة. وصار العبور لتوجيه ضربات إلى محور إيران - العراق - سوريا - حزب الله، يمرّ إلزاميا بتنظيم «القاعدة» وحلفائه وإخوته المتقاتلين معه.

تصرف الجميع على أساس أن الإرهاب المسلح الذي ينتشر في العراق بقوة أخيراً، والذي نجح في السيطرة على مناطق 
باتت خارج سيطرة الدولة العراقية، هو الإرهاب الذي يفترض به تحقيق توازن بعد مسلسل الخسائر القائمة في سوريا ثم في لبنان. وحالة النشوة التي أصابت الحكومات المتورطة في هذا الإرهاب، مقتصرة على مكاسب سياسية ينشدونها في العراق وسوريا. لكن حالة النشوة التي ظهرت عند أنصار «داعش» تجاوزت المقدر من قبل هؤلاء، وهي حالة دفعت عدداً غير قليل من المجموعات إلى تفعيل محركاتها، إما لمحاكاة إنجازات «داعش» والتناغم معها، وإما للظهور بمظهر القادر على القيام بما تقوم به «داعش»، وهي حالة موجودة بقوة عند مجموعات على صلة بجبهة النصرة وكتائب عبد الله عزام.

ولأن السلسلة متصلة بعضها ببعض، وهناك مشغل مركزي لها موجود في منطقتنا، ولأن الغايات السياسية بعد الانتخابات الأخيرة في سوريا التي منحت الرئيس بشار الأسد حاضنة شعبية كبيرة، ثم الانتخابات البرلمانية العراقية التي ثبتت نوري المالكي في رأس السلطة، وفشل التمديد لميشال سليمان في لبنان، كل ذلك كان متوقعاً له أن يدخل تعديلاً على آليات العمل في الجبهة المقابلة. وفي هذا السياق جاءت أحداث العراق، وكذلك محاولات تفعيل الجبهة السورية لتحقيق تقدم كبير في حلب أو الجنوب. وبالطبع، جاء قرار إعادة إشعال الساحة اللبنانية، بما يفرض معادلات ضاغطة على حزب الله، لإلزامه بتنازلات سياسية رئاسياً وحكومياً مقابل الأمن، ودفعه إلى الحائط بغية منعه من القيام بدور في العراق على شاكلة الدور الذي يلعبه في سوريا.
وسط هذه المناخات، قرعت كل أجراس الإنذار دفعة واحدة في غرف الأمن في لبنان. تلقت مديرية المخابرات في الجيش اللبناني معلومات مصدرها الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، تتحدث بغموض عن وصول مجموعات إلى لبنان للقيام بعمليات ضد مراكز صحية. ثم خرج من يحلل بأن القصد هو ضرب مستشفيات في الضاحية الجنوبية حيث يُعالَج جرحى حزب الله. وترافقت مع معلومات مصدرها عواصم أوروبية وصلت إلى فرع المعلومات في قوى الأمن الداخلي، تتحدث عن انتقال خلايا يحمل عناصرها الجنسية السعودية إلى لبنان للقيام بأعمال إرهابية تستهدف الشيعة خصوصاً. ثم ترافقت مع معلومات أخرى، عن نشاط أمني لافت لمجموعات على صلة بالمعارضة السورية المسلحة في البقاعين الأوسط والغربي. ثم تقارير عن واقع جديد في بلدة عرسال البقاعية أتاح إعادة عناصر جبهة النصرة تنظيم أمورهم وصفوفهم في ضوء الإجراءات الأمنية التي اتخذتها الحكومة اللبنانية.
كل هذه التحذيرات، دلت على أمر واحد: لقد صدر أمر العمليات لإعادة إشغال الساحة اللبنانية. وإن ما يفترض محور المقاومة أنه حققه من نجاحات في سوريا، سيُبدَّد من خلال «كرنفال انتحاري» تضج به بيروت وضواحيها، على حد تعبير مصدر معني بهذه الملفات.
ما حصل أمس، يحتاج إلى بعض الوقت قبل تبيان كامل ملامحه. ليس هناك دلائل أمنية حسية على أعمال كانت على وشك التنفيذ في بيروت، ولا أدلة تقطع بأن عباس إبراهيم كان هدف انتحاريّ ضهر البيدر، ولم يُعثر على أصل لحكاية وثيقة الموساد والصحفية من أصل لبناني. وثمة الكثير من الروايات التي نسجت وفق «سيناريو رواد الفايسبوك». وثمة خيال مخيف عند البعض من الذين تصوروا أحداثاً لم يسبق لها أن حصلت.
لكن الأكيد أن هناك من يدفع لبنان باتجاه استئناف مرحلة التوتر التي سبقت حسم معارك مدن القلمون وبلداته. وثمة إشارات مقلقة من مناطق شمالية، حيث يعمل «متضررون من الخطة الأمنية» على إعادة الفوضى.
كذلك هناك محاولة لفرض بازار سياسي ـــ أمني على حزب الله وفريق حلفائه. وليس بيد أصحاب الحق سوى المزيد من الصبر.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

The US Invasion of Iraq: The Most Cowardly War ever Fought in History

Global Research, June 19, 2014

usempireContained in our old archives (2001-2004), this article by Arundati Roy was first published by GR on June 3, 2014. In the context of recent events, the word “cowardly” is most probably an understatement. (M.Ch., GR Editor)
Transcript of talk by Arundhati Roy, United For Peace and Justice teach-in, Washington, DC, 31 May 2003.
Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates. How many children, in how many classrooms, over how many centuries, have hang-glided through the past, transported on the wings of these words?
And now the bombs have fallen, incinerating and humiliating that ancient civilization. On the steel torsos of their missiles, adolescent American soldiers scrawled colorful messages in childish handwriting: For Saddam, from the Fat Boy Posse.
A building went down. A marketplace. A home. A girl who loved a boy. A child who only ever wanted to play with his older brother’s marbles.
On March 21 – the day after American and British troops began their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq – an “embedded” CNN correspondent interviewed an American soldier. “I wanna get in there and get my nose dirty,” Private A.J. said. “I wanna take revenge for 9/11.”
To be fair to the correspondent, even though he was “embedded” he did sort of weakly suggest that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11, 2001, attacks. Private A.J. stuck his teenage tongue out all the way down to the end of his chin. “Yeah, well that stuff’s way over my head,” he said.

Lies Instead of Evidence

When the United States invaded Iraq, a New York Times/CBS News survey estimated that 42 percent of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein was directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. And an ABC news poll said that 55 percent of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein directly supported Al-Qaeda. None of this opinion is based on evidence (because there isn’t any). All of it is based on insinuation, auto-suggestion and outright lies circulated by the US corporate media.
Public support in the US for the war against Iraq was founded on a multi-tiered edifice of falsehood and deceit coordinated by the US government and faithfully amplified by the press. We had the invented links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. We had the manufactured frenzy about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. Not even a little one.
Now, after the war has been fought and won, and the contracts for reconstruction have been signed and sealed, the New York Times reports that, “The Central Intelligence Agency has begun a review to try to determine whether the American intelligence community erred in its prewar assessments of Saddam Hussein’s government and Iraq’s weapons programs.”
Meanwhile, in passing, an ancient civilization has been casually decimated by a very recent, casually brutal nation.
Throughout more than a decade of war and sanctions, American and British forces fired thousands of missiles and bombs on Iraq. Iraq’s fields and farmlands were shelled with 300 tons of depleted uranium.
In their bombing sorties, the Allies targeted and destroyed water treatment plants, aware of the fact that they could not be repaired without foreign assistance. In southern Iraq there was a fourfold increase in cancer among children. In the decade of economic sanctions that followed the war, Iraqi civilians were denied medicine, hospital equipment, ambulances, clean water – the basic essentials.
About half a million Iraqi children died as a result of the sanctions. The corporate media played a sterling role in keeping news of the devastation of Iraq and its people away from the American public. It has now begun preparing the ground with the same routine of lies and hysteria for a war against Syria and Iran – and, who knows, perhaps even Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the next war will be the jewel in the crown of George Bush’s 2004 election campaign. Though he may not need to go to such great lengths, since the Democrats have announced that their strategy for the 2004 election is to charge that the Republicans are weak on national security. It’s like a small-town teenage bully telling the Mafia it has too many scruples.
America’s presidential elections sound as though they will be a complete waste of everybody’s time. Although that’s not exactly breaking news.

Most Cowardly War Ever Fought

The US invasion of Iraq was perhaps the most cowardly war ever fought in history.
After using the “good offices” of UN diplomacy (economic sanctions and weapons inspections) to ensure that Iraq was brought to its knees, after making sure that most of its weapons had been destroyed, the “Coalition of the Willing” – better known as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought – sent in an invading army.
Then the corporate media gloated that the United States had won a just and astonishing victory!
TV watchers witnessed the joy that the US army brought to ordinary Iraqis. All those newly liberated people waving American flags, which they must have somehow hoarded during the years of sanctions.
Never mind that the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square (shown over and over on TV) turned out to be a carefully choreographed charade played out by a handful of hired extras coordinated by the US marines. Robert Fisk called it the “most staged photo-op since Iwo Jima.”
Never mind that in the days that followed American soldiers fired into a crowd of peaceful, unarmed Iraqi demonstrators who were demanding that US troops leave their country. Fifteen people were shot dead.
Never mind that a few days later US soldiers killed two more and injured several people who were protesting the fact that peaceful demonstrators were being killed. Never mind that they murdered 17 more people in Mosul. Never mind that in the days to come the killing will continue. (But it won’t be on TV.)
Never mind that a secular country is being driven to religious sectarianism. Never mind that the US government helped Saddam Hussein’s rise to power and supported him through his worst excesses, including the eight-year war against Iran and the 1988 gassing of Kurdish people in Halabja, crimes which 14 years later were re-heated and served up as reasons to justify going to war against Iraq.
Never mind that, after the first Gulf War, the Allies fomented an uprising of Shias in Basra and then looked away while Saddam Hussein crushed the revolt and slaughtered thousands in an act of vengeful reprisal.
After the invasion of Iraq, Western TV channels’ ghoulish interest in the mass graves they discovered evaporated quickly when they realized that the bodies were of Iraqis who had been killed in the war against Iran and the Shia uprising. The search for an appropriate mass grave continues.
Never mind that US and British troops had orders to kill people, but not to protect them. Their priorities were clear. The safety and security of Iraqi people was not their business.
The security of whatever little remained of Iraq’s infrastructure was not their business. But the security and safety of Iraq’s oil fields was. The oil fields were “secured” almost before the invasion began.
It’s worth noting that the reconstruction of Afghanistan, which is in far worse condition than Iraq, hasn’t merited the same evangelical enthusiasm in reconstruction that Iraq has. Even the money that was so publicly promised to Afghanistan has not for the most part been handed over. Could it be because Afghanistan has no oil? It has a route for a pipeline, true, but no oil. So there isn’t much money to be extracted from that vanquished country.
On the other hand, we were told that contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq could jump-start the world economy. It’s funny how the interests of American corporations are so often, so successfully, and so deliberately confused with the interests of the world economy.

Occupation Government

The talk about Iraq’s oil for Iraqis and a war of liberation and democracy and representative government had its time and place. It had its uses. But things have changed now….
Having escorted a 7,000-year-old civilization into anarchy, George Bush has announced that the US is in Iraq to stay “indefinitely.” The US, in effect, has said that Iraq can only have a representative government if it represents the interests of Anglo-American oil companies. In other words, you can have free speech as long as you say what I want you to say.
On May 17, the New York Times said, “In an abrupt reversal, the United States and Britain have indefinitely put off their plan to allow Iraqi opposition forces to form a national assembly and an interim government by the end of the month. Instead, top American and British diplomats leading reconstruction efforts here told exile leaders in a meeting tonight that allied officials would remain in charge of Iraq for an indefinite period.”

Jackals Feeding Frenzy

Long before the invasion began, the world’s business community was tingling with excitement about the scale of money that the reconstruction of Iraq would involve. It has been billed as “the biggest reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan rebuilt Europe after World War Two.”
Bechtel Corporation, based in San Francisco, is leading the pack of jackals moving into Iraq.
Coincidentally, former Secretary of State George Schultz is on the Board of Directors of the Bechtel Group, and happens also to have served as the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. When asked by the New York Times whether he was concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest, Shultz said, “I don’t know that Bechtel would particularly benefit from it. But if there’s work to be done, Bechtel is the type of company that could do it. But nobody looks at it as something you benefit from.”
Bechtel already has a contract for $680 million dollars, but, according to the New York Times, “Independent estimates are that the final cost for the reconstruction effort of the extent outlined in Bechtel’s contract with USAID would be $20 billion.”
In an article appropriately headlined “Feeding Frenzy Under Way, as Companies From All Over Seek a Piece of the Action,” the Times notes (without irony) that “governments around the world and the companies whose causes they support have besieged Washington in a campaign to win a piece of the reconstruction action in Iraq.”
“The British,” the article notes, “though their appeals are understated, offer what some Bush administration officials argue is the most convincing case: that they shed blood in Iraq.”
Whose blood was shed has not been clarified. Surely they didn’t mean British blood, or American blood. They must have meant the British helped the Americans to shed Iraqi blood.
So “the most convincing case” for reconstruction contracts is when a country can argue that it is a co-murderer of Iraqis.
Lady Simmons, the deputy leader of the UK House of Lords, recently traveled to America with four leaders of British industry. Apart from staking their claim to contracts based on their status as co-murderers, the British delegation also invoked the their colonial past, again without irony, making the case that British companies “had a long and close relationship with Iraq and Iraqi business from the imperial days in the early 20th century until international sanctions were imposed in the 1990s.” Glossing over, of course, that this meant Britain had supported Saddam Hussein through the 1970s and 1980s.

“Relax and Enjoy It”

Those of us who belong to former colonies think of imperialism as rape. So you rape. Then you kill. Then you demand the right to rape the corpse. That’s usually known as necrophilia.
Extending this horrible analogy, Richard Perle said recently, “Iraqis are freer today and we are safer. Relax and enjoy it.”
A few days into the war, the news anchor Tom Brokaw said: “One of the things we don’t want to do … is to destroy the infrastructure of Iraq because in a few days we’re going to own that country.”
Now the ownership deeds are being signed. Iraq is no longer a country. It’s an asset.
It’s no longer ruled. It’s owned.
And it is owned for the most part by Bechtel. Maybe Halliburton and a British company or two will get a few bones.
Our battle has to be against both the occupiers and the new owners of Iraq.
Arundhati Roy lives in New Delhi. She is the author of “The God of Small Things” and “Power Politics” (South End Press).Copyright Arundati Roy  2003.
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