Published on Sunday, November 6, 2005 by the San Francisco Chronicle
Why We Should Pay War Reparations To Iraq
by Bob Schildgen
We recently learned that the $30 billion the United States allocated to "reconstruct" Iraq is about to run out. That seems like a whopping amount, until you realize that the World Bank estimates the cost of rebuilding at between $50 billion and $100 billion. This sum does nothing, of course, to compensate Iraqi families for the deaths and immense suffering caused by the invasion.
Withdrawal from Iraq has understandably been the main focus of the peace movement.
Reparations are clearly appropriate in an invasion that was justified on false advertising of the Bush administration, which purposely dismissed solid evidence against its dubious claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Before the hardball pundits and opportunist politicians who got us into this mess dismiss reparations as a "non-starter," we should note that there is ample precedent for reparations, the most obvious being that of Iraq itself. Iraq has been forced to shell out more than $19 billion in reparations claims related to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, and it owes another $33 billion. The payments, ordered by the U.N. Security Council, have gone to many claimants, including U.S. corporations, according to the U.N. Compensations Commission.
Not only is this battered nation shelling out war reparations, but the budget of Iraq's U.S.-installed (what used to be called "puppet") government calls for expenditures of more than $16 billion for reconstruction through the year 2007. Yes, we break it, they pay for it! It's as if I blew up your house because I thought you thought about blowing up mine with a cache of dynamite I thought you had. Then I'm allowed to garnish your wages to pay me to rebuild your house. Preposterous by any logic -- except maybe that of a Mafia thriller.
Portland Alliance Iraq Portal
We are mistaken about Iraq
by Bert Sacks
“Those Iraqis have been fighting each other for centuries,” a friend recently said to me. I have heard this mistaken view too often.
I told him I had been to Iraq nine times, all before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Not a single Iraqi ever said to me, “You need to know I'm Shiite” or “I should tell you I'm Sunni.” Not doctors, not taxi drivers, not hotel staff, not families we visited. Baghdad had many mixed marriages of Shiite and Sunni, as well as mixed neighborhoods. An Iraqi-American friend confirmed that often people didn't know the religious sect of their neighbor – or if they did, they didn't care.
Peace prevailed in the neighborhoods. What happened?
Expressing the conventional U.S. narrative, the columnist George Will recently wrote, “Saddam Hussein's horrific tyranny at least controlled Iraq's sectarian furies.” In his view, Saddam Hussein and his ruling Sunni regime so oppressed the Shiite majority in Iraq that they didn't dare act violently against their oppressors. It follows from this belief that the current sectarian violence in Iraq is because Prime Minister Maliki hasn't acted with enough horrific tyranny against the Sunni minority.
Is this narrative correct? Were Shiites a persecuted majority?
Do you remember the famous deck of cards given to American soldiers, with pictures of the key members of Saddam Hussein's regime? If this story were true, of the deck of 55 cards why were 35 of them Shiites? Like it or not, Saddam Hussein was an equal opportunity employer and oppressor.
The major Shiite population in Iraq is in and around the city of Basra. Yet when the British troops arrived to liberate the oppressed Shiites of Basra, they were not welcomed. The Shiite population fought them off, seeing themselves first as Iraqis being invaded by foreigners. Some while later, two British soldiers were captured driving in Basra, dressed as Arabs and carrying explosives in their vehicle. This was reported in The Boston Globe for about two days, then the story disappeared from our press, as far as I could tell. What were they doing? Perhaps planting explosives in a Shiite mosque, the crime to be blamed on Sunnis¾certainly the 2006 bombing of the Shia Golden mosque was only attributed to (the predominantly Sunni) al-Qa'ida, never proven. They usually claim their actions.
When the U.S. created the Iraqi constitution – to bring “democracy” to Iraq – political parties were required to be based on religious affiliations. There was a Sunni party, a Shiite party, and so on. Imagine some foreign power occupying the U.S. and determining that future elections would be based on religious parties, with a Catholic party, a Protestant party, etc. How long would it take before people began to pay much more attention to who has what religious affiliation … and animosities to develop. Especially if the occupying power wanted to divide and conquer.
We need to recognize the truth of what respected Iraqi-American commentator Raed Jarrar said: “An uprising in these Sunni-dominated provinces in Iraq can be directly traced to the divisions that were installed by the U.S.-led occupation in 2003.” We must also recognize that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has aligned himself strictly with Shiites – and with Iran – and excluded Iraq's Sunni minority. He has used his military powers to oppress nonviolent Sunni protesters, imprisoning, torturing, and killing.
Whatever role foreign fighters have played in the current crisis, without this persecution of Sunnis the mass uprising in the Sunni-dominated provinces would not have occurred. The fact that we are aligning the U.S. with the repressive, authoritarian regime of Iran to support Maliki's continued sectarian violence ought to jar us awake into seeing how wrong this policy is: supporting Maliki's own horrific tyranny with more U.S. military aid and force is what has brought us to this current crisis.
In short, one thing we can do is not to make matters worse by sending or using arms to continue the sectarian conflict which Prime Minister Maliki fomented with his violent repression of Sunnis.
Having been to Iraq so many times, it saddens me deeply to watch our country again turn to military actions based on mistaken views, when such actions create so much suffering and worsen the problems.
Bert Sacks writes for PeaceVoice and is a peace activist in Seattle.
In 1979 the largest covert operation in the history of the CIA was launched in Afghanistan:
“With the active encouragement of the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, who wanted to turn the Afghan Jihad into a global war waged by all Muslim states against the Soviet Union, some 35,000 Muslim radicals from 40 Islamic countries joined Afghanistan’s fight between 1982 and 1992. Tens of thousands more came to study in Pakistani madrasahs. Eventually, more than 100,000 foreign Muslim radicals were directly influenced by the Afghan jihad.” (Ahmed Rashid, “The Taliban: Exporting Extremism”, Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999)."
Al Qaeda and the “War on Terrorism”
"One of the main objectives of war propaganda is to “fabricate an enemy”. The “outside enemy” personified by Osama bin Laden is “threatening America”.
Pre-emptive war directed against “Islamic terrorists” is required to defend the Homeland. Realities are turned upside down. America is under attack.
In the wake of 9/11, the creation of this “outside enemy” has served to obfuscate the real economic and strategic objectives behind the war in the Middle East and Central Asia. Waged on the grounds of self-defense, the pre-emptive war is upheld as a “just war” with a humanitarian mandate.
As anti-war sentiment grows and the political legitimacy the Bush Administration falters, doubts regarding the existence of this illusive “outside enemy” must be dispelled.
Counter-terrorism and war propaganda are intertwined. The propaganda apparatus feeds disinformation into the news chain. The terror warnings must appear to be “genuine”. The objective is to present the terror groups as 'enemies of America.' "
Ironically, Al Qaeda –the “outside enemy of America” as well as the alleged architect of the 9/11 attacks– is a creation of the CIA.
rest of the story: http://real-agenda.com/2013/05/10/al-qaeda-and-the-war-on-terrorism/
BAGHDAD, 27 July 2012 (IRIN) -
Thousands of Iraqi refugees returning from Syria will face huge challenges reintegrating into a country with high rates of unemployment, dismal basic services and ongoing sectarian strife.
“I think we will face a humanitarian crisis regarding this issue,” said Yaseen Ahmed Abbas, the president of the Iraq Red Crescent (IRC). “You should expect pressure on everything in Iraq by having such a large number of people in a short time. It’s not easy.”
More than 15,000 Iraqis have returned to Iraq in the past nine days, after unprecedented fighting in the Syrian capital Damascus, according to Deputy Minister of Displacement and Migration Salam Dawod Al Khafagy. The government evacuated 4,000 by air, he said; the rest crossed by land. Tens of thousands of others have returned since the Syrian conflict started in March 2011.
Elham was one of them. After seven years in Syria, she and her son returned on 3 July to Iraq, where she says she has nothing: “I am like a stranger here.”
After a few nights in a hotel, her money has run out and she is now staying with friends, she told IRIN. Her family home, abandoned years ago, then occupied, and now empty, is “not fit for living”, she says, and she has no capital to rebuild it. Her parents have since died and transferring the home into her name is another hurdle, she said.
She applied for the four million dinars (US$3,400) granted by the Iraqi government to returnees, but was told it would be more than a month before she received it.
The threats that drove her out of Iraq years ago linger with her; she fears leaving the house: “The security situation here is bad.”
She has a hard time envisioning her future in Iraq.
“Until now, I am lost. I don’t know how I will manage.”
Capacity to respond
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), she is not alone.
“Most of the people have lost everything and came with very little,” said Aurvasi Patel, assistant representative of UNHCR in Iraq. “It’s going to be a huge burden on the state.”
UNHCR staff on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border have found some returnees lacking documentation, including cards giving them access to the government’s public distribution system and their national ID document (`Jensiya’); as well as shelter, food and cash.
Iraq’s government initially said it could handle the influx, but is increasingly asking for help.
“The number of people coming is increasing by the day. We need support,” Deputy Minister Al Khafagy told IRIN.
He chairs a new committee set up to coordinate the response between various ministries and international organizations. Rich with oil revenue, the government has also promised his ministry 50 billion dinars ($43 million) to respond to the crisis, but it has yet to be transferred from the Ministry of Finance, he said.
Until then, the Ministry of Displacement and Migration will use its own funds to prioritize grants to those Iraqis returning unexpectedly in the last week due to the fighting in Damascus, he added.
But even before the influx, the government had proven unable to quickly disburse the returnee grant, Patel said, “so for a bigger return group like this, it is inevitable that the delays are going to impact them.”
UNHCR is planning to give out emergency cash grants of $400 per family to try to tide them over.
|I am like a stranger here… I don’t know how I will manage|
At the local level, governorates also have large budgets to work with, as well as a network of governorate-level emergency cells that have been trained to deal with such emergencies, said Daniel Augstburger, Chief, Humanitarian Affairs Office of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.
But the government’s procedures are slow, bureaucratic and inefficient, aid workers said.
“Where we may face a problem is the speed with which the government will respond. But the capacity is there,” Augstburger told IRIN.
Both UNHCR and the IRC will soon begin detailed surveying to better understand the needs of the returnees.
IRC is assisting those who come through the border, and will soon start registering returnees in their places of origin in order to better assist them. But Abbas said the Society has been overwhelmed by refugees arriving just as Ramadan food assistance packages are being sent out.
“IRC will respond to immediate needs. But for the long-term, we cannot meet the needs. It will be a burden on the Iraqi economy. We expect [the returnees] to suffer for a time.”
What they really need, Abbas said, is a sustainable source of income.
Unemployment in Iraq stands at 8-11 percent, with youth unemployment twice as high, according to the UN’s Inter-Agency Information and Analysis Unit. Most Iraqi returnees do not have the capital to start their own businesses, Abbas said. Even before the current influx, returnees were having a hard time integrating, many of them dependent on outside assistance to survive.
IRC recently began a programme to fund small businesses, and plans to extend it to returnees. But more is needed, Abbas said.
There is one mitigating factor: Many of the refugees who have returned were slated for resettlement abroad. One of UNHCR’s priorities is to register them and try to continue the resettlement process from Iraq, Patel said.
But, in addition to the returnees, nearly half a million people displaced by the 2006-7 conflict are still living - illegally, under threat of eviction, and with inconsistent access to basic services and few livelihood opportunities - in urban settlements across Iraq. The government has struggled to find long-term solutions for them.
Its challenges are compounded by nearly 2,350 Syrian refugees who have also crossed into Iraq in the last week, many of them squatting in empty public buildings along the border until camps are erected to house them.
“We are not prepared,” Abbas said of the refugee response. “It was a sudden decision by the government to allow in the Syrian refugees [Syrians fleeing the conflict in Syria to become refugees in Iraq] without any preparation.”
At al-Waleed border crossing, a camp set up for Syrians fleeing Syria (where there were some tensions in 2004) still stands, and UNHCR is revamping it in case of need. At al-Qa’im, the government and IRC have already started erecting tents. The third border crossing, al-Rabi’a, remains closed on the Syrian side, Patel said.
Another 8,000 refugees from Syria have already been hosted in the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.