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 25 October 2015

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter No 287

Iraq says it was not warned about Russian missiles crossing its airspace Washington Post reports (October 9th): Iraq’s Defense Ministry said it was not informed when Russia launched more than two dozen cruise missiles across its airspace this week, and it described the lack of coordination in the region’s increasingly cluttered skies as “dangerous.”
Iraq forces retake areas around Ramadi AFP report (October 7th): Iraqi forces have retaken several areas north and west of Ramadi as efforts to close in on the Anbar provincial capital seized by jihadists in May intensify, officials said.
Iraq PM open to Russian airstrikes on Islamic State militants France 24 reports (October 2nd): Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told FRANCE24 in an exclusive interview broadcast that he is open to allowing Russia to carry out air strikes against Islamic State group militants in Iraq.
A family of seven members killed in bombing by the International Coalition aircraftsouth of Kirkuk NINA reports (September 28th): A security source told the National Iraqi News Agency "that an international coalition aircraft bombed a residential house at the entrance to Al Yarkon village in al-Rashad district south of Kirkuk, which led to the killing of an entire family of seven members of men, women and children.”
Shocking Truth Of UK Involvement In The Deaths of 6-8 million in Iraq and Afghanistan True Publica reports (September 29th): Landmark research proves that the US-led ‘war on terror’ has killed much higher numbers than previously reported and this is only a fraction of Western responsibility for deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades.
Back in March this year, the Washington DC-based Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS) released a landmark study concluding that the death toll from 10 years of the “War on Terror” since the 9/11 attacks is at least 1.3 million, and could be as high as 2 million. But still, the reality is much worse as the report concludes.
CIA, Special Ops Cooperate to Kill Extremists in Syria, Iraq ABC News reports (September 28th): With no regular American presence in the war theater, the U.S. has struggled to answer basic intelligence questions about the situation in Syria and Iraq, including the Islamic State group's fighting strength.
But one element is seen as a growing intelligence and military success: The combined effort by the CIA and the military's Joint Special Operations Command to find and kill "high value" targets from both al-Qaida and IS. Continue reading newsletter

Saturday 3 October 2015

Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter 286

4th October 2015
UK to extend surveillance aircraft use in Iraq and Syria BBC reports (September 26th): The UK is to extend the use of surveillance aircraft in Iraq and Syria until next year, the defence secretary has announced.
Deadlock in battle for Iraq refinery casts doubts on Mosul campaign Reuters report (September 24th): The Iraqi army's failure to recapture the country's largest oil refinery from Islamic State after 15 months of fighting is calling into question the government's plans to retake the northern city of Mosul from the jihadists.
Iraq political disarray slows Ramadi campaign USA Today reports (September 21st): Political disarray in Iraq appears to be undermining a critical offensive to retake Ramadi, a key city in Iraq’s Sunni heartland that was seized by Islamic State militants nearly four months ago.
Militia Abuses Mar Fight Against ISIS HRW report (September 20th): Iraqi government-backed militias carried out widespread destruction of homes and shops around the city of Tikrit in March and April 2015 in violation of the laws of war, Human Rights Watch said in a report.
Iraqi deserters fleeing front lines for life in Europe Globe and Mail reports (September 20th): Some Iraqi soldiers are abandoning their posts and joining a wave of civilian migrants headed to Europe, raising new doubts about the cohesion of the country’s Western-backed security forces in the fight against Islamic State militants.

You can find the whole newsletter here

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Iraq Occupation Focus Newletter no 285 dated 22/9/2015

Baghdad condemns Turkish incursion into Iraq AFP report (September 10th): Iraq condemned Turkey for sending ground troops onto its territory in pursuit of Kurdish rebels, calling it a "clear violation" of its sovereignty.
German intelligence confirms ISIS used mustard gas in Iraq, says news report AP report (September 9th): Germany’s foreign intelligence agency BND has reportedly collected evidence of mustard gas use by the Islamic State group. German daily Bild reported on Monday that BND intelligence agents collected blood samples from Kurds who were injured in clashes with Isis.
 Australian air strike may have caused civilian casualties in Iraq, US report says ABC reports (September 4th): An Australian air strike against Islamic State (IS) may have caused civilian casualties in Iraq, according to a document obtained by the ABC.
Civilian deaths claimed in 71 US-led airstrikes on Isis The Guardian reports (September 3rd): The US-led coalition’s bombing of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which has been described as the “most precise ever”, faces allegations that civilians have been killed in 71 separate air raids.
Canadian airstrike in Iraq may have killed up to 27 civilians: Kurdish militia soldier The Star reports (September 3rd): A Kurdish militia soldier reported that an airstrike by Canadian fighter jets in Iraq in January may have killed up to 27 civilians, U.S. documents say.

For the full newsletter go to:


Tuesday 18 August 2015

Iraq’s Identity Crisis

Matthew Schweitzer and Harith Hasan al-Qarawee write for Counterpunch (August 14th): In the land where history was first written, the complete erasure of over 8,000 years of cultural heritage, record, ethnic pluralism, and memory is underway. Although sidelined by the exigencies of war, those losses will impact Iraq’s potential to rehabilitate post-conflict. They represent an abrogation of a collective heritage: the world’s first legal code, writing system, and cities developed in Mesopotamia.

Thursday 23 July 2015

Endless war, leading nowhere

Two years after MPs voted not to take part in the bombardment of Syria, British forces have been doing precisely that.  A cross-party group of MPs and peers will investigate the air strikes, the Government’s authorisation of which shows complete contempt for parliamentary democracy. As Michael Meacher pointed out, “The excuse given by the Prime Minister’s office that they were embedded with US forces and not operating under a British chain of command is risible.”

But, beyond the challenge to constitutional government in the UK, it’s worth asking what the aerial attacks on Isis are likely to accomplish. Last year. Parliament authorised air strikes on the terrorist group in Iraq as part of a US-led coalition of attacks. Nearly a year on, little has been achieved, except for the continued suffering of the Iraqi people, at considerable cost to the taxpayer. The value of bombs dropped by British warplanes and drones on Iraq since September has likely exceeded around £20m, according to an analysis by the Independent.

Britain is stepping up its role in the conflict. with a sharp increase in SAS operations, drone missions and RAF strikes announced in July.

Meanwhile, retired US Army General Mike Flynn, a top intelligence official in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says that the drone war is creating more terrorists than it is killing, just as the US-led invasion of Iraq helped create the Islamic State.

This latest phase of the conflict is turning into one of the bloodiest for some time. According to a UN report, some 15,000 civilians had been killed in the sixteen months up to April 2015.
Since January 2014, nearly three million Iraqis have been displaced due to the fighting.

Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the latest offensive against Isis. Reuters report: “As Iraqi forces prepare to try to recapture the city of Falluja, tens of thousands of civilians find themselves trapped between Islamic State militants ready to use them as human shields and a government suspicious of their loyalties.

Iraqi forces have inflicted considerable civilian casualties in Anbar province in recent weeks. Elsewhere, in one notorious incident in July, an Iraqi fighter jet accidentally dropped a bomb over a Baghdad neighbourhood, killing at least 12 people. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/06/iraqi-jet-accidentally-bombs-baghdad-district

Isis’s murderous barbarism is undisputed. In addition to the atrocities perpetrated against civilians for smoking, eating instead of fasting, being of the wrong faith, and so on, there is now evidence that they are engaged in the manufacture of rudimentary chemical weapons. But whether pouring more weaponry into the region will solve anything looks increasingly doubtful.

When Iraqi forces fled Mosul last year without firing a shot, allowing Isis to establish its most significant urban base in the country so far, they left behind a large amount of materiel for the terrorists to make use of. No fewer than 2,300 Humvee armoured vehicles were left to fall into Isis’s hands - a majority of all the Humvees the US has delivered to the Iraqi army. The US taxpayer might just as well be funding Isis directly.

Nor was this an isolated incident. In May, Iraqi army and police ran away from an Isis advance on Ramadi, allowing more valuable American weaponry to fall into the terrorists’ hands.

With the Government gearing up to ask Parliament in the autumn to overturn its 2013 policy and extend its bombing of Isis into Syria, it’s instructive to remember this record of futility in Iraq.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Iraq: When will it end?

Twelve years on from the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there is no let-up in the misery being inflicted on the Iraqi people. The UN mission to Iraq says violence in the country claimed the lives of at least 1,100 Iraqis in February, including more than 600 civilians.

The war crimes of Isis are well-documented: summary executions including of children and people on account of their sexuality; men flogged for using mobile phones; the kidnapping of hundreds of women from the Yazidi sect, who were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, slavery and forced marriage.

Thousands of rare manuscripts in Mosul’s library have been destroyed along with priceless antiquities at the museum. ISIS has blown up the historic wall of Nineveh and destroyed the  ancient Assyrian site of Nimrud and 2,000 year-old ruins at Hatra.

These are a form of genocide, aimed at erasing the collective identity of the Iraqi people. But is it so different from the mentality of the US, who permitted looting of treasures in the early days of the occupation?  A total of 15,000 invaluable Mesopotamian artefacts disappeared from the national museum, as Haifa Zangana pointed out recently. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/27/destruction-iraq-ancient-artefacts-war-crime-islamic-state

The US also used ancient historic archaeological sites as military bases, such as Ur, capital of the 3,000 old Sumerian civilisation, or Babylon where 300,000 square metres of the site were flattened - including 2,600 year old paving stones, by US tanks.

It is worth considering this because what we are told about Isis again and again is that they are uniquely evil. But actually there are recent precedents for many of their crimes from the very forces now ranged against them.

It’s reported that ISIS used chlorine gas in an attack on Iraqi soldiers. International law prohibits this. But in Falluja, the US used banned weapons against civilians whose toxic effects are being reflected in birth defects that could continue for generations to come. A recent survey in the city showed a four-fold increase in all cancers and a twelve-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14 year olds.

And like all previous conflict in the last 12 years in Iraq, caught between these opposing forces, it is the civilians who are suffering. The country’s Human Rights Commission reported recently that Iraqis under siege by Isis militants in the town of al-Baghdadi are turning to grass and weeds as means of sustenance.

Meanwhile as tens of thousands flee the Isis-controlled city of Tikrit, the US Human Rights Commission has called on Iraqi forces to protect civilians from revenge attacks by pro-government militias. According to Al-Arabiya, “By U.S. Army General Dempsey’s admission, Iran's proxy Shiite militias make the overwhelming majority of the forces fighting ISIS in the Iraqi town of Tikrit. Out of roughly 25,000 fighters, 20,000 of those, said Dempsey, are from militias funded and trained by Iran, thus highlighting Tehran’s rising influence and dominance in neighboring Iraq.”

The Iraqi government has earmarked $60 million to Shiite militias. It’s part of the tribalisation of a country that was once a beacon of anti-colonial nationalism against western imperialist interests.

In Mosul itself  as many as one million people could flee the city if the Iraqi army, backed by US air strikes, seeks to recapture it, aid agencies say. Dozens of homes have had letters left on the doorstep by a shadowy group calling itself the Freemen of Mosul saying "vengeance is coming," and containing threats of retribution.

Serious questions are also being raised about the air strikes intended to destroy Isis forces by the US and its allies. There is evidence of scores of 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.  Just last week, 22 Iraqi soldiers were killed by US aircraft “friendly fire” on the edge of Ramadi.

The UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, France, Belgium, as well as Singapore, Canada and Australia - are active in northern Iraq. Last  week the Brits sent another 60 military personnel. To do what? Last month a House of Commons Select Committee report was absolutely scathing about Coalition aims in Iraq. It declared itself “shocked by the inability or unwillingness of any of the service chiefs to provide a clear, and articulate statement of the UK’s objectives or strategic plan in Iraq. There was a lack of clarity over who owns the policy – and indeed whether or not such a policy exists.”

But this confusion is not unique to Britain, US CIA Director said recently, that in Iraq the “good guys and the bad guys” are “tough to sort out.”

A lack of strategy, policy, understanding and leadership - but that won’t stop Britain and the US running their bombing raids - as if all Iraq needed was more bombs.

Over the next few weeks, millions of ordinary people will be talking politics and all over the country, election hustings are being organised. We should go to these meetings and ask: Twelve years on from the invasion of Iraq, when is it going to end? When will you stop the endless war and bombing and western-inflicted misery on the Iraqi people? When will the Iraqi people get justice, some reparations for the damage done to their country, prosecutions of the war criminals who inflicted it, control over their own natural resources, an end to foreign interference, and an end to western military intervention?

Friday 30 January 2015

Another massacre, same old justification

By: Haifa Zangana

While the US-led alliance continues its airstrikes against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis) in Iraq, and while it continues to supply the Iraqi government with weapons and troops in the guise of "advisers" and "trainers", the Iraqi people are struggling to survive the deadly cycle of militias' retaliations.

On Monday 26 January
in the village of Barwana, near the town of Muqdadiya in the Iran-bordering province of Diyala, 72 unarmed men were taken from their homes by militias.

Heads down and bound together, they were led in small groups to a field, forced to kneel, and shot, one by one.
Iraqi troops watched, say survivors. 

Women are among the 35 others that remain missing. After the militia left the village, women and children came out to mourn their dead.

War rhetoric

Those killed were not members of IS, but civilians who had fled to Barwana's relative safety from Sinsil, about 5km to the southwest, where fighting between IS troops and militias believed to be Iranian-sponsored and backed by US-led alliance's airstrikes had broken out.

In a move that brings to mind US military statements after the 2003 invasion whenever a massacre was committed by Washington's troops,
 the Iraqi government now accuse IS forces of carrying out the killings and call for investigations only in rhetoric. Over the years, Iraqi officials have proven themselves to be tenacious implementers of the former occupiers' propaganda.

The Haditha massacre 
was one of the Iraqi government's primary lessons.  

The curriculum went like this: On 19 November, 2005, a squad of US marines went on a five-hour rampage in the Iraqi city of Haditha, in the western Iraqi province of Anbar, killing 24 civilians - including seven women, three children and elderly men - who were shot multiple times at close range while unarmed. 

It was an act of retaliation after a roadside bomb hit their Humvee, killing the driver. The initial US military statement the following day reported that the death of the civilians was a consequence of a roadside bomb and attacks by Iraqi insurgents:
"A US marine and 15 civilians were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha. Immediately following the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms fire. Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another."

Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who led the squad, attempted to justify the killings of unarmed civilians in their homes. "We cleared these houses the way they were supposed to be cleared," he said.

The blueprint

A similar statement followed
 the rape and murder of Abeer Qassim al-Janaby, a 15-year-old girl who was killed by US troops alongside her father, mother, and nine-year-old sister in Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, on 11 March 2006.

The crime 
was, as usual, ascribed to "Sunni Arab insurgents active in the area", contrary to local eyewitness reports.

Crimes committed by the US-led occupation with impunity have became the blueprint for subsequent Iraqi regimes
: retaliation rather than reconciliation,  sectarianism rather than citizenship, and loyalty to foreign powers rather than to Iraq as a country.

The cumulative injustice all but 
provides local incubators for the growth of IS and any other extremist group.

Civilians in fighting zones are carrying the brunt of collective punishment by a foursome of vicious groups: the Iran-led sectarian militias, the security forces of the nominal government, the US-led airstrikes (2,000 sorties within six months, apparently paid for by Iraqi money), and the Islamic State group itself. 

Hiding in plain sight
On the ground outside the IS controlled territories, the rulers today are a bunch of militias masking their daily killings with clean-shaven faces occupying seats in the parliament in Baghdad's Green Zone. 

There are now at least 30 of these militias, and they are mushrooming fast. Their powers extend to controlling city streets and daily life - including in the capital, Baghdad.

Aside from adopting the massacre rhetoric of the US occupation
the militias are evolving their propaganda techniques. They name their role "jihad" and "protecting the shrines". More recently, they have called themselves "the Islamic resistance". Huge black shrouds and four-storey banners around Baghdad proclaim their presence.  
These religious brand names are intended to cover up their daily atrocities and let these militia enjoy the same impunity the US Marines had during the occupation, long before the emergence of IS. Fighting IS, in fact, has provided Iran-led militias with the pretext to carry on their sectarian killings in the areas surrounding the capital and in the Diyala province - through which runs the main road from Iran to Baghdad.

And they are doing all this in the open while benefiting from internationally implicit support or international silence.

The reality is, together with slicing up of "disputed areas" by the Kurdish Peshmerga, those militias are serving a strategic function - to change the demographic make-up of Iraq, while coupling collective humiliation with intimidation and terror. 
The Iraqi government's sectarian war rhetoric contributes to the ever-increasing power of the militias - and the US-led international support, while it continues its sectarian policy and human rights violations under the guise of anti-terrorism, will only lead to more bloodshed.