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Iraq: Occupation continues suffering

November 19, 2011
Friday, November 6, 2009 – 11:00
By Tim Dobson

Two car bombs exploded in Baghdad on October 25, targeting the justice ministry and the Baghdad Provincial Council building. This was the deadliest attack in Iraq in two years, with 155 people killed. Among the victims were 24 school children.

Ali, a survivor of the attack told the London Times on November 1: “It was a scene from hell, dead bodies, flesh, body parts. Fires, water, broken pipes, burning cars, rubble, blood everywhere and a terrible stench of death.”

A group calling itself “The Islamic state of Iraq” took credit for the attacks. However, more than 60 members of the Iraqi security forces have been arrested in connection with the attacks.

Despite the supposed withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, more than 130,000 US soldiers remain — similar to the size of the US contingent when the invasion began in 2003. The occupying soldiers are propping up the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and training the security forces.

The AFP said on October 30 that Imam Muhammad al-Mussawi, a supporter of anti occupation cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, demanded “the security forces be cleared up, removing all those who cooperate with the terrorists and the occupiers”.

The recent attacks have generated anger, largely targeted at the Maliki government.
Ali told the Times: “They want us to vote for Maliki in the coming elections. How can we and why should we?

“He cannot even protect his ministries. How in Allah’s name can he protect us?”

National elections are due to be held on January 16 but could be delayed due to political wrangling.

Anger over the bombings is a reflection of the fact that Iraqi civilians are paying in blood for the consequences of the occupation as well as the corruption of the government and security forces backed by the occupiers.

The October 28 New York Times said inside the interior ministry, “money is skimmed off of salaries. Contracts are manipulated and fudged to wring personal profit.

“Ghost police officers are listed on payrolls so commanders can take the salaries, and other police officers are told they are fired even as commanders continue to take their pay.

“Criminals and insurgents are freed with a well-placed bribe, criminal records are expunged for payment, and guards abuse detainees in order to extort money from relatives.”

Meanwhile, life for ordinary Iraqis is worsening. There are 2.7 million Iraqis who are internally displaced. Two million Iraqis have fled the country since 2003.

About 350,000 Iraqis have since returned and the November 3 AP reported the International Organization for Migration said they “are now suffering from widespread unemployment and lack of resources”.

In the October 25 British Guardian, Sami Ramadni said if you asked an Iraqi what life was like, they would “tell you about the sewage covering the streets of many towns and cities, the lack of clean water, fuel and electricity, and the ever deteriorating health and education services.

“They will tell you about the more than 50% unemployment, the kidnapping of children, the fear of women to move freely, and the rapid rise in drug abuse and prostitution.

“They will describe the horrific methods of torture inflicted on the tens of thousands of prisoners in Iraqi and American jails.

“They will remind you that if a ‘world-famous patriot’ such as Muntandhar al-Zaidi who threw his shoes at President Bush, was tortured by Maliki’s own guards and forces, what chance ordinary citizens?”
BBC News said on September 15 that Zaidi reported he “had suffered beatings, whippings, electric shocks and simulated drowning at the hands of officials and guards … he feared US intelligence services regarded him as an ‘insurgent revolutionary’ and would spare no effort in a bid to kill him.”

The September 3 London Economist said: “Torture is routine in government detention centres [where] Iraqi police and security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating detainees, even those who have already made confessions.

“A limping former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said he saw that many had lost limbs and organs.”

Released from prison, Zaidi said: “I am free again, but my homeland is still a prison.”

An end to Iraq’s nightmare requires, as a starting point, the removal of all the occupying forces and for self-determination to be returned to the Iraqi people.

From GLW issue 817

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