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.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The so-called withdrawal

Lots of comment in the last few days about the fictitious nature of the US withdrawal from Iraq. Robert Fisk in The Independent was the most eloquent:

US troops say goodbye to Iraq

Robert Fisk reports for The Independent (August 20th): We should not be taken in by the tomfoolery on the Kuwaiti border in the last few hours, the departure of the last "combat" troops from Iraq two weeks ahead of schedule. They are leaving behind 50,000 men and women – a third of the entire US occupation force – who will be attacked and who will still have to fight against the insurgency.

Yes, officially they are there to train the gunmen and militiamen and the poorest of the poor who have joined the new Iraqi army, whose own commander does not believe they will be ready to defend their country until 2020. But they will still be in occupation – for surely one of the "American interests" they must defend is their own presence – along with the thousands of armed and indisciplined mercenaries, western and eastern, who are shooting their way around Iraq to safeguard our precious western diplomats and businessmen. So say it out loud: we are not leaving.

Instead, the millions of American soldiers who have passed through Iraq have brought the Iraqis a plague. From Afghanistan they brought the infection of al-Qa'ida. They brought the disease of civil war. They injected Iraq with corruption on a grand scale. They stamped the seal of torture on Abu Ghraib. They sectarianised a country that, for all its Saddamite brutality and corruption, had hitherto held its Sunnis and Shias together.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-us-troops-say-goodbye-to-iraq-2057387.html

Ranj Alaaddin added in The Guardian (August 20th): Fifty thousand US troops will stay in Iraq until 2011, down from 96,000, ostensibly to play a supporting role and advise Iraqi forces. That is, however, 50,000 armed US troops, backed up by major military hardware and artillery and who will operate in "self-defence" and could intervene in armed combat at the request of the Iraqi government.

As volatility continues to grip northern Iraq and the south experiences an increase in attacks, those triggers for American intervention could come sooner than most think, rendering the whole withdrawal of "combat" troops a meaningless, public relations stunt that makes a mockery of the intelligence of the Iraqi and American people.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/20/us-iraq-exit-phoney-withdrawal

And there's an interesting interview on Democracy Now!

US Withdrawal Plan Marks "Privatization of Military Occupation"

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejía, the first US combat veteran to publicly resist the war, on Democracy Now! Radio (August 20th): What is not being reported as strongly as the final troop leaving Iraq is that we’re still leaving 50,000 troops in country, not to mention that the 4,000 who are leaving are being replaced by 7,000 security contractors.

We already have over 100,000 contractors in Iraq operating, many of them operating in the capacity of mercenaries. If you read the coverage by the New York Times, you realize that these are not just going to be security guards, these are going to be highly specialized former military personnel who are going to have the skills and the ability to operate radars, to go out there and find improvised explosive devices.

So, basically, it’s the privatization of a military occupation - the transferring of military authorities and duties from the US military into corporate paramilitary forces.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/20/iraq_war_vet_camilo_mejia_us

And here's the full statement of a coalition of anti-war groups in the US:

The Iraq Debacle: The Legacy of Seven Years of War

by Iraq Debacle Coalition

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, mark the August 31st partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq with the following evaluation and recommendations:

  • The U.S. occupation of Iraq continues and the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq can at best be called only a rebranded occupation. While the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be reduced from a high of 165,000, there will still be 50,000 troops left behind, some 75,000 contractors, five huge "enduring bases" and an Embassy the size of Vatican City.
  • The U.S. military's overthrow of the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein did not lead to a better life for Iraqis-just the opposite. It resulted in the further destruction of basic infrastructure-electricity, water, sewage-that continues to this day. The U.S. dropped more tons of bombs on Iraq than in all of WWII, destroying Iraq's electrical, water and sewage systems. Iraq's health care and higher education systems, once the best in the entire region, have been decimated. The U.S. war on Iraq unleashed a wave of violence that has left over one million Iraqis dead and four million displaced, as well as ethnic rivalries that continue to plague the nation. We have seriously wounded millions of Iraqis, creating a lifetime of suffering and economic hardship for them, their communities and the entire nation as it struggles to rebuild. Life expectancy for Iraqis fell from 71 years in 1996 to 67 years in 2007 due to the war and destruction of the healthcare system. The U.S. use of weapons such as depleted uranium and white phosphorous has taken a severe toll, with the cancer rate in Fallujah, for example, now worse than that of Hiroshima.
  • The majority of the refugees and internally displaced persons created by the US intervention have been abandoned. Of the nearly 4 million refugees, many are now living in increasingly desperate circumstances in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and around the world. As undocumented refugees, most are not allowed to work and are forced to take extremely low paying, illegal jobs ($3/day) or rely on the UN and charity to survive. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has documented a spike in the sex trafficking of Iraqi women.
  • Iraq still does not have a functioning government. Many months after the March 7 elections, there is still a political vacuum and violence that is killing roughly 300 civilians a month. There is no functioning democracy in place and little sign there will be one in the near future.
  • The Iraq War has left a terrible toll on the U.S. troops. More than one million American service members have deployed in the Iraq War effort. Over 4,400 U.S. troops have been killed and tens of thousands severely injured. More than one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment. PTSD rates in the military have skyrocketed. In 2009, a record number of 245 soldiers committed suicide.
  • The war has drained our treasury. As of August 2010, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $750 billion on the Iraq War effort. Counting the cost of lifetime care of wounded vets and the interest payments on the money we borrowed to pay for this war, the real cost will be in the trillions. This misappropriation of funds has contributed to the economic crises we are experiencing, including the lack of funds for our schools, healthcare, infrastructure and investments in clean, green jobs.
  • The U.S. officials who got us into this disastrous war on the basis of lies have not been held accountable. Not George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld. No one. Neither have the Bush administration lawyers who authorized torture, including Jay Bybee and John Yoo. The "think tanks," journalists and pundits who perpetuated the lies have not been fired-most are today cheerleading for the war in Afghanistan.
  • The war has led to the pillaging of Iraqi resources and institutionalization of corruption. The U.S. Department of Defense has been unable to account for $8.7 billion of Iraqi oil and gas money meant for humanitarian needs and reconstruction after the 2003 invasion. The invasion has also led to the erosion of Iraqi government control over the nation's oil. In 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, which included executives of America's largest energy companies, recommended opening up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment. The resulting draft Iraq Oil Law threatens global grab for Iraq's resources as the international oil cartel seeks to reestablish its control. Adoption of the oil law, however, has been stymied by stiff popular resistance, foremost by the oil workers and their union.
  • The war has not made us more secure. The US policy of torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, violent and deadly raids on civilian homes, gunning down innocent civilians in the streets and absence of habeas corpus has fueled the fires of hatred and extremism toward Americans. The very presence of our troops in Iraq and other Muslim nations has become a recruiting tool.

Given the above, we, the undersigned individuals and organizations, mark the occasion of this troop withdrawal by calling on the Administration and Congress to take the following actions:

  • Withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq and the closing of all U.S. bases;
  • Reparations to help the Iraqis repair their basic infrastructure and increased funds for the millions of internally and externally displaced Iraqis;
  • Full support for the U.S. troops who suffer from the internal and external wounds of war;
  • Prosecution of those officials responsible for dragging our country into this disaster;
  • Transfer of funds from war into resources to rebuild America, with a focus on green jobs.
  • The lessons of this disastrous intervention should also be an impetus for Congress and the administration to end the war in Afghanistan. It's time to focus on creating real security here at home and rebuilding America.

To be listed as an Individual Signatory to above statement please click here.

To have your organization listed below email us:

  • Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
  • CODEPINK: Women for Peace
  • Community Organizing Center
  • Courage to Resist
  • Fellowship of Reconciliation
  • Global Exchange
  • Institute for Policy Studies' New Internationalism Project
  • Iraq Veterans Against the War
  • Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
  • Just Foreign Policy
  • Military Families Speak Out
  • Pax Christi - USA
  • Under the Hood
  • US Labor Against the War
  • Veterans for Peace
  • Voices for Creative Nonviolence
  • Voters for Peace
  • War Is a Crime

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/08/19-10