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Is It Still Worth It?

Haifa Zangana

isahaqi-6.jpg

Hearing the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, on the radio, I felt physically sick, especially when she said: "Thousands of mistakes were committed in Iraq."

April 1,2006

Listening to an interview with the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, this morning on the Today programme, I felt physically sick, especially when she said: "Thousands of mistakes were committed in Iraq". I couldn't listen to the rest of her sentence; was she about to echo Madeleine Albright's "but the price is worth it"?

In May 1996, the 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Albright, then US ambassador to the UN: "We have heard that half a million children have died [as a result of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright responded: "I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it."

On September 30, 1998, the BBC reported that Denis Halliday, coordinator of the programme, resigned in disgust (after 30 years as an UN employee). The sanctions, he said, were killing 4,000-5,000 children a month. Halliday said the sanctions were strengthening Saddam Hussein by damaging "the innocent people of the country".

Two months later (November 26 1998) Unicef reported a 72% rise in "chronically malnourished" Iraqi children, with 960,000 Iraqi children fitting that description. Unicef official Philippe Heffinck noted: "It is clear that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship."

Those were the kind of "mistakes" committed under the US-UK backed sanctions. What about the "mistakes" under the Anglo-American occupation?

To name but few:

The lies over weapons of mass destruction originally used to justify the war; the torture of prisoners, including women and children, in Abu Ghraib and beyond Abu Ghraib; the obscenity of the Anglo-American "liberation's" morality; the daily bloodshed and mayhem; the racism of the occupiers; the humiliation of the occupied; the destruction of the infrastructure; the killing of over 100,000 civilians; the siege and bombardment of cities; the use of DU and white phosphorus; collective punishment, destroying mosques, schools and houses; arbitrary arrests; the more than 30,000 detainees in various US-UK controlled prisons and camps; the women arrested as hostages.

Bearing in mind the selective, short memory of the US administration and British government, let us have a look at two "mistakes" during March alone.

The first mistake took place in Abu Sifa, reported in the Sunday Times on March 26:

The villagers of Abu Sifa near the Iraqi town of Balad had become used to the sound of explosions at night as American forces searched the area for suspected insurgents. But one night two weeks ago Issa Harat Khalaf heard a different sound that chilled him to the bone.

Khalaf, a 33-year-old security officer guarding oil pipelines, saw a US helicopter land near his home. American soldiers stormed out of the Chinook and advanced on a house owned by Khalaf's brother Fayez, firing as they went.

Khalaf ran from his own house and hid in a nearby grove of trees. He saw the soldiers enter his brother's home and then heard the sound of women and children screaming.

"Then there was a lot of machine gun fire," he said last week. After that there was the most frightening sound of all - silence, followed by explosions as the soldiers left the house.

Once the troops were gone, Khalaf and his fellow villagers began a frantic search through the ruins of his brother's home. Abu Sifa was about to join a lengthening list of Iraqi communities claiming to have suffered from American atrocities.

According to Iraqi police, 11 bodies were pulled from the wreckage of the house, among them four women and five children aged between six months and five years. An official police report obtained by a US reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers said: "The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people.

The second mistake was related to academics:

Four Iraqi academics were assassinated. One of them was Professor Kays Juma, 72. His death was reported by western media because he had an Australian passport. Associated Press reported:


Australia is trying to find out who will investigate the fatal shooting of an Australian resident in Iraq by a private security guard.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said the dead man was Kays Juma. Early reports are that Mr Juma is 72 and a professor at the University of Baghdad, where he taught PhD agriculture students.

"(We're) obviously talking with the police and elements of the Coalition ... but we'll have to wait and see and we're still encouraging coordination and an appropriate investigation at this stage,'' he said.

He said Mr Juma was an Iraqi citizen married to an Australian. He lived in both countries.

"My understanding is that he was in a vehicle, I'm not sure whether he was in the vehicle alone or with other people, that endeavoured to go through a checkpoint without stopping and the security officer opened fire upon the vehicle and he was killed,'' Mr Downer said.

The guard is an employee of private security contractor Unity Resources Group.

Mr Downer said Australians should not travel to Iraq, and Australians already in Iraq should leave.

Paul Jordan of AKE Asia Pacific, an Australian security consulting company which has had contractors in Iraq since the war began, told ABC radio he was not surprised by the incident.
"I can see how it can happen ... we're only recognising it now because this person was an Australian, but this is something that happens every day in Iraq,'' he said.

"The American troops and other troops over there and security companies are shooting innocent people that do get to close to convoys or who do the wrong thing in traffic or just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and look suspicious,'' he said.

Haifa Zangana is a novelist and former prisoner of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.


Comments

CoeurDeLion

April 3, 2006 07:54 PM
Manchester/gbr

Is this an April Fool's article? Because if it is not, the Guardian has plumbed new depths of intemperate and inaccurate rants.

Mr Zangana did manage to restrain himself (I assume it is a he) from blaming Bush and the Jews for the [alleged] "half million children who died as a result of sanctions" in his rant, but could no bring himself to blame the real culprit - who diverted all the oil for food money into his palaces and weapons programmes.

Saddam's WMD's are in Syria, by the way. That is where Al Qaeda got a ton of chemical weapons for their failed attack on Jordan. I am sure many will contest this assertion (which has evidence to back it up), but none will be able to disprove it.

Guardian: Where do you get these people from?
 

 

Dirk

April 3, 2006 09:24 PM
Brussels/bel

Dear CoeurDePoulet,
neither Politeness nor solid knowledge seem to be your strongest points, and it's not Mr.Zangana, by the way.
Apart from the nonsense about Saddam's WMD in Syria (I really won't answer that stupid allegation), I would like to answer to your rewriting of the history of the sanctions that killed 1.5 million Iraqis.

Was Saddam really spending all the money on palaces and luxuries for his cronies?
No. According to the British Government's own figures, if all of the illicit revenues available to the Iraqi Government had been channelled into the official humanitarian programme ('oil for food') revenues would have been increased by less than 3%.

By contrast the UN currently diverts 28% of all 'oil for food' to pay for 'war reparations' and its own expenses. The mega-rich Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC) was awarded $15 billion compensation : the folk at the KPC weren't suffering from malnutrition and water-borne disease.

The funding for all those buildings was from inside Iraq, in Iraqi Dinars, printed by the government... The work was carried out by state owned contracting companies, whose staff receive salaries anyway, whether they did work or not. The materials were local (except perhaps the reinforcement steel and marble which were probably brought from Jordan and Turkey). The government itself was not spending any money on importing, but publishing tenders, and the private sector imports. The payment was made in Dinars.. So, no funds were diverted from the Oil-for-food towards building.

The building projects also served as a symbol of Iraq's defiance of sanctions, and its refusal to submit. It was to boost morale in Iraq and the Arab world, and show that Iraq was still standing.
The projects also served to tackle a major problem: unemployment, by creating jobs for tens of thousands.

Iraq was not only building palaces. Iraq had reconstructed and repaired every building and construction destroyed since 1991, purely relying on Iraqi expertise and work. Schools (as have been suggested) have also been repaired and built, but the problem of schools was not only building, but supplies and facilities. All bridges, telephone exchanges, hospitals, oil refineries, electrical generation plants, etc..had been repaired in as good a way as the availability of spare parts allowed.

Oh, and by the way: After spending months combing through thousands of documents and questioning scores of officials, the investigators of alleged irregularities in the U.N.-led Oil-for-Food program in Iraq acknowledged that they have so far failed to find a smoking gun. Paul Volker added: "that the U.N. administration of the program appeared to be "free of systematic or widespread abuse".
The Oil-for-Food Program was initiated in 1996 to purchase and manage 46 billion dollars worth of humanitarian assistance by selling Iraqi oil.

CoeurDeVache, if you have so little to convey to us, please refrain to bother us with your silly remarks.

Iraqis die, because the US and UK wanted an invasion and further occupation. This is nothing to make jokes about, you know. Invading Iraq was the "supreme International crime", according to the Nuremberg trials. One day, your leaders will have to justify their criminal behaviour.
 
Sources:
 

  

Comment posted: by rixon on 04 Apr 2006 - 23:22

CoeurDeLion writes that “Mr Zangana did manage to restrain himself … from blaming Bush and the Jews for the [alleged] "half million children who died as a result of sanctions" in his rant”.

As if the half a million dead children were an incidental fiction. When actually they are a documented fact: as witness an official UN report and Dennis Halliday’s resignation over the deadly toll.

Moreover CoeurDeLion conveniently omits to mention that the man he names as “the real culprit” was placed in power by a CIA sponsored coup.

Likewise he also omits to mention that it was Britain and America who armed and equipped Saddam during the Iran/Iraq war.

Such omissions cast into doubt his claims that Iraq’s WMD are now in Syria. Can he provide proof? I somehow doubt it.

After all, anyone who can overlook the slow, systematic killing of over half a million children must have some serious, very serious blind spots.

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