Tags: Brian Haw arrested
FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE U.K.
Peace protester Brian Haw who has been carrying out a permanent protest in Parliament Square opposite the Houses of Parliament since 2 June 2001, 3072 days ago has been violently assaulted and arrested
During the freedom to protest assembly this afternoon, Brian Haw (who was peacefully filming events in Whitehall) was violently attacked by a territorial support group policeman who lashed out at him, smashing his camera into his face and causing a deep cut. police then arrested brian for an unspecified public order offence and further assaulted him in a police van.
a bloody-faced and frightened brian haw (minus hat)
a number of people were milling around the road outside downing street where a group of around a dozen had laid down with linked arms in the road.
without warnings the territorial support group moved in and began violently pushing and man-handling people to the pavement. one young woman was grabbed round the throat and dragged. others were pushed from behind. brian was miving backwards towards the pavement with a camera to his face when officer U1019 lunged at him deliberately and without provocation. the blow was aimed directly at brian’s face and pushed his camera into his cheek causing a deep wound.
shortly afterwards, brian was snatched from the crowd and taken to a police van, from which witnesses heard him screaming. after several minutes he was dragged out of the van looking very alarmed and frightened, and taken to another cell van where he was driven to belgravia police station.
supporters there are worried for his safety, but after an hour of no news, they were told that he was being taken to see the prison doctor. there are concerns about his treatment during that hour.
steve jago, on seeing the snatch, pushed forward to try to help brian, but was immediately pounced on by four heavy tsg thugs who violently dragged him to the ground, sat on him, and aggressively hand-cuffed him before apprently arresting him for an unknown offence.
in an afternoon of filming, at no time did i see a single act of violence towards the police from the peaceful protestors, and yet police used completely disproportionate and aggressive tactics to disperse and control peaceful sit-downs and blockades. i saw a 61 year old woman being dragged wihout any heed for ‘health and safety’ and dumped on the pavement. another elderly man was thrown over his bicycle (despite having recently had an accident leaving him in considerable pain)
there were several other arrests this afternoon, mainly for obstruction and public order offences. one person was arrested for ‘organising an unauthorised protest’
attached photo was taken by nuj journalist terence bunch and remains his copyright although he has kindly allowed publication here – for any commercial usgae please contact him via
i’ll be editing a short film of this afternoon soon
See Brian’s website:
Tags: Davutolgu's visit to Iraq, Massoud Barzani
Turkey already has an embassy in Baghdad and a consulate in Mosul.
It has recently opened a new consulate in Basra and will soon be opening a consulate in Erbil…
yet KERKÜK, the Turkmens’ capital city in Iraq, still doesn’t have a Turkish consulate…
Davutoğlu shaking hands with Barzani during his visit to Erbil
Mr. Davutoğlu, beware,
Barzani is a criminal, he has Turkmen blood on his hands !!!
Tags: Bombes à sous-munitions, Dublin convention
Belgique : Le Sénat a voté ce jeudi 29 octobre la ratification de la Convention de Dublin interdisant l’utilisation, la fabrication, le commerce et le stockage des bombes à sous-munitions.
Ce vote est l’aboutissement, pour la Belgique, de la proposition de loi déposée par Philippe Mahoux, interdisant ces sous-munitions. En 2006, la Belgique avait été le premier pays dans le monde à interdire ces bombes grâce à la proposition de loi du sénateur socialiste. La proposition du chef du groupe PS au Sénat avait suscité un élan international pour enfin aboutir à la signature de cette Convention par 100 pays.
La Convention doit cependant encore être ratifiée par la Région wallonne pour certaines parties, notamment le transfert des armes. Olga Zrihen et Caroline Désir, sénatrices PS de Communauté, interviendront chacune dans les Parlements dont elles sont membres, pour activer le processus de ratification de la Convention de Dublin.
Le vote qui intervient ce soir est un pas supplémentaire vers la ratification de la Convention par la Belgique et constitue une aide fondamentale pour les victimes de ces armes de lâches.
Entre le dépôt de la proposition de loi et la ratification de la Convention de Dublin par la Belgique, trois années et demi se sont écoulées. Malgré cela, de grandes puissances n’ont pas encore signé cette Convention.
Tags: Iraq's elections, Kerkuk
Iraqi lawmakers have been in deadlock over laws covering nationwide elections in January, with one of the thorniest issues being the vote in the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk.
Control of the city is contested between ethnic Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, which has been complicated by major demographic changes under Saddam Hussein’s “Arabisation” programme and a large influx of Kurdish since the fall of the regime.
Here, Kirkukis from different ethnic backgrounds share their thoughts on the city’s political future.
ARAB: ABU ALI AL-BAYATI, 25, DOCTOR
Kirkuk is not for anyone to claim, it’s the land of all Iraqis, whether they are Arab, Kurd or Turkmen.
The same argument goes for the oil and all the natural resources of the region. It should not be monopolised by any group.
I realise some Kurds want the city to be part of Iraqi Kurdistan. But any attempts to separate Kirkuk from the rest of Iraq will only lead to clashes between the different ethnic groups.
People here are trying to get on with their lives but tensions are being heightened by the rhetoric of different ethnic factions who are stalling the elections.
There will be major problems if the elections go ahead in Iraq’s 18 provinces but not Kirkuk. This may become a flashpoint of future violence.
I would participate in the elections but only with the “open” lists.
We cannot give the vote to Kurds who have recently come to this city from other parts of Iraq or neighbouring countries. That movement of people has affected the ethnic make-up of the region and will impact on the election.
But I do not mind the participation of those Kurds who left during Saddam’s rule and are now returning.
KURD: HAWAR, 60, KIRKUK
According to the Iraqi constitution each person will have one vote in the upcoming elections. So it is important that all Kirkukis have the right to elect our own representatives to the parliament.
There must also be a reversal of the Saddam-era Arabisation of the area – as outlined in the constitution. It is only a handful of Turkmen and pro-Saddam Arabs that do not want this to take place.
The ultimate future of this city must be decided by the people in a referendum.
If people want Kirkuk to return to Kurdistan then I will support it. If the majority want it to stay under the authority of Baghdad, or become a separate federal entity then I would support that as well.
Some people think Kurds want Kirkuk just because of its oil. This is not true. Today oil is being found at a rapid rate across Kurdistan. This city has always been part of Kurdistan – this is shown on Ottoman maps.
There is tension, but it is between political parties not ordinary people. Any anger between ordinary people is limited and based on racist perceptions.
I have Arab and Turkmen friends who I have known since Saddam’s reign. Today we invite one another to our houses and spend time together.
TURKMAN: NERMEEN AL-MUFTI, 49, JOURNALIST
Nermeen says Kirkuk should remain an Iraqi city
There can be no stability in the area, the country and the wider region as long as the Kurds claim Kirkuk for their own. I am not against an autonomous Kurdish region, but I do not think it should cover this city.
Kirkuk should have a special status and should remain an Iraqi city. The various ethnic groups must be protected.
For hundreds of years different groups lived here side by side. I have friends of other backgrounds. There has been years of inter-marriage.
There has been a fabricated division between people since the Saddam-era Arabisation of the area. The problem today is not between the various ethnic groups who have always been here, but between the general population and the Kurds who have recently settled here.
There have been too many Kurds coming to this area in recent years. It is unfair to allow them all to vote in the election as this may tip the balance away from the other communities.
Power in the city should be shared between the various ethnic groups. The temporary power-sharing agreement between [Muslim] Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians should continue.
Objections by the Kurds, the IHEC and UNAMI; the Legal Committee Comes Up with Two More Alternatives on KerkukOctober 30, 2009 at 11:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Iraqi elections commission, Kerkuk
Objections by the Kurds, the IHEC and UNAMI; the Legal Committee Comes Up with Two More Alternatives on Kirkuk
Posted by Reidar Visser on October 29, 2009
Today’s brief proceedings in the Iraqi parliament made it clear that it was indeed the objections of the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC), supported by UNAMI and the Kurds (who boycotted), that prevented a vote on the elections law. Meanwhile, the legal committee came up with two more alternatives on Kirkuk.
The first alternative involves holding a vote using the 2009 registers, to be followed by a scrutiny of those registers within one year to find whether there are irregularities amounting to more than 38% “in the registers” (a little unclear what the percentage really refers to, given as واذا كان هناك خلل بنسبة 38% في السجل يتم الغاء نتائج) in which case the annulment of the result will follow.
The second alternative is another creative multi-constituency arrangement. Once more, an explicit ethno-sectarian distribution formula has been avoided, even if three of the four proposed constituencies seem intended to guarantee some kind of minimum communal representation: Hawija, Taza and Shwan will each have three deputies (apparently aimed at Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish constituencies) whereas Kirkuk itself will remain fully competitive with 5 representatives. This seems to over-represent the peripheral constituencies to a certain extent over Kirkuk, but the proposal has the clear advantage of keeping the potential for cross-sectarian voting in Kirkuk alive, while at the same time apparently offering each of the main communities a minimum fallback position in their areas of demographic concentration. In the case of the Turkmens it is particularly easy to sympathise with this approach: As a medium-sized minority they are in many ways the bravest of the Iraqi nationalists since they so far have been competing without guaranteed quotas of the kind offered to the micro-minorities (Shabak, Yazidis, Christians, Sabaeans), and also without a de facto guaranteed minimum vote in bastions of governorate-level territorial concentration (of the kind enjoyed by the Shiite and Sunni Arabs and the Kurds).
All in all, while both of these options do preserve a special status for Kirkuk, the first one seems highly diluted given the high threshold for annulling elections (if correctly specified in the official report from today’s proceedings). One can get the impression that the second one could conceivably have greater appeal to Iraqi nationalists. Be that is at may, the rapidity with which the Iraqi parliament seemed to accept today’s highhanded intervention by the IHEC is quite shocking. The Sadrist Fawzi Ikram Tarazi, himself a Turkmen, has been one of the few parliamentarians to protest to the Iraqi press so far, suggesting that at least some of the non-Kurdish members of the legal committee would be more than happy to see endless procrastination and a reversion to the closed-list system of 2005 by way of timeout. In this they are ably assisted by the Kurds, who appear to receive full support from UNAMI and IHEC in torpedoing any proposal that does not conform one hundred per cent to their own preferences.
A new element in the mix is the release by the US embassy in Baghdad of a somewhat cryptic joint statement by General Ray Odierno and Ambassador Christopher Hill. It goes as follows: “As Iraqi authorities prepare to adopt an elections law, we reiterate our view that the rules, procedures, and decisions adopted for the January elections should apply only to that election. They should not serve as precedents for future elections or for future political settlements related to Article 140, demographic change, disputed boundaries, or other contested issues.”
In the first place, this is a flagrant and remarkably public interference in Iraqi affairs of a kind not seen since the Bush days (and the 2003–2005 period in particular). Secondly, the statement really is quite hard to decipher! The first sentence and the first part of the subsequent one seems to suggest that this election law should be unique to the January 2010 elections, thereby presumably opening space for special treatment of Kirkuk (the Kurds want it to be treated as an ordinary governorate; if that procedure had been acceptable to others and therefore was adopted there would have been no need to restrict the application of the law to 2010 as per the Odierno/Hill recommendation). The second part of the second sentences raises doubts, however. One would expect the logic to continue to flow in a consistent fashion, i.e. a reassurance to the Kurds that any special arrangements arrived at for Kirkuk should not prejudge the outcome of future negotiations over the city (the Kurds want to keep article 140 of the constitution sacred). But is that what is being said? After all, the standard argument by the Kurds and UNAMI has been roughly “the election law should not serve as diversion or substitute for political settlements related to Article 140, demographic change, disputed boundaries, or other contested issues”. But the American statement clearly says “precedents”, which seems to create the exact opposite logic, i.e. a rather indiscreet American initiative to convince the Kurds to be more accommodating. So far, the PUK has published the statement on its website without adding any comment.
To read comments please visit:
Turkish Republic marks 86th year
ANKARA Hürriyet Daily News
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The 86th anniversary of the Turkish Republic was celebrated Thursday across the country as well as in northern Cyprus and at several of Turkey’s international outposts.
The first ceremony led by President Abdullah Gül took place at the Atatürk Mausoleum in Anıtkabir. Gül led a delegation of the country’s top officials to the tomb of the Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, where he placed a wreath of red and white carnations. The group paid homage to Atatürk and sang the Turkish national anthem. The ceremony concluded with Gül signing the Anıtkabir visitors’ book.
Gül wrote: “Great Atatürk. We are proud to celebrate the 86th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The Republic announced to the world that our nation would not make concessions on the road to its independence and freedom. It has also become an indication of our determination to achieve our rightful place in the contemporary world.
“We are determined to strengthen the Republic with progress, continue our democracy and leave a stronger and a more prosperous country to the next generations.”
Tags: Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission, Kerkuk
Posted by Reidar Visser on October 29, 2009
[Update 29 October 13:50 CET: The Iraqi parliament has just started its session, the last before the Iraqi weekend, reportedly with an agenda that does not include the election law. 14:35: Parliament has reportedly adjourned until Sunday]
After the idea of using the 2004 registers of voters for Kirkuk in the next parliamentary elections has been circulating as an alternative since at least June, all of a sudden yesterday night – and only hours before a bill including an option to use the 2004 registers is scheduled to be presented to parliament for a vote later today – Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced that it would be “technically impossible” to use those registers. One press report states that the IHEC cites the fact that the registers were compiled by the United Nations and that the IHEC would need “a very long period of time” to make them compatible with its own system. Another simply says the IHEC does not have the registers and there is even talk about the possible “loss” (fiqdan) of the records!
Meanwhile, the Iraqi press is discussing the contradiction whereby the political council for national security including several key Kurdish representatives first agreed by consensus to a package of three different alternatives for Kirkuk that could be voted on, only to see them rejected by Kurdish politicians the day after. The speculation focuses on possible intra-Kurdish conflicts, highlighting the fact that Masud Barzani was represented at the meeting only by a person acting in his capacity (he himself rarely travels to Baghdad) and once more identifying Barzani and his party as the real obstacle to progress.
It cannot escape notice in this context that Faraj al-Haydari, the chairman of the IHEC, used to be a member of the highest political leadership in Barzani’s party, the KDP. He, along with Qasim al-Abbudi (who broke the news about the “unavailability” of the 2004 registers), has been a frequent focus of criticism by the Iraqi parliament lately which has questioned his political independence. The main defender of the IHEC against any suggestion about changes to its membership has been UNAMI, the UN body which has consistently sided with the Kurds in the discussion of the election law (and which receives lots of credit in statements by Kurdish politicians for that reason). If it is correct that the IHEC has deliberately withheld information about supposedly insurmountable technical problems concerning the 2004 registers for so long, then the capital I for “independence” in its acronym is no longer meaningful.
Tags: Israel lobby in the EU, Zionism
Israel’s European Lobby.
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
2009 October 28
Via: Dissident Voice.
In their 2006 article “The Israel Lobby,” John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt famously assert, “Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.” Having for decades successfully steered policymaking in Washington in a pro-Israel direction, Israel’s American Lobby has more recently turned its attention to Europe. Despite its brief presence in Brussels, it appears to have already had marked success in influencing the nascent foreign policy of the European Union.
One of the most important of the more than 60 organizations that make up “the Lobby” is the American Jewish Committee (AJC). Jeff Blankfort, an American Jew who is one of the Lobby’s most trenchant critics, described the AJC as “the Lobby’s unofficial foreign office.” Extending its global diplomatic mission, the AJC opened an office in Brussels in 2004. Since then, according to Blankfort, it has held weekly meetings with a high official or the chief of state of EU member states. The meetings seem to be having the desired effect. As Blankfort wrote in 2006, “Over the past year the EU has moved away from relative support for the Palestinians to adopting one position after another reflecting Israeli demands.”
As part of its lobbying efforts in Brussels, the AJC founded the Transatlantic Institute (TAI) in February 2004. According to its mission statement, the institute functions as “an intellectual bridge between the United States and the European Union” with the aim of “strengthening transatlantic ties.” Although it describes itself as “nongovernmental, non-partisan and independent,” TAI’s publications leave little doubt that it intends to shift the EU in a more aggressively pro-Israel direction, as the neoconservatives succeeded in doing with the Bush administration’s Middle Eastern policy.
Like American neocons, the TAI’s executive director, Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, has a “special affinity for Israel.” Before moving to Brussels, the Jewish Italian academic taught Israel Studies (a discipline which Mearsheimer and Walt describe as “intended in large part to promote Israel’s image”) at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, after having received his PhD in political science from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. And like the current Israeli government and pro-Israeli groups worldwide, Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons are Ottolenghi’s overriding concern at the moment – now that the threat of Iraq’s non-existent WMDs has promptly been forgotten. In his 2009 book, Under a Mushroom Cloud: Europe, Iran and the Bomb, Ottolenghi urges Europeans to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Despite his concern about the bomb, it’s unlikely that he would support a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons in the Middle East – since Israel is the only country in the region that currently possesses them.
Israel’s crying wolf is nothing if not predictable though. As for the “mushroom cloud” that’s supposedly looming over Europe, who, bar the mainstream media, could forget Condoleezza Rice’s pre-Iraq invasion soundbite: “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”? It was Michael Gerson, Bush’s pro-Israel speechwriter, who thought up that one. Incidentally, Gerson was so incensed by Mearsheimer and Walt’s criticism of the Lobby that he accused them in his Washington Post column of “sowing the seeds of anti-Semitism.”
Anyone for World War IV?
Before European policymakers give too much credence to the prescriptions of Ottolenghi and his “non-partisan” institute, they should familiarize themselves with the geopolitical outlook of Commentary, the magazine for which Ottolenghi blogs. Like the Transatlantic Institute, which became “the flagship of neoconservatism” in the 1970s, it was also founded by the American Jewish Committee, a relationship that lasted from 1945 to 2006. But above all, Commentary has been dominated by the political views of Norman Podhoretz.
Podhoretz, who has edited Commentary since 1960, claims that September 11, 2001 marked the beginning of World War IV (he considers the Cold War to have been World War III). “We are only in the very early stages of what promises to be a very long war,” declares the doyen of neoconservatism, “and Iraq is only the second front to have been opened in that war: the second scene, so to speak, of the first act of a five-act play.” Whatever about the incalculable cost in blood and treasure to the United States, presumably Israel won’t have any enemies left standing by the end of this bloody drama. Coincidentally or not, in 2007, the same year he published World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism, Podhoretz was honoured by Bar-Ilan University with its Guardian of Zion Award, bestowed on Jews who have been supportive of the State of Israel.
However, those who question the motives behind Podhoretz’s enthusiasm for World War IV, or believe that his belligerent Zionism poses a far greater threat to world peace than “Islamofascism” – a nebulous concept that lumps together disparate entities such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and Al Qaeda – are invariably smeared as anti-Semites. It’s not surprising, of course, that Zionists like Ottolenghi, in a transparent attempt to discredit their opponents, claim that “anti-Zionism is anti-semitism.” After all, “the charge of anti-semitism,” as Mearsheimer and Walt point out, is one of the Lobby’s “most powerful weapons.”
What is worrying, however, is that the EU now legitimates the deployment of that weapon by pro-Israelis against their critics. According to the definition given by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency, it seems that you’re an anti-semite if you agree with Mearsheimer and Walt that pressure from Israel and the Lobby played a “critical” role in the decision to invade Iraq, or if you suspect that the likes of Podhoretz and Ottolenghi may be more loyal to Israel than they are to their respective countries. Before coming up with their working definition of anti-Semitism in 2004, the EU consulted with Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee. If they were asked about the question of loyalty, the AJC probably forgot to mention the case of Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard, an American Jew, is now serving a life sentence for stealing thousands of documents while employed as an analyst for US naval intelligence during the mid-1980s. In Dangerous Liaison, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn write, “Though he always maintained that he was motivated purely by devotion to Israel, he was well paid for his services.” That money may have come from the US-Israeli Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), according to Claudia Wright, the author of Spy, Steal, and Smuggle: Israel’s Special Relationship with the US. When Jordan Baruch, an adviser to BIRD’s board, was asked for an audit report, he replied, “Even if I did (have one), I couldn’t release it.” Interestingly, it was Baruch and his wife, “long-time AJC leaders,” who funded the Transatlantic Foundation.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, Benjamin Netanyahu portrayed Israel’s grievance against Iran as a conflict which “pits civilization against barbarism.” It’s tempting to dismiss the Israeli leader’s assertion as the hyperbolic trope of a demagogue, but there may be some truth to what he said. After all, what better word than “barbarism” to describe what Israel has done to the Palestinians for the past six decades? Or the havoc that Israel’s supporters in America have wrought on the people of Iraq? Or the untold devastation they have in mind for the Iranians? The influence the Israel Lobby wields in Washington has ensured that the United States has long been complicit in Israel’s barbarism. And if the Lobby gets it way in Brussels, so too will the European Union.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is a freelance writer living in Japan who writes a monthly political column for Kansai Time Out magazine. He also contributes a monthly column to the Irish language internet magazine Beo! Read other articles by Maidhc, or visit Maidhc’s website.
Tags: Dennis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, Iraq, Iraqi deaths, Jutta Burghardt, US Crimes in Iraq
REMINDER : Since 2003 the US has killed over 1.3 million civilians in Iraq see: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq
Divide and Rule: The Key Strategy of the US and Its Western Allies
By S. Hewage
October 28, 2009The latest attacks on Indian embassy in Afghanistan and the Pakistan’s military headquarters would trigger a new wave of accusations and counteraccusations by India and Pakistan. It seems that the United States is achieving its military strategy to keep regional conflicts going, so that the United States is not only secure, but also economically strong. Unfortunately, both India and Pakistan have so far failed to realize this, to work out a solution to their internal problems and to keep the hegemonic forces out of their region. The situation in Pakistan will soon be like that of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the West will continue to fuel Islamic and other ethno-religious insurgencies in that region.
It is a well-known fact among international security experts that one of the longstanding foreign policy doctrines of the United States is to destabilize countries and regions that are considered hostile to US economic and strategic interests. This policy has been the bedrock of American military and covert operations across the globe throughout the cold war period. When the US fails to win support from countries for its self-interested economic and defense policies, the US undertakes covert operations to overthrow democratically elected leaders in those countries by supporting military juntas and insurgent movements, cut off economic aid, and isolate them internationally until they give in to US pressure.Since the end of the cold war, the US has inducted a new weapon to its arsenals of destabilization: This new weapon is the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by the West. Independent scholars believe that many of these NGOs are in fact covertly backing various nefarious elements hell-bent on creating political violence, rather than helping to solve problems. Numerous citizens of Western countries associated with the United Nations Organizations and Human Rights Organizations are operating as the long arm of the Western governments in “regime change campaigns” in countries that are openly hostile to US foreign policies and hegemonic designs. Many of these individuals have local agents, who are openly campaigning for greater cooperation with the West. The US has been openly supporting various nongovernmental organizations to marshal mass support against elected governments that refuse to kowtow the US on the pretext of campaigning to protect human rights, media freedom, and democracy. The US funded international nongovernmental organizations and their local counterparts have been operating as the proxy of the US government across Latin America, the Middle East, and South, and South East Asia. The underline objective of all these covert operations is to cause political upheavals in specific countries, or regions with a long-term global strategy.Once a nation becomes embroiled in fighting internal rebellions, whether they are ethnic or religiously motivated groups, or involved in cross-border conflicts, that nation soon becomes overwhelmed by the concerns of its survival. This would eventually force the leadership of that country to capitulate to the American strategic and economic interests in that country, and the region. This, in turn, would ensure US economic and political hegemony in the long- run, especially in nonwestern countries. For example, when Saddam Hussein refused to bow down to US pressure they invaded his country and violated all international conventions, rules and norms at will, and killed more than half a million civilians.
In 1998, a UN survey revealed that the mortality rates among children below five years of age in southern Iraq had more than doubled compared to the previous decade, meaning 500,000 excess deaths of children had occurred by that year due to diarrhea and acute respiratory infections because of sanctions imposed by the US and it allies. UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq (1997-98) Denis Halliday called sanctions ‘genocide’ and resigned in protest. His successor Hans von Sponeck followed suit in 2002 citing the same reasons. The UN World Food Program Director in Iraq Jutta Burghardt also registered his protest by fully subscribing to Sponeck’s position and tendering his resignation. That was before the US lead invasion of Iraq in 2003. Following the invasion, at the end of 2006, more than 600,000 civilians had been killed. The high-ranking retired US government official argued that the “price was worth” considering the importance of US strategic and economic interests in that region. It was argued that the invasion was necessary to remove “weapons of mass-destruction” that were being amassed by Saddam Hussein. When that was proved untrue, the Anglo-American invaders argued that they wanted to establish democracy in Iraq. Today Iraq is in the midst of a civil war created by the West. The major Western news organizations and the non-governmental organizations such the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which are heavily funded by the West, remain decidedly silence despite daily carnage taking place in that country. There is no moral outrage on the part of these human rights campaigners for the suffering of innocent Iraqis when the culprits were their paymasters.
Iraq is today one of the most dangerous places on Earth, thanks to the global “democracy” campaign of the Anglo-American leaders. Iraqis today not only have no democracy, but most importantly, lack basic security to go about their daily activities. In the meantime, the US has gained a permanent foothold in Iraq as never before with a largest fortified embassy, total control of its oil supply and, most importantly, a puppet regime installed by the US. This has given the US a guaranteed access to Iraq’s market for the supply of both military and consumer goods. The Anglo-American global “democracy” project is now complete, and the Western media and INGO allies are fully satisfied with the outcome of the Iraq war. They have moved on to their next assignment: Afghanistan, which is part the US strategy in South and Southeast Asia.
Tags: Babylon, Damages caused by US in Iraq archaeological sites, UNESCO
The Cradle of Civilization deserves far more from UNESCO than three designated sites.
Tramp down Babylon
by Barbara Miller
Babylon has had its ups and downs over many hundreds of years. It is currently in a down phase thanks to the US war and occupation.
Located on the Euphrates River, about an hour’s drive south of Baghdad, it was the world’s largest city at its height with a population of over 200,000. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Sacked and rebuilt and sacked again over the centuries, Babylon is now a sad monument to the power of global politics.
The most significant remains of Babylon’s glory are not in Babylon. The Pergamon Museum in Berlin, for example, houses the famous Ishtar Gate, thanks to the European colonialist hunger for Near Eastern treasures during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and, specifically, the excavations (and extractions) carried out by archaeologist Robert Koldewey.
What is left of Babylon itself? Not much above ground: a tell (mound) and some buildings that were “reconstructed” under Saddam Hussein. After Saddam, came the US occupation.
In 2003, the US army established “Camp Alpha” on top of the remains of the ancient city. According to a CNN.com/world report, a US military spokesperson said that occupation of the site was meant to protect it from looting. A recent United Nations report documents, to the contrary, that the US occupation caused major damage to Babylon.
The United States is supposed to pay $800,000 to repair damages from its occupation of the site. $800,000? Shameful.
No one could argue that Babylon, throughout its history, was a humanitarian state. Social inequality was extreme with slaves building the impressive monuments of early times, leaders were ruthless, heads rolled. On a brighter note, however, the first king of the Babylonian empire, Hammurabi (c 1728-1686 BCE) compiled one of the first written legal compendiums: the Code of Hammurabi.
While images of Hammurabi are found throughout the Western world as a tribute to his contribution, his home is in ruins.
One question: Why did the US military treat Babylon, and many other important sites in Iraq, so disrespectfully? Possible answer: the US military presence in Iraq under Bush had no respect for or interest in any aspect of cultural heritage in the Middle East that is not Christian. Nonetheless, according to a recent New York Times article, the ancient city of Ur was protected from the ravages of war and looting because an airbase was built around it.
A second question: Why is Babylon, along with so many important sites in present-day Iraq, not listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site which would provide some protection? UNESCO has recognized only three World Heritage Sites in Iraq putting it in league with Armenia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Turkmenistan, and Uganda. Given its importance in human history, Iraq should be peppered with World Heritage Sites, more along the lines of Italy and Spain, both with more than 40 sites.
Babylon deserves much more than a paltry $800,000 from the US. And I don’t mean just the US government. US contractors and other business interests have reaped outrageously huge profits, in the billions of dollars, from the war and the occupation. These modern-day carpetbaggers should pay back. No one would trust the likes of Halliburton to reconstruct Babylon given their narrow monetary interests and limited skills (laying down asphalt is a big one). But their money would be most welcome to support Iraqi-managed reconstruction of sites damaged by the US presence.
And the Cradle of Civilization deserves far more from UNESCO than three designated sites.
Photo, “Ishtar Gate”, from Flickr via Creative Commons.