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Abdul Ilah Albayaty





In Iraq, Obama has chosen the continuation of criminal social engineering. Only a rupture from the political process can save Iraq and its people, writes Abdul Ilah Albayaty

While all observers, the UN, international institutions and organisations, Arab and international parties and movements, and Iraqis outside the alliance in power in Iraq, pointed to and alerted the international community, the UN and Arab League members, and international and Arab movements to the tragic situation and condition of Iraqis under occupation, and the collapse of the means of having any normal life or hope of having one in the future if conditions created by the US invasion continued, the Maliki government, supported by the US, the Kurdish leaderships and the pro-Iranian sectarian parties, maintained its policies of generalised repression, generalised corruption, generalised falsification of facts and generalised lies as justifications.

The initial plan of destroying Iraq and dividing it into three entities by depending on an alliance between separatist Kurds, Iranian religious fascists, and behind-the-scenes Israeli secret service activities was in its own right criminal social engineering, contrary to all obligations of the occupation under international law. As the Iraqi army, and with it the Iraqi people, resisted the occupation, the occupation and its allies engaged in genocidal actions that were disastrous not only for Iraqis but for the US, Iraq’s neighbouring countries, the international economy and international relations, norms and standards.

What is called the “political process” was designed to achieve this division of Iraq. But all those who know the politics in the region have understood from the beginning that destroying the Arab- Muslim identity of Iraq and dividing it into Shia, Sunni and Kurd was a mirage towards which the US has been running, and that the outcome would be US failure. Running towards this mirage led to seven years of perpetual death, destruction and terror for Iraq, and seven years of failure of the US in battling the Iraqi people and its resistance. A haemorrhage for Iraq in blood, and for the US in money. The US won nothing but shame, a financial crisis, the unjustifiable death of its sons, unpardonable aggression and the collapse of its image, and a general distrust of its values and policies.

Yes, the US succeeded in destroying Iraq, but succeeding in building a new Iraq based on three semi-independent entities is an impossible task that US think tanks created for themselves and for Israel. Iraq is unbreakable. The Iraqi people, identity, interest and will, and the geopolitical reality of the region do not permit the division of Iraq. After seven years of failure, instead of negotiating with the resistance and the anti-occupation forces that stood outside the US-instigated political process to establish peace and conditions for withdrawal, and to render Iraq to its people so that Iraqis rebuild their country and their society and life, the Obama administration decided to revive the failed political process via faux elections.

With Obama, the US — the first responsible for the tragic situation in Iraq — presented Iraqi elections as the remedy to problems it created and has sustained. In reality, the rules governing the political process, the repression and the marginalisation of all opponents to it, in addition to the forced deportation of most of the middle class outside the country, made the elections a mere drama whose aim is for the political process to reproduce itself so the US can prolong its control of Iraq while exculpating the US from its responsibility for the tragic situation in Iraq. One day of elections has nothing to do with the tormented everyday life of Iraqis.

For the US, the Maliki government’s signature on the Status of Forces Agreement and oil contracts freed them from caring about who is in power in Iraq, how they govern, and what for, so long as they continue to fulfil their own plan. As all such agreements are legally null and void, despite rhetorical declarations of the withdrawal of combat forces the US plans to keep up to 50,000 troops stationed in Iraq along with thousands of special forces and more than 100,000 mercenaries operating under their command. The US will also have at its disposal forces inside the political process, guided by thieves, warlords, and stooges, insuring that no force against the US can exist without being immediately eliminated by others or directly by the remaining US units or its special forces. The forces in the political process are, for the US, welcome to fight each other freely, but all are and must be against building a real unified state for Iraqis or being opposed to the occupation.

There is nothing clearer regarding this strategy than the speech of Ambassador Hill in Washington. All candidates in the last elections, including Allawi, are in agreement. If they differ it is on their share of the cake of power: Iran and its agents refuse to integrate Sunnis in the political process; the Kurds do not want Arabs to unite and want to integrate Kirkuk in their hegemony in the north; Allawi and many with him are fed up of sectarianism and religious fascism but he is with the invasion and with a softer deBaathification; and Maliki wants to be prime minister by election or by force. Apparently the result of the falsified election serves the US plan. The parliament is as divided as before and the future government is and will be as weak as before.

There are two aspects that would endanger and disturb the self-satisfied US plans. While the US did nothing to change the tragic situation in Iraq, giving the dirty job of repression, corruption and lies to its local allies, its allies refuse any change. They use all legal and illegal means and tricks, including assassinations, arrests, deportations and terror, so that power remains in the hands of an alliance of the two Kurdish parties and two Shia parties. The Kurd’s “standby”, Iran’s interventions, renewed sectarian violence, Maliki’s threats of not recognising the results, go in this direction.

The second danger to US plans is the position of the popular resistance and the anti-occupation forces towards the elections. As movements, none presented a list or official candidates, thereby de-legitimising the elections. Neither the Baath Party, nor the Taa’sisee, nor the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, nor the anti-occupation leftists participated. But they afforded to their supporters full freedom to boycott or to vote according to the local situation. If we analyse the number of votes for each list, and on which theme they won, we can see that the anti-occupation project of a unified Iraq has succeeded to prove it is the first political force in Iraq.

The vote in Kirkuk, Mosul, Diyala, Salaheddin proved that Kurdish expansionist plans don’t have the support of the population concerned. The purely religious parties who yearn for a religious state, despite seven years of using power for their own benefit with the aid of the US, secured less than 2.5 million of 12 million votes. Those who support dividing Iraq into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish entities, meaning the Iraqi National Accord (INA) and the Kurdish Alliance, did not exceed a fifth of the eligible voters. We should mention that the Sadrists — who are part of the INA — present themselves as refusing the division of Iraq.

The number of voters who accept Iranian hegemony over Iraq is very weak. The INA, which is the principal ally of the US, won less than two million votes of the 18 million eligible voters and the 12 million who voted. We could maybe add half of Maliki’s list to them, if Maliki’s list disintegrates. But Maliki, an American creation, presented himself as someone who refuses Iran’s diktat. We will see what will happen to his list now he has lost power.

The situation puts Iraq before a crucial juncture. One possibility is that the Iraqi people experience another four bloody years after the seven last blood-soaked ones. The second possibility is that by respecting the Iraqi will, Iraqis will get some rest and enough security to start building a secular and unified state again. The vote proved that no salvation will come from inside the political process and that the armed resistance, which is the legal Iraqi army, in addition to those who boycotted, those who voted for Allawi and other lists who desire change and a secular state, the refugees, mostly middle class professionals, the non-separatist Kurds outside the governing parties, the Turkmen, the poor who voted for Sadrists, the Christians, the Yazidis, all honest intellectuals of Iraq, represent a public for a government of salvation that can rebuild a democratic independent and unified Iraq. It is the duty of the UN, the Arab League, Iraq’s neighbours and Iraqi progressists to facilitate its birth.

When Iraqis struggle for peace, stability and democracy by resisting and searching for a way to rebuild their sovereign state based on equal citizenship, they defend the interests of Iraq’s neighbours, including Iran, all the Arab world, all peoples, countries and forces that wish to end wars and violence, and end Western hegemony in international affairs, whose first victim is always the Third World, and end relations based on force and exploitation. Iraq is the forefront battle for a better world.                                                                                      top of page

  Abdul Ilah Albayaty is an Iraqi political analyst and member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal .  

The BRussells Tribunal is an international network of intellectuals, artists and activists, who denounce the logic of permanent war promoted by the American government and its allies, affecting for the time being particularly one region in the world: the Middle East. It started with a people’s court against the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and its role in the illegal invasion of Iraq, but continued ever since. It tries to be a bridge between the intellectual resistance in the Arab World and the Western peace movements. 



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cultural cleansing in Iraq

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CULTURAL CLEANSING IN IRAQ book presentation: Les Halles - Brussels - March 2010








of Roger van Zwanenberg, Chair & Commissioning Editor of Pluto Press on the occasion of the presentation of the book, on March 20h 2010 at les halles in Brussels.

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq is one of those books that make me proud to have published it. Pluto sets out to provide radical explanations of the major events of our time. The invasion of Iraq was one of these events.

I cut my teeth as a young academic in studying the Colonial history of Eastern Africa. I would ask my students why Britain had invaded their country.


While the anniversary of the war waged on Iraq is approaching, I think of what I wrote seven years ago: that this illegal invasion had nothing to do with the war on terror but was planned well in advance and was not about democracy but about the destruction of Iraq. I was openly taunted for it. At best, I was considered endearing or pathetic in my anger, but not on the level when it came to world politics.

In preparation for an evening on the occasion of this seventh anniversary on March 20, I am reading a book:
Cultural Cleansing in Iraq. Why museums were looted, burned libraries and academics murdered. The basic thesis is, believe it or not, that the purpose of the war was from the onset the destruction of the Iraqi state. But there is more: cultural cleansing, tolerating the looting of museums, the burning of libraries and the murder of academics was part of the war strategy, the authors argue. State ending will certainly become established as a concept, alongside genocide and its derivatives, such as urbicide (destruction of cities), sociocide (destruction of the social fabric) mnemocide (destruction of the collective memory). We do hope so, because unfortunately these concepts and their intertwinement do not only apply to Iraq.

There was a lot of press coverage about the looting of the museums, albeit the press reports didn’t put responsibility with the occupying powers, as the international laws of war stipulate; and without identifying it as a strategy of "mnenocide”. In contrast, all these years a deafening silence has reigned on the hundreds of academics who have been victims of targeted assassinations in Iraq. Strange. In the first three months of the occupation 250 academics were killed. The BRussells Tribunal has now a list of 437 casualties, a list that serves as a worldwide reference. Because the professors who documented these killings and disappearances have been killed or forced to flee the country, it is increasingly harder to keep this list up to date. According to the Christian Science Monitor, by June 2006 already 2500 academics were killed, kidnapped or driven out of the country. Nobody knows how many have been murdered until today. We do know that thousands have been threatened - often by envelopes containing bullets - and fled. Alongside the academics also media professionals, doctors, engineers and spiritual leaders have been targets of intimidation, kidnapping and murder. It is important to know that, in the case of academics, it’s not about sectarian murders, because statistics show that there is no pattern in the murders. Professors in leading positions have especially been targeted, and not just Baathists.

These murders have never being investigated, the culprits never found let alone prosecuted. How come? Perhaps because both the occupiers and the new rulers in Iraq thought it was not important. Or maybe because death squads are part of their strategy, like formerly in El Salvador. That is what the book claims: the murder of academics was and is part of the "Salvador Option".

Conclusion of the authors? The goal was to liquidate the intellectual class, which would naturally be the basis for a new democratic state. It is that sinister. So sinister that it is difficult to believe. And yet it is true: the elimination of academics and other professionals from the middle class served the first and highest war aim: the destruction of the Iraqi state. "State-ending" instead of "nation building". According to the editors of the book this war objective was a decision taken when three parties aligned: the neoconservatives who wanted permanent bases in a geographical strategy of military domination; Israel that did not want a powerful state in its backyard; and the oil industry that wanted to lay its hand on one of the largest oil reserves in the world. This I have also written seven years ago. Now it’s there, in black and white, with many footnotes, well documented in a book published by an internationally renowned publishing house (Pluto Press). Perhaps the world will now finally start to realise the truth.

Worldwide protests from the academic community would be nice. But one minute of silence for their murdered colleagues will not suffice. Because, and that makes it so overwhelming, all this is just the tip of the iceberg: the children who are born severely deformed by the use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium, the lack of potable water, electricity and healthcare, the destruction of the educational system which results in a lost generation, the 1.2 million deaths and 5 million refugees - all these things combined make the war in Iraq the biggest war crime and the largest man-made human catastrophe in decades. And it continues. There is little or no hope of improvement, especially not after the recent elections. Add to this the countless bombings and the sectarian disintegration of the country and you have a picture of hell. And we, we all look more and more the other way. Because we are sick and tired of Iraq after seven years? It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to see that I have been proven right with my thesis about the destruction of Iraq, that so many thought was absurd. Even Bush has been proven right with his famous show on the deck of the USS Lincoln that first May of 2003: "Mission accomplished". Indeed, Iraq is destroyed. Happy birthday, Mr. President! Yes, tu quoque Obama.

Lieven De Cauter Lieven De Cauter is a Belgian philosopher and president of the BRussells Tribunal 


I tried to ask them to look behind the popular myths, and profoundly explain why that invasion occurred. That was all in the 1970s. Later when I began publishing books it never occurred to me that the Great Powers of the day, the USA and its followers, Britain and now NATO, would move to Colonise again.

Colonisation has always been a nasty, brutal business, and the 21st century version has proved that this aspect of Western 19th and early 20 century violence has not altered. Our newspapers and the internet, mean that so much of the truly brutal behaviour is not hidden for too long. In the earlier version of Colonisation, information took many months to get through. So the world has been told about the systematic torture of prisoners, and the millions of refugees, and we hear about the events as they unfold.

But how do we make sense of what has happened. Our masters in Washington or London don’t want us to know their thinking. Iraq has been surrounded by honeyed words. Our leaders ought to be considered as war mongers and criminals, and many ordinary people consider them as such. But still we don’t see the patterns, don’t understand their thinking, we don’t comprehend their goals and purposes.

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, succeeds in filling this gap as no other book I know about. What this book illustrates was the decision - some were in the interstices of the US Government - to destroy the old society completely. The purpose of the invaders wasn’t just to remove Saddam Hussein; this was almost a sub plot. No, the purpose was to destroy the structure and the people, the intelligentsia, the middle classes. A mature urban society  was in effect levelled to the ground. As in the long past when marauding invaders burnt cities, so modern invaders have undertaken the equivalent in Iraq.

Cultural Cleansing in Iraq sets this out in its horrifying detail. And this is why I am pleased and proud that Pluto has been chosen by Raymond Baker and Tareq Ismael to be their publisher. And, of course we are all grateful for the vital work of the BRussells Tribunal in publicising this horrific event of our live time.

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Hana Al Bayaty

interview by Gie Goris – MO (MOndiaal Nieuws)

24 mars 2010 (MO) - Hana Al-Bayaty is a documentary director. She’s also writing articles for the weekly Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram. For a while she used to live in Brussels and when the invasion of Iraq started, she helped to found the BRussels Tribunal.  Nowadays she lives in Cairo. The MO* met her on the 7th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and when the book Cultural Cleansing in Iraq- Why museums were looted, libraries burned and academics murdered appeared.

Gie Goris [Q]:The book shows that the only aim of the war in Iraq was to destroy the country

Hana Al Bayaty: I think that the project to destroy Iraq started at the beginning of the 90s (twenty century) with the sanctions imposed against this country. Their only aim was to dismantle it; but since it didn’t work out they decided to invade Iraq. It is not a process that started in 2003. In the 90s the Northern Iraq (Kurds majority) were given preferential treatment in order to divide the country.  The purpose of the invasion was first to destroy the State Institution to further annihilate the State. Therefore the occupation introduced sectarianism.  Before, the Iraqis never identified themselves as Shiites or Sunnis but as nationalists, communists or on a smaller scale Islamists. Even the Baath party –party of Saddam Hussein- which can be blamed for a lot of things, was not at all sectarian. Lately we discovered that 58% of the Baath party was from the Shi’a community.

[Q]: In the past Iraq was a partner of the West. Why the invasion?

Hana Al Bayaty: There is more than one reason. The idea of dominating Iraq and other Arab countries comes from the threat they represent for Israel. Also, Iraq was a wealthy country and has always been the crossroad between Europe and China, or Turkey and the Gulf, or between Iran and Egypt. Naturally, whoever controls this crossroad can have a great influence on the world market. The US wanted this power. So it was logical to begin with Iraq. Another reason is the prosperity of Iraq and the big opportunity it had to become a real democracy.

[Q]: Was there a possibility of a democracy under Saddam Hussein?

Hana Al Bayaty: There was a large educated middle class. The government nationalized oil, invested in education and health; there was a strong army… All the necessary conditions were there for Iraq to become the leader of the Arab world. In any case there would have been a transition. As an example, the position of women had improved in Iraq and they had the most freedom in the region. Iraq´s mistake was to nationalize oil. That is the real reason why the West destroyed Iraq. It had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein.

When Saddam became president, a lot of people liked his party (The Baath Arab Socialist Party); especially because the Communist party had decided to follow the former Soviet Union position and recognize Israel.  The Iraqi people saw this move as a betrayal of the leftist parties and supported the Baath Party, but not because they were for or against the US.

[Q]: Isn’t Saddam at least partially responsible for the fall of Iraq?

Hana Al Bayaty: It all started with the purge Saddam undertook in his own party. Of course there is Kuwait. Recently the orthodox part of the Baath acknowledged that it was a mistake. But opinions are  still divided regarding the Iran-Iraq (1980-1988) war. Iran and Iraq have always been in conflict, during centuries.  Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran the biggest problem became its wish to go beyond its border and not recognize the sovereignty of other states. This fact was a problem for Iraq because there is a huge shia community. Fortunately Iraq is laic by tradition and the shia community of Iraq fought alongside the other Iraqis against Iran during 8 years. Even during the recently organized elections the Iraqis showed that they were more laic.

[Q]: But they were serious oppositions between the Kurds and the Arabs, the people in Southern Iraq and the elite close to Saddam Hussein…

Hana Al Bayaty: In the 90s Western powers trained militias in the North of the country because they wanted to prepare an invasion of Iraq. By this means they also hoped to provoke a pro-West uprising of the population. They never took the very long history of national movements into consideration, which never threatened the unity of Iraq.   One can’t compare Iraq to Yugoslavia simply because Iraq has been united for a long time and has never been a federal state like Yugoslavia. Maybe there is a need for decentralization or more local democracy…

Iraq is the heir to different civilizations.  It is a very old society with a lot of differences and strata.  Sponsored by the occupation, the militias installed the violence after the invasion and want to destroy everything that creates a united Iraqi people. They destroy symbols and kill the intelligentsia. The US destroyed the national army and want to create a new army based on the militias- which are really opposed to a united Iraq. They believe in co federalism or certain autonomy but none of these represent the idea of a united Iraq.

[Q]: The division of Iraq didn’t occur. Mission failed for the US?

Hana Al Bayaty: I don’t think they expected so much resistance. They responded to it in a very violent way and the result up to date is: estimate two million deaths and five million refugees. If their aim was to privatize the oil sector again, then it has been a failure. If their aim was to transform Iraq into a weak federal state, then it has been failure too. Western Media is saying that the situation is more stable than before, that Resistance is over; but that is not at all true. The attacks against the government and the occupation have weakened indeed but it is simply a question of strategy and timing. At that time the American election were taking place: it was the end of Bush’s mandate and the first months of Obama, so there was no reason to sacrifice resistance supporters, because it wouldn't have caused any change in US politics in Iraq anyway.

[Q]: Is the Resistance an Iraqi one? What is the importance of foreign elements in it?

Hana Al Bayaty: "Foreign participation" is laughable.  Even the American army says that only 2% of the fighters are from outside Iraq. It is the same situation in Afghanistan. Unfortunately international solidarity didn’t play a big part in supporting the Resistance movement.

[Q]: Twenty years after the first Gulf War and seven years after the UK-US military invasion, there is still hope for the future. How is it envisaged?

Hana Al Bayaty:  Everything will improve as soon as the occupation ends and all the foreign troops have left Iraqi soil. The present government must be replaced by an interim one and free elections organized. The interim government will be created with the help of the Resistance and there will be room for other patriots. For example, during the last elections that were organized, the anti-occupation movement gave its support to the coalition formed around the personality of Ayad Allawi. It proves that not everything or everybody has to come from the hard core of Resistance.

We also have a clear need for a stable relationship with our neighbors. Lately, as they interfere more and more in Iraq, they have begun to be a real threat to Iraq security. They are playing with fire; especially Iran, but also Turkey, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia… All this could lead to a civil war and that is the last thing that we need in Iraq.

Originally published in Dutch: MO*magazine                                                                                                                                                                                     top of page




BRUSSELS - The autobiography of the young Afghan women's rights activist and politician Malalai Joya is a cry of anger. She survived five attacks and lives in hiding in Kabul. Yet she remains hopeful. "Stop the bombing and no longer give aid to the warlords. Only then will the democrats dare raise their voice."       An interview by Christophe Callewaert for De Wereld Morgen

Malalai Joya looks tired as she shakes my hand in a Brussels hotel. It is hard to believe that this small, frail woman is the ultimate target of all extremists in Afghanistan. Since she spoke freely in 2003 on the Loya Jirga - the big meeting of tribal leaders to draft the constitution - she is in the words of her enemies a "dead woman walking”. She already survived five attacks. Once she saw how a bomb prematurely exploded and how the bridge over which she had to drive a few moments later was blown up. Yet she remains in Afghanistan. 

Malalai Joya: "I live in Kabul, but unfortunately I do not lead a normal life. I am moving from one safe house to another. I don’t stay longer than a few days in the same house. I have no office where I can receive people. I even have bodyguards, but it remains too dangerous. Now that I've written this book, the threats of extremists will even increase. They know that I never get a compromise agreement with them and that’s why they want to eliminate me. But I do my best to prevent that. " 

Christophe Callewaert [Q]: Can you still do politics? 

Malalai Joya: "I am often invited in remote provinces or at a public action in Kabul, but it is too unsafe. My life is underground. I receive some people in secret places, but I cannot stay longer than three hours. If my enemies want to silence me, they achieve just the opposite. With each threat they show their political weakness. " 

"My situation should wake up everyone," Malalai Joya adds. "Under the Taliban I could still secretly teach young girls. Now I can’t go nowhere, even with bodyguards. That is proof that this whole war on terror is a joke. The liberation of women was apparently just a good excuse to invade our country. " 

The world learned to know Malalai Joya in December 2003. She was elected as representative in the Loya Jirga to draft a new constitution. Malalai Joya was only 25, but enjoyed great fame as a director of health. Nine years earlier she returned to Afghanistan from the refugee camps in Pakistan where she grew up. Still a teenager under the Taliban rule, she gave secretly lessons to girls and women. 

[Q]: In your first speech at the Loya Jirga you lashed out hard at some attendees. Why were you so angry? 

Malalai Joya: "I was shocked when I saw all those war criminals at this meeting. Of course I feared that the Loya Jirga would be no more than a fig leaf for the U.S. occupation. But what I saw was worse than I could imagine. For me it became clear that the U.S. and its allies have simply replaced the Taliban with terrorist Afghan warlords who started a civil war after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union." 

[Q]: Who are these warlords? 

Malalai Joya: "The warlords received millions of dollars from the CIA and the ISI (the Pakistani intelligence, ed) during the Cold War. In those days they were not really familiar with my people. Everyone, including intellectuals and progressive parties then fought against the Russian occupation. But once the Soviet Union left Afghanistan, they showed their true face. Hekmatyar, Massoud, Hatim, Rashid Dostum, ... all those puppets of the U.S. committed terrible crimes. " 

"You think that everything began with the Taliban, but that is a lie. The atrocities began with the warlords. In the name of Islam they abolished women’s rights. Even very young girls were not safe for these rapists. They plundered museums. Bookshops were burned. They murdered more than 65,000 people. They put nails into the heads of opponents. They cut off women's breasts. " 

"But the worst was that they might have destroyed our national unity. They fought all in the name of an ethnic group. It was so bad that even my people were relieved when the Taliban in 1996 put an end to the empire of the warlords. But that didn't last long. Again a gang of murderers came into power. In 2001 when the Taliban were expelled, there was hope again for one moment. But those hopes were quickly buried. April 28 was declared a Mujahedeen Victory Day (the day the civil war began in 1992, ed), while for all Afghans it should be a day of national mourning. " 

[Q]: You call Ahmed Shah Massoud a warlord. Is he not the national hero of Afghanistan? 

Malalai Joya: "Massoud is a fine example of "yesterday's terrorist is today’s U.S. hero". In Afghanistan we call this hero "the butcher of Kabul" because he committed so many massacres and created so much havoc. In Kabul, there is a street named after him, but nobody uses that name because he is so hated. The CIA and the French government push us to accept Massoud as a hero, but heroes grow in the hearts of the people, they’re not created in foreign offices. " 

[Q]: Shouldn’t you have given them a chance? Perhaps they would show remorse? 

Malalai Joya: "Eight years was enough to learn how they deal with the rights of my people. When the Taliban took power, the warlords went into hiding. With the millions of dollars they received from the CIA they hid themselves in caves. After 9/11 they came out and again they were wolves, but this time dressed in sheep’s clothing. " 

"Now they are even ready to negotiate with the Taliban. Actually they have not even a problem with each other. Some refer then to South Africa: Mandela also shook hands with his opponents? Yes, there are victims who forgive their executioners. But in Afghanistan it is the one terrorist who shakes hands with the other terrorist. " 

[Q]: In 2005 you got elected in the parliament. Two years later you were suspended because you supposedly offended the members of parliament. They required apologies from you. Why didn’t you? 

Malalai Joya: "In Afghanistan there is the law of the jungle. Is it so wrong that I compared the parliament with a zoo? Ok, all MP’s walk on two legs, but the warlords among them are crueler than wild animals. Luckily no animals can file charges before courts, my supporters say, because they could sue you because you compare them with those criminals. "(Laughter) 

"I sat there with mass murderers. But I can’t possibly compromise with them. They do not even know what that word means. And what would my constituents think if I didn’t raise my voice? Oops, has our Malalai also been bribed? No, I couldn’t possibly apologize because I had told the truth. Elections are a sign of democracy, but unfortunately after eight years, the Afghans see that the elections are a tool in the hands of the occupying forces and the warlords to give some legitimacy to their crimes. " 

[Q]: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has once told you that he agrees with you. Do you have faith in him. 

Malalai Joya: "Hamid Karzai is a shameless marionette. He made a compromise with the cruelest terrorists and allowed them to dominate his government. Now he also wants to include the Taliban in his cabinet. " 

[Q]: Do you regret that his opponent Abdullah Abdullah has withdrawn from the elections? 

Malalai Joya: "Abdullah Abdullah is also a good friend of the warlords. I think he is even more dangerous than Karzai. Abdullah is also a supporter of federalism which would create a disaster for Afghanistan. The country would be easier balkanised. Let us not lose time with that kind of people who like to talk about democracy but actually are our enemies. " 

[Q]: It seems that nobody can be trusted. Are you not too severe? 

Malalai Joya: "There are many progressives and intellectuals in my country, but they have to live underground because of the war. If the bombing stops and the warlords are no longer supported, democrats will dare to raise their voices. Now they have no opportunity. This is also because the mainstream media do not want to report what's really going on in Afghanistan. Have you ever seen demonstrations of underpaid teachers on TV? " 

[Q]: If the foreign troops withdraw, Afghanistan risks to be torn by a civil war. 

Malalai Joya: "What do you do with the civil war that is already there? They put us between a rock and a hard place and call it democracy. As long as the troops remain in Afghanistan, there will be civil war. NATO bombings kill scores of civilians, mostly women and children. U.S. troops say they are proud that they can even discover an ant with their equipment, but they can not even distinguish between a child and a Taliban? Is this the way to prevent civil war? It is very simple. Don’t give those warlords more millions of dollars and their empire will collapse. They are paper tigers. " 

[Q]: The Western countries cannot hand over the people of Afghanistan to the Taliban? 

Malalai Joya: "Now we are facing three enemies: the occupation forces, their allies in the government and the Taliban. Therefore those U.S. troops and NATO should as soon as possible withdraw from Afghanistan. This leaves two enemies. This is somewhat easier. And if the U.S. is no longer channeling hundreds of millions of dollars to the warlords, then their empire will collapse like a house of cards. I'm convinced of that because they have no support within the population. " 

[Q]: But will this not worsen the situation of women’s rights? 

Malalai Joya: "Women’s rights are not created through the barrel of a gun. Women’s rights won’t come with the use of phosphorous bombs and cluster ammunition or depleted uranium, nor by bombing innocent people. In the past eight years many times more ordinary citizens were killed by the occupying forces than Taliban fighters. Millions of Afghans suffer from insecurity, poverty, unemployment and injustice. Even in Kabul we are not safe. Of course there was the occasional symbolic change. 68 women in parliament, but most of them are nominated by the warlords and fundamentalists. " 

"The growing insecurity also prevents little girls from going to school. They risk of being kidnapped or raped. The son of an MP raped a girl but his father made sure he was quickly released. By what you will see on TV and in newspapers of course you think that only the Taliban commit crimes. " 

[Q]: Part of the Belgian troops also help training the Afghan army. Obama hopes that soon the Afghan army can take over responsibility from the foreign troops. 

Malalai Joya: "The Afghan army is an enemy of the Afghan people. Who rules the military? The warlords. You don’t put the rabbit in charge of the stock of carrots. Once we had a volunteer army, but the warlords won't allow that. " 

[Q]: The foreign troops are also engaged in the reconstruction. So they can win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, no? 

Malalai Joya: "Unfortunately there are NGO-lords too. Much money earmarked for the construction of schools actually disappears into the pockets of the warlords. Many NGO's are corrupt. I saw it with my own eyes. There are schools being built with the cheapest materials. Then some quick pictures are taken to show to the mainstream media. But after one year, little of the school remains. Every day the U.S. spends 160 million U.S. dollars at the war in Afghanistan. Imagine what we could do with all that money? " 

[Q]: There is only a political solution, some say. Is it not a good idea to negotiate with the moderate Taliban in the hope that they lay down their arms? 

Malalai Joya: "You know, there are no moderate Taliban. There are only barbaric Taliban and some are now described by Karzai as moderate. The problem is that the mainstream media are fooling the people. Bush puts a price of 25 million U.S. dollars on the head of Hekmatyar and Obama suddenly considers him a moderate terrorist who would end up in government? Thus once again they play with the future of my people. I fear that the politics of Obama are even more dangerous than those of the war criminal Bush. " 

[Q]: How do Western politicians react to your reasoning? 

Malalai Joya: "Although I am an elected MP, I get to see few politicians. I was once in Germany and my supporters there urged the Government to receive me. The government refused, "she's no longer an MP, is she?" So instead of protesting my resignation, they accept the occupation’s reasoning. This proves that the German Government is afraid of the truth. Fortunately, many ordinary people are on my side. " 

[Q]: What would you say to Belgian Defense Minister Pieter De Crem if you had a chance to meet him? 

Malalai Joya: "Your country should follow an independent course. Then you would be welcome in my country to help rebuild it. But if the foreign troops remain in Afghanistan, they will receive a lesson like the British and the Soviets have had before. Your country supports the U.S. strategy. The U.S. wants to occupy Afghanistan because then it’s easier for them to control the two regional powers, Russia and China. And in one go they have even easier access to oil and gas reserves in the Central Asian republics. Surely you don’t want to be part of that? " 

[Q]: Have you ever thought about fleeing the insecurity and to continue your work from a safe country? 

Malalai Joya: "I do not want to abandon my people. Everywhere I go I tell that a country can never be liberated by a foreign country. Fighting for democracy and women's rights is the responsibility of the people themselves. It would be inconsequent to settle abroad. I grab every opportunity to travel because it is a way to create solidarity around the world for the struggle of the Afghan people. But if I would stay permanently in the West, I would be cut off from my people." 

"I can’t count on the Afghan media that they will transfer my message correctly to the people. Previously, a few democratic movements had a newspaper, but they had to stop due to lack of money. " 

[Q]: Why are you not a member of one of the existing parties? 

Malalai Joya: "Several democratic parties have asked me to join, but I'd rather stay independent. I am a social activist. I will not compromise. But I'm thinking think about it. Perhaps it is time to join forces and to establish a new party which the other democratic parties and intellectuals can join then. I seriously think about it. " 

[Q]: Will you join the next elections? 

Malalai Joya: "I’m being encouraged to participate in the parliamentary elections. I also think seriously about that, but it is hard because I cannot campaign. " 

[Q]: In your biography you write that books played an important role in your life. 

Malalai Joya: "Books are like light. I was lucky that my father gave me the chance to read. These books had a big impact on me. Especially the book Gadfly (from the British writer Ethel Lilian Voynich, ed) was very important. That book changed my life. I saw the film, read the book and watched the movie again. " 

[Q]: What books do you read? 

Malalai Joya: "I used to read very quickly. In the time of the Taliban I sometimes read three books in one week, although I almost had to look up all the words in a dictionary. My older brother did not believe me and one day he took a book and started questioning me, but I could answer all questions. From then onwards, my family supported me even more to read and study. But now I read less and less. I am quickly tired. Life is so difficult. I don’t read novels anymore. I must write articles, prepare speeches, give interviews. " 

[Q]: Do you think the U.S. and its allies will ever win the war? 

Malalai Joya: "They have already lost the war." 

[Q]: Can you imagine a free and peaceful Afghanistan? 

Malalai Joya: "I often think that I will not see it. Perhaps one day ... if they do not kill me. " 

Copyright 2010 Creative Commons    Originally published in Dutch: DE WERELD MORGEN                                                                                                       top of page





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