Articles, stories & eye-witness accounts from inside Iraq

Page 5  (March 2007 -  December 2008 )           

 

The unbearable nightmare (Cathy Breen, 26 Feb 2007) | Strangers in our lands after four years of American “liberation” (Salam Ismael, 18 March 2007) | Baghdad Segregation Walls: Protecting whom? (Eman A. Khammas 30 April 2007) | Terrorizing a Nation into Homelessness: Who is Responsible? (Eman A. Khammas 05 May 2007) | '50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution (24 June 2007) | Freezing in Iraq (Sami Rasouli, MPT, 26 Feb 2008) | Food and water in Iraq (Sami Rasouli, MPT, 27 Feb 2008) |  An assessment of the conditions in the Kurdish part of Iraq  (Kamal Majid 23 July 2008)  |  Iraq in the Times of Cholera…and Occupation (Sabah Ali, 17 Oct 2008) | Who Can Forgive the Crime of using Depleted Uranium Against Iraq and Humanity (Dr Haithem Alshaibani, December 2008)  |

 

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The unbearable nightmare

Amman, Jordan

Monday, February 26, 2007

 

Sometimes people in the states have asked me how people in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, cope on a daily basis with the ongoing carnage and relentless violence. I have the same question.  It is one that continuously plagues me.  As a nurse, as someone who lived in Baghdad, I have some familiarity with the hospital scene there.   Not only in the months leading up to the U.S.-led invasion, but also during the bombing of Baghdad and later under the occupation, I was able to visit hospitals in Iraq on an ongoing basis.  Because the situation has so drastically deteriorated over the last years, it has become increasingly difficult to get information and a sense of the situation within Iraq

 

In recent days I was able to meet with doctors on two separate occasions, doctors who are still in Iraq. Although their accounts defy description, I want to try and communicate some of what they related. Unfortunately, so as not to jeopardize these courageous men, their families or their ongoing work in Iraq, I feel very restricted in what I can share.  We do not want to identify them and put them at even greater risk. 

 

Because of death threats, kidnappings and assassinations, most of the senior doctors have fled Iraq.  In one of the general hospitals in Baghdad, a hospital known to me, only 8 surgeons remain from the 28 previously working there.  These hospitals were once major teaching facilities.  Now teaching is no longer possible due to lack of doctors, medicines and supplies. No longer do “daily clinical rounds” take place on units. The public hospitals have been turned into large emergency wards.   Out of necessity and pure volume, the victims of explosions and car bombs have taken over as it were.  They take preference over patients needing “routine” procedures such as operations for tumors or interventions for gastro-intestinal, cardiac or neurological needs, medical services we take for granted.  Imagine this. No insulin is available in Baghdad. It is called health care of extremity. 

 

Wounded victims from the car bombs and explosions are rolled one after another into the operating rooms their clothes blackened, their bodies mangled and missing limbs. The horrific state of the operating rooms themselves are one of the major causes of death.

Two-thirds of the wounded die in the first few days from infection.   Many die because blood infusions are unavailable.  The major blood bank in the west of the city is unreachable. 

 

One doctor described how his own little son, suffering from diarrhea and vomiting,  desperately needed to go to a hospital for rehydration.  It was at night however during curfew when no one is allowed to move through the streets.  This includes ambulances.  “We  have to teach people how to behave in emergency situations like this” he said, “when people have no access to medical care.”

 

Tragically university professors and students have been similarly targeted.  Lecture halls that previously held 200 students have been reduced to a mere 28 students in attendance.  Some teachers in retirement have returned to the universities in an attempt to fill this gap.  We must call it what it has now become: education of extremity.  This is especially painful to Iraqis who value education for their children so highly.

 

The other night I was in the home of an Iraqi refugee family.  Their son had just lost a scholarship to a university in the U.K. because he does not have the new “G” passport, a passport obtainable only in Baghdad.   They had spoken that day with a relative from Baghdad whose son attends a university there.  Armed men had stormed the university and opened fire on the students.  Four were killed.  The mother said she could no longer allow her son to attend classes.

 

Yesterday a suicide bomb went off at a Baghdad University killing at least 40 students.

 

How can we respond to such devastation?  Devastation that we have caused.  The needs seem overwhelming; indeed they are.  We must begin somewhere to repair the damage we have created.

 

Perhaps one way would be to find scholarships in the U.S. for Iraqi students. At high school, undergraduate and master’s levels.  You could help them obtain student visas and welcome them into your homes and communities.  Small as such an endeavor might seem, it would be a first step we could take so that the light in these young peoples eyes is not extinguished all together.   We can direct you to students, to young people we have come to know and treasure as if they were our own children.   The time for wishful thinking is over.  We are living in times of extremity, and it is time for us to take responsibility for our actions.  

 

Cathy Breen

Email: newsfromcathy@yahoo.com

 


Strangers in our lands after four years of American “liberation” 

By Dr Salam Ismael (18 March 2006) 

“What shall I do, where shall I go?” my neighbour Um Ahmed asked me over and over again when I was back in Baghdad a few weeks ago. Um Ahmed, 45, recently became a widow after her husband was killed by militia in her shop. 

Four years on and the taste of liberation and freedom remain bitter. When I think back to all we have passed though in these four long dark years I force myself to laugh in order to stop the tears. We Iraqis, hundreds of thousands of us are now displaced; we are like foreigners in our own country. 

I remember how we used to gather at the table to eat our evening meal that consisted of anything that was available and we would listen to Um Ahmed’s stories. Like so many other Iraqis, I lived under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and as a doctor I earned a salary of $1 a month. Even so, I look back and remember the cooked aubergine, and the laughter and jokes over dinner. I remember that we would eat the black bread that my mother used to cook in the oven of our home. Often we were forced to drink poor quality tea and could only buy new clothing — a shirt, a pair of trousers or a skirt for the women — every two or three years as money was tight. Still I remember these times for the laughter, though we were feeling lost without hope, trying to see light at the end of the tunnel. Even then there was a deep joy and happiness, knowing that all of us were together and content in being together. 

Today, four years on and we have cellular phones, even if we are unable to buy credit to make a phone call to family or friends. We are able to drink Pepsi and we are all eating white bread now, some of us are lucky enough to be driving a Korean car and others even have passports. But we have lost the laughter and we are missing the feeling of all of our families being together in one place. Our smiles have vanished. 

Four years into our liberation and getting one’s hands on a satellite phone or passport is like striking gold. A passport in today’s Iraq is one of the most precious things that anyone can have. There is a booming trade in the black market, with Iraqi’s desperate to get out of Baghdad and across the broken country. The UN estimates that more than 50,000 Iraqis are leaving the country every month. To get the new digitalised and shiny “G series” Iraqi passport you have to pay an average of $500. When you have the new passport it feels like you have the key to heaven — you have a chance to be born again, a chance to maybe stay alive and get away from a country that is bleeding and traumatised. 

Every day tens of private cars and buses make the long and uncertain journey out of Iraq, trying to reach the borders of Syria or Jordan; an attempt to wave goodbye to the death and misery inside Iraq. The other precious wonder in Iraq is the satellite phone which has became very popular as it’s the cheapest way to contact family members. This phone is like an extended family member and without it there is no hope of staying in contact or even knowing where anyone is. 

What is happening in Iraq now is very difficult to describe. More than 2 million Iraqis have left the country entirely with almost 600,000 other displaced; forced to leave their homes and move to areas considered safer for them and their families. Those that have the financial means have left or are trying to get to Syria or Jordan or even Egypt. The question that everyone is asking is what will happen next? Most answers are too painful to think about, and sometimes the questions are too painful to ask. Militias, gangs, gunmen are now control of daily life in Iraq. You can wake up at morning and you will find a paper in front of your house threatening you and demanding that you leave the country, evacuate the house; often it is impossible to know why you or a loved one has been targeted. Many times this happens when there is ethnic tension, so the Shia are forced to leave the Sunni areas and the Sunnis are forced to leave the Shia areas. When you are singled out and told to leave you have no option but to leave, often with no time to even pack your belongings and no idea where you are going. 

Many Iraqis flee to Jordan and try and find some accommodation and way to have enough money to cover the basics. The price of everything has gone through the roof. Some Iraqis keep on moving and end up being refugees in countries far, far away. But now the Jordanian government has started to restrict entry for Iraqis and many are finding that their lives are becoming more difficult inside Jordan itself. Now at the Iraqi-Jordanian border crossing there is a notice that says that Iraqi men aged between 18-35 are banned from entering Jordan. 

Syria resembles hope and a ring of safety for many Iraqis, but even that ring is starting to strangle Iraqis day by day. Everyday it seems that the obstacles ahead of Iraqis finding a safe place to live are mounting. 

Dr Omer is a cardiovascular specialist. He left his job and is now working in a primary health clinic. “What shall I do?” he asks, “I’ve been threatened by armed militias inside the hospital, and already three surgeons have been killed and now there are only three of us left and I can’t be the next target as I have a child to raise.” Later he adds: “I am not happy with what I doing; it’s like asking the officer to work as solider. I am doing the same thing. I was a specialist doctor, now I am working as a junior doctor because they will not employ me here in Syria.” 

Hussein is a graduate of a school of engineering and he is now working as a waiter in a restaurant. “I used to have the ambition to become a lecturer in my school but now I can’t as my brother has been killed by gunmen and we have been threatened and told to leave the area as we are Shia. I do not want to stay here, I cannot. I am trying to find a way of smuggling myself to Europe and seeking asylum.” I asked him about how he would return to Iraq. “If we had the same Iraq that we had four years ago I would be the first one to return. Who accepts indignity? Who accepts to be stranger in another country? At least four years ago we were safe, and I had a house.” At that moment I could see that Hussein wanted to break down, just as I did. 

Who accepts to be without a country? Who accepts to be without identity? Who accepts to be without history? Of course, those who live in the Green Zone are living in a different world, with their different coloured
passports. They have 24 hours of electricity and can fill their cars with benzene. They do not need to queue. 

Um Ahmed starts crying again as she describes to me how she tried to find a safe place for her two boys. She was forced by Jordanian authorities to return to Iraq and in Syria discovered that Iraqis are only allowed to stay for 15 days. She finishes her conversation with me swearing by God, “Wallahi, I do not want any thing. I am not afraid for myself. I am afraid for those two orphans. Who will be with them? They have no guilt. I want them to have a future.” 

I felt like my soul had broken into pieces when I heard her say this. We no longer have a country; we have become strangers in our own land.


Baghdad Segregation Walls: Protecting whom?

 

Eman Ahmed Khammas (Former co-director of Occupation Watch - Iraqi Writer - 30 April 2007)

 

According to the American occupation authorities, the new -3.5 meter high, 5 kilometers long - wall which is being built around Adamiya neighborhood (north of Baghdad), is to protect Sunni from Shiite militias' attacks. But no one is really buying this lie, including the American troops on the ground, who say that it is built for better control of the insurgency, as a part of the latest security crackdown.

 

It is also difficult to imagine how this wall would protect the civilians, as it would not prevent the rockets and mortars attacking the area almost everyday. Actually, queuing at the wall's few entrances for hours would expose them to more dangers of bombing and random shooting. It sounds strange too, that the American troops would worry about protecting Adamiya as it is one of the strongest holds of the resistance, according to the Americans again.

 

The strategy is simply to divide Baghdad in many smaller and easily controlled areas, under sectarian segregation names, to eliminate the resistance. Similar walls were built before, in Ghazaliya, west of Baghdad, few months ago, and on the airport highway two years ago (when it was called the death highway). There are at least other 10 new similar walls to be erected soon in different parts of Baghdad, according to the military spokesman of the Iraqi government. (other sources say 30). 

 

Barriers of big concrete blocks, dividing areas, streets, and surrounding facilities were everywhere in Baghdad in the last 4 years, deforming the face of the city, making transport almost impossible and exposing civilians' lives to dangers.

 

 But this is different.  

 

Adhamiya is a significant area, historically, culturally, politically, and geographically speaking. It is the oldest center of the city which generated many important patriotic names in the modern history of Iraq. Ghettoizing walls would turn it in a prison, where citizens would be exposed to biometric technology, identification badges, and scanner searching every time they want to enter or go out of the neighbourhood.

 

Similar procedures are used in different parts of Iraq. Falluja, Ramadi, Mosul, Tal Afar, Haditha, Al Qaim…among many other areas. They failed. The Baghdad latest crackdown, which is the third big joint military operation of its sort, did not stop or even reduce the tens of unidentified and mutilated corpses to be found every morning in the streets, or the rockets and mortars to hit different parts of it. 

 

This strategy of walled-up security pockets, under sectarian pretexts, turns Baghdad into big prisons, discriminating and isolating the communities, reinforcing the sectarian divisions, and increasing violence. It is not just another military idea to decrease the number of coffins going back to the U.S. A quick review of the occupation political decisions in Iraq in the past 4 years would easily reveal the true aim of sowing dissension among the Iraqis.

 

 "We are forced to live isolated in a limited area" a woman from Adamiya said. 

 

PS. Troops of the Iraqi "National Guards" raided Numan hospital, the biggest and only hospital in Adamiya until further notice. The troops ordered, all the doctors, nurses, technicians, all employees and all patients to leave immediately, and threatened to shoot them on the spot if they do not.  

 

The Troops, then, locked the hospital gates with iron chains.

 

On the other hand, Adamiya is, practically under 24 hour curfew especially after the NGs arrested at least 40 citizens near the hospital earlier. The Adamiya Bridge is closed (the only bridge left  to reach the area, after the Sarrafiya Bridge was blown up two weeks ago). All the commercial shops, markets and schools are closed. 

  

Numan hospital is one of the biggest in Baghdad, serving hundreds of thousands of civilians in the northern area, especially in the last 2 years when movement in Baghdad became difficult and dangerous, and after armed militias controlled the hospitals and turned them to traps for kidnapping and killing the people.


Terrorizing a Nation into Homelessness:

Who is Responsible?

 

Eman A. Khammas, Iraqi writer & journalist - 05 May 2007.

 

Last January, the municipality of Baghdad published a short advertisement calling tenders to bid on burying the tens of "unidentified" bodies found in the streets of the capital every morning for almost a year now. Few months before, the Iraqi ministry of Health proudly declared that it imported two big refrigerators with a capacity of 2 hundred bodies each, to keep those "unidentified" bodies. At the same time a new very big  "state" graveyard was created to bury the bodies, after giving them numbers and taking their pictures , just in case one day a family would be lucky enough to identify a son, a husband, or a father…

 

This is why millions of Iraqis are leaving home. Every morning, a long queue of black-shrouded women, of all ages, wait for hours at the gate of the Baghdad morgue, asking for the body of a loved one who disappeared, kidnapped, or arrested few days ago…Men do not look for the dead in the morgue, because there are always some armed men hiding around the corner hunting those bereaved fathers and brothers. By passers in streets everyday do not dare to approach dead bodies scattered here and there, somebody might be watching and would shoot them.

 

These are just few examples of the new Iraqi scene, which bypassed any imaginable limit of the absurd and the surrealist. Not to mention anything about the bombings, the car bombs, the random shooting, the kidnapping, the indiscriminate and collective arrests, the horrible stories of torture in prisons…(PM Maliki said in Sharm Al-Sheikh that the security is progressing and the security plan is going well).

   

The daily life conditions are simply impossible in Iraq now, but this is not why the Iraqis are leaving their country, they do not have this luxury…they are fleeing for survival, for being, they are well aware of the refugees conditions inside or outside Iraq.

 

UNCHR says that 4 million Iraqis are homeless now; other refugee organizations say that the number is the double. But how big the number is, does not matter, really. The fact is that the so called international community recognizes now, four years after the US-led occupation of Iraq, that there is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, although the crisis began 4 years ago, or to be more accurate 17 years ago, when Iraq was devastated, put under the most outrageous international sanctions that killed and uprooted 5 million Iraqis. In the last 4 years hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed (again the numbers are not the issue here, whether they are 600.000 or 800.000, according to the latest estimation last year). What is this called if not a genocide?

 

UNCHR held an international meeting in Geneva late last month, calling upon the world nations, states and organizations to help the starving, homeless Iraqis, begging for donations to aid one of the richest countries in the world, and to open the doors of safety for the fleeing nations from the hell of violence.

 

Lately, many other prestigious international organizations sent out similar warnings of an impending tragedy in the Middle East: the Intel Red Cross, the Human Rights Watch, and the Amnesty International. Good, it is important to raise the awareness of the world to this crisis, and to urge the peoples to help the Iraqis. But it is really striking how NONE of these prestigious organizations, including UNCHR, actually named the real perpetrator of these crimes. None of them called the original crime in its name, or the original criminal in the proper name: the occupation and the US administration.

 

This is extremely important. Not only because the US is legally and logically responsible for the suffering and the humiliation of the homeless Iraqis, and there for should pay every cent to guarantee a dignified life for every one of the Iraqis. And please do not misunderstand me. I am NOT calling upon the Americans to send financial aid to the Iraqi refugees. NO, NO. I am just stating a fact, and the fact is the pentagon spends $8 Billion (8000.000000) a month on the military operations in Iraq, but the US donate 18 million to the relief program ALL OVER the WORLD, if they do at all.

 

But it is more important to hold the American-led invasion and occupation of Iraq responsible of all the suffering, the destruction and the genocide, because this is the only correct first step to solve the Iraqi refugees, and other, problems. But unfortunately, no one was "undiplomatic" enough to call the criminal a criminal in his face, to say the least.

 

In fact, the high commissioner of the UNCHR referred to "complexity of the situation" in Iraq, the "sectarian violence", the "relevant parties"! without mentioning who they are, and actually praised the Iraqi government willingness to address the needs of the displaced and to support the efforts of the hosting countries!!. But please, Sir, the Iraqi government IS responsible for the safety and well being of all the Iraqi people INSIDE their country, not only the homeless, but all the people, otherwise, if it is incapable or unwilling to do that, it should go away, simply.

 

Amnesty International, on the other hand, called upon the Iraqi government, the "multinational forces", and the other governments and leaders in the region to "redouble their efforts" to find a political solution!! NO, please, what they have already done is more than enough.

 

Well, these organizations are talking from a "humanitarian" point of view, not political. But the humanitarian face of the Iraqi problem, a catastrophe in itself, is a reflection of a bigger and more dangerous problem: the criminal occupation. Some Iraqi refugees left the country because they were terrorized by the sectarian militias, that is true, but who is behind these militias.  How many people outside Iraq have heard the name of Shiite or Sunnis before the American invasion? Who allowed them and included them in the new Iraqi security forces? Who maintains them? It is the Occupation.

 

So the Iraqi refugees become a burden on the others! My God, these are the best of the Iraqi minds. It would be very useful if the UNCHR tell the world how many of them have a higher degree in sciences, how many of them are university professors, medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, officers, teachers, linguists, intellectuals, journalists, artists…these refugees build Iraq, why would they need a third country to host them. Is not it in the interest of the occupiers that they should be far away from Iraq?    

 

Eman Ahmed Khammas is a former co-director of Occupation Watch, Iraqi writer, journalist and translator. She's a member of the BRussells Tribunal Advisory Committee and currently living in exile.


'50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution

Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are being further betrayed after reaching 'safety' in Syria

By Nihal Hassan in Damascus (24 June 2007)

It's Monday night in a dingy club on the outskirts of the Syrian capital. Two dozen girls are moving half-heartedly on the dance floor, lit up by flashing disco lights.

They are dessed in tight jeans, low-cut tops and knee-high boots, but the girls' make-up can't disguise the fact that most are in their mid-teens. It's a strange sight in a conservative Muslim country, but this is the sex business, and it's booming as a result of the war in Iraq.

Backstage, the manager sits in his leather chair, doing business. A Saudi client is quoted $500 for one of the girls. Eventually he beats it down to $300. Next door, in a dimly lit room, the next shift of girls arrives, taking off the black all-covering abayasthey wear outside and putting on lipstick and mascara.

To judge from the cars parked outside, the clients come from all over the Gulf region - many are young Saudi men escaping from an even more conservative moral climate. But the Syrian friend who has brought me here tells me that 95 per cent of the girls are Iraqi.

Most are unwilling to talk, but Zahra, an attractive girl with a bare midriff and tattoos, tells me she's 16. She has been working in this club since fleeing to Syria from Baghdad after the war. She doesn't like it, she says, "but what can we do? I hope things get better in Iraq, because I miss it. I want to go back, but I have to look after my sister". Zahra points to a thin, pubescent girl with long black hair, who seems to be dancing quite happily. Aged 13, Nadia started in the club two months ago.

As the girls dance suggestively, allowing their breasts to brush against each other, one winks at a customer. But these girls are not just providing the floor show - they have paid to be here, and they need to pick up a client, or they'll lose money. If successful, they'll earn about $60, equivalent to a month's wages in a factory.

There are more than a million Iraqi refugees in Syria, many are women whose husbands or fathers have been killed. Banned from working legally, they have few options outside the sex trade. No one knows how many end up as prostitutes, but Hana Ibrahim, founder of the Iraqi women's group Women's Will, puts the figure at 50,000.

I met Fatima in a block of flats operating informally as a brothel in Saida Zainab, a run-down area with a large Iraqi population. Millions of Shias go there every year, because of the shrine of the prophet Mohamed's granddaughter. "I came to Syria after my husband was killed, leaving me with two children," Fatima tells me. "My aunt asked me to join her here, and my brothers pressured me to go." She didn't realise the work her aunt did, and she would be forced to take up, until she arrived.

Fatima is in her mid-20s, but campaigners say the number of Iraqi children working as prostitutes is high. Bassam al-Kadi of Syrian Women Observatory says: "Some have been sexually abused in Iraq, but others are being prostituted by fathers and uncles who bring them here under the pretext of protecting them. They are virgins, and they are brought here like an investment and exploited in a very ugly way."

Further viewing: Nihal Hassan and Nima Elbagir's report will appear on 'More4 News' at 8pm tomorrow

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2701324.ece


An assessment of the conditions in the Kurdish part of Iraq
 
                                                      Kamal Majid,
                           Emeritus Professor, University of Cardiff, UK
                                                    23rd. July 2008.
 
Synopsis
 
When dealing with Northern Iraq, the western media often impress the public opinion in two ways: First, they stress that the Kurds are different from the rest of Iraqis and indeed have suffered from the successive central governments in Baghdad. Second, they claim that since 1991, when the north eastern part effectively separated itself from the rest of the country, the Kurdish people there have had a wonderful and peaceful life. This paper refutes both these claims.
 
Historical Background
 
The July Revolution of 1958 brought the pro western monarchy to an end. Iraq withdrew from the Baghdad pact (CENTO), thereby closing down the British military bases in Habania and Shueba. The newly established Kassem government invited Mustafa Barzani and his followers to return home from the Soviet Union, where they had fled after the failure of their 1946 rebellion against the Nuri Saeed government. The jubilant people of Iraq, both Arabs and Kurds, welcomed them back and the new government allocated Nuri Saeed’s house, in the present Green Zone, to Barzani’s family and gave him a cabinet minister’s salary. All his followers were given good jobs in various government departments, in a process in which I was directly involved. Several Kurdish ministers were also included in Kassem’s Cabinet. In return Barzani sent his tribal fighters to help Kassem to crush the March the 9th1959 Shawaf rebellion in Mosul.

 

Naturally NATO disapproved the idea of a united independent Iraq. According to Jalal Talabani, now the president of the pro American regime,

The Shah of Iran, a zealous Supporter of the west, appointed General Warham to isolate and topple Kassem, using Barzani and his tribe. (See the Interview with Jalal Talabni, Al-Wasat Arabic Journal, London, no. 357 and 358, 1998.)

 

Once Kassem was killed in the 1963 coup, organised jointly by the Baath party and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), then jointly led by both Barzani and Talabani, Israel and the west decided to use the Kurdish party to continuously destabilise the successive Iraqi governments. According to Henry Kissinger, (See Years of Renewal, Phoenix Press, London, 1999, pages 584 to 592) between 1972 and 1975 alone the US government spent some $23M on the anti-Iraqi Barzani rebellion while Israel supplied weapons worth $28M. During the same years, theUS Senator Otis Pike stated that 35000 Kurds were killed and some 200 000 of them ended as refugees.( See the Guardian on 20/10/1990)

 

In 1964, in a power struggle, Talabani and a number of the leaders of KDP went against Barzani and his tribal followers. This initiated a bloody war between the two factions in which tens of thousands of Kurds have been killed. This war ended in September 1998, i.e. 34 years later, but both factions still keep their separate armies as explained below.

 

In 1966 Talabani and his fighters entered into an alliance with Baghdad government to fight Barzani’s faction. This continued even after the Baath Party returned to power in 1968; but on March the 11th. 1970 the government succeeded in signing a peace agreement with Barzani and four Kurdish followers of his took cabinet posts inBaghdad. However, the Iraqi government nationalised the oil industry, recognised the East German government and signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union. As a result in 1972, Richard Helms, the director of the C.I.A., invited Idrees Barzani and Dr. Mahmood Othman to Washington and agreed with them to start a new war againstBaghdad. This is the war mentioned above in which the US government, as Kissinger explained, helped the KDP generously. (See Mahmood Othman’s Statement in Kufa Gallery, London, 1996.)

 

During the Iran- Iraq war both Barzan’s KDP and Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) joined Iranagainst Iraq. In fact the chemical attack on Halabja came immediately after the forces of Shawkat Haji Musheer, a member of the central committee of PUK, attacked the town from Iran and occupied it. There are also several witnesses and other material evidences proving that the PUK forces pillaged the town after the chemical attack.

 

After the war in Kuwait, in which both Barzani’s KDP and Talabani’s  PUK sided with the west, Baghdad lost total control of the best part of the Kurdish north east and a provincial government was formed there with Arbil as its administrative centre. An election was held in May 1992 but within three days Massud Barzani, the now leader of KDP, issued a statement, on 22/5/1992, in which he admitted to wholesale election fraud. Disregarding the results, he decided to agree with Talabani to form a joint parliament and government. Both parties were represented equally, with non-elected members appointed by each leader taking 50% of the seats and the portfolios.

 

Within less than four months the newly formed Arbil administration agreed with the Turkish government to attack the Kurds of Turkey. On 7/10/1992, Pam O’Toole reported in the Guardian that KDP forces have joined the Turkish government army in order to fight the Turkish PKK elements who have taken refuge in the Iraqi mountains.

 

The worst news, however, came when on May the 1st. 1994 the Peshmargas belonging to KDP and PUK clashed. The war between these forces continued until September 1998 and became particularly fierce after August the 31st, 1996 when Saddam Hussein’s army occupied Arbil in order to expel Talabani and his PUK forces and hand the city to Massud Barzani and his KDP. The two parties succeeded in killing more than ten thousand Kurds. The scale of the atrocities was recorded by Amnesty International in its report no. MDE14/WU01/94 on 1l/6/1994 which stressed that both parties not only killed Kurdish prisoners but tortured them and mutilated their dead bodies. The Bush administration should at least feel embarrassed for being allied to such people as Barzani and Talabani.

 
The Arbil administration
 
     ( a ) – The Economy:
 
Before and during the Kuwait war President George Bush Senior made several statements inciting the Iraqis against the central government. When the people rose, on the 2nd.of March, 1991 the supporters of both the Kurdish parties managed to expel the Iraqi forces out of northeast Iraq and temporarily captured the oil city of Kirkuk. This was followed by a prolonged lawlessness in which government as well as private property was pillaged. As late as 13th of September 1992 Chris Hedgers reported from Arbil, in the International Herald Tribune, page 6, explaining that 

‘’ the Kurdish Government’’ is lumbered with chaos and has lost control of the countryside. There the local peshmargas are acting independently, ‘’confiscating vehicles and machinery in order to sell them in Iran.’’ As an example he said that ‘’out of 700 vehicles belonging to Arbil municipality’’ before the takeover of the city ‘’only 92 are left and most of these are out of action.’’ He pointed out that the police force in the city had lost two third of its members and ‘’out of 345 vehicles it is left with only 18.’’ The decline of the living condition of the Kurdish people may have started from these events.

 

The UK/US forces never bombed the power stations in the Kurdish part of the country. The fact that the people now have very little electricity is because thieves took vital parts of turbines and hydro electric generators as well as miles of copper cables and sold them in Iran. The remaining generating equipments in both Dookan and Darbandykhan dams as well as the numerous substations have been out of service for nearly two decades and are obsolete. To rectify the electricity grids in that part of the country is going to take years and many millions of dollars.

The water supply pipes and pumps are old and rusted to the extent that the primitive sewerage system, if available, often contaminates the drinking water. In many cities and towns drinking water is brought in tankers. Other infrastructures are precarious and often don’t exist. This is especially the case in the villages.
 

Smuggling became the main source of income for the administration. Throughout the 13 years of Sanction Massud Barzani was collecting more than a million dollars a day by allowing hundreds of Turkish Lorries to pass throughIbraheem Khalil Bridge to deliver all sorts of goods to Baghdad. This daily illegal business was being conducted with full knowledge of the UN and the US/UK forces controlling the area.

 

An equally profitable smuggling was that of cigarettes. From the city of Dahok, on 18/8/1994, Chris Hedgers reported in the New York Times and the Guardian that the Kurdish safe heaven has become ‘’a major black market for smuggling’’ duty free American cigarettes, such as Kent, Marlborough and Victory ‘’worth millions of dollars.’’ Dahok, then and still is under the control of Massud Barzan,  is the distribution centre for all sorts of other goods to Iran, Turkey, Syria and the Arabic parts of Iraq.

 

After the occupation of Iraq, in 2003, extensive looting took place in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Tikrit, and Baquba and many other towns. Thieves emptied banks, Government offices and military barracks. Special gangs of Kurds associated to both KDP and PUK drove away thousands of military vehicles municipal buses and private cars. A new, extra rich class of people suddenly dominated the Kurdish community. Their past experience, during the Kuwait war, and permanent links to their counterparts in Iran and Turkey, helped them to establish routes of smuggling throughout the Middle East with links to ex- Soviet republics in central Asia. This highly profitable activity was conveniently extended to smuggling of tens of thousands of Kurdish and other economic refugees to Europe. With the help of the Kurdish film maker, Karzan Krekar, the BBC produced a graphic documentary on the subject.

 

After Iraq’s occupation in 2003, apart from the United Nations handouts in accordance with the ‘’Oil for food’’ programme, both Massud and Jalal’s parties became wealthy recipients of Iraq’s oil money transferred to them in cash by Paul Bremer. On 10/12/ 2004 the Financial Times (FT.com) reported that the KDP received $1.4 Billion, (Notice Billion not Million) which is being invested for Barzani in international banks by a company established by Ed Rogers and other associates of President George Bush. Further enquiry, through DR. Mahmood Othman, who is a Kurdish MP in Baghdad, revealed that President Talabani had received an equivalent amount.

 

The Kurdish administration, virtually independent since 1992, has never produced a budget. In spite of the unification of the two administrations of Arbil and Sulaimania there are still two finance ministers, one for each party. Neither has imposed any tax on the people they administer. Apart from smuggling they receive whatever Barzani and Talabani give them. The 17% oil money, annually received from Baghdad, goes directly to the two ruling parties.

 

To reduce unemployment, the majority of the government officials occupy artificially created posts. There are also 18000 members of PUK alone who earn their living as party officials. It is claimed that the police force has some 400 thousand members; this is for a population of only five million.

 

Wages in the private sector are extremely low and this is the main reason for the Kurdish youth to leave the country with the hope of settling in one of the European countries. The number of Kurdish men who have left for Europeis claimed to have reduced the ratio of men to women by 9%. On the other hand workers from Bangladesh, the Far East as well as some 30000 Arabs from the troubled south of Iraq carry out menial tasks and engage in begging.

 

The Kurdish part of Iraq was famous for tobacco farming, producing some 15 000 tons a year; with the government in Baghdad being the farmer’s only customer. Because of cheap smuggled American cigarette the tobacco farming has stopped. So have the cigarette factories in Sulaimania and Arbil.

 

There were also Sugar producing factories which used beetroot grown locally. Because most farming has stopped, these factories were also dismantled and sold in Iran, together with one or two other textile factories. The garment tailoring factory went on producing cloths until the PUK recently sold it to property developers who intend to build a luxury housing estate. There are still two cement factories which were built long ago by Baghdad government. The one in Sarchenar has been confiscated by Nokan, which is a PUK owned company. The other, in Taslooja now belongs to Talabani's wife Hero, and her agent, Farouk Mala Mustafa. The latter also owns the Mobile telephone system and a number of luxury hotels.

 

Until recently corruption was rife in the construction industry, especially at the tendering stage, when contracts were first offered to the relatives of the party leaders or influential members of the ruling parties. Each contract was then successively sold to other favoured bidders down the hierarchy. Most such contracts, however, have come to standstill because of the devaluation of the dollar and huge rises in material prices.

 

Because of the collapse of agriculture many villagers have moved to the main cities of Arbil, Sulaimania and Dahok. Food, including perishables, is imported from Iran, Syria, Turkey and the United States and sold at extortionate prices.   

 

Lack of rain and the diversion of Sirwan River by Iran have reduced the water level in Darbandikhan reservoir. Because of sewage disposal, the water in this reservoir is claimed to have turned dark and undrinkable. Lack of water in the rivers has also reduced farming drastically which in turn has forced the villagers to move to the cities. Local farmers were also bankrupted because the people were receiving free UN handouts in accordance with the ‘’Oil for food’’ agreement.

 

Kirkuk is the main oil producing city in the north but there is an unpleasant disagreement among the Kurds, the Turkmen and the Arabs. There are also huge gas fields in the Kurdish areas of Taq taq, Chamchamal and Laylan. For topological reasons gas pipelines, like the existing oil pipes, have to be constructed through the Arabic planes west of the Tigris River before interring Turkey. This fact is likely to be a major factor for friction between the Arabs and the Kurds on the one hand and also between the Kurdish administration and Turkey.

 

At the moment the two ruling parties smuggle some forty tanker loads (about 10 000 b/d) of crude oil a day through Iran to the Gulf. In a statement Abdul Hadi Al Hassani, deputy chairperson of the Oil and Gas committee in the Baghdad parliament, pointed out that the Norwegian oil company DNO sells the oil to the black market at $35 a barrel at a time when the market price is more than $140 a barrel.

 

The Kurdish administration has signed a number of contracts with international oil companies. However,Baghdad’s oil minister, Dr. Hussain Shahristani, in the BBC News, Hard talk programme, on 18/6/2008, declared them as ‘’illegal’’. This dispute of who is entitled to sign oil contracts is a major obstacle, preventing the ratification of the new oil legislation by the Green Zone parliament and could become the catalyst for a prolonged disagreement between the Arab and the Kurdish members of the fragile Baghdad government.

 

The gap between the rich and the poor is widened and created acute social problems including prostitution. This latter activity is the source of widespread ‘’ honour killing.’’ The main social change in the cities, however, is the domination of village mentality, which has suffocated the intellectual life and given rise to a flood of religious fervour. Cities come to a near standstill at prayer times when masses of worshipers walk to the mosques for prayer.

 
     (b) – Politics:-
 
Massud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were never elected by the Kurdish people for any position or post whatsoever. The leadership of KDP is hereditary. When Mustafa Barzani died his son Idrees automatically became the leader of the party. When he died his brother, Massud, took the leadership. On the other hand Jalal was elected as the PUK leader by a handful of people when the party was formed in 1975. He still holds the same post.
 

Since 1991 three elections have taken place in the area under their control, one for the Baghdad parliament and two for Arbil’s. Neither men were nominated for membership but they selected all the representatives of their respective parties to these assemblies. What is worse is that they have the right to sack any disobedient member before his term is over.

 

On 21/9/1996 Jalal Talabani, referring to the then defunct Arbil parliament, stated, in London, Al Hayat newspaper: ‘’ The parliament was established on the bases that each party has half the seats; the election did not take place on constituency bases, people voted for the parties, not for named candidates and each party has the right to replace its members by others.’’

 

Dr. Mahmood Othman, himself a member of Baghdad parliament, went further. He stressed to me that during the election the two Kurdish parties themselves supervised the ballot boxes. ‘’ Well they packed the boxes with their own ballot papers.’’ He said.

 

The members, in Arbil parliament, rubberstamp the leader’s decisions only. So much so the Kurdish newspaper, Hawlati, reported, on 16/6/2008, a statement by Susan Shahab, herself a PUK member of the parliament, suggesting that ‘’ Parliament should be cancelled altogether because it is defunct.’’

 

The animosity between the two ruling parties has not been resolved. This is why Arbil administration has two separate ministers for Peshmarga, one for each party. The commanders of each peshmarga receive their orders from their party leader, not from the head of the administration. There are also two separate ministers for home affairs, again one for each party. Because of this duality Mr. Hamai Haji Mahmood, himself a member of Arbil government and parliament, stated in Hawlati, on 11/7/2008, that: 

 ‘’ There isn’t a real and unified government ‘’ ruling the Kurds in Arbil.
 

Skirmishes still take place between the two parties. On 29/6/2008 Hawlati, no. 434, reported the disappearance, on13/5/2000, of the PUK member Kareem Ahmed and three of his sons because they were suspected of secretly working for KDP. Up till now nobody knows their whereabouts.

 

The two parties have lost the support of the people. This was amply demonstrated when the people of Halabja not only attacked the PUK forces in March 2006 but burnt down the monument and the museum Talabani had erected to commemorate the chemical attack on the town in 1986. Indeed, lack of jobs, water, electricity and petrol have all caused discontent among the masses and several anti government demonstrations have taken place in Sulaimania,Kirkuk, Kalar and Akra where Kurdish police have attacked and killed at least six demonstrators. Yet apart from the revival of Islamic trends and the growth of the Islamic League no serious secular political group has been identified.

 

The most alarming development is the resumption of the two ruling parties to train military units of the Turkish PKK and its sister Iranian party, Pzhak, in order to carry out attacks on both countries. This state of affairs can lead to full scale war especially because on 29/6/2008 President Bush obtained the approval of the US congress to spend $400 million on Iran’s opposition groups in an effort to dismember that country. No sooner than this news was announced, the Iranian terrorist, Mujahedeeni Khalq, supporters in Paris demonstrated demanding that the European Union removes the organisation from its list of terrorist groups.

 

In response to Pzhak’s military attacks, Iranian artillery bombards its bases in Rania, Kaladeza, Qandeel, and other Kurdish towns and villages in Iraq.

  
Conclusions:
 
Right from the beginning, in 1961, the animosity between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish party KDP was initiated by the latter in order to satisfy the aims of the western powers and Israel. The various wars were frequently started by one or both the Kurdish parties. What is worst, however, is that one or the other Kurdish parties often joined the Iraqi government to weaken its own, Kurdish, rival. In all the cases it was the Kurdish people who paid the price by their blood.
 

The Kurdish people living in the region have lost faith in the ruling Kurdish parties and indeed in parliamentary elections. They have been forced to live under difficult economic and political conditions were agriculture has suffered drastically while a decent and effective government is absent. However, they are unorganised and are unlikely to cause serious problems for the Arbil administration. Instead theyare making every effort to seek better living elsewhere and preferably in Europe.

 

The risk the two parties are taking in offering military training to dissident Turkish and Iranian groups can backfire and lead to full scale fighting, that is if the US government decides to heat up the cold war against Iran.

 

 


Iraq in the Times of Cholera…and Occupation 

Sabah Ali

Bagdad, Oct 17, 2008

With all the tragedies that the occupation brought to Iraq, the last thing it needs now is an epidemic, the cholera which is spreading in big numbers. 

 It is a well-known fact that before April 9, 2003, Iraq was one of the countries that are clean of any epidemic. In 2001 WHO reported about the countries that are 100% clean of epidemics (tuberculosis, smallpox, AIDS, and cholera) and classified Iraq as immune against epidemics among other countries like Germany, Britain, U.S. and the Scandinavian countries. It is important to mention that Iraq, at that time, was under the economic sanctions for 12 years.  

Curiously enough, after April 9, 2003 these illnesses and epidemics began to invade the Iraqi society and environment in an unprecedented way. In the last 6 months the Cholera spread in a very noticeable manner, and if the occupiers’ attitude is indifference to this tragedy, it is curious (or rather not) that the Iraqi government too is behaving the same way, even with denial. And while the Cholera is spreading and horrifying people, the government does not move a finger to do anything, apart from giving false statement that the epidemic is under control. The black irony is as much as the government declares that the cholera is under control, new cases appear in different regions, especially in the south. 

                It is well-known that cholera spreads in certain environments as swamps, unhealthy rivers, stagnant pools, and open sanitation systems, in addition to generally deteriorated health services, lack of potable sterilized water, and bad distribution pipes nets. The majority of water nets are in decay, so are the sanitation services. The majority of the contracts which build these nets are corrupt, as everything else in the ministry of health and other governmental apparatus.  

                In addition to that, the provinces councils are controlled by what is referred to in Iraq now as the conflicting “occupation political parties” and the health executives who are protected by these parties against any charges of failure.  

                The first case of cholera appeared in Hilla, the capital of the Babylon province. In one day, there were 80 cases of sever diarrhea, of different ages, but the majority were children. It happened that at the same time there was a Turkish organization called (SPTI), which works in the field of health and water station rehabilitation, in one of the villages. They have a moving laboratory and they began to give first aid to the people with diarrhea.  

They discovered that it is cholera, and that the percentage of cases to the number of the population suggested the epidemic. SPTI immediately demanded isolating the area, and announced that the water in that area is undrinkable, because the chlorine that was used in sterilizing the water has expired for more than 2 months. The Iraqi government did not reply to SPTI positively, so it sent its report to Turkey, and it was published in the media and the “scandal” began. 

The head of the health committee in the city council of Babylon, Hasan Tofan, confirmed that the Turkish organization reports and information are correct, and that the real number of the cases is much bigger in other areas of Babylon. Tofan also confirmed that the chlorine that is used, which is imported from Iran, is expired and that the Health director and water station director in Babylon are responsible for this catastrophe because they knew about the bad chlorine but they insisted on using it. This statement came on the background of the political conflict between the two biggest sectarian parties: the Dawa and the Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.  While Tofan is from the Dawa, the Health director and the water distribution director are from the second party. 

From that moment on, statements started coming from different parts of the south and the mid-Euphrates provinces about the increasing numbers of cases. The government officials from both parties exchanged accusations of responsibility. Three provinces (Amara, Kut, and Qadisiya) declared that the cholera epidemic has spread in these areas 2 months earlier. They demanded that these provinces declared epidemic stricken. So it was only through power conflict between the “occupation parties” that the tragedy was exposed. 

                Earlier this month, the Iraq government announced that the cholera cases all over Iraq are 460, and only 8 are dead. But other confirmed information states that the cases are at least 904, with 84 cholera deaths. The following table (obtained from the Health offices in the provinces, and checked with the corresponding reports in Baghdad Health Departments).               

Deaths

Cases

Province

8

32

Baghdad

11

74

Basra

12

102

Misan (Amara)

6

85

Najaf

16

92

Babylon

4

64

Wasit (Kut)

7

59

Quadisiya

5

80

Karbala

2

45

Mothanna

No deaths

52

Dhi Qar

4

39

Diala

No deaths

28

Nineveh

2

25

Salahadin

9

24

Anbar

3

34

Suleimaniy

No deaths

26

Dahuk

1

28

Arbil

No deaths

29

Kirkuk

 

                In Amara, which is an area of marshes, the number is the highest. But these are only the registered numbers of the cases in the hospitals statistics departments. Many other cases die at home without knowing the reason; it is only after the death that the case is known. Resources in Babylon alone say that the cases are more than 1000. 

                Curiously, in Babylon, the number of deaths registered in the Health department in the last 2 months was 1562, which is high. If one third of this number, as minimum, is due to Cholera, then the number is 520 cholera deaths, not to mention the cases that survived. 

                On the other hand, the Najaf cemetery (the biggest in Iraq) receives normally between 40-70 deaths a day. In the days of battles or armed clashes the number rises to 80-120. But in the last 2 months the number rose to an average of 110-130 a day, which is higher than violent days, although there were no big armed confrontations in this period. The cemetery office says that they have over load of work, and they wanted more grave diggers. Families say that they have to wait 4-6 hours to have a chance to bury their dead.                

                On October 11, the minister of Health, Salih Al-Hasnawi, had to attend a hearing in the Parliament, to answer for the representatives’ questions, especially of the Committee of Health and of the Committee of Integrity, on the reason of the failure to confront the spread of cholera. (The Parliament and the Government headquarters are in the Green Zone). When the Health Minster arrived in the Green Zone to attend the Parliament hearing, he was prevented from entering the Parliament by the guards at the security point, on orders of Sami Al-Askari, the councilor of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki. 

                Resources in the south of Iraq say that one of the main reasons of the cholera epidemic is the Iranian alimentation materials which are invading the markets in most of the provinces, especially dairies. The director of the Babylon Central Laboratory, Jum’a Abid Onn, stated that an Iranian dairy with trade mark DOG is especially not good because it has a festering bacterium which is a good host of the cholera virus.  Many mineral water bottles imported from United Arab Emirates or from Bahrain which are not good appeared to be actually imported from Iran by a relative of the Babylon governor. 

After he gave this statement, Jum’a was immediately fired from his job, and then disappeared. His family found his body later in the morgue of Hilla General Hospital. Actually this is not the first time that Jum’a gave a statement challenging the governor’s authority. Earlier, he threatened to expose another fishy deal, in which a medically corrupt blood was supplied by Iran to the Hilla hospitals. Jum’a said that he has all the documents which prove that, and also which expose the names of the dealers involved and how they threw the bad blood in the Euphrates River. 

Finally, a source in Al-Sabah daily in Bagdad, said that the Prime Minster’s media adviser Yaseen Majeed, met in his house in the Green Zone with the directors of Al-Iraquiya and Al-Faiha satellite TVs, and the editors in chief of Al-Sabah (the government newspaper) , Al-Mu’tamar newspaper (Ahmad Al-Chalabi group), and Al-Bayan of Al-Dawa Party. Majeed told the journalists to emphasize that the government is controlling the cholera epidemic, and that it is taking all the necessary procedures to stop the cholera spread, and that all the media fuss is politically motivated for electoral reasons to undermine the achievements of  Al-Maliki (personally) and his government.  


Who Can Forgive the Crime of using Depleted Uranium Against Iraq and Humanity

Dr Haithem Alshaibani

Expert of environmental sciences

December 2008 

 

Preamble 

 

The first attack  of nuclear strike on man kind was when the US  aeroplanes bombed the Japanese city of Hiroshima, in the second world war on the sixth of Aug. 1945. On the ninth of Aug. 1945 another Japanese city was hit by  nuclear bomb, which led to the defeat of Japan.

This terrifying event turned out deep lessons which nestled in human consciousness, raising accusations towards the ugliness of practising the dirtiest crimes against humanity during the battle of wills.

During the aggression against Iraq, described in some literature as the third world war, and in spite of the absence of balance, quality and quantity wise between the combating  parties, the US forces  used large quantities of  depleted Uranium for the first time in history.

This took place in contradiction with all religions, laws, human rights legislations and section 35 of the annex protocol  number one within Geneva convention of 1977, which prevents using means that leads to long-term harm to the environment. 

The amount of destruction exercised against Iraq in 1991 by bombarding  infrastructures using all weapons including depleted uranium, is equal from the results point of view to the amount of destruction caused by seven nuclear bombs of 20 kilo tons, which was deployed on Hiroshima including the blast, buildings’ destruction, fires and radiation contamination. 

Depleted Uranium has been used  in Kosovo later, though in less quantities. In addition, sites of deployment were marked on the map, to ease handling the contamination later.

Peculiar scientific terms and mathematical equations will be avoided throughout the text to render it accessible for the widest possible spectrum of readers.

I greet all those involved in the fields of scientific research and academic work who strived for more than a decade  in order to dig out facts,  extracting lessons and announcing to the whole world the size and impact of the catastrophic disaster befallen on  Iraq, due to the deployment of the depleted uranium against its people and environment.

What is depleted uranium?

Uranium is an element that exists in nature. The isotopes are those elements who possess the same chemical properties and differ in their physical properties. So Uranium has different isotopes; e.g. Ur-235,Ur- 236, and Ur – 238. The natural uranium contains 0.07% Ur -235.This isotope is required for the nuclear industry and nuclear weapons.

The scientist Malcolm Hoper in 2001, declared that the nuclear enrichment processes increases the concentration of Ur- 235 to 3.4%.

It is possible to extract 1 ton of enriched Uranium from 8 tons of natural Uranium. The major residual of the uranium enrichment is Ur- 238 .

Because of the huge nuclear programmes of the United States for  combat and peaceful purposes, they accumulated huge quantities of depleted Uranium as waste.

In 1990, a quantity of 750 thousand tons of the depleted uranium has been accumulated in Laka district and  the total  amount was more than million tons. These quantities are not disclosed yet, however they form a big environmental, health, financial and political burden on the possessing countries. The human rights and environmental protection organizations carry out the proper monitoring, following up, and the disclosing of unsafe use of these waste materials.

Uranium is described as heavy and toxic element in addition to its radiation properties.

One of the physical properties of the radioactive isotopes is the half life feature. It is the required period to reduce the radioactivity to half its original value..  

Because the half life of Ur-238 is 4.49 billion years, this means the contamination will persist for almost endless period.

 

Isotope

 Natural

 Enriched

 Half life

U-238

99.2749%

99.7947%

4.49 x 109 years

 

 Depleted Uranium was invented in 1942. However, it was first deployed against Iraq in 1991.

In order to imagine the burden which is caused by one milligrams of depleted Uranium in one year, one has to know that  this will emit 390 billion alpha particles, seven hundred and eighty billion beta particles and the associated gamma. This is equal to one billion radioactive particles and radiations which will cause biological damage to human body. The energy of each alpha exceeds what is required to destroy a very tiny biological molecule like the DNA and the proteins. The destruction of bonds between these molecules and water molecules will lead to the destruction of the shape of body organ and its function. There is no threshold limit to the biological effects which will happen to the exposed body which may appear later, in the aftermath  of exposure.

N.B: Those who invented the depleted uranium weapon, claimed the reasons to use it against the installations and fortified shelters were as the following:

** Its cheap price, so it was provided to the weapons manufacturers free of charge.

** Its density is 7.1 times bigger than the lead density, which allows it to penetrate the known tanks in the battle fields. It is well known that the tungsten material is denser and more capable to penetrate through, but is being ignored deliberately.

 

** It is highly inflammable, which means it will inflame and burn up, after hitting the target and will lead to high temperature fires inside the target, so the tank crews can not escape  from death..

The mechanism of the depleted uranium effect

After hitting the target, the missile will penetrate  through easily and explode inside the target causing very high temperature, which may rise up to five thousand degree centigrade and lead to burn the tank or the armoured vehicle, becoming eventually a charcoal.

When the missile penetrates through,70% of it will turn into uranium oxide, its tiny particles  will disperse into the air and  if excited will re-spread again in the air, then its clouds will be transported to very far distances, up to tens of kilometres, and finds its way into the respiratory system of people at large.

The pentagon declared on 14/3/2003 that US  Abram’s, M-1 tanks , aeroplanes E-10 and other weapons will use the depleted uranium in case of  expected war setting out. It is well evident that they used the weapon very densely, the radioactive and destructive effects of which were more killing than what happened in 1991.         

As far as these particles travel in the surrounding medium, they will fall into different distances from the target, but will be exited again by winds effect or people movements. There is no study as far as I know to measure the travelling distances of these particles. But there are some cases where these particles were detected up to 42 kilometres far from the centre of the strike. They may even travel more than the above distances.

Some of the depleted uranium is soluble, but most of the other oxides are insoluble. So, they will stay inside the body for many years. Once, an oxide settles into the lungs, most of it will travel gradually form the lungs to the lymph, glands and bones.

The estimated quantities of the depleted uranium which were used in 1991 war against Iraq is 359 – 800 tons (359 – 800  billion milligrams). The British quota was 59 tons of this amount.

The evidence of unusual diseases

It is well known that when the ionising radiation exceeds a well defined limit, it will cause unwanted disease cases. Some of these diseases will not appear directly after irradiation. There is no doubt that any extra radiation exposure above the natural limits will lead to the destructions of the biological structure like chromosomal aberrations , birth mutations and the possibility of cancer cases in later stages.

There are many scientists, intellectuals, and human rights observers , who have been touring many places in the world like USA, UK and even Iraq in solidarity with those who were the victims of the depleted uranium disaster, urging the whole world to stand against this weapon and prosecute those who used it into accountability.

The Iraqi ministry of health records and its related directorates in the targeted governates, especially southern ones, has shown a distinct increase in cancer , leukaemia and other radiation caused sickness cases. This was approved by many non governmental organisations.

Many articles and declarations showed that some soldiers who suffered from cancer and radiation illness because of  their exposure to DU during their service in Kosovo, have claimed financial compensations . These facts supported strongly the findings of the Iraqi scientists ,who declared their results about the same subject earlier. The task of the Iraqi researchers was hard because of the strict embargo against Iraq during the period 1991-2003.

Western resources

The German professor H. Günther declared that depleted uranium is a fatal, radioactive and toxic substance. It is self ignited, and once exploded with a temperature up to thousands  degrees centigrade , it will destroy the vehicle and its crew, releasing uranium oxide to the atmosphere, forming a heavy cloud and travelling by wind  to far distances.

Professor Günther played an important role of honesty and sincerity by disclosing the savage deployment of the depleted uranium. He made this by his own initiative, travelling to Baghdad via Jordan and then to the south of Iraq, in spite of the difficulties due to his old age and far distance land transportation. He found unexploded uranium bullet, took it home with him and made sure that it contained   depleted uranium. He also took with him urine samples from suspicious victims and analysed them. He found that these samples show traces of uranium. The results were in consensus with his previous doubts. In spite of his good reputation, professor Günter was accused in his own country, of possessing banned radioactive materials. But, he did not give up his human role, and dictated by his own consciousness, he established an NGO, called the Yellow Cross organisation, which works independently from the Red Cross organisation.

Scientists have found that depleted uranium ammunition ,which was used in Yugoslavia  contained many dangerous materials like U-236  and plutonium in addition to the U-234,U235 and U238.The first two radioisotopes are more risky and more dangerous from radiation point of view..

The German expert Wiliam Coline , vice chairman of the governmental committee  of radiation protection in the German ministry of environment said that the depleted uranium is like a slow poison which invades the lymph glands, kidneys, liver, bone marrow and the embryo. He also added that the deployment of depleted uranium in Iraq during the gulf war, caused higher number of cases of genetic mutations and cancers, much more than the normal records.

International media and  news agencies like sky news, CNN, Fox news, BBC , Routers and others ,who accompanied the invaders’ troops had documented the military operations of the  occupation of Iraq. They photographed the remains of the bombarded people by aeroplanes ,tanks and artillery.

Dai Williams stated that the higher the cloud of uranium oxide rises, the more is the risk of its travelling to further places. He also said (we saw that uranium particles  were carried by air from Yugoslavia to a very far distances as far as Greece and Hungary) . It was evident that civilians and warriors were exposed to the risk of radiation .  The warriors will stay for a short term and may be infected by blood cancer (leukaemia) after ten years from the exposure, exactly like what happened to the US soldiers who served in these areas. Civilians usually are subject to the highest risk, because most of the time, they stay  at their own homes and will breathe the contaminated air and drink the contaminated water.

The arrival of the radioactive contamination to far distances from the explosion centre is a very dangerous and agrees well with the measurements of the depleted uranium in the targeted areas, the worst of which is what was detected in Iraq  so far. The whole area of Iraq, specially the southern parts,  became surely  contaminated areas and the  Arab gulf was not far from the consequences.

Professor Wiliams , who is specialised in the environmental effects of the weapon and its risks, described it as a small nuclear bomb, with an abandoned area of 40 kilometre diameter. This means that the circle areas which were caused by the uranium missiles will be focal points for the radioactive contamination, and will be difficult to decontaminate, except by using highly advanced and costly technologies. The question is who is going to pay for all for this?

The American scientist Doug Rokke visited Iraq and conducted tests and the  required analyses inside the bodies of  infected Iraqis . Such tests and analyses are very important because the available means in Iraq were and still are very limited . Moreover, the available ones were exposed to destruction after the 2003 invasion and its aftermath. The well trained and specialised cadre vanished away either by being: kidnapped, killed or impelled to migrate.

Reports by  scientific and human organisations and foundations declared high rates of infections in  Iraq, higher than its average in 1991,specially in the southern parts of the country. This was documented by  reports of the Iraqi  ministry of health. It was sure that the depleted uranium was the main source of infections. The media sources issued mutated new born babies pictures, leukaemia cases, weakness, kidney disorders.

The mechanism of the depleted uranium

When the missile hits the target, it penetrates through easily and explodes by generating a very high temperature (around 5000 degrees c), which leads to charcoaling. When the missile burns,  70% of it will turn into uranium oxide, then its very tiny particles, which can not be detected by the naked eye, will whiff in the air  making a cloud of suspended dust, ready to be transported as far as tens of kilometres. It is very easy to breathe these particles even in far distances. The pentagon declared on 13/3/2003 that Abram’s vehicles, M1 tanks and the E – 10 aeroplanes will also use depleted uranium ammunitions in case of war, because of their penetration power properties. The military reports assured in reality that these ammunitions were actually used by the same forces of 1991 war, and reused  in Kosovo, Serbia and Afghanistan. But the registered effects of the weapons in 2003 invasion against Iraq were hundreds of times more than those of 1991 war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Deception processes.

The pentagon is keen on denying the relationship between depleted uranium and the ambiguous diseases which appeared among the soldiers, who handled this weapon, but this was only the beginning. Then, disease symptoms and mortalities appeared and  increased rapidly, so  no body can ignore them. Those victims and/or their families appealed for compensations, according to the laws and legislations in their countries which protect them from the so called “the gulf syndrome” or “the curse of Iraq”. Cancer cases , leukaemia , lymph glands problems,  newly born  mutations , kidney disease , infertility and newly born babies of military people who served in the Kosovo war and the peace keeping forces in 1999 have been detected . The pentagon kept lying to the world about the link between the depleted uranium and all the symptoms  which are mentioned above , until the proof came from the findings of studies carried by  Iraqi academic researchers. The findings were horrible and the expectations of fatal and destroying effects of the depleted uranium were in full agreement with the predicted ones.

Conclusions and suggestions for the future

The people of Iraq are very much concerned about the disaster of the depleted uranium, which threatened their lives, health conditions and the future of their coming generations. The efforts of  Iraqi researchers and  distinguished academics, which were performed under very hard and crucial conditions , proved the magnitude of the risks caused to humans and  environment in Iraq . These efforts were able to penetrate through the scientific embargo and reach out to the external world releasing documented and authenticated results.

The human rights and the scientific foundation organisations reports, showed high rates of cancer infections many times greater than what  was before 1991 invasion against Iraq ,specially in the southern region. This was authenticated by tens of reports which were issued by the ministry of health and its administrations. There was no doubt that the weapon of depleted uranium is one of the major reasons to cause these diseases. The issues of the media about the mutated newly born babies, general cancer cases, leukaemia, weakness, kidney failure and what was issued in specialised scientific conferences, shared actively in disclosing the effects  of this weapon and its magnitude of risk on human and environment and established the relationship between these symptoms and   depleted uranium.

In spite of the claims of weapons designers and defenders, who alleged that the contamination spreads only around the target. It was evident that the cloud could travel far distances from the target, causing a great risk to the civilians and the surrounding environment.

The USA accumulated more than million tons of depleted uranium in the form of nuclear waste. Because handling these wastes make financial and big technical burdens, so the USA offered this evil material free of charge to the weapons manufacturers. The deployment of the rockets and bombs which contain hundreds of tons of  depleted uranium, is a clear proof that there is pre determination to cause mortality and ambiguous diseases within the Iraqi population without discrimination between military and civilians.  

The Iraqi concerned authorities are supposed to execute  comprehensive programme to decontaminate the tanks debris and all the targets which were bombarded by  depleted uranium as well as all the contaminated over ground and underground entities, by the aid of the international organisations like the UNEP (United Nations Energy Programme). This is supposed to be accomplished at once with out  delay. It is also recommended to utilise the experience of the three miles Island in the USA and the  Chernobyl nuclear accident in the ex-USSR.

It is necessary to employ the distinguished Iraqi experts, who  proved supreme abilities  during more than 25 years  in the field of environmental measurements, sampling, preparing the samples for measurements, predictions,   analysing them via specialised instruments in the field of the low level radioactivity and using  mathematical models to predict the contamination dispersion in the atmosphere, on the surface, above the surface and inside the human body.

Because of the expected high cost of the decontamination, governments who participated in  the invasions against Iraq in  1991 and 2003, should be held responsible to bare the  full costs of these processes .   

The use of  depleted uranium as the best weapon to penetrate the armoured vehicles , because of its high density is not justified and a huge fraud. The tungsten material for instance is better and higher in density; therefore it may be used instead of the depleted uranium. But the real reason behind using it is to get rid of it and cause criminal destruction to countries like Iraq, for clearly defined political and historical purposes.

President G.w.Bush of the USA and his administration ,  T.Blair of the UK and his administration and their allies should be accountable according to the international laws and human rights legislations for their criminal wars against Iraq. Their governments should compensate the Iraqi victims of depleted uranium  ,similar to the compensations which were paid to the soldiers and/or their families in Kosovo. 

It is recommended to coordinate with GCC  countries to deal with the contamination which hit their common  environment.

Dr Haithem Alshaibani

Expert in Environmental Sciences

Dec-2008