An interview with an Iraqi woman whose family was brutalized by US soldiers

[This voice of an Iraqi women on the US occupation must be heard.  As people in the US are being asked, once again, to support the war moves of the US and allied governments, the experiences she relates must be heard, in order to build the struggle and solidarity against imperialist war.  The views she expresses are drawn from her experience, and are not necessarily the views of Revolutionary Frontlines. We thank William T. Hathaway, the author, for submitting this article for posting.  — Frontlines ed.]

————————————

by William T. Hathaway, author

SAMs for Uncle Sam,  from the book “RADICAL PEACE: People Refusing War”

Merna al-Marjan is a young Iraqi who is currently in Germany studying European history. We talked in her dormitory room, a spartan but functional cubicle in a building that embodies a hopeful change in European history: it was constructed in the nineteenth century as an army barracks but now houses university students. That’s progress.

On Merna’s small table sat a pot of peppermint tea and a plate of baklava. She’s short and plump with smooth skin the color of clover honey and deep anthracite eyes; she was wearing a long skirt of light cotton, a long-sleeved blouse, and a green paisley headscarf.

Hathaway: “Headscarves have become a controversial item of clothing here in Germany.”

Al-Marjan: “Yes, you can’t teach in the schools if you wear one. It’s OK for a teacher to wear a Christian crucifix but not a Muslim headscarf. I didn’t wear a hijab in Iraq, but I’ve started doing it here to show solidarity. It’s ridiculous to ban an article of clothing, a simple piece of cloth. What sort of freedom is that?

“The West has such a distorted view of Arab women. Well, of men too, but since I’m a woman, I notice that more.

“What really makes me mad is when Westerners use the way women live in the Muslim world as a justification for invading it ― either with their armies or their ideas. They’re convinced we should be like them. If they were happy, that would be one thing. They could say, ‘Here, follow our example.’ But they’re much unhappier than most of us are. Their marriages and families fall apart, their children commit terrible crimes, commit suicide. Their society is fragmented into these isolated individuals who have to compete against one another. It’s a wreck, but they’re trying to force it onto us. Continue reading

Iraq: US declared victory and got out of town before criminal indictments for war crimes were served

Exposing Government Crimes and Lies

Bradley Manning: Hero or Traitor?

by MARJORIE COHN, Counterpunch.org, December 26, 2011

When he announced that the last U.S. troops would leave Iraq by year’s end, President Barack Obama declared the nine-year war a “success” and “an extraordinary achievement.” He failed to mention why he opposed the Iraq war from the beginning. He didn’t say that it was built on lies about mushroom clouds and non-existent ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Obama didn’t cite the Bush administration’s “Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq,” drawn up months before 9/11, about which Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill reported that actual plans “were already being discussed to take over Iraq and occupy it – complete with disposition of oil fields, peacekeeping forces, and war crimes tribunals – carrying forward an unspoken doctrine of preemptive war.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also defended the war in Iraq, making the preposterous claim that, “As difficult as [the Iraq war] was,” including the loss of American and Iraqi lives, “I think the price has been worth it, to establish a stable government in a very important region of the world.”

The price that Panetta claims is worth it includes the deaths of nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It includes untold numbers wounded – with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – and suicides, as well as nearly $1 trillion that could have prevented the economic disaster at home.

The price of the Iraq war also includes thousands of men who have been subjected to torture and abuse in places like Abu Ghraib prison. It includes the 2005 Haditha Massacre, in which U.S. Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians execution-style. It includes the Fallujah Massacre, in which U.S. forces killed 736 people, at least 60% of them women and children. It includes other war crimes committed by American troops in Qaim, Taal Al Jal, Mukaradeeb, Mahmudiya, Hamdaniyah, Samarra, Salahuddin, and Ishaqi.

The price of that war includes two men killed by the Army’s Lethal Warriors in Al Doura, Iraq, with no evidence that they were insurgents or posed a threat. One man’s brains were removed from his head and another man’s face was skinned after he was killed by Lethal Warriors. U.S. Army Ranger John Needham, who was awarded two purple hearts and three medals for heroism, wrote to military authorities in 2007 reporting war crimes that he witnessed being committed by his own command and fellow Lethal Warriors in Al Doura. His charges were supported by atrocity photos which have been released by Pulse TV and Maverick Media in the new video by Cindy Piester, “On the Dark Side in Al Doura – A Soldier in the Shadows.” 

.  CBS reported obtaining an Army document from the Criminal Investigation Command suggestive of an investigation into these war crimes allegations. The Army’s conclusion was that the “offense of War Crimes did not occur.”

One of the things Manning is alleged to have leaked is the “Collateral Murder” video which depicts U.S. forces in an Apache helicopter killing 12 unarmed civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children. People trying to rescue the wounded were also fired upon and killed. A U.S. tank drove over one body, cutting the man in half.

The actions of American soldiers shown in that video amount to war crimes under the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit targeting civilians, preventing the rescue of the wounded, and defacing dead bodies. Continue reading

Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq: “Message to Occupy Wall Street”

 [Wikipedia:  “The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) is an organization which campaigns in favour of women’s rights in Iraq, and against political Islam. It was founded in 2003. Its director is Yanar Mohammed, who is also a co-founder of the organization.”]
[Image from unknown archive.]Dear Occupy Wall Street,

The people of the world are watching you, following your news and hoping that – rather than just vent your anger and frustration – you achieve all of your dreams.

While democracy should guarantee all people an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives, you find yourselves forced to take to the streets, as politicians and bankers make decisions behind closed doors and hire an army of police to send you back home with nothing.

While a wealthy 1% ravages your jobs, health, and very lives, their focus is always on their banks and not on the welfare and future of innocent, unsuspecting millions of people. In times of growth, those banks are sustained by your labor, resulting in extravagant luxuries for the 1%; while their economic failures and crises deny you basic resources and economic rights.

This is the same 1% that pursued the war on Iraq without hearing the millions who marched – in the United States and around the world – expressing their opposition. While claiming democracy, the 1% builds vast armies to be launched not just against people all over the world, but also within their own borders. Continue reading

The Guardian (UK): “The US departure from Iraq is an illusion”

[The US insists that wherever its troops go, they must operate with impunity–immunity from prosecution or any accountability.  In time, this makes the going difficult for the local “native” politicians and administrators of war zones and military occupations, whose precarious illegitimate authority requires invoking national sovereignty and NOT total submission to foreign invaders.  So, despite the Obama administration pressing the imperial demand for immunity for US soldiers, the Iraqi government could not publicly submit.  Obama attempted to turn this defeat for imperial dictates into an announcement that he is pulling all US troops out of Iraq by the end of this year, thereby fulfilling his “anti-war” pledge of the 2008 campaign.  Which could, superficially, look like a win-win for warmakers and peacemakers–except for the fact that it’s not true, as this article from the British “The Guardian” explains. — Frontlines ed.]

39,000 soldiers will leave Iraq this year, but US military control will continue in such guises as security and training

, guardian.co.uk,

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Barack Obama has announced that US troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year. Photograph: Khalid Mohammed/AP

Barack Obama has made good on one of his election promises, announcing: “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.” The Iraqis’ assertion of their sovereignty – meaning no legal immunity for US troops – was the deal-breaker, and 39,000 US soldiers will leave Iraq by the end of the year.

Jonathan Steele wrote that the Iraq war was over and the US had learned “that putting western boots on the ground in a foreign war, particularly in a Muslim country, is madness”. Yet this madness may continue in a different guise, as there is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality surrounding the US departure from Iraq. In fact, there are a number of avenues by which the US will be able to exert military influence in the country.

These can be divided into four main categories:

Embassy, consulates and private security contractors

The US embassy – the largest and most expensive in the world – is in a green zone of its own in Baghdad, supplied by armed convoys and generating its own water and electricity, and treating its own sewage. At 104 acres, the embassy is almost the same size as Vatican City. It is here that the US is transforming its military-led approach into one of muscular diplomacy.

State department figures show that some 17,000 personnel will be under the jurisdiction of the US ambassador. In addition, there are also consulates in Basra, Mosul and Kirkuk, which have been allocated more than 1,000 staff each. Crucially, all these US staff, including military and security contractors, will have diplomatic immunity. Essentially, the Obama administration is reaping the political capital of withdrawing US troops while hedging the impact of the withdrawal with an increase in private security contractors working for a diplomatic mission unlike any other on the planet. Continue reading

Iraq: Result of US’ “nation-building” project faces new challenges

Protesters converge on Iraq capital

Thousands of Iraqis take to the streets across the country to protest against corruption and unemployment.
04 Mar 2011

“]Thousands of people have converged on Baghdad’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square to protest against corruption and unemployment, despite a vehicle ban that forced many to walk for hours to the heart of the Iraqi capital. 

Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reported from Baghdad that the situation was heading towards a stand-off, as security forces demanded the protesters leave, blocking their route across a bridge leading to the Green Zone, where the government has its base.

Concrete blocks were set up by authorities on all of Baghdad’s bridges ahead of the protests.

“What we’re seeing here is a bit of a test, of how the government will respond when these people clearly want their demands to be heard,” Arraf said.

The protests in Iraq are growing in size, partly because of the instability of the coalition government formed by Nouri al-Maliki, the country’s prime minister, Arraf said.

Iraqis are increasingly unwilling to accept the nature of the democracy that has emerged in years after Saddam’s regime was overthrown.

“This is a new democracy, it’s an unusual democracy, and it’s not exactly what people bargained for,” she said. Continue reading

The deadly lie of ‘democracy’ in Iraq

Ahmed Habib, The Electronic Intifada, 18 November 2010

An Iraqi boy in a music school that has not been restored since it was destroyed during the US-led war on Iraq. (Julie Adnan/Reuters)

“It has been almost a million months since Iraqis ran to the polls, to fill holes in their souls with bloodstained ballots. Hundreds of candidates dressed up as maggots colored the liberal lining in occupied skies, and perpetuated the lies that there is democracy. Hypocrisy of the highest order, politicians blaming their failure on porous borders, while blindly following American orders on everything from defense to education. The death of a nation, systematic assassination and relentless dehumanization of millions of people. The burning of mosques, schools, hospitals and steeples for crumbs of rotten bread. Iraq is dead, shot in the heart and stabbed in the head.”

Excerpt from a new spoken word piece entitled, “Unfinished Letters from Iraq.”

Prior to the parliamentary elections in Iraq on 7 March of this year, all the major political factions running in the country’s nationwide elections declared the entire affair to be corrupt and not representative of the people’s will. They were preemptively cooking an excuse for any unwanted results that might emerge out of the charade. Independent reports corroborated their suggestions with testimonies of fake registration forms and leaky ballot boxes. However, the elections went through, and the results were applauded by other fake democracies around the world. Since then a constipated coalition-building process has left Iraq with no government for more than eight months.

In spite of the satirical sadness of it all, the liberal media, and Iraq’s desperate population, continue to hold on to the electoral proceedings with religious fervor. From outside Iraq, those who politically organized the occupation see the elections as justification for their complicity in mass murder. Meanwhile those inside the country try to cope with the immense loss of life by pinning their misguided hopes on the empty promises of one politician or the other. Continue reading