The Iraq Inquiry Report (2009-2016) documents how Tony Blair committed Great Britain to war early in 2002, lying to the United Nations, to Parliament, and to the British people, in order to follow George Bush, who had planned an aggression on Iraq well before September 2001.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard conspired with both reckless adventurers, purported ‘to advise’ both buccaneers, sent troops to Iraq before the war started, then lied to Parliament and to the Australian people. He continues to do so.
Should he and his cabal be charged with war crimes? This, and more, is investigated by Dr George Venturini in this outstanding series.
The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion (continued)
It is safe to say that the occupation of Iraq resulted in over a million Iraqis killed with millions more injured. Coalition forces were involved in widespread and systematic torture, as well as mass killings of innocent civilians. They also pursued a divide-and-rule strategy between Shia, Sunni and Kurds which has resulted in an ongoing sectarian conflict which still rages – on 3 July 2016 a single bombing in Baghdad killed 281 civilians. This sectarian conflict has directly led to the development of I.S.I.S. and given fuel to the fire of Islamic fundamentalism the attacks of which around the world have increased substantially since the invasion. It makes Bush, Blair and Howard’s stated intention of a ‘war on terror’ look risible.
In 2007, when Blair resigned as prime minister, Robert Harris, a former Fleet Street political editor, dropped his other work to write The ghost, a contemporary political thriller. The ghost of the title refers both to a professional ghost-writer, whose lengthy memorandum forms the novel, and to his immediate predecessor who, as the action opens, has just drowned in mysterious circumstances.
The dead man had been ghosting the autobiography of a recently unseated British prime minister named Adam Lang, a thinly disguised version of Blair. The fictional counterpart of Cherie Blair is depicted as a sinister manipulator of her husband. So astonishing are the implied allegations of the roman à clef that, had it concerned a lesser figure and were Harris a less eminent novelist, Britain’s libel laws might have rendered publication impossible: Harris told The Guardian before publication, “The day this appears a writ might come through the door. But I would doubt it, knowing him. The thriller acquires an added frisson from the fact that Harris was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Blair and a donour to Blair’s ‘New Labour’ funds. The New York Observer, headlining its otherwise hostile review The Blair Snitch Project, commented that the book’s ‘shock-horror revelation’ was ‘so shocking it simply can’t be true, though if it were it would certainly explain pretty much everything about the recent history of Great Britain.’ ” (C. Bray, The Blair Snitch Project: Thriller Pulps Britain’s Ex-Prime Minister, Observer, November 2007).
American troops are now left alone in Iraq, ‘assisting’ their client state’s forces.
On 7 June 2016 the Geneva International Centre for Justice – G.I.CJ. sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the competent mandate holders and to all United Nations member states to express its distress about the deteriorating security situation in Fallujah, which was now close to being ‘liberate’ for the third time by U.S. troops and newly trained Iraqi forces. On 22nd May 2016 a destructive military offensive against the city had begun under what was the blatant pretext of ‘fighting terrorism’, according to the Iraqi authorities. The battle was meant ‘to liberate Fallujah’ from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – I.S.I.S., and was intended to be carried out by the Iraqi army and affiliated militias, ‘supported’ by U.S. air cover and Iranian military advisors on ground.
A few days after the start of the military campaign G.I.C.J. sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Secretary-General and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. G.I.C.J. headed it: ‘With US cover and Iranian support, a war of extermination against Fallujah starts’, 24th May 2016. Three days after the Centre sent a letter to the President of the United States, to express its deep concern towards the growing number of civilian casualties resulted from the deadly attacks at the hands of the security forces as well as the American air forces, in what was pronounceable as the umpteenth sect-oriented offensive. (Geneva International Centre for Justice to president Obama: It is a shame to cooperate with militias and Qasem Soleimani). It minced no words: “Moreover, the participation on ground of Qaseem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Forces and widely known terrorist, makes your support even more controversial.”
The Centre expressed its deep concern towards the growing number of civilian casualties resulted from the deadly attacks at the hands of the security forces as well as the American air forces, in what was pronounceable as the umpteenth sect-oriented offensive.
Military operations were being carried out through the indiscriminate shelling of air missiles and other artillery over a wide range of buildings. The bombardments were most obviously affecting the many civilians who were still in the city: a precise estimate of the number of residents remaining in Fallujah was not available – Iraqi authorities stated there are about 50,000 civilians, whereas various local sources placed this number to approximately 196,000. Regardless of what information is correct, the number of people whose life was in extreme danger was dramatically high compared to the mere 500 Islamic Sate fighters who were claimed to be in the city.
The Centre noted: “As it is openly recognized by the US and Iraqi authorities, ISIS targets are extremely dynamic and move rapidly around the city, mixing up with civilians. For such reason, conducting a campaign of indiscriminate shelling and using such kind of weaponry could not be less counterproductive, if the purpose was really that of ‘fighting terrorism and protect civilians’, as claimed by the Iraqi authorities.
Bombardments, as technologically accurate as they might be, are not suitable for such dynamic targets, especially since they are using weapons with great destructive power, ultimately resulting in the complete destruction of vast areas of the city, which have almost completely been swept away, and, as a consequence, in a rising number of civilian casualties and injuries, including people getting trapped under the rubble without any kind of rescue operation provided.”
In addition to indiscriminate shelling, the Fallujah Hospital had also been repeatedly bombed by aerial missiles on 25 and 26 May 2016, causing several damages to the building as well as the destruction of essential medical equipment. This deeply undermined the possibility of injured or sick civilians to receive healthcare.
Actually, this was not the first time: in 2004, at the beginning of their attack on Fallujah – the first ‘liberation’ – U.S. Marines and Iraqi National Guard troops stormed Fallujah General Hospital, closing it to the city’s wounded and confiscating cell phones from the doctors. A senior officer claimed that the hospital was ‘a centre of propaganda.’ Interviews with hospital personnel, which had revealed the extent of civilian casualties in an aborted April 2004 attack, were unable to confirm.
As the battle proceeded, air strikes reduced a smaller hospital to rubble and smashed a clinic, trapping patients and staff under the collapsed structure. With the main hospital empty and other facilities destroyed, only one small Iraqi military clinic had remained to serve the city.
U.S. forces proceeded to cut off Fallujah’s water and electricity. About 200,000 residents were forced to flee. Those who remained faced a grim existence; they were afraid to leave their homes for fear of snipers and they had little to eat and only contaminated water to drink.
Public buildings, mosques and residences were assaulted by air and ground forces. The city, largely depopulated, was occupied by U.S. forces. Convoys sent by the Iraqi Red Crescent to aid the remaining population had been turned back. Diseases brought on by bad water were spreading in Fallujah and the surrounding refugee camps.
The means of attack employed against Fallujah are illegal and cannot be justified by any conceivable ends. In particular, the targeting of medical facilities and denial of clean water are serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Continuation of these practices will soon confirm what many already suspect: that the United States of America believes it is above the law.
Tomorrow: The bloody cost and legacy of the invasion (continued)
Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini – ‘George’ devoted some sixty years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. In 1975, invited by Attorney-General Lionel Keith Murphy, Q.C., he left a law chair in Chicago to join the Trade Practices Commission in Canberra – to serve the Whitlam Government. In time he witnessed the administration of a law of prohibition as a law of abuse, and documented it in Malpractice, antitrust as an Australian poshlost (Sydney 1980). He may be reached at George.Venturini@bigpond.com.