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 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.