Oorlog bedreigt cultuurschatten Irak  Weblog kunstnieuws van redactie kunstbus
De toekomst van Babylon
Go To Iraq and Get Them Back Now  Felicity Arbuthnot

Who is counting the vote in Iraq?
By William Thomas
Recipe For Terror: Assassinated Reuters Camaraman Uncovered Evidence of Mass US Casualties in Iraq Felicity Arbuthnot It appears the war is back on the 10th of November 2003 2400 "verarmd" uranium projectielen opgeblazen in Tikrit + commentary The Destruction of Iraq's National Library and Archives

Radioactive bridges?
Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates 

How many children, in how many classrooms, over how many centuries, have hang-glided through the past, transported on the wings of these words? And now the bombs are falling, incinerating and humiliating that ancient civilisation 


Arundhati Roy
 April 2, 2003
The Guardian

On the steel torsos of their missiles, adolescent American soldiers scrawl colourful messages in childish handwriting: For Saddam, from the Fat Boy Posse. A building goes down. A marketplace. A home. A girl who loves a boy. A child who only ever wanted to play with his older brother's marbles. 
On March 21, the day after American and British troops began their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, an "embedded" CNN correspondent interviewed an American soldier. "I wanna get in there and get my nose dirty," Private AJ said. "I wanna take revenge for 9/11." 

To be fair to the correspondent, even though he was "embedded" he did sort of weakly suggest that so far there was no real evidence that linked the Iraqi government to the September 11 attacks. Private AJ stuck his teenage tongue out all the way down to the end of his chin. "Yeah, well that stuff's way over my head," he said. 

According to a New York Times/CBS News survey, 42 per cent of the American public believes that Saddam Hussein is directly responsible for the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. And an ABC news poll says that 55 per cent of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein directly supports al-Qaida. What percentage of America's armed forces believe these fabrications is anybody's guess. 

It is unlikely that British and American troops fighting in Iraq are aware that their governments supported Saddam Hussein both politically and financially through his worst excesses. 

But why should poor AJ and his fellow soldiers be burdened with these details? It does not matter any more, does it? Hundreds of thousands of men, tanks, ships, choppers, bombs, ammunition, gas masks, high-protein food, whole aircrafts ferrying toilet paper, insect repellent, vitamins and bottled mineral water, are on the move. The phenomenal logistics of Operation Iraqi Freedom make it a universe unto itself. It doesn't need to justify its existence any more. It exists. It is. 

President George W Bush, commander in chief of the US army, navy, airforce and marines has issued clear instructions: "Iraq. Will. Be. Liberated." (Perhaps he means that even if Iraqi people's bodies are killed, their souls will be liberated.) American and British citizens owe it to the supreme commander to forsake thought and rally behind their troops. Their countries are at war. And what a war it is. 

After using the "good offices" of UN diplomacy (economic sanctions and weapons inspections) to ensure that Iraq was brought to its knees, its people starved, half a million of its children killed, its infrastructure severely damaged, after making sure that most of its weapons have been destroyed, in an act of cowardice that must surely be unrivalled in history, the "Allies"/"Coalition of the Willing"(better known as the Coalition of the Bullied and Bought) - sent in an invading army! 

Operation Iraqi Freedom? I don't think so. It's more like Operation Let's Run a Race, but First Let Me Break Your Knees. 

So far the Iraqi army, with its hungry, ill-equipped soldiers, its old guns and ageing tanks, has somehow managed to temporarily confound and occasionally even outmanoeuvre the "Allies". Faced with the richest, best-equipped, most powerful armed forces the world has ever seen, Iraq has shown spectacular courage and has even managed to put up what actually amounts to a defence. A defence which the Bush/Blair Pair have immediately denounced as deceitful and cowardly. (But then deceit is an old tradition with us natives. When we are invaded/ colonised/occupied and stripped of all dignity, we turn to guile and opportunism.) 

Even allowing for the fact that Iraq and the "Allies" are at war, the extent to which the "Allies" and their media cohorts are prepared to go is astounding to the point of being counterproductive to their own objectives. 

When Saddam Hussein appeared on national TV to address the Iraqi people after the failure of the most elaborate assassination attempt in history - "Operation Decapitation" - we had Geoff Hoon, the British defence secretary, deriding him for not having the courage to stand up and be killed, calling him a coward who hides in trenches. We then had a flurry of Coalition speculation - Was it really Saddam, was it his double? Or was it Osama with a shave? Was it pre-recorded? Was it a speech? Was it black magic? Will it turn into a pumpkin if we really, really want it to? 

After dropping not hundreds, but thousands of bombs on Baghdad, when a marketplace was mistakenly blown up and civilians killed - a US army spokesman implied that the Iraqis were blowing themselves up! "They're using very old stock. Their missiles go up and come down." 

If so, may we ask how this squares with the accusation that the Iraqi regime is a paid-up member of the Axis of Evil and a threat to world peace? 

When the Arab TV station al-Jazeera shows civilian casualties it's denounced as "emotive" Arab propaganda aimed at orchestrating hostility towards the "Allies", as though Iraqis are dying only in order to make the "Allies" look bad. Even French television has come in for some stick for similar reasons. But the awed, breathless footage of aircraft carriers, stealth bombers and cruise missiles arcing across the desert sky on American and British TV is described as the "terrible beauty" of war. 

When invading American soldiers (from the army "that's only here to help") are taken prisoner and shown on Iraqi TV, George Bush says it violates the Geneva convention and "exposes the evil at the heart of the regime". But it is entirely acceptable for US television stations to show the hundreds of prisoners being held by the US government in Guantanamo Bay, kneeling on the ground with their hands tied behind their backs, blinded with opaque goggles and with earphones clamped on their ears, to ensure complete visual and aural deprivation. When questioned about the treatment of these prisoners, US Government officials don't deny that they're being being ill-treated. They deny that they're "prisoners of war"! They call them "unlawful combatants", implying that their ill-treatment is legitimate! (So what's the party line on the massacre of prisoners in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan? Forgive and forget? And what of the prisoner tortured to death by the special forces at the Bagram airforce base? Doctors have formally called it homicide.) 

When the "Allies" bombed the Iraqi television station (also, incidentally, a contravention of the Geneva convention), there was vulgar jubilation in the American media. In fact Fox TV had been lobbying for the attack for a while. It was seen as a righteous blow against Arab propaganda. But mainstream American and British TV continue to advertise themselves as "balanced" when their propaganda has achieved hallucinatory levels. 

Why should propaganda be the exclusive preserve of the western media? Just because they do it better? Western journalists "embedded" with troops are given the status of heroes reporting from the frontlines of war. Non-"embedded" journalists (such as the BBC's Rageh Omaar, reporting from besieged and bombed Baghdad, witnessing, and clearly affected by the sight of bodies of burned children and wounded people) are undermined even before they begin their reportage: "We have to tell you that he is being monitored by the Iraqi authorities." 

Increasingly, on British and American TV, Iraqi soldiers are being referred to as "militia" (ie: rabble). One BBC correspondent portentously referred to them as "quasi-terrorists". Iraqi defence is "resistance" or worse still, "pockets of resistance", Iraqi military strategy is deceit. (The US government bugging the phone lines of UN security council delegates, reported by the Observer, is hard-headed pragmatism.) Clearly for the "Allies", the only morally acceptable strategy the Iraqi army can pursue is to march out into the desert and be bombed by B-52s or be mowed down by machine-gun fire. Anything short of that is cheating. 

And now we have the siege of Basra. About a million and a half people, 40 per cent of them children. Without clean water, and with very little food. We're still waiting for the legendary Shia "uprising", for the happy hordes to stream out of the city and rain roses and hosannahs on the "liberating" army. Where are the hordes? Don't they know that television productions work to tight schedules? (It may well be that if Saddam's regime falls there will be dancing on the streets of Basra. But then, if the Bush regime were to fall, there would be dancing on the streets the world over.) 

After days of enforcing hunger and thirst on the citizens of Basra, the "Allies" have brought in a few trucks of food and water and positioned them tantalisingly on the outskirts of the city. Desperate people flock to the trucks and fight each other for food. (The water we hear, is being sold. To revitalise the dying economy, you understand.) On top of the trucks, desperate photographers fought each other to get pictures of desperate people fighting each other for food. Those pictures will go out through photo agencies to newspapers and glossy magazines that pay extremely well. Their message: The messiahs are at hand, distributing fishes and loaves. 

As of July last year the delivery of $5.4bn worth of supplies to Iraq was blocked by the Bush/Blair Pair. It didn't really make the news. But now under the loving caress of live TV, 450 tonnes of humanitarian aid - a minuscule fraction of what's actually needed (call it a script prop) - arrived on a British ship, the "Sir Galahad". Its arrival in the port of Umm Qasr merited a whole day of live TV broadcasts. Barf bag, anyone? 

Nick Guttmann, head of emergencies for Christian Aid, writing for the Independent on Sunday said that it would take 32 Sir Galahad's a day to match the amount of food Iraq was receiving before the bombing began. 

We oughtn't to be surprised though. It's old tactics. They've been at it for years. Consider this moderate proposal by John McNaughton from the Pentagon Papers, published during the Vietnam war: "Strikes at population targets (per se) are likely not only to create a counterproductive wave of revulsion abroad and at home, but greatly to increase the risk of enlarging the war with China or the Soviet Union. Destruction of locks and dams, however - if handled right - might ... offer promise. It should be studied. Such destruction does not kill or drown people. By shallow-flooding the rice, it leads after time to widespread starvation (more than a million?) unless food is provided - which we could offer to do 'at the conference table'." 

Times haven't changed very much. The technique has evolved into a doctrine. It's called "Winning Hearts and Minds". 

So, here's the moral maths as it stands: 200,000 Iraqis estimated to have been killed in the first Gulf war. Hundreds of thousands dead because of the economic sanctions. (At least that lot has been saved from Saddam Hussein.) More being killed every day. Tens of thousands of US soldiers who fought the 1991 war officially declared "disabled" by a disease called the Gulf war syndrome, believed in part to be caused by exposure to depleted uranium. It hasn't stopped the "Allies" from continuing to use depleted uranium. 

And now this talk of bringing the UN back into the picture. But that old UN girl - it turns out that she just ain't what she was cracked up to be. She's been demoted (although she retains her high salary). Now she's the world's janitor. She's the Philippino cleaning lady, the Indian jamadarni, the postal bride from Thailand, the Mexican household help, the Jamaican au pair. She's employed to clean other peoples' shit. She's used and abused at will. 

Despite Blair's earnest submissions, and all his fawning, Bush has made it clear that the UN will play no independent part in the administration of postwar Iraq. The US will decide who gets those juicy "reconstruction" contracts. But Bush has appealed to the international community not to "politicise" the issue of humanitarian aid. On the March 28, after Bush called for the immediate resumption of the UN's oil for food programme, the UN security council voted unanimously for the resolution. This means that everybody agrees that Iraqi money (from the sale of Iraqi oil) should be used to feed Iraqi people who are starving because of US led sanctions and the illegal US-led war. 

Contracts for the "reconstruction" of Iraq we're told, in discussions on the business news, could jump-start the world economy. It's funny how the interests of American corporations are so often, so successfully and so deliberately confused with the interests of the world economy. While the American people will end up paying for the war, oil companies, weapons manufacturers, arms dealers, and corporations involved in "reconstruction" work will make direct gains from the war. Many of them are old friends and former employers of the Bush/ Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice cabal. Bush has already asked Congress for $75bn. Contracts for "re-construction" are already being negotiated. The news doesn't hit the stands because much of the US corporate media is owned and managed by the same interests. 

Operation Iraqi Freedom, Tony Blair assures us is about returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people. That is, returning Iraqi oil to the Iraqi people via corporate multinationals. Like Shell, like Chevron, like Halliburton. Or are we missing the plot here? Perhaps Halliburton is actually an Iraqi company? Perhaps US vice-president Dick Cheney (who is a former director of Halliburton) is a closet Iraqi? 

As the rift between Europe and America deepens, there are signs that the world could be entering a new era of economic boycotts. CNN reported that Americans are emptying French wine into gutters, chanting, "We don't want your stinking wine." We've heard about the re-baptism of French fries. Freedom fries they're called now. There's news trickling in about Americans boycotting German goods. The thing is that if the fallout of the war takes this turn, it is the US who will suffer the most. Its homeland may be defended by border patrols and nuclear weapons, but its economy is strung out across the globe. Its economic outposts are exposed and vulnerable to attack in every direction. Already the internet is buzzing with elaborate lists of American and British government products and companies that should be boycotted. Apart from the usual targets, Coke, Pepsi and McDonald's - government agencies such as USAID, the British department for international development, British and American banks, Arthur Anderson, Merrill Lynch, American Express, corporations such as Bechtel, General Electric, and companies such as Reebok, Nike and Gap - could find themselves under siege. These lists are being honed and re fined by activists across the world. They could become a practical guide that directs and channels the amorphous, but growing fury in the world. Suddenly, the "inevitability" of the project of corporate globalisation is beginning to seem more than a little evitable. 

It's become clear that the war against terror is not really about terror, and the war on Iraq not only about oil. It's about a superpower's self-destructive impulse towards supremacy, stranglehold, global hegemony. The argument is being made that the people of Argentina and Iraq have both been decimated by the same process. Only the weapons used against them differ: In one case it's an IMF chequebook. In the other, cruise missiles. 

Finally, there's the matter of Saddam's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. (Oops, nearly forgot about those!) 

In the fog of war - one thing's for sure - if Saddam 's regime indeed has weapons of mass destruction, it is showing an astonishing degree of responsibility and restraint in the teeth of extreme provocation. Under similar circumstances, (say if Iraqi troops were bombing New York and laying siege to Washington DC) could we expect the same of the Bush regime? Would it keep its thousands of nuclear warheads in their wrapping paper? What about its chemical and biological weapons? Its stocks of anthrax, smallpox and nerve gas? Would it? 

Excuse me while I laugh. 

In the fog of war we're forced to speculate: Either Saddam is an extremely responsible tyrant. Or - he simply does not possess weapons of mass destruction. Either way, regardless of what happens next, Iraq comes out of the argument smelling sweeter than the US government. 

So here's Iraq - rogue state, grave threat to world peace, paid-up member of the Axis of Evil. Here's Iraq, invaded, bombed, besieged, bullied, its sovereignty shat upon, its children killed by cancers, its people blown up on the streets. And here's all of us watching. CNN-BBC, BBC-CNN late into the night. Here's all of us, enduring the horror of the war, enduring the horror of the propaganda and enduring the slaughter of language as we know and understand it. Freedom now means mass murder (or, in the US, fried potatoes). When someone says "humanitarian aid" we automatically go looking for induced starvation. "Embedded" I have to admit, is a great find. It's what it sounds like. And what about "arsenal of tactics?" Nice! 

In most parts of the world, the invasion of Iraq is being seen as a racist war. The real danger of a racist war unleashed by racist regimes is that it engenders racism in everybody - perpetrators, victims, spectators. It sets the parameters for the debate, it lays out a grid for a particular way of thinking. There is a tidal wave of hatred for the US rising from the ancient heart of the world. In Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, Australia. I encounter it every day. Sometimes it comes from the most unlikely sources. Bankers, businessmen, yuppie students, and they bring to it all the crassness of their conservative, illiberal politics. That absurd inability to separate governments from people: America is a nation of morons, a nation of murderers, they say, (with the same carelessness with which they say, "All Muslims are terrorists"). Even in the grotesque universe of racist insult, the British make their entry as add-ons. Arse-lickers, they're called. 

Suddenly, I, who have been vilified for being "anti-American" and "anti-west", find myself in the extraordinary position of defending the people of America. And Britain. 

Those who descend so easily into the pit of racist abuse would do well to remember the hundreds of thousands of American and British citizens who protested against their country's stockpile of nuclear weapons. And the thousands of American war resisters who forced their government to withdraw from Vietnam. They should know that the most scholarly, scathing, hilarious critiques of the US government and the "American way of life" comes from American citizens. And that the funniest, most bitter condemnation of their prime minister comes from the British media. Finally they should remember that right now, hundreds of thousands of British and American citizens are on the streets protesting the war. The Coalition of the Bullied and Bought consists of governments, not people. More than one third of America's citizens have survived the relentless propaganda they've been subjected to, and many thousands are actively fighting their own government. In the ultra-patriotic climate that prevails in the US, that's as brave as any Iraqi fighting for his or her homeland. 

While the "Allies" wait in the desert for an uprising of Shia Muslims on the streets of Basra, the real uprising is taking place in hundreds of cities across the world. It has been the most spectacular display of public morality ever seen. 

Most courageous of all, are the hundreds of thousands of American people on the streets of America's great cities - Washington, New York, Chicago, San Francisco. The fact is that the only institution in the world today that is more powerful than the American government, is American civil society. American citizens have a huge responsibility riding on their shoulders. How can we not salute and support those who not only acknowledge but act upon that responsibility? They are our allies, our friends. 

At the end of it all, it remains to be said that dictators like Saddam Hussein, and all the other despots in the Middle East, in the central Asian republics, in Africa and Latin America, many of them installed, supported and financed by the US government, are a menace to their own people. Other than strengthening the hand of civil society (instead of weakening it as has been done in the case of Iraq), there is no easy, pristine way of dealing with them. (It's odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian, don't hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: to stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most entertainingly, to "rid the world of evil-doers".) 

Regardless of what the propaganda machine tells us, these tin-pot dictators are not the greatest threat to the world. The real and pressing danger, the greatest threat of all is the locomotive force that drives the political and economic engine of the US government, currently piloted by George Bush. Bush-bashing is fun, because he makes such an easy, sumptuous target. It's true that he is a dangerous, almost suicidal pilot, but the machine he handles is far more dangerous than the man himself. 

Despite the pall of gloom that hangs over us today, I'd like to file a cautious plea for hope: in times of war, one wants one's weakest enemy at the helm of his forces. And President George W Bush is certainly that. Any other even averagely intelligent US president would have probably done the very same things, but would have managed to smoke-up the glass and confuse the opposition. Perhaps even carry the UN with him. Bush's tactless imprudence and his brazen belief that he can run the world with his riot squad, has done the opposite. He has achieved what writers, activists and scholars have striven to achieve for decades. He has exposed the ducts. He has placed on full public view the working parts, the nuts and bolts of the apocalyptic apparatus of the American empire. 

Now that the blueprint (The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire) has been put into mass circulation, it could be disabled quicker than the pundits predicted.

Bring on the spanners. 

Go To Iraq and Get Them Back Now
An Open Letter by Felicity Arbuthnot

Published on Tuesday, August 26, 2003 by

Dear Bring Them Home Now Members, 
I read of your actions and anguish with pain of my
own. Your loved ones in Iraq will never know the Iraq,
the people, I love: Mesapotamia, the cradle of
civilization. Your loved ones have been lied to and
led to destroy something beyond precious. The country
that brought the world all we call civilized: writing,
algebra, mathematics, the wheel, the first time piece,
the first written laws. 
Abraham, father of Christianity, Islam and Judaism was
believed born at Ur, where the great ziggurat, built
in the mists of time, has been sprayed with graffiti
by US soldiers. Abraham is believed to have been
suckled on two fingers - one which gave forth milk and
the other honey - thus, 'land of milk and honey'. The
US army is building a vast base there. Sacrilege for
which history will never forgive. 'Bring down their
statues and destroy their high places' says the Book
of Numbers. A 'Crusade' indeed. 

I write in anguish not in anger. You were, as you have
eloquently said, sold a lie. The tragedy is that if
the US and UK Administration had spoken to any of
those who know Iraq we could have written the script
of all that has happened. But they wanted the oil and
would not, anyway, have listened. Iraqis are possibly
the most nationalistic nation on earth - and so
complex a society they make the Balkans look simple.
Every decision made at the top, makes your relatives
hated more - and it is not their fault, it is the
insensitive, crass stupidity of those making the
decisions others are forced to carry out. Lack of
knowledge of culture is turning even gentle university
professors into resistance fighters. Nobody has
apparently even told soldiers that to stand with your
arm up and palm out in Iraq, means 'welcome', so the
'liberated' drive through road blocks and get their
heads - and children's heads - blown off. 
The Pentagon regards Iraqis as non-people. 

They are people of the richest culture on the planet.
Now they have had their history, their past, present
and future destroyed. They have no records, no central
birth, marriage or death registry, no health registry
records, their passports are invalid, their
examination records are destroyed - they ARE now
non-people. With the water mostly off they cannot
wash. This is not alone a health hazard, but washing
is integral in Islam - before and after prayer, before
and after food - the body must be as clean as is hoped
the soul will become. One of your members sends her
son bottled water - who sends the Iraqis bottled
water? Even when it is available, Iraq's water is a
biological weapon. 

What about the thousands of 'disappeared'? Iraq has
become a vast Guantanamo Bay. What does this say abut
the democracy we are inflicting? Iraqi friends tell me
in despair that there are more 'disappeared' now than
ever under Saddam. What are we becoming? What is being
done in our name? A distinguished former UN Assistant
Secretary General and UN Co-ordinator in Iraq, Count
Hans von Sponeck, said to me in despair not long ago:
"The well of hate (for the US and UK) is filling up
..." And it is, worldwide. Bush's ludicrous 'war on
terrorism' - in actuality a war to grab whatever he
and his cabal wishes, for which your loved ones are
endangered and dying - where were the Afghans and
Iraqis on 9/11 'planes? Not a one - Pacifists are
becoming potential terrorists now, the anger worldwide
is so great. US and British citizens where ever they
are too are endangered. We are all targets now, for
possibly generations to come. Generations unborn may
continue to pay the price for Bush's delusional folly
- as they will in the deformities from depleted
uranium's attack on the genes in the Balkans,
Afghanistan and Iraq - and on those who serve there. 

I end with a memory of reconciliation. Three years
ago, I was asked by a group of anti sanctions
activists, here in the UK, if I would act as a guide
for them in a planned visit to Iraq. I jumped at the
opportunity and Sheffield Against Sanctions on Iraq
and I, joined former Greek First Lady, Margarita
Papandreou's sanctions busting flight from Athens to
Baghdad's proudly rebuilt, reopened airport. 'There
are tears in our eyes every time a 'plane lands' said
an Iraqi friend. Isolation had been as hard as the
deprivation of the sanctions years. I had traveled
numerous times, the up to twenty seven hour road
journey into Baghdad, but never flown. As we landed,
tears ran down my face. 

Due to the dangers of the flight, fears of being shot
down by the illegal patrols by the US and UK, all the
Olympic Airways crew were volunteers. The Chief
Steward sat next to me for landing and touched my
hand. I looked at him and his eyes too were full of
tears. "God I love this place, these people' he said.
He had lived there for some years until the 1991 war:
'I never thought I would see it again.' The airport, a
beam of new hope for the Iraqi people, is now another
Guantanamo Bay, shaming us all. 
To reconciliation: on the visit with the Sheffield
group, I had written magical, mystical, Ur into the
itinerary. We were a group of twelve and hired a
battered mini-bus to tour. On the road to Ur, I kept
missing the turning and eventually suggested to the
driver that we return to an army checkpoint and ask
directions. The dignified Shi'a soldier in charge said
he was about to go off duty and lived near the
turning, if we gave him a ride, he would point it out.
(The Iraqi army was so poverty stricken, most soldiers
hitched to and from duty. So much for WMD's.) 

The group had printed small fliers in Arabic with a
beautifully thought through mission statement, they
wanted to see, talk, learn, build bridges with the
people of Iraq. It was on green paper - Iraq's color -
though under the US, Iraqi policemen are now forced to
wear blue and white uniforms - like the Israeli
police. They have 'IP' in english on the sleeve. There
is no 'P' in the Arabic language. 
The soldier sat in front with the driver and one of
the group whispered to me: 'Should we give him one?'
'Absolutely" I said. 

He read it very slowly and carefully, then re-read it.
Along the way we had witnessed barely describable
carnage of the ongoing US-UK bombings of his region.
He turned round and said: 'Here in the south, it is
incumbent upon us to offer hospitality to travelers.
My home is simple, but I have five chickens, you will
eat well.' It was the eve of the great Muslim feast of
Eid and we knew for what those chickens were destined
- yet he was prepared to sacrifice them to strangers
from countries who were still devastating his. I
learned about shaming humility and reconciliation, at
Take your campaign to Iraq, take your anger and grief
to Iraq and share it with the mothers and fathers of
Iraq - that will Bring Them Home and bring real power
and reconciliation to all 'we the people' of our
precious planet. 
With warmest wishes, 
Felicity Arbuthnot. 
Felicity Arbuthnot has written and broadcast widely on
Iraq and with Denis Halliday was senior researcher for
John Pilger's Award winning documentary: 'Paying the
Price - Killing the Children of Iraq.'

Recipe For Terror: Assassinated Reuters Camaraman Uncovered Evidence of Mass US Casualties in Iraq

Felicity Arbuthnot

If Tony Blair is making a list of topics to discuss with President 
Bush, 'accountability' should be well near the top. The lack of it, at US
Administration level, is stunning.

"It is just not worth characterizing by numbers", said Brigadier 
General Vincent Brooks, when asked how many Iraqis had died during the 
invasion. But from Guantanamo Bay to America's own casualties, 'life, 
liberty' - yet alone the 'pursuit of happiness' has become frighteningly 
endangered under the neo-cons pulling George W's strings.

At the recent World Uranium Weapons Conference in Hamburg, Dr Doug 
Rokke, former senior Pentagon advisor charged with the 1991 uranium
clean up of Kuwait, described how injured US troops are being flown 'in their 
hundreds, in the dead of night' back to US bases 'throughout Europe', in order 
to disguise the magnitude of casualty figures. Public photographs of 
coffins of the dead have been proscribed and in stark contrast to the public 
honoring and grief of the Italian nation for their nineteen soldiers and 
carabinieri, killed in a suicide bombing in Nassiriyah, southern Iraq last week, 
the US military shuffles its fallen as quietly as possible into their final 
resting place.

With the death toll of US soldiers having exceeded, in just seven 
months, that of the first three years of Vietnam it is worth asking if even 
these figures are the full truth. Many of those who have joined the 
military in Iraq, do not hold American passports, but were, broadly, promised 
that they would be given them on return, for their efforts against the 'war on
terrorism'. According to Dr Rokke, should they die, their deaths are 
not factored in to 'U.S.' casualties. Further, Mazen Dana, the Award 
winning Reuters camera man, shot dead by US troops whilst filming outside 
Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison in August - with full permission and press 
accreditation from the US Authorities in Baghdad - told his brother Nazmi, a 
chilling tale days before he died.

"Mazen told me by phone few days before his death that he discovered 
a mass grave dug by U.S. troops to conceal the bodies of their fellow 
comrades killed in Iraqi resistance attacks," Nazmi said.

"He also told me that he found U.S. troops covered in plastic bags in 
remote desert areas and he filmed them for a TV program. We are pretty sure 
that the American forces had killed Mazen knowingly to prevent him from 
airing his finding."

"All international and local news agencies sent cables of condolences 
to his family, lauding his ...... determination to uncover the truth 
wherever it was", recorded veteran Middle East correspondent Awed Al Ragoub.

Truth is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists to record in Iraq.
Last week, reported the Boston Globe, thirty major news gathering 
outlets wrote to the Pentagon complaining of intimidation, arrest, 
destruction of note books, video tape, recorders and film. The 
circumstances of the death of ITN's Terry Lloyd and disappearance of his 
colleagues is still obscured by the US Administration as has been the US 
tank attack on the Palestine Hotel with deaths of three journalists. 
Journalists' protection, under the Geneva Convention is absolute.

Iraq is now a vast Guantanamo Bay, with the disappeared unaccounted 
for, which was why Mazen Dana was filming outside Abu Ghraib. Even 
prisoners under Saddam, were more accounted for. The full number of both prison camps and prisoners are simply unknown. With the bombing of the Red 
Cross building in Baghdad and resultant pull out of staff, the last shred of 
accountability for the detained has been removed. The Red Cross is enshrined in the  Geneva Convention as the neutral body who can interview and account for prisoners in war, held as hostage or in conflict zones. The tragedy of the Red Cross attack had a coincidental convenience for a U.S. human rights 
time bomb.

The Geneva Convention also has emotive words regarding environmental
destruction. Viet Nam with Agent Orange, torching of villages, rapes 
and even the decapitation of a baby by a US soldier to steal her  necklace, has
been recently chillingly revisited by a stunning, painstaking two year
investigation by journalists at the extraordinarily committed but 
relatively small town Toledo Blade newspaper.

'Will this be another Viet Nam?' has been a frequent haunting, 
relating to American body bags. Maybe. But little addressed is : 
environmentally, it is.
Distraught reports have come out of Iraq of fauna, flora, wheat, 
barley, agriculture, bushes being torched by US soldiers with, like Viet Nam, 
music blaring and redolent of Palestine's olive groves, Iraq's great dates 
palms being mown down. Iraq has maybe six hundred different kinds of dates, 
is the worlds biggest producer. Nothing is wasted: sugar syrup is made, the 
stones are polished and made into beads, the fronds become anything from 
brooms to intricate, evocative bird cages. The date harvest (about now) is a 
vivid, beautiful celebration; towns and cities display them in markets in 
their vibrant colors: from sand and gold to brown and near vermillion, in 
great, intricately woven baskets - made of the fronds. Date palms are near 
Asking the way to a home, people will deliberate the location of the 
house and then , invariably say: "the garden has the tallest (smallest, most
twisted etc) palm ..."

The full horror and lack of accountability is outside the scope of an
article, but was starkly outlined by an Iraqi academic - old friend, 
rabidly anti- Saddam - I met recently. She told me of a beloved alter-ego, the
sister she never had, who had gone to find medication for one of her 
two children. The two kids were in the back of the car and she trawled the
pharmacies for the medicine. (Hospitals are now , say Iraqi doctors, 
worse equipped than after the 1991 war, but under the new freedom no 
journalists are allowed to visit to record.) Finally, she found what she was 
Driving back over the 14th of July Bridge (hugely emotive and named 
after another revolution against the British) she was shot at by US troops, 
the car burned out and she and her children burned to the unrecognizable.
Baghdad, being a village of five million people, her husband quickly 
learned what had happened and ran across the town with friends and 
blankets, to cover and succor them in death. They were shot at, as they 
returned repeatedly, for three days, by the troops as wife and childrens' 
remains stayed in the car, before they could be collected and interred.

"For telling you this, I await the knock at the door, any day, like 
all academics do who speak out in this occupation", said my friend. 
Academics are being disappeared at stunning speed in Iraq. "You know" she 
said quietly, her eyes meeting mine: "many of us say we want Saddam 
and our country back."

Oorlog bedreigt cultuurschatten Irak 
 Weblog kunstnieuws van redactie kunstbus,
 Geplaatst op zondag: 23 - 3 - 2003
Nu de oorlog in Irak in volle gang is, houden vele archeologen het hart vast. Irak is met zijn culturele erfgoed van beschavingen als de Babyloniërs, Assyriërs en Sumeriërs van grote archeologische waarde. Door de bombardementen ligt vernietiging op de loer.

In het vruchtbare Tweestromenland tussen de Eufraat en de Tigris bevinden zich bekende historische plaatsen als Babylon, Ur en Hatra. 

‘Het land heeft een rijke historie, ook in islamitische zin’, aldus L. Dirven van het Amsterdams Archeologisch Centrum. Zij was vorig jaar nog in Irak en werkte enige tijd in de woestijnstad Hatra en het Nationaal museum in Bagdad. Een kleine opsomming leert dat bijna in elke Iraakse stad wel iets van grote cultuurhistorische waarde is te vinden. De Ctesiphon (gemetselde boog) ten zuiden van Bagdad, de Ziggurat (spiraaltoren) in Ur, het fort van Hatra, dat het religieuze centrum vormde van nomadische stammen, de koninginnegraven in Nimrud, de spiraalminnaret van Samarra. 

Door de oorlog bestaat het gevaar dat Amerikaanse bombardementen het vaak duizenden jaren oude erfgoed raken. Dat gevaar is reëel. De woestijnstad Hatra ligt bijvoorbeeld dichtbij Mosul, dat afgelopen nacht door zware bommen is bestookt. De Ctesiphon staat vlakbij het Iraakse ministerie van Atoomenergie, een mogelijk doelwit van de Verenigde Staten. 

De Ctesiphon schudde tijdens de Golfoorlog in 1991 al op zijn grondvesten, terwijl de Ziggurat in Ur, die in de 21e eeuw voor Christus is gebouwd, werd getroffen voor mitrailleurvuur. Een kerk uit de 10e eeuw in Mosul kwam gedeeltelijk verwoest uit de strijd. Archeologen hopen echter dat de precisiebombardementen van de Amerikanen grote schade zullen voorkomen. 

De VS - en Groot-Brittannië - hebben weliswaar niet de Conventie van Den haag uit 1954 ondertekend, die de bescherming van culturele erfgoederen regelt, maar hebben wel aangegeven rekening te houden met de culturele waarde van Irak. De Amerikaanse archeoloog McGuire Gibson, die verscheidene opgravingen in Irak heeft geleid, heeft het Pentagon een lijst met honderden belangrijke monumenten in steden overhandigd. Gibson zei onlangs tegen de National Geographic niet zozeer bezorgd te zijn om de Amerikaanse bombardementen. Volgens hem is vooral de periode erna cruciaal voor de toekomst van het culturele erfgoed. In 1991, toen de oorlogsschade meeviel, vormden plunderaars de grootste bedreiging. Zij roofden regionale musea, bezochten met bulldozers archeologische opgravingsplaatsen of zaagden gewoon aan historische paleizen. Kort daarna werden de stukken te koop aangeboden.

‘Het was gewoon georganiseerde misdaad’, meent onderzoeker Dirven. ‘Ik heb verhalen gehoord van vrachtwagens met gewapende mannen die bewakers van archeologische sites bedreigden. Het was geen laksheid van de autoriteiten, maar een kwestie van te veel chaos en te weinig geld.’ 

Een Italiaanse archeoloog heeft vorig jaar vastgesteld dat na de Golfoorlog in 1991 750 stukken zijn verdwenen uit de regionale musea. Daarbij ging het vooral om kleinere objecten. Overal in de wereld duikt wel weer wat op. ‘Ik hoorde onlangs dat een collega in Londen nog een geroofd object in Londen aantrof’, aldus Dirven. 

Archeologen vrezen dat de geschiedenis zich herhaalt. Dirven heeft haar hoop gevestigd op de belofte van de VS dat ze wederopbouw serieus gaan aanpakken. ‘Dan kan er op archeologisch gebied belangrijk werk worden verricht. Het is puur een kwestie van geld.’

Zie ook: http://www.brabantsdagblad.nl/


10November 2003
It appears the War is Back-on Jagmedic wrote

Warplanes and armoured vehicles pounded suspected Iraqi guerrilla hideouts in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit yesterday as
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was forced to admit that Iraq was still a “war zone”. 

“We are involved in an insurgency, and that’s pretty close to war,” Armitage said, as the US army continued Operation Ivy Cyclone, a new
drive to root out guerrillas in the hostile territory around Tikrit. 

But in a new attack by Iraqi insurgents in the volatile town of Falluja, west of Baghdad, another two US soldiers were killed and one was
wounded when a roadside bomb was detonated near their convoy. 

The latest American casualties came only a day after six soldiers were killed in the shooting down of a Black Hawk helicopter, prompting
the US assault on Tikrit. 

The air raids carried out yesterday as part of Operation Ivy Cyclone were the first since Washington declared major combat over in Iraq
on May 1. Since that date at least 149 US soldiers have been killed in action. During this weekend’s extensive operation, F-16
fighter-bombers swooped over Tikrit, dropping 500-pound bombs. Troops backed by Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles then
launched raids around the town. 

“This operation is a concentrated, uncompromising effort to locate and detain or eliminate any person … that seeks to harm coalition
forces or innocent Iraqis as they work together to bring stability and security to a free Iraq,” said a US army statement. 

US blew up huge arsenal near Tikrit
16 November 2003 11:21:31 Þ.Ù 

Mazham, Iraq, Nov 16 - A huge cloud of smoke rose to the sky followed by an earth-shaking blast as US troops blew up thousands of warheads -- just a fraction of the weapons Iraq's ousted dictator Saddam Hussein once stockpiled and which now are often used in anti-coalition attacks.

"Our mission is to get rid of the stuff so it can't be used against us," said major Ron Zimmerman, operations commander of the 4th infantry division's 299 engineers battalion, which blew up the lethal weapons.

"You just cannot fathom how much ammunition there is in this country," said Zimmerman.

"If Saddam had spent one-tenth of what he spent on ammunition on the people, this place would be very different." 

The spectacular explosion organized was fueled by 2,700 warheads, 2,500 rockets, 1,000 anti-tank shells and 2,400 depleted uranium rounds
US troops piled up in a bunker near the village of Mazham, 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Baghdad and 12 kilometers (seven miles) from Tikrit.

The ordnance was collected in the area around Tikrit, Saddam's hometown and a hotspot of anti-coalition activity, where the 4th ID has its Iraq headquarters. 

2003/11/16   commentary see below


To:        du-watch@yahoogroups.co 16-11-2002
Subject: [DU-WATCH] DU cook-off
Date: Sun, 16 Nov 2003 15:20:55 -0000
From:  "Amarie" <amarierosa@yahoo.com>

Since Iraq did/does not have uranium KEP's, the rounds reported in 
this very odd story would have to be US or British, or both. Given 
the location, they would be US rounds. 

Now why would this be? Damaged or otherwise rejected rounds somehow 
compromised during storage or transport? XO/UXO clean-up of 

If anyone believes they are Iraqi round, please make sure you itemize 
the calibers of the rounds and the platforms the Iraqi's had/have to 
fire these calibers in explaining your hypothesis. 

I don't think this is a XO/UXO action at all Its a 4 ID barbacue for 
family friends in the north.

This piece reekes of spin, again telling of blatant ignorance within the US
military. Similar PR was attempted in Kosovo. Yet former Kosovo Liberation
Army (now Kosovo Protections Corps, under war criminal General Agim Ceku) is
still armed to the teeth despite many voluntary "disarmament" initiatives
and "searches" by the US forces.

Last spring in Kosovo I was hosted by ethnic Albanians who went to secret
military training on the weekends and smuggled arms on other days, all for

Do the US military believe they can overcome hostilities of Iraqis against
invaders and occupiers? How would the destruction of a miniscule part of the
total arsenal improve security in Iraq? Weapons don't fail to arrive where
and when needed.

1. How do we know it was Iraqi munitions? Was the collection shown to
independents and was verified to be Iraqi?

2. In all recent wars, the US disposed of munitions nearing expiry dates or
already expired. It is less 'controversial' than polluting own country from
military disposal sites. When, where and how did the Coalition forces
dispose of its depleted uranium ammo dudes collected in Iraq? For a material
considered illegal weapon -- and risky to health if not lethal according to
numerous government, military, and industrial documents in the US and other
Coalition countries -- one would expect a thorough documentation of
collection and diposal after an armed conflict in a foreign country.

3. Regardless of the source of the uranium munitions, this event proves an
utmost stupidity of the US military. They will be held responsible for
another genocidal action: pulverizing between 0.7 tonnes (in case of 30 mm
bullets) and 11 tonnes (120 mm ammo) of uranium in a foreign country! Most
of it must have burned into fine dust in the explosion. Tikrit and vicinity
became a nice place to live and raise children. Any dairy farms nearby?
There was one where looted yellowcake was generously spilled earlier this
year. Japanese reporter Takashi Morizumi showed it at the Hamburg
conference, but I can't find it at a website presenting his awesome work,

4. Why would Iraqi forces be in possession of depleted uranium ammunition?
Don't tell me it was 30 mm bullets for A-10s and 120 mm darts for Abram
tanks (which, as we know, Saddam had in abundance but hid under a rose bush
from the UN inspectors).

5. Why would anybody on this list still want to rely on Greenpeace after the
scam with being propaganda mouthpiece for Pentagon? See my posting to
du-watch on June 24, 2003. Never mind measuring the obvious, those
responsible for the cook-off of uranium weapons should be taken straight to
a tribunal ...or asylium.

Piotr Bein

Radioactive bridges?

    Blackened, destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles hit by and 
    thus contaminated by depleted uranium (DU) weapons in the March 
    invasion of Iraq, are being melted down in a huge smelting facility near 
    Basra, in southern Iraq under the auspices of the British Army and being 
    turned into pre-fabricated bridges, litter bins and even pots and 
    pans¹, believes the Independent¹s veteran Middle East correspondent Robert 
    Fisk. He told the  .......... that the story in Basra is plausible and 
    consistent I believe it to be true, but I can¹t prove it¹, since due to 
    time restrictions  and travel complexities in current circumstances: I did 
    not get to the facility.¹

    Depleted uranium is a .... radioactive waste and, as such, should be 
    deposited in a licensed repository¹ states the US Army 
    Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI) (June 1995.) 
    After the 1991 Gulf war, tanks hit with depleted uranium were taken to 
    a nuclear decontamination facility at Barnwell, North Carolina, built only 
    for the purpose of dealing with vehicles damaged and contaminated by DU 
    in the war. Those which could not be decontaminated were sent to a 
    special secure landfill site owned by Chem Nuclear or to the US Department 
    of Energy¹s similar Savanna River Site. The Barnwell Manager at the time, 
    Roger Johnson, talked of the vast amount of radioactive and toxic material 
    affecting vehicles.¹Something that takes only  four days can produce a lot of 

    The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority spokesman said at the time he was 
    astonished by the use of DU. The UKAEA was so alarmed they self initiated¹ 
    a Report which they sent to the Ministry of Defence in April 1991, warning 
    of a health and environmental catastrophy - and that if a residual fifty 
    tonnes of DU dust, resultant from the impact of weapons remained, they 
    estimated that there could be an excess half a million potential deaths¹ 
    from cancer Œin the region¹ within ten years. That three hundred and twenty 
    tons was left, has been confirmed by the Pentagon. Some scientists say it 
    could be nine hundred tons. The most recent conflict has, cite Reports, left 
    at least a further two thousand two hundred tonnes. 
    The UKAEA paper states Œ... DU can become a long term problem if not dealt 
    with and .. a risk to both the military and civilian population¹ the UKAEA¹s 
    calculations indicate a significant problem.¹ Further, localised contamination 
    of  vehicles and soil may exceed permissable limits and these could be hazardous 
    to both clean up teams and the local  population. 
    Inhalation of DU dust particles can lead to unacceptable body burdens (putting) the 
    public at risk. DU can also be a danger if taken into the body by ingestion or 
    through a cut. Furthermore if DU gets into the food chain or water, then this will
    create potential health problems.¹ 
    DU remains radioactive for four and a half billion years.

    Basra¹s cancers and birth defects, linked by experts to the 
    use of DU in 1991 are at epidemic levels. The effects of the further use 
    last year has yet to be assessed. The implications, for the population 
    and especially for those working in the smelting plant and breathing in the DU 
    dust can only be  imagined. DU if ingested or inhaled has the potential to 
    generate significant medical consequences¹, states the AEPI short 
    term effects of high doses can result in death, whilst long term effects of 
    low doses can result in cancer.¹

    Llew Smith MP (L. Blaenau Gwent) has tabled a question to 
    the Defence Secretary asking: "what methods are being used to 
    decontaminate Iraqi tanks and other military equipment disabled or destroyed 
    by the use of depleted uranium munitions in the southern sector of Iraq 
    under British military control.?" It is due for reply from 8 January.

    Professor Malcolm Hooper, Emeritus Professor at the University of 
    Sunderland and a Government Advisor on Gulf war illnesses says: 'Taiwan 
    springs to mind, where radioactive material was used in building structures and 
    deaths and illnesses were so great, they had to be demolished. I would be very 
    unhappy about using these  materials, it would be a disater for workers, a disaster 
    for those living in the vicinity and it would be a real  toxic brew also containing 
    mercury, cadmium' and numerous other lethal pollutants.

    A spokesman foir the Ministry of Defence told the 
    .......... that they had no knowledge of tanks being melted down as a method of 
    disposal, cooenting: 'there are illegal smelting facilities all over Basra', 
    suggesting contacting their Basra Headquarters, who could not be reached by 
    the time of going to press.

    Robert Fisk comments cynically: "It makes sense. Maybe Iraqi housewives who 
    live through nights of power cuts can now spot their household utensils 
    glowing quietly in the darkness of the kitchen."

The Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, 
Ancoats, Manchester, M4 7HR Tel./Fax.: +44 (0)161 273 8293
E-Mail info@cadu.org.uk     Website: http://www.cadu.org.uk

Behalve mensenlevens, zal de oorlog in Irak ook veel archeologische vindplaatsen verwoesten. In het voormalige Mesopotamië zijn officieel zo’n tienduizend opgravingslocaties, maar volgens de Amerikaanse archeoloog McGuire Gibson is er op honderdduizenden plaatsen in het Irakese zand iets te vinden. Militairen die zich veilig ingraven in een heuveltje? Grote kans dat ze dan een graf of nederzetting vernietigen.
De toekomst van Babylon
Irakese archeologie bedreigd
vrijdag 21 maart 2003
Een kruisraket op de piramide van Gizeh, of op de sfinx – dat zou de wereld verschrikkelijk vinden. “Maar mensen begrijpen niet dat de monumenten van Irak veel belangrijker zijn voor het werelderfgoed dan die van Egypte. Heel Irak is één grote archeologische vindplaats, waar zesduizend jaar geleden de vroegste beschavingen werden gesticht.” McGuire Gibson is als de dood voor de gevolgen van de oorlog in het gebied van de Tigris en de Eufraat. De archeoloog van de Universiteit van Chicago schrijft in het (Amerikaanse) vakblad Science te vrezen voor de resten van legendarische steden als Babylon, Niniveh en Ur. Die resten kent hij zelf al sinds 1964, toen hij voor de eerste keer in Irak werkte.
“Afgezet tegen menselijk lijden lijken materiële zaken van minder belang, maar de bakermat van de westerse beschaving wordt ook bedreigd,” stelt Gibson. De Soemeriërs, Assyriërs en Babyloniërs stichtten niet alleen de eerste steden, maar maakten met de uitvinding van het schrift ook een einde aan het prehistorie. Ze verrichtten als het ware pionierswerk dat duidelijk maakte hoe grote groepen mensen samen kunnen leven. Via opgeschreven wetten bijvoorbeeld, en vastgelegde rechten en plichten.
Dat ‘voorbeeld’ voor de maatschappij van nu dreigt voorgoed verloren te gaan, vreest Gibson. Tot de eerste Golfoorlog van 1991 was het archeologisch onderzoek in Irak volgens hem goed georganiseerd. Vlak na de stichting van Irak, begin jaren twintig van de vorige eeuw, kwam er al een ‘Departement van Antiquiteiten’ die zich met de historische resten in het zand ging bezighouden. In binnen- en buitenland werden mensen opgeleid, er kwamen musea met duizenden personeelsleden, en de opgravingsplaatsen werden door honderden bewakers beschermd. Dat was afdoende, want indertijd werd er amper illegaal opgegraven of gesmokkeld.
De Golfoorlog en het economische embargo tegen Irak dat volgde, heeft dat gunstige archeologisch klimaat verwoest. De bombardementen op steden van twaalf jaar geleden beschadigde musea, die – als ze niet waren verbrand – ook geplunderd werden. Een paar duizend voorwerpen zijn sindsdien spoorloos. Wat de gevolgen van de strijd in de woestijn zijn geweest, is onduidelijk, omdat het embargo onderzoek verhinderde. Wat wel duidelijk is, is dat de smokkel van antieke kunst een hoge vlucht genomen heeft. Het Departement van Antiquiteiten is volgens Gibson zo goed als ontmanteld, net als de bewaking van de vindplaatsen.
De smokkel van illegaal opgegraven voorwerpen werd haast een industrie, schrijft Gibson. Begonnen uit nood vanwege honger, bleek het buitenland erg veel interesse in de spullen te hebben. Vooral kleitabletten met inscripties in spijkerschrift zijn populair, maar ook beelden, sierraden en cilindervormige zegels. Af en toe wordt een vrachtwagen vol smokkelwaar aan de grens onderschept, maar de kunstwereld is gespannen, aldus Gibson. “Het aanbod van objecten is zo groot dat een verzamelaar in New York opmerkte dat ‘dit het gouden tijdperk voor verzamelen is’.”
Officieel is pas zo’n vijftien procent van het oppervlak van Irak op archeologische resten onderzocht. Daar zijn nu pakweg tienduizend vindplaatsen, en volgens Gibson is het ‘redelijk’ om aan te nemen dat er in de rest van het land nog ‘honderdduizenden’ andere interessante plaatsen zijn. “Legers zoeken hoge grond om zich in in te graven, maar in Zuid-Irak is bijna elke heuvel een archeologische vindplaats.” Dat heeft hij samen met enkele collega’s eind januari ook verteld aan de Amerikaanse overheid. De archeologen overhandigden daarbij een lijst van de locaties van vierduizend bekende vindplaatsen. Ambtenaren antwoordden dat er al zo’n lijst binnen het ministerie circuleert, en dat de vindplaatsen ‘bekend worden gemaakt aan de mensen die de precieze beschietingsdoelen vaststellen,’ rapporteerde de Chicago Tribune.
Marc Koenen
McGuire Gibson: Fate of Iraqi Archaeology.
In: Science, vol. 299, p. 1848 (21 maart 2003)

The Destruction of Iraq's National Library and Archives

>>> The following are news reports concerning the destruction and looting of irreplaceable books and other documents in Iraq's National Library and Archives, along with the library of the Ministry of Religious Endowment, which took place 14 April 2003.

Please send me other articles on this cultural atrocity, as well as any information on exactly what material was in these two libraries. I'd like to create a catalog of what has been lost.

Library Books, Letters and Priceless Documents Are Set Ablaze in Final Chapter of the Sacking of Baghdad
Robert Fisk
Independent (London), 15 April 2003

So yesterday was the burning of books. First came the looters, then the arsonists. It was the final chapter in the sacking of Baghdad. The National Library and Archives ­ a priceless treasure of Ottoman historical documents, including the old royal archives of Iraq ­ were turned to ashes in 3,000 degrees of heat. Then the library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Endowment was set ablaze.

I saw the looters. One of them cursed me when I tried to reclaim a book of Islamic law from a boy of no more than 10. Amid the ashes of Iraqi history, I found a file blowing in the wind outside: pages of handwritten letters between the court of Sharif Hussein of Mecca, who started the Arab revolt against the Turks for Lawrence of Arabia, and the Ottoman rulers of Baghdad.

And the Americans did nothing. All over the filthy yard they blew, letters of recommendation to the courts of Arabia, demands for ammunition for troops, reports on the theft of camels and attacks on pilgrims, all in delicate hand-written Arabic script. I was holding in my hands the last Baghdad vestiges of Iraq's written history. But for Iraq, this is Year Zero; with the destruction of the antiquities in the Museum of Archaeology on Saturday and the burning of the National Archives and then the Koranic library, the cultural identity of Iraq is being erased. Why? Who set these fires? For what insane purpose is this heritage being destroyed?

When I caught sight of the Koranic library burning ­ flames 100 feet high were bursting from the windows ­ I raced to the offices of the occupying power, the US Marines' Civil Affairs Bureau. An officer shouted to a colleague that "this guy says some biblical [sic] library is on fire". I gave the map location, the precise name ­ in Arabic and English. I said the smoke could be seen from three miles away and it would take only five minutes to drive there. Half an hour later, there wasn't an American at the scene ­ and the flames were shooting 200 feet into the air.

There was a time when the Arabs said that their books were written in Cairo, printed in Beirut and read in Baghdad. Now they burn libraries in Baghdad. In the National Archives were not just the Ottoman records of the Caliphate, but even the dark years of the country's modern history, handwritten accounts of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, with personal photographs and military diaries,and microfiche copies of Arabic newspapers going back to the early 1900s.

But the older files and archives were on the upper floors of the library where petrol must have been used to set fire so expertly to the building. The heat was such that the marble flooring had buckled upwards and the concrete stairs that I climbedhad been cracked.

The papers on the floor were almost too hot to touch, bore no print or writing, and crumbled into ash the moment I picked them up. Again, standing in this shroud of blue smoke and embers, I asked the same question: why?

So, as an all-too-painful reflection on what this means, let me quote from the shreds of paper that I found on the road outside, blowing in the wind, written by long-dead men who wrote to the Sublime Porte in Istanbul or to the Court of Sharif of Mecca with expressions of loyalty and who signed themselves "your slave". There was a request to protect a camel convoy of tea, rice and sugar, signed by Husni Attiya al-Hijazi (recommending Abdul Ghani-Naim and Ahmed Kindi as honest merchants), a request for perfume and advice from Jaber al-Ayashi of the royal court of Sharif Hussein to Baghdad to warn of robbers in the desert. "This is just to give you our advice for which you will be highly rewarded," Ayashi says. "If you don't take our advice, then we have warned you." A touch of Saddam there, I thought. The date was 1912.

Some of the documents list the cost of bullets, military horses and artillery for Ottoman armies in Baghdad and Arabia, others record the opening of the first telephone exchange in the Hejaz ­ soon to be Saudi Arabia ­ while one recounts, from the village of Azrak in modern-day Jordan, the theft of clothes from a camel train by Ali bin Kassem, who attacked his interrogators "with a knife and tried to stab them but was restrained and later bought off". There is a 19th-century letter of recommendation for a merchant, Yahyia Messoudi, "a man of the highest morals, of good conduct and who works with the [Ottoman] government." This, in other words, was the tapestry of Arab history ­ all that is left of it, which fell into The Independent's hands as the mass of documents crackled in the immense heat of the ruins.

King Faisal of the Hejaz, the ruler of Mecca, whose staff are the authors of many of the letters I saved, was later deposed by the Saudis. His son Faisel became king of Iraq ­ Winston Churchill gave him Baghdad after the French threw him out of Damascus ­ and his brother Abdullah became the first king of Jordan, the father of King Hussein and the grandfather of the present-day Jordanian monarch, King Abdullah II.

For almost a thousand years, Baghdad was the cultural capital of the Arab world, the most literate population in the Middle East. Genghis Khan's grandson burnt the city in the 13th century and, so it was said, the Tigris river ran black with the ink of books. Yesterday, the black ashes of thousands of ancient documents filled the skies of Iraq. Why?

Looters Ransack Iraq's National Library
Charles J. Hanley
Associated Press, Tuesday, April 15, 2003 · Last updated 12:30 p.m. PT
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Looters and arsonists ransacked and gutted Iraq's National Library, leaving a smoldering shell Tuesday of precious books turned to ash and a nation's intellectual legacy gone up in smoke.
They also looted and burned Iraq's principal Islamic library nearby, home to priceless old Qurans; last week, thieves swept through the National Museum and stole or smashed treasures that chronicled this region's role as the "cradle of civilization."
"Our national heritage is lost," an angry high school teacher, Haithem Aziz, said as he stood outside the National Library's blackened hulk. "The modern Mongols, the new Mongols did that. The Americans did that. Their agents did that," he said as an explosion boomed in the distance as the war winds down.
The Mongols, led by Genghis Khan's grandson Hulegu, sacked Baghdad in the 13th century. Today, the rumors on the lips of almost all Baghdadis is that the looting that has torn this city apart is led by U.S.-inspired Kuwaitis or other non-Iraqis bent on stripping the city of everything of value.
But outside the gutted Islamic library on the grounds of the Religious Affairs Ministry, the lone looter scampering away was undeniably Iraqi, a grizzled man named Mohamed Salman.
"It was left there, so why leave it?" he asked a reporter as he clung to a thick, red-covered book, a catalog of the library's religious collection. The scene inside was total devastation. Not a recognizable book or manuscript could be seen among the dark ash.
The destruction has drawn condemnation worldwide, with many criticizing U.S.-led coalition forces for failing to prevent or stop the looting, sometimes carried out by whole Iraqi families.
The United Nation's cultural agency and the British Museum announced Tuesday they will send in teams to help restore ransacked museums and artifacts.
Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, called on customs officials, police, art dealers and neighboring countries to block the trading of stolen antiquities.
Among the National Museum's treasures were the tablets with Hammurabi's Code - one of mankind's earliest codes of law. It could not be immediately determined whether the tablets were at the museum when war broke out.
Thieves smashed or pried open row upon row of glass cases at the museum and pilfered or destroyed their contents. Missing were the four millennia-old copper head of an Akkadian king, golden bowls and colossal statues, ancient manuscripts and bejeweled lyres.
The looting and burning - the museum in the northern city of Mosul also was pillaged - has dealt a terrible blow to a society that prides itself on its universities, literature and educated elite.
"I can't express the sorrow I feel. This is not real liberation," said an artist in a wing of the National Library that had been looted but not burned.
The thin, bearded, 41-year-old man, who would not give his name, was going through old bound newspapers and tearing out pages whose artistic drawings appealed to him. "I came yesterday to see the chaos, and when I saw it, I decided to take what I could," he said.
The three-story, tan brick National Library building, dating to 1977, housed all books published in Iraq, including copies of all doctoral theses. It preserved rare old books on Baghdad and the region, historically important books on Arabic linguistics, and antique manuscripts in Arabic that teacher Aziz said were gradually being transformed into printed versions.
"They had manuscripts from the Ottoman and Abbasid periods," Aziz said, referring to dynasties dating back a millennium. "All of them were precious, famous. I feel such grief."
No library officials could be located to detail the loss. Haroun Mohammed, an Iraqi writer based in London, told The Associated Press some old manuscripts had been transferred from the library to a Manuscript House across the Tigris River.
Except for wooden card catalog drawers and a carved-wood service counter which somehow escaped the flames, nothing was left in the National Library's main wing but its charred walls and ceilings, and mounds of ash. The floor on the ground level was still warm from the flames. Long rolls of microfilm littered the courtyard.
"This was the best library in Iraq," said music student Raad Muzahim, 27, standing among piles of paper in the periodical room. "I remember coming as a student. They were hospitable, letting students do their research, write their papers.
Armored vehicles were positioned on the nearby street, manned by U.S. Marines. They did nothing to stop Tuesday's continuing trickle of looters.

Ancient Archive Lost in Baghdad Library Blaze
Oliver Burkeman in Washington
The Guardian , Tuesday April 15, 2003
As flames engulfed Baghdad's National Library yesterday, destroying manuscripts many centuries old, the Pentagon admitted that it had been caught unprepared by the widespread looting of antiquities, despite months of warnings from American archaeologists.
But defence department officials denied accusations by British archaeologists that the US government was succumbing to pressure from private collectors in America to allow plundered Iraqi treasures to be traded on the open market.
Almost nothing remains of the library's archive of tens of thousands of manuscripts, books, and Iraqi newspapers, according to reports from the scene.
It joins a list that already includes the capital's National Museum, one of the world's most important troves of artefacts from the ancient Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian civilisations.
Calling the looting of historical artefacts "a catastrophe for the cultural heritage of Iraq", Mounir Bouchenaki, the deputy director-general of the UN cultural body Unesco, announced an emergency summit of archaeologists in Paris on Thursday.
In Washington Colin Powell, the secretary of state, said the US "will be working with a number of individuals and organisations to not only secure the facility, but to recover that which has been taken, and also to participate in restoring that which has been broken _ the United States understands its obligations and will be taking a leading role with respect to antiquities in general, but [the museum] in particular".
A Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said no plans had been made to protect antiquities from looters, as opposed to ensuring that historical sites were not caught up in the fighting itself.
But the official rejected charges in a letter from nine British archaeologists, published in the Guardian yesterday, that private collectors were "persuading the Pentagon to relax legislation that protects Iraq's heritage by prevention of sales abroad".
The American Council for Cultural Policy, a New York-based coalition of about 60 collectors, dealers and others, had received "no special treatment," the official insisted, despite reports that members of the group met with Bush administration representatives in January to argue that a post-Saddam Iraq should have relaxed antiquities laws.
Last night the group denied that it was lobbying for plundered Iraqi treasures to be traded. "The ACCP will seek _ to find ways to shut off the import of objects that may have been taken from Iraq, and to close the domestic market in such material," Ashton Hawkins, the organisation's president, said.
John Henry Merryman, a law professor at Stanford University and a member of the ACCP, said allowing a private trade in the artefacts would better protect them until they could be returned to Iraq at a later date.
Prized Iraqi Annals 'Lost in Blaze'
BBC News , 14 April 2003
Almost all of the contents of Iraq's national library and archives are reported to have been destroyed by fire, meaning the loss of priceless records of the country's history.
The library, in central Baghdad, housed several rare volumes, including entire royal court records and files from the period when Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire.
It is unclear who started the fires - though widespread looting has taken place in the Iraqi capital, with the city's museum also ransacked and many rare artefacts damaged, destroyed or stolen.
The US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has pledged to recover and repair the antiquities looted from the city museum, amid criticism from heritage bodies that the damage should have been prevented.

Patrols begin
A Western journalist - Robert Fisk of the Independent - reporting from the site of the library told the BBC that the whole building had been gutted, with handwritten documents from as far back as the 16th century - when Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire - strewn on the ground.
A nearby Islamic library has also gone in up in flames, he said, destroying valuable literature including one of the oldest surviving copies of the Koran.
US-Iraqi joint patrols have now begun around the city in a bid to curb the violence.
Several Shia religious leaders have appealed to the local population to return looted items, and say that some items had been returned and stashed in mosques for safekeeping.
"We will return them when we will have a democratic government," Shia cleric Sayyad Ali al-Shawki told the Associated Press news agency.
Mr Powell called the ravaged Baghdad museum "one of the great museums in the world" and said the US would take a leading role in restoring it.
Leading experts on Iraqi heritage will gather for an emergency meeting on Thursday to count the cost of the looting of the country's cultural sites.

'Recover and restore'
Mr Powell said the US would secure the museum and would work with organisations such as the European Union and the cultural arm of the United Nations, Unesco, in restoring it.
The US would "recover that which has been taken and also participate in restoring that which has been broken", he said.
But the loss and destruction already suffered has been described as "a disaster" by Unesco.
The national museum was home to artefacts that dated back 10,000 years, from one of the world's earliest civilisations.
The development of writing, abstract counting, the wheel and agriculture were all charted in its exhibitions.
The collections from the Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian periods were particularly prized.

'History of mankind'
Despite Mr Powell's assurances, there are fears that many objects may have been be lost forever.
After the 1991 Gulf War, 4,000 pieces disappeared when regional museums were looted.
Donny George, archaeologist at the museum, said: "It was the leading collection of a... continuous history of mankind.
"And it's gone, and it's lost. If marines had started before, none of this would have happened.
"It's too late, it's no use, it's no use."
Articles copyright 2003 by their respective publishers.

<>Preface Who's Counting The Vote In Iraq
Total Article 3650 words including references and illustrations. Complete article $2.99 or sign up to Convergence Weekly.

Who’s counting the vote in Iraq? With so much riding on an election that could see the winning coalition ordering the occupiers to abandon their nine permanent bases and leave Iraq, and despite widespread vote-rigging during the last three US federal elections, the “watchdog” corporate press has yet to get its muzzles far enough out of its feed bowls to question another Bush-sponsered election—this time being tallied in the US-controlled Green Zone.


by William Thomas | Sunday, Feb. 6, 2005

“Whether in peacetime Florida or wartime Iraq, it’s not too difficult to steal an election.” -Norman Solomon [YubaNet.com]

In acts of courage that inspired the world, they came in their millions to place the first free ballots in Iraq since a US-backed tyrant seized power 25 years ago. “We are defeating the terrorists as we are coming here,” said a voter named Saad, proudly displaying an ink-stained finger as proof of his vote.

Iraq’s electoral commission reported as many as eight million people, or just over half of Iraq’s 14 million registered voters, defied threatened attacks and terrorist reprisals to cast their votes for control over their own destiny. In the southern city of Basra, the mainly Shia turnout was almost 90% as Arabs cast their votes for what one called, “freedom, peace and food.”

But in many Sunni cities, only a third of the polling stations opened. Voting was almost nonexistent in the largely Sunni provinces of Al Anbar, Salahuddin, Nineveh and Diyalain.

Not everyone was happy. Sheltering in Iraq’s capitol, some 200,000 Sunni refugees from the wrecked “City of Mosques” nursed their anger over losing so many loved ones, homes and neighborhoods in Fallujah—not to mention political dominance that became absolute through the Ba’ath party and Saddam.

Nevertheless, election workers cheered as the first trucks loaded with ballots rolled into Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, 24 hours after the initial hand-count at 5,200 precincts. With US mercenaries looking on, some 200 election workers tapped laptop keyboards, entering the hopes of Shi’ite and Kurdish Iraq distilled into thousands of bags of ballots.

The one thing most Iraqis agreed on is that their country will not achieve tahrir—independence—until the United States military departs. As Fisk found out, “the word so many voted for” was not the “democracy” bandied by the Bush media for American consumption, but the real thing: “freedom to speak, freedom to vote, freedom from the Americans.”

Opposed to these notions is a group of powerful religious fundamentalists who want to see their government guided by and forcibly exporting their murderous interpretation of the “word of God”. Since taking over the White House, these religious fanatics have killed more than a hundred thousand family members in homes and neighborhoods not much different than your own. Mostly children have died in places like Kabul, Sadr City, Ramadi, Najaf and Fallujah.

While Iraqis wondered what was next in store for them, and Sunni princes nervously fingered their jewels, adulation for Iraq’s historic vote poured in from around a world that must have forgotten that Sumeria invented civilization. “People are waking up,” King Abdullah told CNN. Arab “leaders understand that they have to push reform forward, and I don’t think there is any looking back.”

The Bush administration has long argued that successful elections in Iraq will inspire similar democratic reforms in a region ruled by authoritarian governments in no hurry to give up power and perks. In statements that eerily echo similar boasts made during a previous conflict, the White House gloated over the high turnout and “light casualties” from the single biggest day of attacks since US forces invaded Iraq nearly two years ago.
As William Rivers-Pitt reminds us, Washington’s jubilation echoed similar sentiments voiced nearly 40 years ago:

“United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam’s presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting,” reported the New York Times. “According to reports from Saigon, 83%t of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam.”

Bush’s boasting backfired when Democrats in Congress and grieving American families across the USA loudly suggested that now would be a great time to bring the surviving troops home. Senator Robert Kennedy Jr. helpfully provided a blueprint for a withdrawal the US Army says couldn’t take place before 2005 at the earliest.

Burning rubber in reverse, the Bush administration assured Americans that the election was not such a big deal after all, since Iraq’s uniformed security services cannot yet offer security unassisted by American-style saturation firepower. Desertion rates up to 40% among non-Kurdish police and army units hamper that crucial handover, along with enough intelligence leaks to sink a ship of state.

With so much riding on an election that could see the winning coalition ordering the occupiers to abandon their nine permanent bases and leave Iraq, and despite widespread vote-rigging during the last three US federal elections, the “watchdog” corporate press has yet to get its muzzles far enough out of its feed bowls to question another Bush-sponsored election—this time being tallied in the US-controlled Green Zone.

Speaking for the Association of Muslim Scholars, Muhammad al-Kubaysi wondered how valid the much vaunted elections can be when “the voter goes to the polling stations not knowing who he is voting for in the first place.”

Endorsement of the United Iraqi Alliance by the Grand Ayatollah Sistani ensured that most Shia, who comprise most of Iraq’s population, would vote for the slate headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Favored by the Grand Ayatollah, Hakim heads the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Started by Iraqis in exile in Iran, the religious SCIR is viewed with suspicion by the Sunnis, secularists and Washington.

Al-Hakim’s chief opponent is the “Iraqi List” coalition headed by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Seen as a Washington-picked puppet by many Iraqis—and as a “collaborator” by others seeking political or more lethal revenge—Iraq’s interim Prime Minister and former CIA asset is largely blamed for the sharp increase in violence and further decline in water, electricity and sanitation services since his US-backed installation last June 30.

During last Sunday’s elections, more than 5,200 polling centers were monitored by tens of thousands of observers. One of them, Hamza Ali, kept watch inside a Basra polling station until it closed at midnight. “Until now,” he told reporters, “the electoral process is good.”

Once formed, the National Assembly is expected to draft a permanent constitution by next August. Grand Ayatollah Sistani and other leading Shia clerics will wield as much influence over this constitutional process as they did during the elections.

But before a constitution can be crafted, a newly elected assembly swirling with tribal intrigues must choose a president and two vice presidents from among the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish constituencies. This president’s council will pick a prime minister, who in turn will select the Cabinet ministers.

Another potential detour in Iraq’s “road to democracy” is a White House-funded political network with a sordid record of manipulating votes in supposedly sovereign countries. Disguised as the “National Endowment for Democracy”, the NED serves as an umbrella for Republican-linked organizations that have been “quietly but deeply involved in essentially every aspect of the process,” reports newstandard.com.

As part of this underhanded consortium, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the International Republican Institute were paid more than $80 million through the US Agency for International Development to “assist” electoral activities in Iraq.

Directed by USAID, the NDI and IRI’s official mandates in Iraq include “furthering America’s foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free markets” in the developing corporate world.

“Influential, decidedly anti-democratic US-financed agencies, [had] their hands all over Iraq’s transitional process—from the formation of political parties to monitoring the January 30 voting at the polls across most of the nation,” the New Standard reports.

A report on the National Endowment for Democracy prepared by the CATO Institute reveals that this network’s “mischief overseas” is seeing US taxpayers fund groups like the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the International Republican Institute “to harass the duly elected governments of friendly countries, interfere in foreign elections, and foster the corruption of democratic movements.”

Offering another perspective on these shadowy political fixers, Representative Ron Paul says the activities of NDI, IRI and the National Endowment for Democracy in Iraq “would be rightly illegal in the United States.”

According to Mother Jones, “IRI has also been tied to the 2002 armed coup that briefly removed populist President Hugo Chavez from power in Venezuela.”

The indefatigable International Republican Institute also backed the parties behind last January’s violent uprising and US military-escorted expulsion of democratically elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The White House paid the NED $65 million to subvert the real democracy in the Ukraine. What did another $80 million buy in Iraq?

“ The Bush administration has established a track record of managing elections to produce such lopsided results for its favored candidates first in Afghanistan and later in Iraq,” writes Rahul Mahajan, professor and publisher of the blog “Empire Notes” and author of Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond.

But with candidates listed at the head of the United Iraqi Alliance slate expected to head Iraq’s new interim National Assembly, Washington may have to let Allawi go. The Grand Ayotollah’s personal pick—Sayid Ali al-Hakim—will certainly win. If he doesn’t, all eyes will turn to a junta that is no stranger to vote rigging.

SCIRI head Sayid Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is next in line for power. An unidentified woman—possibly Salama al-Khafaji—will be the third member chosen for Iraq’s new National Assembly, thanks to election laws that most other “democratic” countries would do well to emulate. Current interim vice president, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is fourth, while Chalabi is 10th in line to steer post-Saddam Iraq. Congratulations over the country’s first “democratic elections” in decades could be as premature as they proved to be in that other far away place where so many so needlessly died.

Somebody has to tell the boys who hijacked the bus that controlling the world is not an option. People don’t like it. They will resist, and they will not be your friends. As the Boston Globe observed, the only way “in which the grand claims made by Washington for the weekend voting will be true” is if the elections “empower an Iraqi government that moves quickly to repudiate Washington. The only meaning ‘freedom’ can have in Iraq right now is freedom from the US occupation.”

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