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 27 April 2018

Launch of Iraq Solidarity Month - highlights

Speech by Mike Phipps- Editor of the book For the Many  at the launch of Iraq Solidarity Month

Two months ago a global donor conference pledged £21bn to help Iraq rebuild after the war against Islamic State (IS). Turkey was one of the biggest donors - odd, because its troops are still on Iraqi soil, which at least one leading Iraqi official has characterised as an “invasion”.

Much more than this will be needed to reconstruct parts of Iraq after the months-long US-led aerial bombardment against IS. The UN says bombs will continue for a decade to come to litter Mosul, where 10,000 people were killed in the latest phase of the war. Only 10% of health facilities in Nineveh governorate are functioning at full capacity. Yet none of the worst war-ravaged areas expect to see any of the promised money soon. Iraq is rated the tenth most corrupt country in the world.

The US was not at the conference and will not pledge a cent. This is despite the fact that it has visited unprecedented destruction on Iraq in recent years. First, the debilitating sanctions imposed on the country after the 1991 Gulf War. Then the 2003 invasion, which caused over  two million deaths, both directly and as a result of side-effects from the damage to infrastructure and the environment. It created five million refugees, a million people with disabilities and half a million orphans.

In Falluja, the US massacred “on a scale greater than any known act of barbarity by Saddam Hussein's regime in its final twelve years,” to quote from Glen Rangwala’s article in Labour Briefing at the time. It also used banned weapons against civilians whose toxic effects are reflected in birth defects that may continue for generations to come. A recent survey in the city showed a fourfold increase in all cancers and a twelve-fold increase in cancer in under-14 year olds.

This toxic legacy needs underlining. It’s estimated around six billion bullets were expended into the Iraqi environment between 2002 and 2005 alone - which, along with bombs, have led to widespread public contamination. As former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter's observed: “The irony is we invaded Iraq in 2003 to destroy its non-existent weapons of mass destruction. To do it, we fired these new weapons, causing radioactive casualties.”

Beyond the loss of human life, there was the cultural destruction. The US used ancient historic archaeological sites as military bases, such as Babylon where 300,000 square metres of the site were flattened - including 2,600 year old paving stones, by US tanks. One million books, 10 million documents and 14,000 archaeological artifacts have been lost in the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq – the biggest cultural disaster, say some,  since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258. To this should be added the impact on education: about 500 academics were killed just from the Universities of Baghdad and Basra alone.

The latest phase of the war was entirely as product of the US invasion and militarization of the country.

It is now widely understood that IS began its existence in the US’s  torture centres,  most notably Abu Ghraib, where Iraqi detainees were systematically sexually assaulted and brutalised. Three years ago, IS was able to take over Mosul and other swathes of the country with barely a shot being fired, thanks to the flabbergastingly corrupt Iraqi army fleeing in the face  of their advance. As it fled, it abandoned to the enemy huge amounts of US-donated military equipment. This included 2,300 armoured vehicles - a majority of all the armoured vehicles the US had delivered to Iraq - which made the subsequent war against IS all the more protracted.

That war is now largely over. Once again, a terrible price was paid in the Iraqi loss of life. Meanwhile, |NATO troops remain in the country, despite the opposition of Iraq’s Parliament.

And victors’ ‘justice’ ensures there is unlikely to be a lasting peace. Amnesty International report that Iraqi women suspected of family links to Islamic State extremists are facing a campaign of sexual violence and exploitation in displacement camps inside the country. Iraqi courts have sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for complicity with Islamic State. In one ten minute trial, a 42-year-old housewife had two minutes to defend herself against charges of supporting the Islamic State, before she was sentenced to death by hanging. All this is likely to lead to a strong sense of injustice and renewed conflict in the future.

And this is why we continue to produce a fortnightly e-newsletter on Iraq, which has now run to over 350 issues.

Fifteen years on, what lessons do we draw?

1. Removing Saddam Hussein was just a by-product of another objective: dismantling the Iraqi state and its institutions. This can be achieved in a many ways. It Iraq one of the most effective was the sectarianisation of politics. From the outset, the Governing Council, established in July 2003, had the names of its members each followed by their sect and ethnicity. This institutionalization of an ethno-sectarian quota system was toxic, allowed the US and its allies to pursue a ‘divide and rule‘ strategy and even threaten the dismemberment of Iraq.

2. The regional impact has been destabilising. The creation of Islamic State, straddling the border with Syria has created new dimensions to the conflict in that country. The chronic weakening of the Iraqi state has allowed Turkey to encroach into Iraq to pursue its relentless war against the Kurds.

3. The global impact too is worth noting. Jonathon Shafi says: “The war sent shockwaves into the political system. Large sections of the population already deeply cynical of the political system after the war would go on to see the bailout of the banks, and then a package of brutal austerity measures that would decimate public services, and ruin living standards. The failure of Iraq, followed by the injustice of austerity, came together in a general crisis for the legitimacy of politicians and elites. Today this crisis is only growing in momentum.”

4. In the UK: It discredited Tony Blair. It discredited New Labour. As a lifelong member of the Labour Party I take no pleasure from the fact that the considerable achievements of the Labour governments of 1997 to 2010 are entirely overshadowed by this monumental betrayal of everything decent democratic socialists stand for.

The Iraq war fatally discredited Labour in Scotland and fuelled demands for Scottish independence. It polarised. It also made the public and MPs extra-cautious about rushing to war ever again on a false prospectus. Its delayed impact was to produce the  vote against military action in Syria in 2013.

 “While Tony Blair was in the war room with Bush, Corbyn was on the streets and addressing the anti-war demonstrations. Now he leads the Labour party.”

Gary Younge has pointed out that Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on the war is a significant element in his appeal. “When he stood for leader he said it was illegal, that if elected he would apologise for it, and that if it were ever deemed a war crime, Tony Blair should go on trial. All his opponents who were MPs at the time voted for it; the one who wasn’t, Liz Kendall, voted against investigating it. It is also one of the reasons Corbyn’s parliamentary colleagues struggled to find a viable candidate to oppose him when they launched their coup. They were sufficiently aware of the popular mood to realise that they needed someone who wasn’t tainted by having voted for the war. That counted out most senior Labour parliamentarians.”

Iraq is also a key reason for the collapse in public trust in the government. Younge says: “Playing fast and loose with facts, misleading the public, producing dossiers full of lies, and ignoring or distorting expertise – all of which were central to the war effort – helped contribute to a culture in which experts are not valued, and facts are considered optional.” http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/2954-fifteen-years-on-the-iraq-war-is-still-poisoning-our-national-life

This disconnect between public and politicians is part of the reason why, in the eyes of former UN Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock, British people voted for Brexit - people felt their views were not taken into account by those in power. Ironically in that campaign too, misinformation and derision of experts dominated.

The 2017 election manifesto, about which I have recently edited a book, (http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/for-the-many-preparing-labour-for-power/), makes one reference to the Iraq war but it’s a significant one. It says the lessons of the Chilcot Report - nine years in the making - should be learned. This is more than what is in the manifestos of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, which is nothing. For them Iraq is forgotten.

But amnesia is the privilege of the powerful. The dispossessed of Iraq are not so lucky. The war has abated for now. Things are returning to normal. which means: Iraq has resumed paying Kuwait compensation for the destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields and facilities during the 1990-91 Gulf War. But for Iraq, no compensation, no reparations.

Fifteen years on, Iraqis are still a long way from getting any kind of justice, or compensation or reparations, let alone seeing anybody prosecuted for the terrible crimes committed against their country. Sadly, no major force in the anti-war movement seems inclined even to commemorate the anniversary of the destruction unleashed by western forces. As in previous years, it falls to Tadhamun, this small but dedicated organisation of activists, to mark the occasion. We in the anti-war movement salute the work you do to keep the crimes against Iraq alive in our collective memory, so that we do not forget, we do not “move on” and we never forgive the politicians that perpetrated this colossal evil. There may be a long wait, but there will be a reckoning - there will be justice for Iraq.


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