If war should come, whichever side may claim ultimate victory, nothing is more certain that victor and vanquished alike would glean a gruesome harvest of human misery and suffering.
– UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, July 31, 1939, to the House of Commons
Fallujah has become a symbol of Iraq’s suffering since the onslaught on the country in 1991, numerous, uncounted interim US-UK bombings, then the 2003 invasion, occupation – and misery unending.
In 1991, a busy market was bombed, as was a hotel, which was “leveled.” Two hundred people were incinerated. Another attack: “destroyed a row of modern, concrete, five and six story apartment buildings, as well as several other houses nearby.” Middle East Watch recorded: “All buildings for four hundred meters on both sides of the street, houses, markets, were flattened.”
Fallujah merchant Hamid Mesan, lost his son, brother and nephew in a bombing and “saw the bombs from one attack hit a market.” This pilot said he had come to hit the bridge, on the television and it was a mistake. “But we’re a distance of one and a half kilometers from the bridge. In our minds, we are convinced the attack was to the market, to kill our people.” That attack was seemingly by the British Royal Air Force, who, in a tired, all too familiar excuse, said that their “precision-guided” missiles had missed their target.One man’s “collateral damage” is another man’s son, brother and nephew.
In 2004, the US military launched a revenge attack on Fallujah after US troops, who had taken over a school, shot peaceful demonstrators, which led to four Blackwater mercenaries being hung from a bridge. To describe the “liberators” aggression as a blood bath would be massive understatement.
One Minister Dr Khalid ash-Shaykli:
“described large areas of Fallujah where nothing, people, cats, dogs, birds were left alive, alleging that mustard and nerve gasses had been used. InterPress reported people being roasted alive, in unquenchable, jellied fire. Numerous reports during the assault recorded people on fire leaping in to the Euphrates – and continuing to burn. Bodies were found with clothes melted in to the skin – and bodies were found with no injuries at all, giving credence to the accusation of the use of gasses and chemical weapons.”
“It wasn’t a war, it was a massacre”, wrote an unidentified soldier in militaryproject.org.
The massacre has been described as the greatest urban military operation involving U.S. troops since another massacre, in Hue City, Vietnam, during the Tet offensive of 1968.
“By one estimate 36,000 of the city’s 50,000 homes in Fallujah were laid to waste.”
The rampant epidemic of cancers and birth defects in the city — and throughout Iraq — are the shocking, ongoing testimony to the chemical and radiological toxicity of the weapons used. Perhaps one day the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will head from the road to Damascus to the road to Washington.
Fallujah, nearby Ramadi in Anbar Province, this Western region of Iraq which borders Syria, now faces a new threat.
At Friday prayers (27th December 2013) a masked fighter of the self declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
“took the podium and addressed the crowd, declaring the establishment of an ‘Islamic emirate’ in Fallujah … promising to help residents fight the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his Iranian allies.”
[The] “al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control … raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state … amid an explosion of violence across … Anbar in which (residents) Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three-way war.”
“At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,” said a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety. “The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.”
Fallujah, Ramadi and much of western Iraq has been demonstrating for a year against the vicious, sectarian, US imposed puppet government of Nuri al Maliki. Now this ancient “City of Mosques”, dating back to Babylonian times, is threatened with the most fundamentalist perversion of Islam, which is also (literally) invading neighbouring Syria via Western backed insurgents.
The invasion of Iraq by the US and UK and their murderous meddling in Syria has reduced two of the most developed, secular States in the region and is reducing them to sectarian, fundamentalist-run multi-cantons.
Ironically, the name Fallujah is believed derived from the Syriac “Pallgutha”, from the word “division”, since it is where the great Euphrates river which flows through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, divided.
The region is now largely fighting against the imposed government, whose horrendous execution rate makes the excesses of Saddam Hussein pale and even has the supine UN vocally appalled, and a brand of fundamentalism which was introduced by the US-UK invasion, whether intentionally or through complete ignorance of the region. Also their feckless lack of management of the borders, certainly never a problem to the government they overthrew. Saddam certainly understood the multiple complexities of the region. Al Maliki is equally manifestly border inept.
“A group representing the tribal fighters, calling itself the Military Council of the Anbar Rebels, posted a video on YouTube in which masked men declared their opposition to Maliki’s government but made no mention of al-Qaeda. The fighters called on local members of the Iraqi security forces to desert, hand over their weapons ‘and remember always that they are the sons of Iraq, not slaves of Maliki.’”
Up to nine thousand people died in America’s “New Iraq” in violence in 2013.
The last words go to the unnamed Fallujah journalist: “It is sad, because we are going back to the days of the past,” he said. “Everyone is remembering the battles of 2004 when the Marines came in, and now we are revisiting history.”
The US Marines are thus being compared with Al Qaeda and their spawn, ISIS. Irony rules.
i. Ramsey Clark, “The Fire this Time”, U.S. War Crimes in the Gulf.
ii. ABC, 3 January 2014.
iii. “Al-Qaeda-linked force captures Fallujah amid rise in violence in Iraq,” Washington Post.
Please also see Ross Caputi’s “Fear Not the Path of Truth”, documentary on the US siege of Fallujah.
Profiting from the Destruction of Basra
When will there be justice in Athens? There will be justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are.
— Thucydides (460 BC – 395 BC)
In December 2007, Major General Graham Binns, Commander of British Forces in Basra, handed illegally occupied Basra Province back to the Iraqis, with Basra city centre “festooned with flags, lights and banners to mark the occasion.”
In fact, the whole nonsense was window dressing. British soldiers had been under siege in their bases between February and September that year and had withdrawn to Basra Airport on the city’s outskirts, leaving just seven hundred soldiers in Basra, squatting in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. They too slunk out to the airport, under cover of darkness, on September 3rd.
At the hand over, Major General Binns said that Basra had been successfully wrested from its enemies and was now being handed back to its friends. However, at the time, a poll of 1,000 Basra residents for BBC’s Newsnight programme showed 85% saying British troops had been a negative effect on the Province for their five year occupation.
Given the litany of claims of murder, torture, abuse, theft, against the British army being handled by lawyers in the UK for Basra region residents, ”negative” seems a bit of an understatement.
However, Major General Binns, who commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003, is back in Basra wearing a new hat. In the revolving door between the US and UK armies and mercenary companies, Binns, who left the army in 2010, joined one such, Aegis Defence Services, who have been employed by the New Governor of Basra, Majid al-Nasrawi.
Amongst other things, states the Major General, “Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.” Sounds just like old times, more work for more lawyers surely inevitable.
Aegis is to also “set up an academy to help security forces improve coordination and intelligence-gathering techniques.” Exactly what British forces said they were also doing during their uninvited stay. Indeed a contingency remained, even after the 2007 flight, to “train” Iraqis, leaving finally, in April 2009. Further, the locals who forced the majority of British troops’ “hurried departure” are still a considerable force to be reckoned with. More trouble ahead, and what a great excuse to call back the UK’s “boys” if it all goes pear shaped for Aegis, in the vital oil port hub, the engine of the entire country, which is Basra port and the region’s oil.
“The contract is politically sensitive as it will put British military experts in an influential position in Basra, advising the Governor’s … security committee.” Britain has again its feet firmly under Iraq’s table.
“We have signed a contract with the Basra Governor”, states Binns “and will initially be supporting them in procuring specialised equipment for search and detection purposes and CCTV, but that may expand.” You bet.
For a man who commanded UK forces in Basra, Binns seems woefully ignorant of the infrastructure. Last summer, for the third year in a row, the people of Basra demonstrated in the sweltering heat because the electricity supply operated just two hours a day. In 1991, the subsequent ten-plus years of bombing and in 2003, Iraq’s electricity system was systematically destroyed.
In context, in the first major assault:
“On January 17, 1991 … the U.S. dropped metallic filaments onto the power network that short circuited the system, and caused blackouts. The Coalition then targeted twenty eight power plants, flying 215 sorties against them, along with nine transformers and switching yards. Within a few days, the entire power grid was knocked out of action.”
The attacks went on year after year. Each time one ruined facility had been cannibalized for equipment to revive another one to staggering along status, the repaired one would be re-bombed. The 2003 targeting was the final death knell to Iraq’s electricity infrastructure.
Through it all, until the invasion, the extraordinary ingenuity of Iraq’s engineers and other experts somehow kept the electricity imperfectly on, in spite of the siege conditions of the embargo, for far longer, daily, than those with the $billions in the budget of the “New Iraq.”
Perhaps The Major General and his burly elves will pitch up with pockets full of batteries for his CCTV, “specialised equipment” and “ring of steel.” Alice Binns in Wonderland.
As the BBC explained, Aegis is one of the UK’s biggest mercenary companies, having “made millions from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan since it was founded just eight years ago. It is even fair to say that Aegis, like much of the private security industry, owes its very existence to the last Iraq war.”
“’In Iraq in 2003 and 2004 money was basically free’, explained Andy Bearpark, Director-General of the British Association of Private Security Companies” unless you were an Iraqi.
Aegis was founded by former British Army officer Tim Spicer, in 2002. He was replaced as Chief Executive in 2010 by Major General Binns. To describe Spicer’s career as “colorful” would not do him justice. Controversy has followed him from his army posting in Northern Ireland, when two of his soldiers were convicted of murder, then to Papua and New Guinea and on to Sierra Leone with his previously founded mercenary company, Sandline.
In August 2004 the just two year old Aegis, under Spicer, reportedly won a $293 million, three year contract in Iraq, outsourcing, including intelligence, for the US Army. In May 2006, writing in the Guardian, Stephen Armstrong commented: “Colonel Tim Spicer is effectively in charge of the second largest military force in Iraq – some 20,000 private soldiers. Just don’t call him a mercenary.”
At the time, “Aegis had a contract with the Pentagon …to oversee the sixteen private security companies providing personnel, security, military training and reconstruction.” Training again, eh? And now they are back.
Following the awarding of the Pentagon contract: “… five US Senators, Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd and John Kerry, wrote a joint letter” to then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, calling on him to investigate the granting of the Aegis contract, describing Spicer as “an individual with a history of supporting excessive use of force against a civilian population” and stating that he “vigorously defends (human rights abuses.)”
[Moreover,] “In a December 2005 letter to his constituents, then U.S. Senator Barack Obama called on the Department of Defense to withdraw its contract with Aegis. Obama wrote that: “The CEO of Aegis Defense Services Tim Spicer has been implicated in a variety of human rights abuses around the globe … given his history, I agree that the United States should consider rescinding its contract with his company.””
Quite. Nevertheless, pots, kettles and black come to mind. Aegis was, after all, in competition with the US’s also seemingly human-rights-free marauders, Blackwater.
However, Tim Spicer was awarded a Knighthood and Aegis ploughs up the $millions. It is chaired by Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson, The Honourable Nicholas Soames, former UK Minister of State for the Armed Services, former Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and mega enthusiast for the Iraq invasion. The Board includes Colonel Giles Harrison, the highlights of whose “… military career included managing a multi-stakeholder, multi-billion pound programme at the UK Ministry of Defence”, Brigadier James Ellery, and, of course, Major General Binns (and his batteries) amongst others.
For anyone who thought the British finally gave up Iraq in 1932, 2007, 2009, they are back with a vengeance. Same car, new paint.
Of course, if the appalling US appointed “Viceroy” Paul Bremer had not created his De-Ba’athification policy (enforced on 16th May 2003) which effectively sacked and denied employment to almost anyone who had been employed in the public sector during Saddam Hussein’s rule, all from electricity to security could have been fixed at a fraction of the price.
But perhaps that was the plan, to tear the financial heart out of Iraq to the mega gain of the UK and US whose companies are rolling in the mega dollars. The countries who destroyed Iraq are reaping untold riches from their destruction.
Ironically, it is the De-Ba’athification policy itself which has been blamed as a major factor in the collapse of economy, society and security throughout Iraq. The concept came from Iraqi exile and convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi, whose Iraqi National Congress was nurtured by the CIA’s $millions.
As Hussein al-Alak, founder of the Iraq Solidarity Campaign, puts succinctly:
It is a bitter irony, that those who introduced the policy of De-Ba’athification, thus creating an unimaginable level of paranoia and discrimination, were those who also brought to the British and American Governments, the now infamous claims of Saddam’s 45 minute WMDs.
[DS added the video reports.]
Al-Qaeda armies seize entire Iraqi cities in chaos left behind by war
RT on Jan 12, 2014
The black flag of Al-Qaeda was this week raised over two Iraq cities which are now under the control of Jihadists bent on creating a new Islamic nation. But the real blood-letting is yet to begin, warn experts, as the Iraqi army and tribal militias mobilise, and prepare to counter-attack.
Fallujah, Ramadi fall to Al-Qaeda-linked forces
RT America on Jan 6, 2014
In 2013, Iraq faced its deadliest year since 2008, with a total death count of nearly 9,000 civilians and security forces. And 2014 is starting off deadly in Iraq as well. On Sunday, at least 20 people died in bombings as members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an Al-Qaeda-linked group, gained control of Ramadi and Fallujah, two key cities in the Anbar province. Iraqi military forces responded with air raids that killed a reported 60 militants, which also killed 22 soldiers and at least 12 civilians. Secretary of State John Kerry said the US would provide military assistance, but would not put US troops in harm’s way. RT’s Meghan Lopez talks to Said Arakat, correspondent and political analyst for Al Quds, about the increasing sectarian violence in Iraq.