Article from the Eastern Daily Press, Saturday, September 18, 2004
Why do Iraqis kill their 'liberators'?
Experienced Middle East journalist Robert Fisk argues that the Americans have faced the same problem in Iraq from the start: "explaining how Iraqis who they allegedly came to 'liberate' should want to kill them."
The questions raised about US tactics in Iraq by Steve Snelling in last Saturday's EDP are thus very pertinent. The recent uprising in Najaf confirms Fisk's thesis, but nowhere is the paradox more apparent than in Fallujah, where in a week in early April, US forces killed more than 600 Iraqis and wounded more than 1000.
For the Western media, events in Fallujah began with the murder and mutilation of four US private security guards on March 31. However, the Iraqis know different.
In April, 2003, US soldiers killed 18 protesters during a demonstration. After six months of occupation, US forces had killed at least 40 people in the city. In response to the killing of an American soldier on March 27, US marines undertook a 'sweep' through the city, killing at least six Iraqi civilians, including an 11-year-old boy. It was in this heightened atmosphere that the security guards died.
On April 5, the US military sealed off the city, cut the power and launched military operations, using heavy artillery, cloister bombs, 70-ton main battle tanks, F-16 fighter-bombers and Apache helicopters. The US commander explained that US marines "are trained to be precise in their firepower," and that "95pc of those killed were military-age males."
However, eyewitness accounts from those who managed to flee the city, international observes and journalists contradict the official US story. During the incursion, US soldiers occupied the city's main hospital, a violation of the Geneva Convention. Ibrahim Younis, the Iraqi emergency co-ordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières, said "the Americans put a sniper position on top of the hospital's water tower and had troops in the single-storey building." Mr Younis noted this meant many wounded died because of inadequate healthcare.
The heavy use of snipers by US forces is confirmed by testimony from both sides. A 21-year-old Marine corporal told the Los Angeles Times that Fallujah was a "sniper's dream." He continued: "Sometimes a guy will go down, and I'll let him scream a bit to destroy the morale of his buddies, then I'll use a second shot." And it is clear US snipers killed many Iraqi civilians. Journalist Dahr Jamail saw "an endless stream of women and children who have been sniped by the Americans." Jo Wilding, a human rights campaigner from Bristol, said: "The times I have been shot at - once in an ambulance and once on foot trying to deliver medical supplies - it was US snipers in both cases."
Contrary to US military claims of precision firepower, the director of the town's general hospital, Rafie al-Issawi, estimated that the vast majority of the dead were women, children and the elderly.
With few exceptions, the facts presented above have been largely ignored by the mainstream media in the UK. The chief of the Fallujah delegation for ongoing negotiations with the US said: "We are facing what can be called ... War crimes."
Amnesty International said they were "deeply concerned at the ever-mounting civilian death toll" and that "the parties to the conflict have disregarded international humanitarian law." Even Adnan Pachachi, widely seen as the most pro-American member of the (then operating) Iraqi Governing Council, said: "We consider the action carried out by the US forces as illegal and totally unacceptable."
In Najaf, the US forces implemented similar tactics to Fallujah - sniping civilians, cutting the power and limiting access to hospitals. According to American commanders as many as 1000 Iraqi fighters may have been killed in Najaf, compared to 11 American deaths.
Last Friday, the vision of an independent Iraq, frees of US/UK troops, gained an unlikely supporter. In its editorial the Financial Times argued: "The time has comet o consider whether a structural withdrawal.... can chart a path out of the current chaos." And it is chaos. On Sunday 13 Itraqis were killed in Baghdad when US helicopters fired on a crowd of unarmed civilians. On Monday a US air strike on Fallujah killed more than 15 people. Including an ambulance driver and two nurses when an ambulance was hit. On Tuesday 47 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a bomb blast in Baghdad, and 12 policemen were killed in Baquba.
Only a complete coalition withdrawal will bring this bloodshed to an end, because, as Kofi Annan said last October: "as long as there's an occupation, the resistance will grow."
Letter to the Eastern Daily Press, printed Thursday, September 23, 2004:
Norwich Road, Watton
Please thank Ian Sinclair for his cogent and brilliant One World report (EDP, September 18) about the true situation in Iraq. His report alone justified the price of the EDP.
It was a revelation of reality against the fog of hype, spin and propaganda issuing from No10, the White House, and virtually all the media. The same blanket of untruth covers the situation in Chechnya, where the Russian military have been on the rampage since 1994, reducing the city of Grozny to a pile of rubble and Chechnya to a wasteland.
It is estimated 200,000 to 180,000 Chechnaya men, women and children have been massacred after Putin ordered the military to "go in hard".
As the Palestine, precisely the same situation has existed there since 1948 when millions of illegal immigrant Jews poured into Palestine accompanied by Jewish terror groups such as the Irgun and Stern gangs which became a campaign of murder, destruction and occupation which has been continued by the Israeli military armed with American weapons and finance, including the ever-present Israeli snipers
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