ReflectionsThe tragedy of Iraqi people [Archives:2003/638/Opinion]

June 2 2003

Sadaf Shah
Sitting comfortably in my home in Yemen, I watch all major news networks compete for the “Hot” stories in Iraq. Stories of a war that brought so much suffering to the Iraqi people, forever scarred with memories of loved ones, an ancient civilization, and loss of a wealthy history.
I keep thinking about why this war took place, why was Iraq inflicted with so many pains? George Bush and Tony Blair insist this war was for the freedom of the Iraqi people, thus the ridiculously hypocritical name, “operation: Iraqi freedom”. They also claimed Saddam Hussein to be a threat to the world, in general, and the U.S. and Israel in particular, with his weapons of mass destruction. “Saddam must be disarmed!” Bush said on many occasions.
Saddam Hussein had been in power for more than two decades, during which time he committed many atrocities against his own people. Why did not anyone rush to rescue the Iraqi people then? They were too busy with the cold war! Saddam's weapons were supplied to him by his very close friends in the U.S. to win the war against Iran. Those same weapons have presently become a threat to the “supplier”.
Now, the war is officially over, however, the question remains, where are the weapons of mass destruction? Ironically, expert U.N inspectors did not find anything in so many years (whatever they found was destroyed), and yet, Bush and Blair insist that the weapons exist, probably hidden”. Why were they not used to win the war? Why did Baghdad fall virtually without a fight? Why were there so many civilian casualties? British and American forces defended themselves claiming Iraqi military assets were placed deliberately in Urban Arabs close to civilian population.
How does that justify targeting hotels and Hospitals, for example the Red Cross? A building that is clearly marked as a non-military site, and is used by International Journalists was targeted by American forces. The result was the death of an Al-Jazeera cameraman. By April 19th, 13 Journalists had been killed in Iraq by American airstrips alone. If Liberation had truly been the noble aim of this war, meticulous measures would have been employed to minimize civilian casualties. Cluster Bombs would not have been used because of their higher risk to civilians, the same civilians in whose honor this war took place.
Time magazine has reported the use of cluster Bombs in Karbala may have been downplayed by coalition forces. Many not blown off. They are still lying around in the cities. Most victims of cluster Bombs have been children. American marines, and later the American army were informed about such cluster Bombs by Baghdad residents, but it is “Not our job”, the soldiers said.
More importantly, the use of cluster Bombs is illegal according to the treaty of Ottawa. Ironically, the justification for the war in Iraq was the “Threat of weapons of mass destruction”, at the same time American and British forces employ the wingspread use of internationally recognized illegal Bombs, some of which had never been used before. Iraq became a testing ground for such Bombs. Looting occurred throughout the city.
According to Andrew Gilligan of BBC, looting of public and commercial buildings, hospitals, and museums was witnessed all over Baghdad. Andrew was criticized by Blair's office for reporting on the chaos in Baghdad, and not mentioning the Euphoria of the Iraqi people on the joyous occasion of their liberation. We are assured by Bush and Blair that the Iraqis are ecstatic about their newfound freedoms of speech, religion, etc. despite the Red Cross calling the humanitarian crisis in Baghdad a “Catastrophe”.
MBC'S Channel two reported Forty percent of Iraq's children no longer see any point in living. Remember twelve years old Ali who lost both his Arms and most of his family in an American airstrip attack? He is now in the U.S. being treated for his wounds. Ali's sad story made it to the news. There are so many others we have not heard about, including the 500,000 children who died every year for the past eleven years as a result of the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq.
Now, the sanctions have been lifted as Britain and the U.S pressed the U.N to do so that oil can flow out of Iraq to pay for reconstruction projects. Two American companies, Halliburton and Becthel, have won the largest contracts in Iraq. In the short term, American Taxpayers will be paying the companies for their work. In the long term, however, the future Iraqi government will pay through oil revenues. After all, Iraq does have the world's second largest oil fields. Interestingly enough, coalition forces were able to secure and protect the oil fields, but failed to protect the museums against looting of antiquities.
Three of Bush's cultural advisors resigned in protest to American failure to protect the antiquities in Baghdad, even though they were forewarned. With all that has come to pass in Iraqi I am drawn to a very simple conclusion: war is not, and can never be the solution to any crisis. Too many innocent people are made to suffer, too many homes destroyed, more than enough problems in this world. Please, wage a war against disease, poverty, racism, drugs, unequal distribution of wealth to name just a few.