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.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Iraq - it could take years

Ten weeks after Parliament voted to bomb IS (Islamic State) in northern Iraq, US Secretary of State has admitted that it could take years for them to be defeated. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/03/us-isis-iran-islamic-state Since Parliament’s vote in September, other European countries have lined up to take part in the campaign - but it remains uncertain whether these actions will materially alter the balance of forces on the ground.

The murderous nature of IS is not in question. Three months ago they kidnapped hundreds of women from the Yazidi sect and subjected them to physical and sexual abuse, slavery and forced marriage. http://www.niqash.org/articles/?id=3575
 In Iraq, there are reports of former election candidates being hunted down and publicly executed in areas now under their control.
http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/isis-militants-hunt-down-publicly-execute-former-election-candidates-n257616  In Syria, children are being recruited, given religious training and sent off to fight. http://news.yahoo.com/islamic-state-group-recruits-exploits-children-110950193.html

But serious questions are now being raised about the air strikes intended to destroy their forces by the US and its allies. There is evidence of 100 or more non-combatants killed since the US bombardment began in August. In one particular incident, an estimated 65 civilians, mainly women and children, were bombed in a crowded market, an atrocity scarcely reported in western media. http://ninanews.com/english/News_Details.asp?ar95_VQ=HHEGIH
Yet the Pentagon has no plans to pay compensation for those killed in error - a significant departure from its practice in recent conflicts.

A recent article in Foreign Policy in Focus expresses fears this might play into IS hands. It quoted a terrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch: “The U.S. and its allies began making no-fault payments for civilian casualties in Afghanistan after their failure to acknowledge these tragedies created a backlash and handed a recruiting card to groups like the Taliban. While states have no international legal obligation to compensate for so-called ‘acceptable collateral damage,’ doing so is the right move morally and strategically.” http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/12/03/pentagon-in-denial-about-civilian-casualties-of-u-s-airstrikes-in-iraq-and-syria/?wp_login_redirect=0

The US-led Coalition against IS continues to grow. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE are bombing IS targets in Syria and the Europeans - the UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, France, Belgium, as well as Canada and Australia - are active in northern Iraq. In a move that could well backfire politically, Iran too has joined the bombardments. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the action. Singapore is the latest country to send military personnel. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/141202/singapore-sends-personnel-combat-terrorism-iraq-and-syria

Boots on the ground are supplied by the notoriously corrupt Iraqi army. Patrick Cockburn has documented how salaries and  equipment were claimed for some 50,000 “ghost soldiers”. It was this state of affairs that led to the army’s military collapse in Mosul earlier this year, leading to the town’s seizure by IS.

The New York Times confirms this: “The Iraqi military and police forces had been so thoroughly pillaged by their own corrupt leadership that they all but collapsed this spring in the face of the advancing militants of the Islamic State — despite roughly $25 billion worth of American training and equipment over the past 10 years and far more from the Iraqi treasury.”

Despite the removal of former prime minister Nouri Al-Malaki whose sectarian policies fuelled the Sunni uprising from which IS extremists have profited, the Iraqi military continues to behave in a sectarian manner, targeting Sunnis indiscriminately. According to a recent New York Times report, when the Euphrates Valley farming town of Jurf al-Sakhar was recaptured from IS, the town's last remaining civilian residents - about 70,000 Sunnis -were driven out of town. The army was helped in its work by the Shia militias that accompanied it.  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/06/world/middleeast/sunnis-fear-permanent-displacement-from-iraqi-town.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0  There have been reports of these militias carrying out the most brutal reprisals. http://online.wsj.com/articles/shiite-militias-win-bloody-battles-in-iraq-show-no-mercy-1417804464

In a classic mission creep, US combat troops are gradually returning to Iraq too. Under the new puppet prime minister Haider al_Abadi, the Pentagon has secured for its forces what was denied by his predecessor: immunity for US soldiers from prosecution for any offence. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/dec/04/us-troops-in-iraq-will-get-immunity Bush’s discredited war looks like being part of Obama’s legacy too.

In the UK, it’s tempting to be discouraged by the large numbers of MPs who voted to join the bombing of northern Iraq eleven years after British forces invaded. But talking to some of them, it’s clear that they are profoundly ignorant of the situation. They have bought the line that IS are “pure evil” and that other forces in play are well-meaning, including the puppet Iraqi government, that is in fact led by the same Shia party that unleashed a sectarian conflict in Iraq that fuelled the Sunni rebellion that IS have been able to capitalise on. It’s worth trying to explain patiently to some of these MPs - especially those who rebelled against the 2003 invasion - what’s really happening.

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