Black Flag 218 index

Iraq



The Invisible War


In 1990, then-US Secretary of State James Baker told Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz that if Iraq did not comply with US demands, "we will reduce you to the pre-industrial age." Nine years on, that objective has not changed.

The US and Britain have launched more than 200 multi-missile air strikes against Iraq since January, following the Operation Desert Fox assaults. Almost completely ignored by the media, these raids have led to at least 80 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

US Secretary of Defence William Cohen has claimed the raids are in "self-defence", but the US has re-written the rules of engagement with Iraq to such a degree that US aggression can be justified in any circumstances at any time. US pilots can choose to attack whenever they "believe" Iraq has threatened air patrols or violated the no-fly zones. "Retaliatory" targets can be chosen from a list of pre-selected sites, which need have no link with the site of the purported transgression. Targets can be hit long after the "danger" is over. As an example, a US bombing raid on 18th July at Najaf in southern Iraq - according to Washington aimed at military targets - was in fact the bombing of a car park, which left 14 civilians dead and 35 injured. (Strangely, the US noted no Iraqi violations in the build-up to the launch of the air war against Yugoslavia).

Large numbers of the Iraqi people continue to be affected by the extensive deployment of depleted uranium ammunition during the Gulf War. Professor Siegwart-Horst Gunther has described the effects of DU material following research carried out in Iraq:-

"1. A considerable increase in infectious diseases caused by the most severe immunodeficiencies in a great part of the population.

2. Frequent occurrence of massive herpes and zoster afflictions, also in children.

3. AIDS like syndromes.

4. A hitherto unknown syndrome caused by renal and hepatic dysfunctions.

5. Leukaemia, aplastic anaemia and malignant neoplasms

6. Congenital deformities caused by genetic defects, which are also to be found in animals.

An American nuclear scientist, Leonard Dietz, has described the Gulf War as "the most toxic war in history." The US and UK Defence Departments are attempting to suppress details of the effects of DU on Gulf veterans. The clinical chief of the Department of Nuclear Medicine of the US Veterans Administration, Dr Asaf Durakovic, was sacked after diagnosing DU contamination of some 24 Gulf vets sent to see him. In December 1998, the Ministry of Defence raided the homes of two British Gulf veterans after they obtained documents showing that the MoD was carrying out research on the effects of DU contamination of Gulf War returnees.

UN imposed sanctions meanwhile lead to the deaths of 6000 Iraqi children each month. Iraq is not able to buy medication, repair its infrastructure (including the electricity grid, water purification and sanitation systems) or maintain basic health services. The US and UK purportedly displayed humanitarian concern for the Iraqi people when they agreed to increase the amount of oil Iraq could export under the oil-for-food arrangement to $5.2 billion every 6 months. But Operation Desert Fox targeted the oil industry and it barely pumps $2 billion every 6 months. Forty percent of oil profits are directed to the UN, as reparations and to meet UNSCOM costs. "Sanctions", as Tariq Aziz has declared, "are genocide."

The notion that the US's main concern is "democracy " does not stand up to examination. Prior to its incursion into Kuwait, Iraq was a US client state. Saudi Arabia, which remains a US ally, is run by just one man. Iraq is a "threat to peace and stability" because it is a major oil producer which, unlike Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, clings to a belief in its right to self determination.

Last year, the US congress passed the Iraqi Liberation Act, making $97 million available for "lethal and non-lethal aid" to opposition groups deemed "eligible" (pro-US). As Middle East International noted, "the Americans are effectively trying to hand pick Iraq's future rulers and lay down the line for them in policy terms."

The ongoing genocide against the people of Iraq has been ignored by the mainstream media. Those of us who are anti-imperialists have a duty to resist the implementation of organised genocide in Iraq, and to break the silence over its commission.