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Published in the 16-28 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Letter from Iraq

Itís time for withdrawal

By Mohammed Younis Hassan <mosul_son@yahoo.com>

The Milli Gazette Online

Mosul, Iraq: The war on Iraq was waged against the will of the UN and other well established powers like France, Germany, Russia, China and India. The reasons on which the war was based, such as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the aluminum pipes and the relationship with Al-Qaeda, were all found to be false. The speed at which the former regime collapsed proved that it could not pose any threat to neighboring countries, and the issue of being a threat to the USA did not simply arise.

After the fall of the former regime, the USA administration took the sole responsibility in Iraq and it refused to give proper share of responsibility to the UN which could have given legitimacy to the existence of US troops in Iraq. Moreover, the US troops failed to safeguard even the UN office in Baghdad which led to the bombing of that office and the death of Mr Demello. Inspite of that incident, no more measures were taken to protect that office and another bombing occurred forcing the UN personnel to leave Iraq, which was welcomed by Mr. Bremer. Then Mr. Bremer became the sole governor of Iraq and behaved as a new dictator of Iraq. He refused to delegate any authority to the governing council. The US troops behaved as occupying forces as may be concluded from the following facts:


1. Mr. Bremer issued orders which he hadn't the right to do, and dissolved ministries of defense, interior, information and culture, thus destroying the basic structure of the Iraqi state. About a half million families became without income. Ironically, militias of many USA-allied parties remained functioning. 

2. The US troops encouraged looting of the military bases. Then these troops started to collect Iraqi weapons and ammunitions, not to safeguard them but to destroy them. The new Iraqi army and police was in urgent need of those destroyed weapons. Moreover, Mr. Bremerís administration allowed exporting these military spoils. Some US officers found it profitable to sell remaining weapons to smugglers. The disappearance of 350 tons of explosives and some nuclear equipment are related to these thefts by US soldiers. 

3. The US troops imprisoned tens of thousands of Iraqis and tortured thousands of them. What was exposed in Abu-Ghraib was only a small portion of what had really happened. The trials of those who committed the abuses were unfair leading to very minor sentences which are not proportional to their crimes. How one can believe the justice of a trial which does not permit those, against whom the crimes were committed, to even attend the trial, let alone be witnesses.

4. The US troops contributed in the rehabilitation of Iraq which was a good point for them during Mr. Bremer administration. That activity of rehabilitation was utilized by large number of USA officers and their translators for their own benefit. No competitions were adopted and the contracts were of high value. Some kickbacks reaching up to 50 percent were given by the contractors to officers or generals in the CPA. This issue needs an investigation by an independent body since it forms a large waste of money allocated to Iraq.

5. Many of the Iraqi military industrial establishments, which escaped bombing and looting, were then destroyed systematically by the US troops by selling many of its equipment to local contractors and smugglers. 

6. Motivated by the US slogan of installing democracy in Iraq, many Iraqis rushed into demonstrations in many towns. The US troops didn't use tear gas to disperse these demonstrators, instead they resorted to firing at civilian demonstrators. In five incidents in Mosul, Falluja (April and May 2003) and Baghdad (May 2004), more than 50 Iraqis were killed and more than 200 were injured by the firing and excessive use of fire by US forces. Some Iraqis started to think of other nonpeaceful means to resist occupation.

7. The invasion of Iraq and the first 18 months of US ruling of Iraq have caused 100,000 Iraqi deaths [see the study published by the Lancet Journal - www.thelancet.com]. Fuel and electricity supplies deteriorated rapidly. 


The above reasons were enough to force the Iraqis to believe that US troops were invaders and not liberators as the pre-war promises claimed. The outraged and frustrated Iraqis started a national and faithful resistance that escalated steadily. Neighboring governments and peoples found the reasons to contribute to those activities in the way they liked. Then the Bush administration, insisting on ignoring the Iraqi resistance, used excessive force and air raids on many towns which led to the killing of insurgents as well as a large number of peaceful civilians. After the invasion of Falluja 80% of its 300,000 inhabitants remain homeless and living in nearby towns, since large number of houses in Falluja have been destroyed. These acts resulted in the escalation of violence. All the Iraqis suffered a great deal of that aggressive policy. 

In the stage of elections, which was delayed by Mr Bremer, Bush administration pushed the UN away from any important share even in the form of sending appreciable number of monitors. Then Mr Negroponte arrogantly refused the requests of putting a time-table for withdrawal of troops. Moreover, he refused to promise to negotiate that issue with the elected parliament. That refusal prevented the contribution of many Muslim parties and large groups of Iraqis in the elections, and forced Iraqis to believe that these troops are here to stay for ever. Mr. Bush declared recently that he is prepared for withdrawal if the new elected Iraqi president asks for it! He added that he does not think the new government will ask for that! Thus he is giving a clear hint to the new government as to what to ask for.

The slogan of installing democracy in Iraq cannot be believed if one looks at the behavior of the US troops in Iraq. You may need to topple a dictatorial regime to start democracy but why those troops destroyed the basic structure of the Iraqi state? Another point is that all USA allies in the region have been running non-democratic regimes in most of which presidency is inherited from father to son (like Jordan, Morroco, U.A.E.) or from brother to brother (like Sudi Arabia)! Is it true that, to be democratic one needs only to obey Mr. Bush. Is that the implementation of the slogan "Your are either with us or with the terrorists"? The case of President Gaddafi gives us one recent example.

Looking at the US policies during the last 50 years, we see how it changed from being against aggressions and war (USA stand against the 1956 war against Egypt) to the recent years when the USA waged war against Iraq and then it is threatening Syria and Iran! There should be some other peaceful means of leading democracy in the world!

The policies of the USA need to be restored so that many problems can be solved by negotiation and not by excessive use of force. The issue of the IRA in Britain, for example, was solved in that way and not by military intervention. After fulfilling the election, I believe that a plan for withdrawal will be the best solution to save lives of the Iraqis as well as US troops. 
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