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 28 April 2014

On Bringing War Criminals to Justice

By Dahr Jamail, Truthout
President George W. Bush, right, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrive for a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House on Tuesday, June 7, 2005. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times) President George W. Bush, right, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrive for a joint news conference in the East Room at the White House on Tuesday, June 7, 2005. (Photo: Doug Mills / The New York Times)
This is part II of a series on Dahr Jamail's trip to the Iraq Commission conference in Brussels. Also see Part I: International Lawyers Seek Justice for Iraqis
Narmeen Saleh and her husband Shawki were detained by US military forces during a violent 2004 raid of their home in Baghdad.
Saleh spent 16 days in prison, where "the interrogations didn't stop for one minute." She was beaten, electrocuted and threatened with rape if she didn't "confess."
"They [US soldiers] tortured and beat me a lot, and when they found out that I was pregnant they told me they would kill the baby in my womb," she was quoted, as her testimony was read at the Iraq Commission conference in Brussels recently. "They then concentrated their beating and electricity on my abdomen area."
Her daughter, who is now 8 years old, has cerebral palsy, and her husband remains in custody of the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the bogus charge of "illegally entering Iraq."
This shocking testimony was provided to international lawyers, journalists , and activists converged at a conference titled, "The Iraq Commission," held in Brussels, Belgium, April 16 and 17, with the primary aim of bringing to justice government officials who are guilty of war crimes in Iraq.
The conference represented the most powerful and most current organized movement in the world to hold accountable those responsible for the catastrophic invasion and occupation in Iraq, including UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US President George W. Bush, along with others in their administrations.
War Crimes in Iraq
Nawal al-Obaidi, an Iraqi academic and founding trustee of the International Action for Iraqi Refugees NGO, provided somber testimony about how her brother was killed by US forces.
Hazim al-Obaidi left his wife and four children at their home in Mosul to go to work at his grocery store one morning in January 2005.
That same evening, his wife became worried when Hazim had not returned home and began a search.
"The whole family could not sleep that night, wondering what had happened to Hazim and why he did not return back home," his sister Nawal told the audience. "As the curfew was in place, no one could leave the house until the next morning."
The next morning, family members searched the morgues of the main hospital, but to no avail. Two days later, they learned of his burned car.
Eyewitnesses informed the family of the car being attacked by US forces, who "started shooting at him and at his car, until the car exploded." What was left of the severely burned body was removed by family members, then, "to the bewilderment of his family, US troops stopped them after they had collected the body, uncovered it and took photos."
"Hazim was not a "terrorist" or a "Saddamist," al-Obeidi explained. "He was a cheerful family man who was wounded in the Iran-Iraq war and survived the harshness of the sanctions years by selling groceries. Who is going to investigate his killing, compensate his family, and help his children to make sense of their tragedy? Will it be the Iraqi government, or the US-led occupation? Judging by the human rights records of both, the answer is that neither of them will investigate Hazim's killing, or any other. [Hundreds of] thousands of civilians have been killed for no reason. One of them was my brother."
This writer, too, provided testimony: I spoke of several war crimes I witnessed during my reportage from Iraq during the US-led occupation.
In May 2004, I interviewed a man who had just been released from Abu Ghraib prison. Like so many I interviewed from various US military detention facilities who'd been tortured horrifically, he still managed to maintain his sense of humor.
He began laughing when telling of how US soldiers made him beat other prisoners. He laughed because he told me he had been beaten himself prior to this and was so tired that all he could do to beat other detained Iraqis was to lift his arm and let it drop on the other men.
Later in the same interview, when telling of another story, he laughed again and said, "The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house."
Another story I reported to the international lawyers was that of 55-year-old Sadiq Zoman, who was tortured horrifically by US military personnel. I shared documentation of US military doctors, nurses and medics being complicit with that torture.
Sadiq Zoman was detained from his home shortly after the US occupation of Iraq began, but not charged with any crime. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Sadiq Zoman was detained from his home shortly after the US occupation of Iraq began, but not charged with any crime. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
Zoman was detained from his home in Kirkuk in a raid by US soldiers that produced no weapons. He was taken to a police office in Kirkuk, the Kirkuk Airport Detention Center, the Tikrit Airport Detention Center and then the 28th Combat Support Hospital, where he was treated by Dr. Michael Hodges, a lieutenant colonel.
Hodges' medical report listed the primary diagnoses of Zoman's condition as hypoxic brain injury (brain damage caused by lack of oxygen) "with persistent vegetative state," myocardial infraction (heart attack) and heat stroke.
After one month in custody, Zoman was dropped off in a coma at the General Hospital in Tikrit by US soldiers.
A comatose Zoman was dropped off by US military personnel at the main hospital in Tikrit. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)A comatose Zoman was dropped off by US military personnel at the main hospital in Tikrit. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
Zoman's last name was listed as his first name on the report, despite the fact that all of his identification papers were taken during the raid on his home. Because of this, it took his family weeks to locate him in the hospital.
The medical report given by the US military medic did not mention the trauma on the back of Zoman's head. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)The medical report given by the US military medic did not mention the trauma on the back of Zoman's head. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
Hodges' medical report did not mention the fact that the back of Zoman's head was bashed in, nor that he had electrical burn marks on the bottoms of his feet and genitals, or why he had lash marks across his back and chest.
Zoman's feet had point-burn marks from electrical shocks on the bottoms of his feet and genitals. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Zoman's feet had point-burn marks from electrical shocks on the bottoms of his feet and genitals. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
Zoman remains in a coma, and there has been no compensation provided to his now-impoverished family for what was done to him.
Zoman's family has yet to receive any compensation for what US forces did to him. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Zoman's family has yet to receive any compensation for what US forces did to him. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
Bringing Justice
Inder Comar, who testified at the commission, is the legal director at Comar Law in San Francisco, California.
"On March 13, 2013, my client, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, filed a class action lawsuit against George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz in a federal court in California," Comar has written about his case.
"She alleges that these six defendants planned and waged the Iraq War in violation of international law by waging a 'war of aggression,' as defined by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, more than sixty years ago," Comar added. (The current complaint can be found here).
Comar's client, Sundus Shaker Saleh, is alleging "crime of aggression" in the San Francisco Federal Court against the aforementioned. "Crime of aggression" emanates from the Nuremberg Trials following World War II and is what Comar is arguing was committed in the Iraq War.
The lawsuit includes all Iraqis who have suffered harm as a result of the war, and Comar's firm is representing Saleh pro bono.
"This could be precedent setting," Comar told the commission. "And this is the first time a US court is looking at a crime of aggression since Nuremberg, since 1945. We're very curious to see how this judge will decide this issue."
Inder Comar is representing an Iraqi woman, who is charging Bush administration officials with "crime of aggression." (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Inder Comar is representing an Iraqi woman, who is charging Bush administration officials with "crime of aggression." (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
US courts have immunized many of the members of the Bush Administration, but Comar thinks his case is different and will not be subject to the same kind of immunity.
"The crime of aggression is part of international law, so we are arguing with good precedent that international law is part of federal law," he said.
Comar's case against Bush is based on the conduct of members of his administration prior to their coming into office, as well as conduct taking place during and after the events of September 11, 2001.
Evidence of premeditation abounds.
Years before their appointment to the Bush administration, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz were vocal advocates of a militant neoconservative ideology that called for the United States to use its armed forces in the Middle East and elsewhere.
They openly chronicled their desire for aggressive wars through a nonprofit called The Project for the New American Century (PNAC). In 1998, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz personally signed a letter to then-President Clinton urging him to implement a "strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power," which included a "willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing."
On September 11, 2001, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz openly pressed for the United States to invade Iraq, even though intelligence at the time confirmed that Saddam Hussein was in no way responsible. Richard Clarke, former national coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counterterrorism, famously told President Bush that attacking Iraq for 9/11 "would be like invading Mexico after Pearl Harbor."
Comar's case states: "Defendants planned the war against Iraq as early as 1998; manipulated the United States' public to support the war by scaring them with images of 'mushroom clouds' and conflating the Hussein regime with al-Qaeda; and broke international law by commencing the invasion without proper legal authorization."
By comparison, more than 60 years ago, American prosecutors in Nuremberg, Germany, convicted Nazi leaders of the crimes of conspiring and waging wars of aggression. They found the Nazis guilty of planning and waging wars that had no basis in law and which killed millions of innocents.
The plaintiff in the case, Saleh, is thus seeking justice under the Nuremberg principles, as well as US law, for damages she and others like her suffered because of the defendants' premeditated plan to invade Iraq.
Comar detailed to the commission how the premeditation was obvious, showing slides from an article titled "Saddam Must Go," penned by Wolfowitz and Zalmay Khalilzad, as well as others titled, "Overthrow Him," "How to Attack Iraq" and "Bombing Iraq is not enough."
"When we talk about these war criminals, we need to employ the language of pirates in order to engage the basis of universal jurisdiction," Comar added. "Because when pirates go anywhere they have no safe haven from being held accountable for their actions."
Comar told Truthout that he decided to take this case because he was inspired by the Nuremberg judgment.
"That and my client's bravery to want to do this and be committed to her case," he explained. "In law school, I was fascinated by Nuremberg and the trail of facts."
Comar believes strongly in the morality behind the case.
"We have to use every avenue the law provides us to try to do something, and it's amazing that it took a single mother refugee from Iraq to press for justice for a war our leaders continue to want to ignore," he said. "What I'm doing can have a ripple, it might inspire other lawyers, it might cause people to start asking questions about the Bush administration."
According to Comar, his case represents the first time a US judge will hear about a crime of aggression since 1946, "So this case will be looked at internationally. We have to set the stage for other countries to start working to conform to principles of peace."
Comar added that his case in California serves as a template that could be used in every other US state.
Planning for Prosecutions
Sabah al-Mukhtar, the president of the Arab Lawyers Association, chaired the final session of the Iraq commission. The session investigated what the next steps should be toward bringing those responsible for the Iraq invasion and occupation to justice.
(Right to Left) Dirk Adriaensens, cofounder of the Iraq Commission and Brussels Tribunal, Sabah al-Mukhtar, chair of the Iraq Commission, and Michel Chossudovsky, Canadian economist at University of Ottawa. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)(Right to Left) Dirk Adriaensens, cofounder of the Iraq Commission and Brussels Tribunal, Sabah al-Mukhtar, chair of the Iraq Commission, and Michel Chossudovsky, Canadian economist at University of Ottawa. (Photo: Dahr Jamail)
"The delegitimization of major war criminals is complete in terms of the understanding around the world that these successive wars that have been waged are in complete opposition to international law," Dr. Niloufer Bhagwat, professor of comparative constitutional law at the University of Mumbai and vice president of the Indian Lawyers Association in Mumbai testified.
She addressed the fact that there have been no reparations, the sanctions crimes need to be addressed, including the fact that the US government knowingly killed more than 500,000 Iraqi children via malnourishment and disease, and added, "The work we've done here has to be carried from country to country so the political formations adopt our viewpoint, that these wars of aggression can only come to an end when we have an overturning of the political and economic systems."
Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar, a senior practicing lawyer and lead prosecutor of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunals on Iraq, believes that the people's tribunals that have been held on Iraq "are becoming an increasingly important tool for recapturing the lost space and jurisprudence over war crimes. We've had three war crimes tribunals and we intend to have more and to introduce this thinking into law schools like the one in which I teach."
He believes the next step toward justice is for countries to exercise universal jurisdiction as a means of charging war criminals.
"Three quarters of UN states have authorized their courts to exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes, so the stage is actually set," he said. "The challenge then is how to get these countries to institute charges against these war criminals on the basis of credible trials that have been conducted and ended up in convictions, either by peoples' tribunals or otherwise. The next step is to go country to country and begin to file charges in each of these jurisdictions."
Dr. Curtis F. J. Doebbler, an international lawyer who practices law before the International Court of Justice, shared an instance where there has already been some success.
"We suggested, for Syria, and I was in the room with the negotiators, that [US Secretary of State John] Kerry be advised that the use of force could lead to violations of international law, and there could be war crimes," he said. "So I think we're making some inroads."
Lindsey German, the convener of the British antiwar organization Stop the War Coalition, stated in her concluding remarks that Bush and Blair are "by far the most responsible persons for the Iraq war."
She added, "Blair is still the envoy for peace in the Middle East, of all things, for which they obviously didn't check his CV. We have to stress the connections between the wars and the political and economic systems under which we live. We can't have economic justice without bringing justice to the war criminals."
Comar addressed the "banality of militarism" in the United States, said he hopes that the work he is doing "is creating a vaccine for that" and stressed the need for confidence in international law.
"We in the US can work to take power back from the federal system on a state system and begin to incorporate international law into our own laws," he said. "Or maybe we can do this on a city level to criminalize this wrongdoing in a lawful manner so that we have more control. I look forward to sharing my court complaint with any other lawyer. We need to work together to help get people reparations from this war and to prevent the next war."
Dirk Adriaensens, a long-time Iraq activist and cofounder of the Iraq Commission, concluded the commission by calling for concrete proposals that will lead to global court cases regarding Iraq.
"If Inder Comar says that his court case can be replicated in all other 49 US states," he said, "then we can replicate this in every country around the world."
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

Friday 11 April 2014

Sue Townsend RIP

'In the build-up to the Iraq war I lost the ability to read due to diabetic retinopathy. Instead I became a close listener. I heard Blair distort and manipulate the English language so that, like Humpty Dumpty in Alice Through the Looking-Glass, for him a word "means just what I choose it to mean".
The phrase "weapons of mass destruction" was ubiquitous. You knew he was talking it up. He had been given a grain of sand by the intelligence services and didn't stop talking it up until it was a boulder, hurtling, Tom and Jerry-like, down a mountain, flattening everything in its path.
I wept tears of shame, rage, and pity as British and American planes dropped their "strategic" bombs over Baghdad. I wondered if Blair was sitting on a sofa with his family watching shock and awe. Did they share a monster bag of Revels, and could he look his children in the eye when the transmission was over? I have never recovered from the shock of that night.
I have been told my fixation with Blair and his involvement with the invasion of Iraq is unhealthy – "that was all back in the day", get over it, "move forward". But I can't. I am a professional cynic, or sceptic if you prefer, but deep inside I romanticised the qualities of this country and its government. We had a reputation in the world for the moderation of our political system, the fairness of our judiciary, and, whether entitled to or not, we marched up the hill and built a fortress on the moral high ground. That lies in ruins now.'

Sue Townsend, writing in September 2010

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Iraq Nation Destroyed, Oil Riches Confiscated. Surviving Iraqi Population Impoverished

By Asad Ismi

On the 11th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq (launched in March 2003), it is important to emphasize the true motives for this attack and occupation and its horrendously destructive impact that continues today. Both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars stem from the needs of U.S. and Western capitalism for resources and markets.
 Capitalism has inflicted war on most of humanity for centuries to acquire the world’s resources and markets. The establishment of capitalism as a global economic system by European imperialists has killed more than a billion people, most of them in the Global South. 
Since 1945, the United States has presided over the killing of more than 46 million people in the Global South through wars and neocolonialism in order to maintain Western economic dominance. This strategy has failed. In spite of the genocide, the U.S. has declined as an economic power, which has only made it more war-like as it tries to substitute military force for economic prowess  Washington’s European partner countries are now following its descent into economic stagnation.
The U.S.-led coalition has been unable to compete economically with China and India, the rapidly rising Asian capitalist powers, which are acquiring more and more global resources and markets. The Iraq and Afghanistan invasions are wars of Western capitalist and imperial decline. The Western capitalist answer to the Asian challenge has been to launch these two wars, both of which have been aimed at the forcible acquisition of crucial oil and gas deposits, markets, and military bases, in an attempt to impose Western domination on China and India. Similar motives are behind the direct and proxy Western attacks on Libya, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. This attempt at domination has clearly failed, as China and India continue to become increasingly powerful.   
 The major reason for the U.S. invasion in March 2003 was to get control of Iraq’s oil. A related factor was the intention of the ruler of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, to sell Iraq’s oil in Euros rather than U.S. dollars, which would have encouraged other oil producers to do the same, thereby endangering the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency, which is crucial to the U.S.’s economic viability. The genocidal invasion and preceding sanctions killed three million Iraqis, including half a million children, and totally destroyed a relatively advanced developing country whose people were largely prosperous. 
Close to five million Iraqis were displaced by the invasion out of a population of 31 million, and five million Iraqi children became orphans. Women suffered the greatest losses in education, professions, child care, nutrition, and safety. More than one-fourth of Iraq’s population died, became disabled, or fled the country as refugees.
  Yanar Mohammed is president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, headquartered in Baghdad, which is aimed at protecting and empowering Iraqi women to resist the capitalist √©lite created by the U.S. invasion. According to her, “The U.S. military’s intent was to kill at least hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and that mission was accomplished. Millions of Iraqi men, women, children, and babies were killed, and 30 million people were terrorized. 
“I feel that somebody needs to be held accountable for making us lose our welfare, accountable for the millions of Iraqis who have been killed, and also for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis lost to illnesses and by the radiation from depleted uranium.  George W. Bush needs to go to court as a war criminal, along with all the American presidents who have served during the war on Iraq because what has happened to us in Iraq is no less than a holocaust.”
Successful Iraqi resistance compelled the U.S. to withdraw most of its forces from the country in 2011, exposing the military failure of the invasion. However, the U.S. still has not withdrawn all its forces from Iraq. Washington claims that the Iraq war has ended, but this is untrue. The insurgency in Iraq continues, with an average of 95 people being killed every week. A major bombing or shooting happens there about twice a week. Nine thousand U.S. mercenaries and hundreds of U.S. troops remain in Iraq, which also has the largest American embassy in the world staffed with 11,000 personnel. So, militarily, the U.S. is still highly involved in Iraq, training its repressive security forces and still not ruling out the re-deployment of more American troops there.
  Washington has also waged an economic war against Iraq by creating a capitalist √©lite to rule the country, represented by the puppet government it has installed which is led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Maliki is a corrupt and brutal dictator and head of an Islamic fundamentalist party. Under U.S. dictates, much of the Iraqi economy has been privatized, which ensures that Iraqis do not benefit from their resources, especially oil, money from which now goes to U.S. and other Western multinational corporations and to the Maliki regime. 
According to Yanar Mohammed, “It is an economic war directed against millions of people in the working class, through the economies of impoverishment and of starving the people, giving them salaries that are not enough to put proper meals on the table. The U.S. has written the laws and has created the Iraqi capitalist ruling class to be their partners. 
 “This ruling class safeguards U.S. interests and makes sure that the Iraqi people will not get any of their oil. The profits go into the pockets of the Iraqi officials and British Petroleum and Halliburton, and other companies.”  
Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. This highly valuable resource has been handed over mainly to the U.S. companies ExxonMobil and Occidental Petroleum, to British Petroleum from England, and to Royal Dutch Shell from Holland and England. Iraq’s oil has not yet been formally privatized due to massive public opposition, but a de facto privatization has taken place.
Says oil industry analyst Antonia Juhasz, “ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell were among the oil companies that played the most aggressive roles in lobbying their governments to ensure that the invasion would result in an Iraq open to foreign oil companies.  They succeeded. They are all back in [Iraq].” Juhasz, author of The Tyranny of Oil and The Bush Agenda, adds that U.S. and other Western oil companies have landed “production contracts for some of the world’s largest remaining oil fields under some of the world’s most lucrative terms.”
 Iraq’s Oil Law, which enforces formal privatization, has not been passed by its Parliament due to massive public opposition, so instead the government has signed contracts with companies that benefit the latter immensely at a huge loss to the country.  Explains Juhasz, “The contracts are enacting a form of privatization without public discourse and essentially at the butt of a gun. These contracts have all been awarded during a foreign military occupation, with the largest contracts going to companies from the foreign occupiers’ countries.
 “It seems that democracy and equity are the two largest losers in this oil battle… The majority of Iraqis want their oil and its operations to remain in Iraqi hands. It has required a massive foreign military invasion and occupation to give the foreign oil companies the access they have achieved so far.” However, as Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, puts it: “In fact, any oil company victory in Iraq is likely to prove as temporary as George W. Bush’s [military] triumph in 2003.”
According to Muttitt, the economic gains secured by the invasion for Western oil companies are not likely to last, either.  As he points out, “In 2009, the Maliki government… began awarding contracts without an oil law in place. As a result, the victory of Big Oil is likely to be a temporary one. The present contracts are illegal, and so they will last only as long as there’s a government in Baghdad that supports them.”
 Muttitt emphasizes the shaky nature of the Maliki government which, according to him, “has little control over anything.”  Under Maliki, Iraq has been ripped apart by a civil war involving both sectarian violence and nationalist resistance. In recent months, insurgents have taken control of sections of Fallujah and Ramadi, two major Iraqi cities. 
As Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and Coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, explains:
The U.S.-backed Iraqi regime is dominated by sectarian Shia Muslim parties which have discriminated against the Sunni Muslim minority [about 60% of Iraqis are Shias and 40% are Sunnis — the two major sects of Islam]. The combination of government repression and armed insurgency resulted in the deaths of nearly 8,000 civilians last year alone.
“Until the U.S. invasion, Iraq had maintained a long-standing history of secularism and a strong national identity among its Arab population, despite sectarian differences.” Sectarianism has been deliberately fostered by the U.S. in Iraq as part of its divide-and-rule strategy through which it has attempted to dominate the country.
Zunes adds that, before the U.S. invasion, even some of the war’s “intellectual architects” acknowledged that it would unleash major sectarianism: “In a December 1996 paper, prior to becoming major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be ‘ripped apart’ by sectarianism and other cleavages, but called on the United States to ‘expedite’ such a collapse anyway.”
Zunes makes clear that the Iraqi resistance to the Maliki government is largely nationalist-inspired and not sectarian: “Sunni opposition to Shia dominance does not stem from resentment at losing a privileged position in Iraqi political life under Saddam. Indeed, Saddam suppressed his fellow Sunni Arabs along with Shia Arabs. However, most of Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, regardless of its feelings about Saddam’s regime, has long identified with Arab nationalism. Most of the armed resistance that emerged following Saddam’s removal by U.S. forces largely came from the Sunni Arab community. The insurgency has also targeted the Shia-dominated Iraqi government, which came to power as a result of the U.S. invasion and which many see as being puppets of the U.S.”
Before the invasion, Iraq’s oil had been nationalized for 40 years, and with it Iraq had created a welfare state for its people, providing them with free education, medical care, subsidies, and a relatively high standard of living. All these crucial gains have now been wiped out. Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq hanged by the U.S., was a brutal dictator, but he ensured that Iraq’s oil benefited its people. Maliki is a dictator, too, brought to power by the U.S, invasion, but he doesn’t provide any economic benefits to the Iraqi people and instead is involved in looting the country’s oil wealth along with multinational corporations.
As Yanar Mohammed puts it, “Under Saddam, there was a state that was taking care of the education of the people, of the health of the people, and there was a socialist economy in which the people had some ability to enjoy a prosperous life — and at this point all of that is being lost. We are learning what free enterprise is. All we see is poverty, and the government has enacted laws which prevent the organizing of workers and of unions so as to claim their rights.”
The U.S. has long considered Middle Eastern oil a vital economic and military interest, especially since it imports more than half its oil requirements. State-owned oil companies control 90% of the world’s oil reserves, while corporate oil companies control only 4%. With these reserves declining and being subject to competition from the large energy consumers China and India, an economically weakening U.S. has to turn increasingly to military options to ensure its access to oil. 
The oil factor is not just about access, but also about controlling other countries, economically and militarily.As Professor Michael T. Klare, author of Resource Wars, explains, one of the main objectives of the Bush administration in invading Iraq stems from the analysis made by Vice-President Dick Cheney in 1990, when he made clear that “Whoever controls the flow of Persian Gulf oil has a stranglehold not only on our economy. but also on that of most of the other nations of the world.” 
So, by being the major imperialist country in the Middle East, the U.S. can attempt to maintain a stranglehold over the economies of other nations. Klare adds that control over Persian Gulf oil is also consistent with the Bush administration’s declared goal of attaining permanent military superiority over all other nations.
Bush administration officials and U.S. military leaders have admitted that the invasion of Iraq was done to take the country’s oil. These men include Paul Wolfowitz, the U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary; General John Abizaid, head of the Pentagon’s Central Command which is focused on the Middle East; Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; and Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first Treasury Secretary.  
The decision to invade Iraq was made only one month after Bush took office in February 2001, according to Ron Suskind, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the author of a book on Paul O’Neill. O’Neill revealed that, just days after Bush’s inauguration in January 2001, his advisors planned how to invade Iraq and divide up its oil wealth. According to O’Neill, Bush’s first National Security Council meeting included a discussion of invading Iraq, and Bush wanted to find a way to do this. There was even a map for Iraq’s post-war occupation, showing how the country’s oil fields would be carved up. 
U.S. and other Western oil companies had been shut out of Iraq before the invasion. In 2001, oil company executives encouraged the Bush administration to invade Iraq by warning it in a report that, as long as Saddam Hussein was in power, the U.S. would remain “a prisoner of its energy dilemma… suffering on a recurring basis from the negative consequences of sporadic energy shortages. These consequences can include recession, social dislocation of the poorest Americans, and, at the extremes, a need for military intervention.”
The report called Iraq a destabilizing influence to the flow of oil to international markets. The document was compiled by David O’Reilly, chief executive of ChevronTexaco, Luis Giusti, a director of Shell Corporation, and John Manzoni, regional president of British Petroleum.
Also benefiting from the Iraq War have been the corporations Lockheed Martin (military) and Bechtel (construction). As John Gibson, co-founder of Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI) and a Lockheed Martin executive, said in 2003: “We hope Iraq will be the first domino, and that Libya and Iran will follow. We don’t like being kept out of markets because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage.” CLI was founded in 2002, also by Robert Jackson, another Lockheed Martin executive who wrote the Republican Party foreign policy platform in 2000 when George W. Bush was fraudulently “elected” President.
Jackson formed the CLI while at Lockheed, and advocated aggressively for Saddam Hussein’s overthrow. The chairman of CLI was George Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of State and a Bechtel executive. In a 2002 Washington Post article, Schultz urged the U.S. to “act now. The danger is immediate. Saddam must be removed.” The article called for an immediate attack on Iraq, stating that, “If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don’t wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense.”  After the invasion, Lockheed Martin got more than an $11 billion increase in sales and contracts worth $5.6 million with the U.S. Air Force in Iraq. Bechtel was given about $3 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts.
 The website Business Pundit identifies “The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers” as being (in this order):
Halliburton (military/oil—Dick Cheney was its Chairman),
Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp (military/finance),
Washington Group International (military/oil),
Environmental Chemical (military), Aegis (military),
International American Products (electricity),
Erinys (oil/military), Fluor (water/sewage),
Perini (environmental cleanup), URS (military/environmental),
Parsons (military/construction),
First Kuwaiti General (construction),
Armor Holdings (military),
L3 Communications (military),
AM General (military),
HSBC Bank (third largest financial institution globally),
Cummins (electricity),
MerchantBridge (financial),
GlobalRisk Strategies (financial/military),
ControlRisks (military), CACI (military),
Bechtel, Custer Battles (military),
Nour USA (oil), and
General Dynamics (military).
 While these companies have collectively made billions of dollars out of the Iraq War, the country’s people have yet to obtain basic electricity and water services 11 years after the invasion. Just one of these corporations illustrates the incredible incompetence and corruption which characterized the U.S. occupation and its aftermath: “Parsons reportedly mismanaged the construction of a police academy so poorly that human waste dripped from its ceilings. Far from being an isolated incident, reports from [U.S.] federal government auditors revealed lackluster work on 13 of the 14 Iraq projects [of] Parsons. That hasn’t stopped the firm from making off with $540 million in U.S. government funds for the poorly executed reconstruction projects at Iraq’s health care centres and fire stations.
“This is the lens through which Iraqis will now see America,” remarked U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California). “Incompetence. Profiteering. Arrogance. And human waste oozing out of ceilings as a result.”
Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent and has written extensively on U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. His latest radio documentary is “Capitalism is the Crisis” which has been aired on 42 radio stations in Canada, the U.S. and Europe reaching an audience of 33 million people. For his publications visit www.asadismi.ws.