War News for Monday, November 14, 2005
Bring 'em on: Iraqi policeman killed in car bomb explosion outside the Green Zone in Baghdad
from the BBC says that there are American casualties.
Bring 'em on: US airstrikes continue in Ubaydi
Bring 'em on: Six killed and thirty injured by roadside bomb in Ramadi
Glimmer of Light?
: Some Sunni Arab insurgent groups linked to Saddam Hussein's Baath Party are putting out feelers for a negotiated end of fighting, a former government minister asserted Saturday amid fresh signs that upcoming elections have altered the political climate. Former Electricity Minister Ayham Samarrai said he had received a list of eight demands from insurgent organizations, which he declined to identify. The demands included an end to U.S. military operations, the release of political prisoners and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from populated areas.
Spoils of War
: The USDA announced Nov. 4 that Iraq purchased 800,000 metric tons of hard red winter wheat, putting them at 1.87 million tons of U.S. wheat sales in 2005/06. That is Iraq's highest level of U.S. wheat imports, ever, since at least 1963.
: "The United States and the United Kingdom argued that their forces in Iraq were taking care of the needs of the Iraqi civilian population, including their access to food and water," he said. "But the other states did not follow them: many supported my work and the others were silent." Ziegler called the withholding of food and water in Iraq "a clear violation of international law". The U.S. military has denied the allegations. But the special rapporteur said evidence of the problem was brought to his attention by a number of sources, including non-governmental organisations.
Citizens of Rome
: A group of Stryker Brigade soldiers who recently returned from Iraq was sworn in Thursday as U.S. citizens, an award that for many, couldn't have come soon enough.
November Surprise - No Justice in the USA
: Human rights campaigners are calling it the 'November surprise' - a last-minute amendment smuggled into a Pentagon finance bill in the US Senate last Thursday. Its effects are likely to be devastating: the permanent removal of almost all legal rights from 'war on terror' detainees at Guantanamo Bay and every other similar US facility on foreign or American soil. 'What the British law lord Lord Steyn once called a legal black hole had begun to be filled in,' said the British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, speaking from Guantanamo, where he represents more than 40 detainees. 'It looks as if it is back, and deeper than before.'
: Conflicting claims have emerged over the reported death of Saddam Hussein's chief lieutenant, thought by the United States to have played a key role in organising the fighting in Iraq and the highest-ranking fugitive at large from the former government.
: Residents from towns other than the provincial center of al-Qadisiya had a darker picture of conditions. “These statements are false and contrary to the situation on the ground,” said Qassem Mansour from al-Hamza town. “There is large-scale deterioration of an already collapsing infrastructure. All those in charge of the situation in the country are to blame,” said Mansour. Shamkhi al-Hussein said official statements on reconstruction were making him “sick.” “There is no transparency, no accountability. For this reason the province is descending into chaos as far as provision of utilities is concerned,” he said. In the center of Diwaniya, the city’s commercial hub, traders urged the country’s civil institutions to “denounce” officials giving statements unrepresentative of the reality. Mounds of garbage dot city center with untreated water inundating the streets.
: A courageous Iraqi viewer the other day bluntly told the trade minister that the former dictator had filled Iraqi households with food while the new government has failed to even meet their basic needs. The minister, Abdel Basit Mawloud, was shaken by the comment which drew praise from most viewers. The minister’s embarrassment was not because the viewer had the guts to compare between the former leader whom he called Haddam (Arabic for destroyer) instead of Saddam and the new government. Mawloud was shaken simply because the viewer, Abu Nazar, was saying nothing but the truth.
Screw the UN
: The United Nations wants to significantly expand its operations in Iraq but has been prevented from doing so by the failure of member states to provide aircraft to move its staff around the country, U.N. officials said on Thursday. The world body has asked the United States, Britain and 10 other countries to provide aircraft, needed to circumvent security risks on Iraqi roads, but has yet to receive a positive response from any of them, they said.
: Ninety-six bishops of the church that until recently claimed the allegiance of President George W Bush have signed a forceful statement repenting “of our complicity in what we believe to be the unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq.”
Opinion and Commentary
As U.S. troops pursue their new major border offensive for the seventh consecutive day, reports from the battlefields say innocent Iraqis are once again bearing the brunt. It is wrong to blame ordinary Iraqis, wherever they live, for the surge in violence and attacks by anti-U.S. and government groups. If the U.S., as the mightiest military power the world has ever known, cannot stop infiltration by foreign fighters, it is beyond the power of the hapless Iraqis living in border villages to do so.
If these fighters and their supporters can fiercely resist massive and disproportionate U.S. firepower, no one on earth should expect Iraqi women and children to take up arms and flush them out. U.S. military officials only speak of the damage they inflict on insurgents and broadly deny Iraqi reports of civilian casualties. In the absence of independent reporting it is hard to assess damage and casualties in the areas covered by this major offensive. But Iraqi medics and Red Crescent officials available on the ground dispute U.S. claims and speak of scores of civilians killed and thousands of families fleeing these areas.
Killing and displacing civilians for the presence of rebels with the ability to fiercely resist U.S. military machine is tantamount to a crime against humanity. Iraqi civilians should not be punished because of U.S. troops’ failure to crush the resistance. There is no justification for the atrocities Iraqi civilians suffer at the hands of U.S. and Iraqi troops during these operations.
Not every man in these areas is a rebel or insurgent and even if he is found to be connected to the insurgency, his wife, children and parents should not suffer as a result. But unfortunately that is exactly what is happening, fuelling more anger and fury against the occupiers and their supporters.Special Report - War Crimes
Some of the ugliest crimes committed by the occupation forces and by Iraqi military units are the ones committed in the city of Fallujah in the battles of November 2004, and which we summarize in the following:
1. The plundering of health care centers and their destruction by bombing as has taken place in the "Taleb Al-Janabi" hospital and in the Central Clinic. Further the Central Hospital was occupied; the staff and everyone in the hospital at that time were arrested. Ambulances in the city have been bombed and the rescue teams were hindered from entering the city, among them the convoy of the Ministry of Health, despite of the fact that more than 50,000 civilians still remained in the city.
2. Internationally prohibited weapons were used in the bombing of the city, such as phosphoric weapons, Napalm, bombs containing unknown gases, causing the blood to explode out of bodies. 24 carbonized bodies have been found in the area of the military neighbourhood. Surviving civilian eyewitnesses stated that the soldiers of the occupation forces entered the area wearing gas masks. Furthermore, cases of deformed newly born increased as a consequence of the use of such weapons. In a press conference, which took place during the battle, Mr. Khaled Al-Sheikhali, official of the Ministry of Health, confirmed the use of such weapons.
3. More than 280 missing persons are reported from among the inhabitants of the city of Fallujah. Their fate is still unknown. These persons are officially registered by names and by photo at the local authorities in the city. It is further estimated that the total number of missing persons exceeds 500.
4. Rescue teams, who were allowed to free the city from corpses, to prevent diseases to spread among the soldiers, affirmed that there was a great number of civilian corpses lying in areas, indicating that they were neither armed nor resisting when they were attacked. Bodies were found in beds, kitchens or on chairs, bodies of children near those of their fathers. Further they found bodies of women, their dresses torn, their features disfigured. Many of the dead showed head wounds, which indicate that they were murdered from short distance and in the manner of executions.
5. The existence of a mass grave with approximately 400 bodies in the "Sajar" area, an area protected by the US Forces, shooting anyone approaching it. The US Officials responsible for burying the dead in the city, admitted to one rescue team, that they had buried 380 bodies in this area after the end of the battle, and that these bodies had previously been stored in a refrigerator originally used for the storage of potatoes.
6. The dogs in Fallujah are infected with different diseases as a result of their eating corpses, and are now endangering the health of the citizens.
7. Arrested civilians were forced to participate in cleaning the city from the remains of the battle and what has been used in it. In one of the disposal sites of these remains, bodies of fighters and civilians, among them women and children were found. The entrance to these areas is prohibited.
8. Information on the whereabouts of some of prisoners, who were transferred to the "Buka" prison in Basra, is lost although they had been seen by other prisoners who were released later. One case is that of Sheikh Shaker Hamdan Abdullah Fayyad Al-Kabeesi, who was arrested on the 11th October 2004 in Fallujah, carrying "Buka" prisoner's number 165251, and who was supposed to be released on the 22nd of December 2004 but still remains missing.
9. Many civilians trying to escape the hell of shell firing were victims of snipers, who were following US orders to shoot at anyone who moves, even at children. Many civilian eyewitnesses affirmed that the streets of their neighborhoods were full of dead civilians, killed on their way to take refuge in the nearest mosques, following US appeals to do so. M.A. states that his father was wounded by a bullet that penetrated his nick and his mother was killed by snipers as they were on their way to the mosque. He states that he dragged his wounded father to the "Al-Hadra Al- Mohammadiya" mosque, were they were arrested but released a few days later. He does not know what has become of his mother's body.
10. Survivors of the battle assure that US Forces killed the wounded resistance fighters in the sport field of "Sumud" Club. This explains the refusal of the US Forces to see or transport the bodies of the mass graves in "Sajar" and those bodies left in the heaps of rubble.
11. Eyewitnesses confirm that 4 persons of the civilians seeking refuge at the "Al-Hadra Al-Mohammadiya" mosque, were led to a near wall, with their hands tied and their eyes covered, and were then executed there by US and Iraqi Forces, on the grounds of suspecting them to be fighters.
12. Despite the fact that more than 30,000 houses and buildings were destroyed in the battle, the US Forces continued to destroy empty houses before their inhabitants could return. US Forces destroyed in one day 20 houses in the "Shurta" neighborhood. These houses connected 2 schools, which were taken as military bases. The inhabitants of these houses confirm that they had seen their houses in good conditions only a few days before. The reason for the demolition was to secure clear vision on the surrounding areas.
13. The crimes committed against humanity in the city of Fallujah are still ongoing. The city has been turned into a big prison; its 350,000 citizens are not allowed to neither leave nor enter without undergoing abusive and despotic procedures, standing in contrast to the basic rules of Human Rights. Living conditions are extremely hard in many aspects of public life, in addition to transgressions by US soldiers, thereby increasing the suffering of the citizens of Fallujah.
14. The brutality of the crimes is most obvious in the case of the killing of injured and unarmed civilians in a mosque on the hands of a US soldier. Although there were many witnesses to this incident, the military court in which this case was later handled declared that the accused did not violate the security procedures, and was therefore found not guilty of any charge.