We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.

In particular, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq’s people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
  3. An end to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Friday 27 April 2018

Launch of Iraq Solidarity Month - highlights

Speech by Mike Phipps- Editor of the book For the Many  at the launch of Iraq Solidarity Month

Two months ago a global donor conference pledged £21bn to help Iraq rebuild after the war against Islamic State (IS). Turkey was one of the biggest donors - odd, because its troops are still on Iraqi soil, which at least one leading Iraqi official has characterised as an “invasion”.

Much more than this will be needed to reconstruct parts of Iraq after the months-long US-led aerial bombardment against IS. The UN says bombs will continue for a decade to come to litter Mosul, where 10,000 people were killed in the latest phase of the war. Only 10% of health facilities in Nineveh governorate are functioning at full capacity. Yet none of the worst war-ravaged areas expect to see any of the promised money soon. Iraq is rated the tenth most corrupt country in the world.

The US was not at the conference and will not pledge a cent. This is despite the fact that it has visited unprecedented destruction on Iraq in recent years. First, the debilitating sanctions imposed on the country after the 1991 Gulf War. Then the 2003 invasion, which caused over  two million deaths, both directly and as a result of side-effects from the damage to infrastructure and the environment. It created five million refugees, a million people with disabilities and half a million orphans.

In Falluja, the US massacred “on a scale greater than any known act of barbarity by Saddam Hussein's regime in its final twelve years,” to quote from Glen Rangwala’s article in Labour Briefing at the time. It also used banned weapons against civilians whose toxic effects are reflected in birth defects that may continue for generations to come. A recent survey in the city showed a fourfold increase in all cancers and a twelve-fold increase in cancer in under-14 year olds.

This toxic legacy needs underlining. It’s estimated around six billion bullets were expended into the Iraqi environment between 2002 and 2005 alone - which, along with bombs, have led to widespread public contamination. As former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter's observed: “The irony is we invaded Iraq in 2003 to destroy its non-existent weapons of mass destruction. To do it, we fired these new weapons, causing radioactive casualties.”

Beyond the loss of human life, there was the cultural destruction. The US used ancient historic archaeological sites as military bases, such as Babylon where 300,000 square metres of the site were flattened - including 2,600 year old paving stones, by US tanks. One million books, 10 million documents and 14,000 archaeological artifacts have been lost in the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq – the biggest cultural disaster, say some,  since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258. To this should be added the impact on education: about 500 academics were killed just from the Universities of Baghdad and Basra alone.

The latest phase of the war was entirely as product of the US invasion and militarization of the country.

It is now widely understood that IS began its existence in the US’s  torture centres,  most notably Abu Ghraib, where Iraqi detainees were systematically sexually assaulted and brutalised. Three years ago, IS was able to take over Mosul and other swathes of the country with barely a shot being fired, thanks to the flabbergastingly corrupt Iraqi army fleeing in the face  of their advance. As it fled, it abandoned to the enemy huge amounts of US-donated military equipment. This included 2,300 armoured vehicles - a majority of all the armoured vehicles the US had delivered to Iraq - which made the subsequent war against IS all the more protracted.

That war is now largely over. Once again, a terrible price was paid in the Iraqi loss of life. Meanwhile, |NATO troops remain in the country, despite the opposition of Iraq’s Parliament.

And victors’ ‘justice’ ensures there is unlikely to be a lasting peace. Amnesty International report that Iraqi women suspected of family links to Islamic State extremists are facing a campaign of sexual violence and exploitation in displacement camps inside the country. Iraqi courts have sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for complicity with Islamic State. In one ten minute trial, a 42-year-old housewife had two minutes to defend herself against charges of supporting the Islamic State, before she was sentenced to death by hanging. All this is likely to lead to a strong sense of injustice and renewed conflict in the future.

And this is why we continue to produce a fortnightly e-newsletter on Iraq, which has now run to over 350 issues.

Fifteen years on, what lessons do we draw?

1. Removing Saddam Hussein was just a by-product of another objective: dismantling the Iraqi state and its institutions. This can be achieved in a many ways. It Iraq one of the most effective was the sectarianisation of politics. From the outset, the Governing Council, established in July 2003, had the names of its members each followed by their sect and ethnicity. This institutionalization of an ethno-sectarian quota system was toxic, allowed the US and its allies to pursue a ‘divide and rule‘ strategy and even threaten the dismemberment of Iraq.

2. The regional impact has been destabilising. The creation of Islamic State, straddling the border with Syria has created new dimensions to the conflict in that country. The chronic weakening of the Iraqi state has allowed Turkey to encroach into Iraq to pursue its relentless war against the Kurds.

3. The global impact too is worth noting. Jonathon Shafi says: “The war sent shockwaves into the political system. Large sections of the population already deeply cynical of the political system after the war would go on to see the bailout of the banks, and then a package of brutal austerity measures that would decimate public services, and ruin living standards. The failure of Iraq, followed by the injustice of austerity, came together in a general crisis for the legitimacy of politicians and elites. Today this crisis is only growing in momentum.”

4. In the UK: It discredited Tony Blair. It discredited New Labour. As a lifelong member of the Labour Party I take no pleasure from the fact that the considerable achievements of the Labour governments of 1997 to 2010 are entirely overshadowed by this monumental betrayal of everything decent democratic socialists stand for.

The Iraq war fatally discredited Labour in Scotland and fuelled demands for Scottish independence. It polarised. It also made the public and MPs extra-cautious about rushing to war ever again on a false prospectus. Its delayed impact was to produce the  vote against military action in Syria in 2013.

 “While Tony Blair was in the war room with Bush, Corbyn was on the streets and addressing the anti-war demonstrations. Now he leads the Labour party.”

Gary Younge has pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on the war is a significant element in his appeal. “When he stood for leader he said it was illegal, that if elected he would apologise for it, and that if it were ever deemed a war crime, Tony Blair should go on trial. All his opponents who were MPs at the time voted for it; the one who wasn’t, Liz Kendall, voted against investigating it. It is also one of the reasons Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues struggled to find a viable candidate to oppose him when they launched their coup. They were sufficiently aware of the popular mood to realise that they needed someone who wasn’t tainted by having voted for the war. That counted out most senior Labour parliamentarians.”

Iraq is also a key reason for the collapse in public trust in the government. Younge says: “Playing fast and loose with facts, misleading the public, producing dossiers full of lies, and ignoring or distorting expertise – all of which were central to the war effort – helped contribute to a culture in which experts are not valued, and facts are considered optional.” http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/2954-fifteen-years-on-the-iraq-war-is-still-poisoning-our-national-life

This disconnect between public and politicians is part of the reason why, in the eyes of former UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, British people voted for Brexit - people felt their views were not taken into account by those in power. Ironically in that campaign too, misinformation and derision of experts dominated.

The 2017 election manifesto, about which I have recently edited a book, (http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/for-the-many-preparing-labour-for-power/), makes one reference to the Iraq war but it’s a significant one. It says the lessons of the Chilcot Report - nine years in the making - should be learned. This is more than what is in the manifestos of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, which is nothing. For them Iraq is forgotten.

But amnesia is the privilege of the powerful. The dispossessed of Iraq are not so lucky. The war has abated for now. Things are returning to normal. which means: Iraq has resumed paying Kuwait compensation for the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields and facilities during the 1990-91 Gulf War. But for Iraq, no compensation, no reparations.

Fifteen years on, Iraqis are still a long way from getting any kind of justice, or compensation or reparations, let alone seeing anybody prosecuted for the terrible crimes committed against their country. Sadly, no major force in the anti-war movement seems inclined even to commemorate the anniversary of the destruction unleashed by western forces. As in previous years, it falls to Tadhamun, this small but dedicated organisation of activists, to mark the occasion. We in the anti-war movement salute the work you do to keep the crimes against Iraq alive in our collective memory, so that we do not forget, we do not “move on” and we never forgive the politicians that perpetrated this colossal evil. There may be a long wait, but there will be a reckoning - there will be justice for Iraq.

Iraq Solidarity Month: Looking Back to Move Forward

In a conflict-ridden world, yesterday’s carnage and massacre are quickly consigned to oblivion in the waste bin of history as the conveyor belt moves on. The fifteenth anniversary of the April 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US and its allies thus passed the world by with little notice.

In spite of little media coverage over the past few years, with the exception of bloody massacres to liberate towns from ISISthe occupation and the war in Iraq are very much alive. According to UN figures, at least “104 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 177 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in March 2018”. At the end of 2017, there were around 9000 US soldiers in Iraq, in addition to almost daily air strikesby coalition forces, leading to hundreds of civilian deaths and the risk to civilians frompopular mobilisation unit (PMU) militias
Around 3 million people are internally displaced, almost half of whom are children, often with no access to education or healthcare. Capitalising on media silence, European statesand the US have started to reject asylum claims by Iraqi claimants and deport individuals at serious risk back to a combat zone many of them are actively engaged in.
Timely and relevant, in view of similar circumstances in other conflicts in the Middle East region, on Thursday 26 April 2018, Tadhamun, an Iraqi women’s organisation, launched “Iraq Solidarity Month” at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. The well attended event was sombre and reflective in tone rather than celebratory in view of the immense task ahead of the Iraqi community and its supporters. The aim is to provide “a reminder of the crimes committed in dismantling a state and culture so they are not repeated” and celebrate “Iraq’s history, resistance and aspiration for peace based on equality and justice”.
Introduced by Prof Wen-chin Ouyang from SOAS, she emphasised the loss to the academic world the war in Iraq has presented through the murder and targeting of academics as well as the destruction of heritage sites from both Iraq’s ancient and more recent history.
Sana Al-Khayyat, an Iraqi sociology and academic based in London, explained why Iraq Solidarity Month matters: calling the 2003 invasion “deliberate” and “planned”, following the destruction of the 1991 Gulf War, she stated that there can be “no peace without genuine justice”. Iraq Solidarity Month is about remembering the destruction of Iraq, but also its long history and heritage with justice for the Iraqi people at its heart.
Denis Halliday, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq in 1997-1998, provided important background on how the UN’s failure to protect the Iraqi people in 1991 paved the way for the 2003 occupation. He called the economic and social sanctions theUN imposed on Iraq in 1990, following the invasion of Kuwait, a crime against humanity leading to the “shock and awe” campaign in 2003.
Halliday, who resigned from the UN in protest, stated that the UN Security Council is corrupted by greed and vested interests in warfare, choosing warfare over diplomacy in 1991. The UN did nothing to condemn or stop the use of depleted uranium (DU) in Iraq in 1991, and instead unleashed its own violence through further sanctions, leading Iraq to accept the Oil-for-Food programme in 1995, funded entirely by oil revenues. The funds were inadequate and sanctions killed over half a million Iraqi children by 1995 due to a lack of healthcare and adequate nutrition. The use of DU, used again after 2003, led to ahuge increase in different types of cancer.
Halliday hopes that Iraq Solidarity Month will offer an opportunity to hear Iraqi voices talk about the future and rebuilding of the country, as too much overseas advice and interference in the region has been “rapacious and catastrophic”.
Journalist Victoria Brittain then chaired a panel of speakers from organisations that have been working on Iraq for the past 15 years. Iraqi Novelist Haifa Zangana from the organisers Tadhamun spoke about the work the small British-Iraqi women’s organisation does. She stated that the women’s struggle in Iraq had been disrupted by war and that they work on two levels: to ensure equality for women in Iraq, in employment, education and the public sphere, as well as recognition of violence against women as an aspect of war. Over the past 12 years, largely through seminars and conferences, they have covered many aspects of the Iraqi conflict, such as the trauma of internally displaced persons, the fragmentation of Iraqi national and cultural identity, memory and identity, and the meaning of democracy. She stated that if a small group of women can do something so can everyone else.
Ayca Çubukçu, associate professor of human rights at the London School of Economics then spoke about the World Tribunal on Iraq which took place in Istanbul in June 2005. Modelled on Bertrand Russell’s Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal, activists at the World Social Forum decided to capitalise on the largest anti-war mobilisation since Vietnam to document war crimes so that they are not forgotten. Over two years, a network of global tribunals came together in Istanbul, led by Prof Richard Falk. It heard testimonies for 3 days and produced a declaration. Since then, the issue of what is to be done next remains. She hoped that Iraq Solidarity Month can help revive international solidarity with the Iraqi people.
Dirk Adriaensens spoke on behalf of the Brussels Tribunal, which held the first of the international tribunals on Iraq. In 2005, they started a campaign against the assassination of academics and death squads. They also supported the full spectrum of the Iraqi resistance, regardless of ideology. He stated that it is a moral and legal obligation for people in European and western countries to hold their governments responsible for their actions in Iraq. It is important to provide external support for initiatives in Iraq by Iraqis but that Iraqis must be allowed to determine their own future, without outside interference, whether western or regional.
Mike Phipps, editor of Iraq Occupation Focus, talked about the impact on political life beyond Iraq. He stated that the current phase is the result of US occupation: ISIS was created in US-run torture centres, such as Abu Ghraib and corruption within the Iraqi army made it easy for ISIS to take over areas and access US weapons left behind. More recently, an Amnesty International report has revealed that displaced women who are suspected of having family ties to ISIS are being sexually abused, more than 200 have been sentenced to death unfairly due to alleged links to ISIS, broadening the circle of injustice and violence.
As well as destabilising the wider region, it discredited Tony Blair and the New Labour government, undermining public trust in the government. Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on the Iraq War has been a key element of his appeal. He stated that there has been no compensation or reparations for Iraq as well as no prosecutions. He said it was regretful that no major anti-war movement had marked the 15th anniversary.
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, also spoke about the domestic impact of the war and the UK and the US’ responsibility. She stated that it is important to remember, because the UK government, which has been at the centre of such imperialistic attacks for decades, wants the public to forget.
Zainab Khan from Tadhamun then presented a clip from a new CD available from Tadhamun on the destruction of Fallujah. Using music, poetry and testimonies, “And peace be upon you o Fallujah” looks at the bloody consequences of the resistance of the people of Fallujah since 2004.
Nazli Tarzi, journalist and Tadhamun activist presented a letter and slides from Iraqi architect Ihsan Fethi on the destruction of Mosul and the opportunities presented by the reconstruction of the city.
Algerian activist from War on Want Hamza Hamouchene offered a positive view of his visit to Baghdad in September 2016 to attend the Iraqi Social Forum. He reported on the positive civil society outlook and action by grassroots groups and trade unions in the country in spite of the violence and difficulties faced on a daily basis.
Iraqi-British rapper and activist Lowkey spoke about some of the victories of Iraqi civil society over attempts to imposed unfair laws and opportunities for action for Iraqis to rebuild their country.
The event was played out on a positive note by oud player Ihsan Al-Imam. As stated by one of the Tadhamun contributors reconstruction and healing wounds takes time and requires patience. It also requires solidarity from others.

Friday 2 March 2018

Iraq Solidarity Month

Organised by - Tadhamun Iraqi Women Solidarity
“The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history”.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s conviction was shared by millions who demonstrated across the globe against the war on Iraq in 2003 and continues to be shared today.
Fifteen years on, the impact of the illegal US led act of aggression on the Iraqi people that continues to cause endless suffering, has become another footnote in the cycle of violence and war that blights the Middle East to this day.
Remembering Iraq is not only important to the millions of victims who deserve justice, it is necessary - to reclaim the basic principles of peace and respect between nations that is the foundation of our shared humanity and guarantee we can all live in a future devoid of the scourge of war.
These are the aims behind our launch of the initiative: Iraq Solidarity Month (ISM).
It will be a reminder of the crimes committed in dismantling a state, society and culture so that they are not repeated. It is also a celebration of Iraq's history, resistance and aspiration for peace based on equality and justice.
At: SOAS Alumni Lecture Theatre (S) ALT Paul Webley Wing (Senate House North Block) SOAS University of London, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG Map
Date: Thursday 26th April 2018, 7:00 – 10:00 PM
Denis J. Halliday: Head of the Humanitarian Programme in Iraq 1997-98
Ayça Çubukçu: Assistant Professor of Human Rights and Director of the Human Rights Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Lindsey German: Stop the War convener
Hamza Hamouchene: Algerian activist. Senior Programme Officer - North Africa and West Asia at War on Want
Mike Phipps: Editor of the fortnightly Iraq Occupation Focus e-newsletter.
Victoria Brittan: Journalist and author of several books and plays about the war on terror and Guantánamo Bay.
Haifa Zangana: Iraqi Author - journalist. .
Ihsan al Imam: Iraqi musician - Oud player

Lowkey: British - Iraqi rapper and activist.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Tadhamun event

Iraqis: Living With Trauma in a War Zone - Tue 12 Sep 2017 @6:15PM

Psychological trauma runs deep for communities that have survived or continue to live under war and occupation. These invisible wounds are particularly prevalent among children, whose educational development and growth are disrupted by relentless violence. Tadhamun’s (Iraqi Women Solidarity) event invites expert guests and health practitioners to discuss the multiple layers of war trauma which Iraqi population, particularly children, have been subjected to, for many decades now and how to cope with it.
Panel one -         Chair: Ayça Çubukçu 

6.30 - 7.00          "The Psychiatric/ Psychological Consequences of War and Post Traumatic Stress disorder"   - 

   Dr Elham Aldouri 

7.00 - 7.10           "Impact of war on displaced Iraqis" - Short film produced & introduced by Nazli Tarzi 

7.10 - 7.30           "The Psychological Impact of War and Displacement on Children" - Joanne Baker.

7.30 - 7.50           Q & A 

7.50 - 8.00           ---------------- Break ----------------

Panel two -          Chair:  Rachel Beckles Willson

8.00 - 8.20           "After slavery" - Rachel Beckles Willson

8.20 - 8.40           "Living with War: Memories of a Lifetime" - Nadia Fayidh Mohammed

8.40 - 8.50            Children & wives of “Islamic state” ...  what fate? - Haifa Zangana 

8.50 - 9.00            Q & A

·                 Date: Tuesday 12th Sept. 2017 at 6:15 for 6:30 – 9:00PM

·                 Address: Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL   MAP

·                 All Welcome   -    الدعوة عامة
Tadhamun (solidarity) is an Iraqi women organization, encompasses many organisations and individuals standing by Iraqi women's struggle for equal citizenship across ethnicities and religions, for human rights and gender equality.
v Ayça Çubukçu - Assistant Professor in Human Rights \ Department of Sociology \ Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics and Political Science.
v Dr Elham al Douri - MBChB, DPM, DipPsych, FRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist & Specialist Advisor to the Care Quality Commission, Department of Health, UK.
Dr Aldouri graduated in medicine from Mosul Medical School, Mosul University, IRAQ. She came to the UK in 1980 to do postgraduate training and specialising in Psychiatry. She was trained at reputable institutions and hospitals in the UK including the Institute of Psychiatry, the Bethlem Royal and the Maudsley Hospitals. She has worked as a consultant psychiatrist specialising in adult psychiatry since 1991 in both the NHS and the private sector. She has a special interest and expertise in the psychological effects of trauma including that arising from war, conflict, natural disastrous and other traumatic events. In addition to her clinical responsibilities, she has held key managerial and teaching positions as clinical and medical director and senior examiner for the MRCPsych degree at the Royal College of Psychiatrists. She is also a senior specialist advisor to the CQC, department of health in the UK.
v Nazli Tarzi - is an independent multi-platform journalist and researcher with a particular interest in Iraqi affairs — past and present — and state-society relations in the wider Middle East. After two years in broadcast journalism, Nazli currently writes for a wide range of publications including Middle East Monitor, The New Arab, Middle East Eye and Al Jazeera, among others.
"Impact of war on displaced Iraqis": Decades of relentless warfare in Iraq, have left no child unaffected or unharmed. The impact of such exposure on children, despite its enormous weight, is not always visible. Emotional scars run deep and children as young as three, exhibit post-traumatic stress symptoms. Trauma is carried even by those lucky enough to have survived air raids and shelling episodes. Every family has mourned the death of its loved ones and those still missing. While resilience is often a natural response to war, it does not mask the traumatic memories that children learn to suppress. This film takes a look at how political violence and traumatic events shape the lives of Iraq's children of war.
v Joanne Baker - Human Rights activist and Coordinator of Child Victims of War. Co-author of 'Uranium in Iraq: the toxic legacy of the Iraq wars'.
v Rachel Beckles Willson - is a musician and writer and currently Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has published widely on the cultural politics of music (including two books for Cambridge University Press: Orientalism and Musical Mission: Palestine and the West (2013) and Ligeti, Kurtag, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War Cambridge UP, 2007). Recently her work both as a performer and researcher has focused on the oud (the oriental lute) - examples of which can be found at www.oudmigrations.com Since her time in Palestine Rachel has had a particular interest in refugees, and has worked as a volunteer with immigrant minors for some years.
"After Slavery": In this talk I discuss women and female minors who have recently escaped the global sex market. Having reported their traffickers to the police they benefit from Italy’s protection system for asylum seekers and are housed in immigrant reception centres throughout the country. I have recently begun working as a volunteer in such centres in Sicily, using my specialist skill, music, in language lessons and workshops. I will present my work in the broader context of music’s benefits (and dangers) in situations of trauma and post-trauma, with reference to my earlier activities in both London and Ramallah.
v Nadia Fayidh Mohammed - researcher, translator and writer from Iraq. She completed her education in Baghdad, Iraq. After completing her postgraduate degree in 2003, she taught English literature in University of Mustansiriyah till 2015, when she joined King's College London as CARA post-doctorate fellow of English till 2017. She has several academic publications on English and American poets like Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Anne Sexton and Lisa Suhair Majaj. She participated in several poetry translation projects with the University of Iowa, among them were Whitman's Song of Myself and Lanterns of Hope. Her poetry is published in Poetry Quarterly, Poetry & Prose, Acumen and Vision International. She is member of Exiled Writer Ink based in London.
"Living with War: Memories of a Lifetime" - it is a mixture of personal account of war memories as well as an account of how war affected our social lives and conducts.
v Haifa Zangana - Writer and consultant at UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA). Author of "Dreaming of Baghdad" and "City of widows", among many others. Co-author of "Torturer in the mirror" Ramsey Clark. "Party for Thaera, Palestinian women writing life" is her latest book. 

Depleted Uranium and Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: An Overview

By Prof Souad N. Al-Azzawi

The amount of devastation caused by the Depleted Uranium (DU) weaponry used against Iraq during the consecutive US led wars is historically unprecedented in modern warfare. The devastating magnitude of the complications and damage caused as a result of the use of such radioactive and toxic weapons on the environment and the human population was intensified as a result of the intentional concealment, denial and misleading information released by the Pentagon about the quantities, characteristics, and Iraqi area’s within which these weapons were used.
Information revealed about a severe illness known as the ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ which spread amongst US Army veterans who were exposed to DU while using theseweaponry, helped Iraqi researchers and Medical Doctors to understand the nature of the effect of these weapons, and the means required to investigate further into this issue.
DU is a chemically toxic and radioactive heavy metal produced as waste by the nuclear power industry. It is used in weapons because it is an extremely hard material capable of piercing armor.
The synergistic impact on health due to the 1991post-Gulf War1 economic sanctions, and DU related radioactive and toxic contamination, raised the number of casualties in contaminated areas such as in Southern Iraq.
During 2003, the invading forces used additional rounds of DU in heavily populated areas such as Baghdad, Samawa, Fallujah, Diyala, Najaf, Salahuddin, Basra and Nasiriya (again), and other cities.
The continual use of DU after-Gulf War I in 1991, then during and after the US led military operations in 2003 invasion of Iraq increased the total contamination area with DU in Iraq. Consequently, civilians in previously contaminated areas received an extra dose of radioactivity after 2003. An action that can only be interpreted as committing unseen genocide against the unarmed civilian population in these areas.
Accordingly, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have received higher doses of radioactivity than those received from standard natural sources of radiation. As a result, a multifold increase of diseases related to Low Level Radiation (LLR) exposure have been registered amongst Iraqis since 1995, including an increase of children’s leukemia, congenital malformations, breast cancer etc…
The leukemia incidence rates for instance, shifted towards younger children during these recent years, and its association with geographically distributed contaminated areas, offers strong evidence of the correlation between LLR exposure, and the resulting health damages.
Through this paper, an overview of major scientific DU conclusions will be presented, drawn from investigations and research conducted since the year 1991 by Iraqi researchers and MDs. This research was never published outside Iraq because of the comprehensive sanctions imposed on Iraq from (1991-2003). They were published only in Iraqi University peer reviewed journals and two related conferences.  Schemes of the research papers can be classified into three categories:
  1. DU contamination detection and exploration programs.
  2. DU effects on human body cells.
  3. DU related epidemiological studies.
Read the full paper here http://www.globalresearch.ca/depleted-uranium-and-radioactive-contamination-in-iraq-an-overview/5605215

Monday 21 August 2017

Endtimes in Mosul

On 22 May, Ahmed Mohsen, an unemployed taxi driver, left his house in the Islamic State-controlled western part of Mosul to try to escape across the Tigris to the government-held eastern side of the city. He and his mother, along with ten other people, carried rubber tyres down to the river: most of them couldn’t swim, and they planned to tie them together to make a raft. The siege of Mosul was in its seventh month and Ahmed was both desperate and starving: he and his mother were living on handfuls of wheat they cooked, though he said it made him feel sick. His friends believe that lack of food made him light-headed and led him to risk crossing the river. ‘Even if I die in the river,’ he told them, ‘it will be better than living here.’

IS snipers were shooting people who tried to leave. Their commanders calculated that holding the civilian population hostage, as human shields, would deter Iraqi government troops and the US-led coalition air forces from using the full extent of their firepower. This strategy had worked, to an extent, during the siege of east Mosul, which began on 17 October; it was three months before that part of the city was captured. But by the time the assault on west Mosul began on 19 February there was little sign of Iraqi or American restraint. As the bombardment intensified, the only plausible escape route for Ahmed was across the Tigris between the Fifth and Sixth Bridges, both of which had been put out of action by coalition airstrikes. He had already seen IS snipers kill three people who’d tried to cross and his luck was no better: a sniper shot him in the back and killed him, along with nine other members of his party, before they had even put their tyres in the water. Only one man, a good swimmer, got across to the other side. According to people living in houses overlooking the riverbank, Ahmed’s mother stayed beside his body for three days. Nobody dared to go to help her because they were afraid of being shot; on the third day, they say, they could no longer see her or the body of her son. They were probably thrown into the river, like hundreds of others.

I had got to know about Ahmed in an indirect way, two months before he died. After IS captured Mosul in June 2014 it became difficult for journalists or anybody outside the city to talk to people living under its rule. IS did everything it could to seal off the population from contact with the outside world. It blew up mobile phone masts, banned the use of phones and executed anybody caught using them in the few high places where there was reception. You could always interview people who had fled IS territory, but this wasn’t a satisfactory way of gathering information: refugees from Mosul arriving in Iraqi government or Kurdish-controlled territory were at the mercy of local military and civilian authorities and had every incentive to denounce IS as demonic, to dispel suspicions that they had been collaborators or members. Mosul is a Sunni Arab city and Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidis suspect Sunnis in general of colluding with IS. ‘I have never seen such terrified people in my life as a group of young men who had run away from Mosul waiting to be vetted by Iraqi security to see if they were former IS fighters,’ a human rights worker in a camp for internally displaced persons 15 miles south of Mosul told me. ‘One day I saw two men of military age walk into a tent for questioning. They were carried to the camp hospital on stretchers two hours later covered in blood.’

As the assault on west Mosul gathered pace, the IS strategy of isolating people behind its lines started to falter. The Iraqi government brought in a mobile phone mast mounted on the back of a truck and put it up at Nabi Yunus, the Tomb of Jonah, a shrine that IS had blown up as heretical in 2014, but whose ruins remain the highest point in east Mosul. Phones in the west of the city started working again and IS was too busy defending itself against army incursions to hunt down civilians talking on their mobiles. I knew someone who lived on the east bank of the Tigris: he found he was able to speak, over a poor connection, to relatives and friends in the IS-held territory on the other side of the river.

Ahmed Mohsen, trapped with his mother inside the old city of Mosul, was 31 years old. His father was dead; he had a married sister living nearby and a brother who was a refugee in Germany. I asked questions through an intermediary he trusted and he gave detailed answers about the situation in west Mosul. ‘Dozens of civilians are killed every day, including children,’ he said. ‘Yesterday, two children were killed by a mortar shell of the Iraqi army coming from the eastern part [of the city].’ He derided American and Iraqi government claims that they were using ‘smart artillery’: the incoming fire, he said, was ‘stupid’ and indiscriminate. It became clear, as the assault on west Mosul went on, that the Iraqi and US generals were using their massive firepower more freely than they had in the east. The Americans had expected the siege to take two months from start to finish; by March it had already gone on for five months, with the heaviest fighting still to come in the alleyways and closely packed houses of the old city. By then, according to US Central Command, 774 members of the Iraqi security forces had been killed and 4600 wounded. The rules were changed: units on the ground could now call in airstrikes or artillery fire at will to destroy a building if they believed they had spotted an IS sniper operating from it. Alongside attacks from the air, Iraqi Federal Police and the Emergency Response Division, both heavily armed but inadequately trained, used artillery and rockets – none of them accurate – to pound the densely inhabited buildings where, even in the final weeks of the siege, 300,000 people were hiding in stairwells and cellars. Looking later at the ruins of central Mosul, I could see where shells and rockets had knocked sections off buildings and where bombs had turned a whole block into a mound of broken bricks. ‘Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition used imprecise, explosive weapons, killing thousands of civilians,’ as an Amnesty International report, At Any Cost: The Civilian Catastrophe in West Mosul, puts it. By the end of March, civilians behind IS lines were being killed in large numbers by shells, rockets and bombs. They were also beginning to starve. ‘People in our neighbourhood,’ Ahmed told me, ‘are searching in the garbage to find something that can be eaten to take it to their children.’ Vegetables and fruit had disappeared from the markets that were still open; Ahmed and his family had stored some flour and rice, but wanted to keep it as a final reserve for the children of their extended family.

The coalition had a lethally over-simplified list of signs visible from the air which indicated that a building was being used by IS. Ahmed had a tarpaulin draped over part of his house as a sunshade, a practice fairly common in Mosul, where the temperature in summer often exceeds 45°C. Disastrously, similar tarpaulins were being used by IS to cover alleyways or courtyards so that coalition surveillance aircraft couldn’t see armed fighters moving from house to house. The coalition had made an announcement that anybody using such a covering would be attacked as an IS target, but few in the west of the city had heard the news. On 28 March, a coalition drone flew over Ahmed’s house and dropped a bomb. It fell on a corner of the building, near a water tank, bringing down a wall near where Ahmed was standing. ‘I didn’t lose consciousness,’ he said. ‘After a few moments, I realised I was injured. I partly walked and partly crawled to a small temporary clinic nearby, but they couldn’t treat my leg properly.’ The medics said he needed surgery but they didn’t have the equipment for an operation and could give him only bandages. When we spoke to Ahmed again, he was back at home, in bed, crying as he talked because of the pain in his injured leg.

When I wrote about Ahmed for a newspaper report, I changed his name and age and avoided any detail that might identify him to IS, of whom he was terrified. I hoped to meet him when the siege was over, though I could see from his own account that there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive. Mosul had been a dangerous place for a long time. I was there when Kurdish ground troops backed by US airstrikes captured it after the US invasion in 2003, and I watched as order collapsed within hours, as looters ransacked government buildings and Sunni clerics called from the minarets for people to man the barricades. Over the next 11 years, neither the Americans nor the Shia-dominated Iraqi government ever won full control over the city, and in June 2014 a few thousand IS fighters unexpectedly took charge, defeating an Iraqi government garrison of at least twenty thousand men. At the time, Ahmed, who came from a poor family, was driving his taxi between Mosul and Baghdad, a journey of about four hours. His friends say he was a friendly and generous man, who liked talking to passengers and who took great care of his car, of which he was proud. He didn’t own it outright, but had bought a share in it and was saving up to buy the rest. When IS overran Mosul, travel to government-held areas was still just about possible and Ahmed went on driving to Baghdad. But a few months later he was arrested by IS, accused of helping members of the Iraqi police and army to escape the city. As a friend of his put it, ‘he stayed in prison for three months and was badly tortured. He would talk a lot about that.’ He was released but could no longer work, and then he was jailed again for a month and a half. He worried about his mother: his brother in Germany was able to send back small amounts to support her but wasn’t officially allowed to work. ‘When Ahmed was freed for the second time,’ his friend said, ‘he sold his share in his taxi and spent the money over the remaining two years of IS rule. Recently, he went bankrupt.’

Despite these disasters, Ahmed and his mother remained optimistic well into the siege that IS rule wouldn’t last much longer and that things would improve. They planned to travel to Turkey, where Ahmed’s brother would meet them. This brother now appears to be the only surviving member of the family; he is trying to get a death certificate issued for Ahmed, which would entitle him to asylum in Germany and allow him to get a job. His married sister has disappeared: she is believed to have been killed in an airstrike, though her body hasn’t been found. This is far from unusual: at one stage, the Civil Defence Corps in west Mosul had just 25 men, one bulldozer and a forklift truck to search for bodies, estimated to number in the thousands, buried under the ruins. They haven’t been paid their salaries by the central government and won’t search for a body unless a relative can give them a clear idea of where it is.

Ahmed was one of Iraq’s five or six million Sunni Arabs, politically the dominant community under the rule of the Ottomans, the British and the Baath Party, though numerically a minority. But since 2003 the Sunni have been on the losing side in a sectarian civil war with the Shia who now control the Iraqi state: in 2006 and 2007 the Sunni were squeezed into small enclaves in Baghdad that one US diplomat described as ‘islands of fear’. IS’s victories in 2014 in Iraq and Syria allowed them a brief resurgence. But the Iraqi government counterattack, backed by American aircraft, wrecked their cities, including Ramadi, Fallujah, Baiji and Tikrit, displacing many from their homes. ‘We are the new Palestinians,’ a Sunni journalist from Ramadi told me in 2015, predicting a future of flight and dispossession. At the time, there were half a million displaced Sunni Arabs in Kirkuk Province who have now been joined by a million people from in and around Mosul.

Most Sunni would argue that they never voted for IS, couldn’t refuse to co-operate without being killed, and were often as much its victims as anybody else. But this isn’t going to save them. Other communities, in both Iraq and Syria, suspect their Sunni neighbours of collaborating with IS, covertly if not openly. Sectarian and ethnic hatred runs deep, especially after such IS atrocities as the Camp Speicher massacre in 2014, when 1700 Shia air force cadets were killed near Tikrit. Fear of IS ‘sleeper cells’ is pervasive: a Syrian Kurdish commander advancing with his troops near Hasakah told me that he his two main problems militarily were the mountainous terrain in which he was fighting and the threat to his troops from Sunni Arab villagers. Some of them waved nervously at us as we drove past, but it seemed unlikely that they would be allowed to stay in their homes for very long. In Iraq, Sunni tribal leaders are expelling ‘Daesh families’ to underline their loyalty to the Iraqi state. Sectarian and ethnic cleansing is sweeping away Sunni communities across northern Iraq and Syria.

The battle for Mosul – where IS had declared its caliphate – was always going to be bloody. But the fight was even more destructive than anyone expected thanks to a number of mistakes made by the Iraqi government and the US. IS resistance was stronger and their own forces weaker than they imagined. Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, was convinced that people in Mosul would rise up against IS when given the chance, so as the siege came into operation locals were discouraged from leaving the city. But IS had a well-organised and ferocious security apparatus: anyone who showed signs of resistance was killed. And then there was its military expertise: it defended Mosul with a combination of snipers, suicide bombers, mines, mortars and booby traps. Swiftly moving from position to position, IS fighters inflicted heavy casualties on pro-government forces and minimised its own losses despite its enemy’s overwhelming superiority in firepower. The Iraqi government’s Counterterrorism Service, the division of between eight and ten thousand highly trained men who did the bulk of the fighting in east Mosul, suffered a casualty rate of between 40 and 50 per cent. Losses as heavy as this could not be sustained for long.

After east Mosul was finally won, the strategy for regaining the city west of the Tigris was revised. West Mosul had a larger population than the east – 750,000 compared to the east’s 450,000, according to a UN estimate – and the buildings were more tightly packed and easier to defend: many alleyways in the old city were so narrow that two people couldn’t walk abreast. Already short of combat troops, the Iraqi government and the US-led coalition decided to rely much more heavily on firepower than it had in the first phase of the siege. The Federal Police and the Emergency Response Division played a bigger part in the fighting, using mortars, artillery and rockets. Grad missiles – Soviet weapons from the 1960s – were fired in volleys of forty at a time from the back of vehicles in the general direction of IS-held territory. Locally made rocket-assisted munitions, with warheads weighing between 90 and 140 kg, were fired into what was becoming one of the most densely populated patches of ground on earth. Even before the government offensive began, IS had been forcing people from their homes in the villages around Mosul and busing them into the city. As IS’s territory shrank under the government forces’ onslaught, it compelled civilians at gunpoint to retreat deeper into the IS enclave: snipers killed anyone who tried to flee behind government lines; the metal doors of houses were welded shut; those caught escaping were hanged from electric pylons; survivors speak of 75 or more people being gunned down at one time by IS patrols as they tried to run away.

Nobody knows for sure how many civilians were killed in the city as a whole. For long periods, shells, rockets and bombs rained down on houses in which as many as a hundred people might be sheltering. ‘Kurdish intelligence believes that over forty thousand civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them,’ Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq’s former foreign minister, told me. People have disputed that figure, but bear in mind the sheer length of the siege – 267 days between 17 October 2016 and 10 July 2017 – and the amount of ordnance fired into a small area full of people. The Iraqi government ludicrously claims that more of its soldiers died than civilians, but refuses to disclose the number of military casualties and has banned the media from west Mosul. On his website Musings on Iraq, Joel Wing gives a figure of 13,106 civilian fatalities based on media and other reports, but adds that ‘the real number of casualties from the fighting in Mosul is much higher.’ The Civil Defence Force, looking only for bodies that relatives have located, is still delivering between thirty and forty of them to the city morgue every day. The UN says that out of 54 residential areas in west Mosul, 15, containing 32,000 houses, were completely destroyed; 23 areas lost half their buildings; and even in the 16 areas that were ‘lightly damaged’ some 16,000 houses are in ruins.

All the people I was in contact with inside the IS-held part of the old city are dead. Ahmed Mohsen was wounded by a drone and then killed by an IS sniper; his mother and sister have disappeared and are presumably dead. I was also in touch with Rayan Mawloud, a 38-year-old businessman with a wife and two children who had a trading company based in a shop in one of Mosul’s markets. He came from a well-off family and his father had a fleet of trucks that used to carry goods to and from Basra and Jordan. When the attack on Mosul began, a friend of Rayan’s says that he spent his savings buying food to give not just to his relatives ‘but also to many people whom he did not know’. Rayan, knowing that his family would probably be shot by IS snipers if they tried to escape, took the opposite decision to Ahmed Mohsen and stayed with his family in their house. It was hit in an airstrike on 23 June, killing his wife and five-year-old son. He remained in the part of the house that was still habitable, but it was hit by another airstrike on 9 July. He was severely injured and died three days later.

This article originally appeared in the London Review of Books.

Thursday 8 June 2017

Joint Call to Iraq and US-Led Coalition: Weapons Choice Endangers Mosul Civilians Warring Parties Should Minimize Harm to Civilians

The battle involving Iraqi and US-led coalition forces against the Islamic State (ISIS) in west Mosul’s Old City poses a considerable threat to civilians and civilian objects, international humanitarian and human rights organizations said today. All warring parties should cease using explosive weapons with wide area effects and inherently indiscriminate weapons in densely populated west Mosul. ISIS’s unlawful use of civilians as “human shields” and the difficulty of identifying civilians in buildings increases the risk of civilian casualties.

The United Nations has estimated that 200,000 civilians remain in the two-square-kilometer area in west Mosul’s Old City, which Iraqi and US-led coalition forces are encircling in preparation for the battle there.

"More than 12,000 munitions were used by the US-led Coalition at Mosul between March and May alone, according to official data - comprising airstrikes, rocket and artillery salvos, mortar attacks and helicopter actions. In addition, thousands more munitions were released by Iraqi air and ground forces - at times with little apparent discrimination. This despite the city still containing hundreds of thousands of trapped civilians," says Airwars Director Chris Woods.

"The result of this ferocious bombardment on a densely populated city has been inevitable - with thousands of Moslawis reported killed in Coalition, Iraqi government and ISIS actions. Determining responsibility is proving particularly challenging, given the high number of munitions involved. We urge both the Coalition and Iraqi forces imediately to end the use of wide area effect and indiscriminate munitions in Mosul, in order to save lives."

The groups expressing concern are: Airwars; Amnesty International; Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC); Human Rights First; Human Rights Watch, the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW), and War Child.

On May 25, 2017, anti-ISIS forces dropped leaflets urging civilians to immediately leave areas under ISIS control. Anti-ISIS forces should take all feasible precautions to minimize harm when carrying out attacks and ensure that civilians can safely evacuate the Old City and get humanitarian assistance both inside and outside the besieged area. With the offensive to take west Mosul entering its 109th day, the situation for civilians trapped there is growing increasingly perilous. Those fleeing Mosul have told humanitarian and human rights organizations that markets are being emptied of food, with civilians subsisting on little more than wheat and rainwater.

In mid-February, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) supported by the US-led coalition, known as the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), began the offensive to retake west Mosul, a densely populated set of urban neighborhoods.

Rising civilian casualties from aerial operations have heightened concerns regarding coalition and Iraqi forces’ use of airstrikes. The use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects such as air-dropped bombs of 500lbs and above, which have been used in the context of the operation, in densely populated civilian areas of western Mosul may be resulting in civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects that is excessive to the anticipated military objectives of the strikes. Such disproportionate military attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law.

Iraqi forces have also been launching locally fabricated rockets, commonly known as improvised rocket-assisted munitions (IRAMs), into west Mosul. Images published by media outlets and the US military also depict US forces and Iraqi forces firing mortars and unguided artillery rockets into western Mosul. Both of these weapons are inaccurate and can be unlawfully indiscriminate if used in heavily populated areas.

The difficulty of detecting civilians in the packed city, even with advanced targeting systems and continuous observation, make it difficult to determine accurately the number of civilians occupying a target area prior to approving strikes. The dangers are increased by ISIS’s use of civilians as “human shields,” which is a war crime.

Dozens of newly displaced people from west Mosul, including the Old City, have told humanitarian and human rights organizations that ISIS fighters forced them and their families to move with them up to three times, packing large numbers of families into small neighborhoods still under their control. They witnessed fighters summarily killing dozens of men as punishment as they and their families tried to flee ISIS control. They also saw ISIS fighters fire on groups of civilians as they fled; and some saw fleeing civilians shot and killed.

As the fighting intensifies and ISIS increases its use of civilians as shields, anti-ISIS forces should use all available means to verify the presence and location of civilians in the immediate vicinity of any fighters or military objectives targeted. In December 2016, US forces made procedural changes in its targeting that may increase the likelihood of civilian casualties.

All parties to the conflict are prohibited under the laws of war from conducting deliberate attacks against civilians or civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate, or disproportionate attacks. Indiscriminate attacks are attacks that strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. An attack is disproportionate if it may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack.

Individuals who commit serious violations of the laws of war with criminal intent – that is, deliberately or recklessly – are responsible for war crimes. Individuals also may be held criminally liable for attempting to commit a war crime, as well as assisting in, facilitating, aiding, or abetting a war crime.

The laws of war require that the parties to a conflict take constant care during military operations to spare the civilian population and to “take all feasible precautions” to avoid or minimize the incidental loss of civilian life and damage to civilian objects. When used in populated areas, munitions with large payloads of high explosives can have a wide-area destructive effect, and it is not possible when using them to distinguish adequately between civilians and combatants, almost inevitably resulting in civilian casualties.

Weapons such as mortars and multi-barrel rocket launchers when firing unguided munitions and IRAMs are fundamentally inaccurate. This can make discriminating between civilians and combatants during an attack on a densely populated area virtually impossible. Human rights and humanitarian organizations and journalists have documented the use by Iraqi forces of IRAMs that lack the ability to be aimed beyond a basic orientation toward the target and are inherently indiscriminate.

Mortars and multi-barrel rocket launchers firing unguided munitions used by anti-ISIS forces can be aimed and adjusted by an observer, but are area-fire weapons and, when used in densely populated areas, are prone to unlawful indiscriminate use. Iraqi and US-led coalition forces should avoid all use of these weapons in the densely populated Old City of west Mosul.

Amnesty International
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
International Network on Explosive Weapons –
INEW is governed by a Steering Committee whose members are Action on Armed Violence, Article 36, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oxfam, PAX, Save the Children and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
War Child