We call on those states responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq to terminate their illegal and immoral war, and express our solidarity with the Iraqi people in their struggle for peace, justice and self-determination.

In particular, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the US and UK-led occupation of Iraq;
  2. Urgent action to fully address the current humanitarian crises facing Iraq’s people, including help for the more than three million refugees and displaced persons;
  3. An end to all foreign interference in Iraq's affairs, including its oil industry, so that Iraqis can exercise their right to self-determination;
  4. Compensation and reparations from those countries responsible for war and sanctions on Iraq;
  5. Prosecution of all those responsible for war crimes, human rights abuses, and the theft of Iraq's resources.

We demand justice for Iraq.

This statement was adopted by the Justice for Iraq conference in London on 19th July 2008. We plan to publish this more widely in future. If you would like to add your name to the list of supporters please contact us.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Life in occupied Iraq

Three stories from the last few says:

Female Trafficking Soars in Iraq 

IPS reports (August 27th): Prostitution and sex trafficking are epidemic in Iraq, where the violence of military occupation and sectarian strife have smashed national institutions, impoverished the population and torn apart families and neighbourhoods. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed and an estimated 4.4 million Iraqis displaced since 2003. 

"Wars and conflicts, wherever they are fought, invariably usher in sickeningly high level of violence against women and girls," Amnesty International states. 

Trafficked to Baghdad’s Green Zone

IPS reports (August 25th): Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers are currently camped out on a construction site of half-built luxury villas in Baghdad’s elite "Green Zone" – a vast security enclave housing government offices, embassies and international NGOs - demanding their salaries before being shipped back home.
35 workers have stayed on, desperate to receive their unpaid wages. Crowded into a rudimentary hall where they live and sleep, they have no legal working papers and little food and water in Iraq’s intense summer heat. 

Their handmade signs posted on the construction site fence a couple weeks ago begged attention. "Please help we are in trouble", said one, while another pleaded: "SOS Ukrainian Workers". 

The US military is making Iraqi children sick

News from the Middle East reports (August 27th): We have a catastrophic situation in Haweeja, near Kirkuk. There is an American munitions training centre in the province and the local people are suffering from living near the weapons testing. 412 children are suffering from radiation sickness. The FWCUI recently participated in a delegation organised by the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) to meet local residents and discuss the issues. There are hundreds of people with illnesses, including cancer. People cannot afford proper medical treatment; FWCUI and OWFI are demanding that the weapons testing stops, that the site is cleaned up and that people are given access to the medical treatment they need.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Panetta says:we're staying - Iraq disagrees

Politicos report (August 19th): Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Iraq’s government has agreed to extend the U.S. military presence in the country beyond 2011 — but Iraq quickly rejected the claim.
The word from Panetta, during an interview with Stars & Stripes, was the first official indication that any of the 46,000 American troops will remain in Iraq beyond the country’s Dec. 31 deadline for U.S. forces to leave.

“My view is that they finally did say, ‘Yes,’” Panetta told the military’s official newspaper.
But shortly after Panetta’s interview hit the Internet, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told Agence-France Presse that no deal is in place.

Iraq foots the bill for its own destruction

By Murtaza Hussain
When considering the premise of reparation being paid for the Iraq War it would be natural to assume that the party to whom such payments would be made would be the Iraqi civilian population, the ordinary people who suffered the brunt of the devastation from the fighting. Fought on the false pretence of capturing Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the war resulted in massive indiscriminate suffering for Iraqi civilians which continues to this day. Estimates of the number of dead and wounded range from the hundreds of thousands into the millions, and additional millions of refugees remain been forcibly separated from their homes, livelihoods and families. Billions of dollars in reparations are indeed being paid for the Iraq War, but not to Iraqis who lost loved ones or property as a result of the conflict, and who, despite their nation’s oil wealth, are still suffering the effects of an utterly destroyed economy. "Reparations payments" are being made by Iraq to Americans and others for the suffering which those parties experienced as a result of the past two decades of conflict with Iraq.
Iraq today is a shattered society still picking up the pieces after decades of war and crippling sanctions. Prior to its conflict with the United States, the Iraqi healthcare and education systems were the envy of the Middle East, and despite the brutalities and crimes of the Ba’ath regime there still managed to exist a thriving middle class of ordinary Iraqis, something conspicuously absent from today’s "free Iraq." In light of the continued suffering of Iraqi civilians, the agreement by the al-Maliki government to pay enormous sums of money to the people who destroyed the country is unconscionable and further discredits the absurd claim that the invasion was fought to "liberate" the Iraqi people.
In addition to making hundreds of millions of dollars in reparation payments to the United States, Iraq has been paying similarly huge sums to corporations whose business suffered as a result of the actions of Saddam Hussein. While millions of ordinary Iraqis continue to lack even reliable access to drinking water, their free and representative government has been paying damages to corporations such as Pepsi, Philip Morris and Sheraton; ostensibly for the terrible hardships their shareholders endured due to the disruption in the business environment resulting from the Gulf War. When viewed against the backdrop ofmassive privatization of Iraqi natural resources, the image that takes shape is that of corporate pillaging of a destroyed country made possible by military force.
Despite the billions of dollars already paid in damages to foreign countries and corporations additional billions are still being sought and are directly threatening funds set aside for the rebuilding of the country; something which 8 years after the invasion has yet to occur for the vast majority of Iraqis. While politicians and media figures in the U.S. make provocative calls for Iraq to "pay back" the United States for the costs incurred in giving Iraq the beautiful gift of democracy, it is worth noting that Iraq is indeed already being pillaged of its resources to the detriment of its long suffering civilian population.
The perverse notion that an utterly destroyed country must pay reparations to the parties who maliciously planned and facilitated its destruction is the grim reality today for the people Iraq. That there are those who actually bemoan the lack of Iraqi gratitude for the invasion of their country and who still cling to the pathetic notion that the unfathomable devastation they unleashed upon Iraqi civilians was some sort of "liberation" speaks powerfully to the capacity for human self-delusion. The systematic destruction and pillaging of Iraq is a war crime for which none of its perpetrators have yet been held to account (though history often takes[though history often takes time to be fully written] time to be fully written), and of which the extraction of reparation payments is but one component.

Murtaza Hussain blogs at Revolution by the Book and is on Twitter at@MazMHussain.

Monday, 15 August 2011

New Human Rights report

Human Rights in Iraq Remain Fragile

Scoop reports (August 8th): Armed violence continues to affect large numbers of Iraqis, with minorities, women and children suffering disproportionately, torture widely reported and impunity rife, according to a United Nations report.
“The human rights situation throughout Iraq remains fragile,” the report notes, also citing so-called “silent” human rights violations, such as entrenched poverty.
“Widespread poverty, economic stagnation, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation and an absence of basic services constitute ‘silent’ human rights violations that affect large sectors of the population,” it says.
The report, released by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), covers the human rights situation throughout 2010 and studies a range of human rights issues, including the impact of armed conflict and violence on civilians, detention and the rule of law, and protection of the rights of specific groups.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Interesting opinion piece

Dallas Darling writes for World News (August 8th): "The American pact is nothing but humiliation to the Iraqis. This is against the interest and the sovereignty of the Iraq people and no none should put himself in a position to sign it...such a pact with the Americans who destroyed Iraq since 1991 and killed millions of its children by two wars and 12 years of barbaric sanction followed by occupation, such a pact is nothing but an aggression not against Iraq alone but against Islam and other Muslims." -Hammorabi, an Iraqi blogger protesting against SOFA and U.S. military occupation, 2008.(1)
Despite a clear majority of Iraqis (and Americans) who for years have wanted United States occupation forces to leave their country, commanders and officials in the Pentagon and United States are desperately trying to hammer out an agreement for a continued military presence past the December 31 departure date of this year. By using bribes, pay-offs for "collateral damage", threats and extortion, and by manipulating the media, it appears the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex just might get its way in permanently stationing up to 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, forever and with "legal immunity." But for both Iraqis and Americans, should it not really be considered "illegal impunity?"

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Iraq Occupation Focus:Newsletter No.178

Iraq Occupation Focus
Newsletter No.178
August 2nd, 2011
This IOF Newsletter is produced as a free service for all those opposed to the occupation. In order to strengthen our campaign, please make sure you sign up to receive the free newsletter automatically – go to: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/iraqfocus. Please also ask all those who share our opposition to the brutal US occupation to do likewise.
To unsubscribe from this email list, send a blank email to iraqfocus-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net.

Military news

Panic as US Warplanes Attack Southern Iraq

Antiwar.com reports (July 20th): The latest indication yet that the Obama Administration’s much vaunted “end” to the war in Iraq last year was entirely illusory, reports are pouring in from southern Iraq’s Maysan Province that US warplanes launched a number of live ammunition attacks just north of Amara.
Iraqi security forces confirmed the attacks, and it appears that there was no coordination with the local authorities as to exactly what was being attacked or why. Though no casualties were reported, strikes just outside of a major city has the locals scared, and more than a little puzzled.

U.S. warplanes attack areas in Amara with live weapons

Aswat al-Iraq reports (July 20th): U.S. warplanes have attacked areas in southern Iraq’s city of Amara, the center of Missan Province, with live weapons, a Missan Province’s security source reported.

Iraq probably will miss deadline on U.S. troop decision, officials say

Washington Post reports (July 21st): Iraq’s political leaders appear set to miss a deadline this weekend for deciding whether to ask U.S. military forces to stay beyond December, according to Iraqi and American officials familiar with negotiations.
President Jalal Talabani has given Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other top leaders until Saturday to reach an agreement on what, if any, sustained U.S. military presence Iraq might need. But Maliki and his rivals, beset by other domestic political disputes, remain divided over the matter, including how to formally ask the Obama administration for such an extension, officials said.

US forces 'still attacking Iraq Shiite insurgents'

AFP reports (July 11th): US forces are carrying out operations against Shiite insurgents, almost a year after the military announced a formal end to its combat operations in Iraq, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said.


Feds Eye CIA Officer in Prisoner Death

AP report (July 13th): A CIA officer who oversaw the agency's interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and pushed for approval to use increasingly harsh tactics has come under scrutiny in a federal war crimes investigation involving the death of a prisoner, witnesses told The Associated Press.
Steve Stormoen, who is now retired from the CIA, supervised an unofficial program in which the CIA imprisoned and interrogated men without entering their names in the Army's books.

Elite units under an office of Maliki's linked to secret jail

LA Times reports (July 14th): Elite units controlled by Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's military office are ignoring members of parliament and the government's own directive by operating a clandestine jail in Baghdad's Green Zone where prisoners routinely face torture to extract confessions, Iraqi officials say.
Iraqi legislators and security officials have been joined by the International Committee of the Red Cross in expressing concern about the facility, called Camp Honor.
Iraq's Justice Ministry ordered Camp Honor shut down in March after parliament's human rights committee toured the center and said it had uncovered evidence of torture. The Human Rights Ministry denied that it was still in operation. But several Iraqi officials familiar with the site said that anywhere from 60 to 120 people have been held there since it was ordered closed.

Children of War

UTNE reports (July 2011): According to studies and eyewitness accounts over the past few years, Fallujah—an Iraqi city that was practically obliterated by U.S. heavy artillery in two major offensives in 2004—is experiencing a staggering rate of birth defects. The situation echoes similar reports from Basra that began to circulate after the first Gulf War in 1991.
The litany of horrors is gut-wrenching: babies born with one eye in the middle of the face, missing limbs, too many limbs, brain damage, cardiac defects, and missing genitalia.
Upon touring a clinic in Fallujah in March 2010, the BBC’s John Simpson said, “We were given details of dozens upon dozens of cases of children with serious birth defects. . . . One photograph I saw showed a newborn baby with three heads.” Later, at the main U.S.-funded hospital in the city, a stream of parents arrived with children who had limb defects, spinal conditions, and other problems. Authorities in Fallujah reportedly warned women to hold off on having babies at all.
Ayman Qais, director of Fallujah’s general hospital, told the Guardian that he was seeing two affected babies a day, compared to four a month in 2003.

Obama urged to probe Bush torture allegations

AFP reports (July 13th): Human Rights Watch called on US President Barack Obama to order a criminal investigation into alleged detainee abuse by predecessor George W. Bush and senior figures in his administration.

Ministry of Defence pays £100,000 to family of drowned Iraqi teenager

The Guardian reports (July 21st): The Ministry of Defence has agreed to pay £100,000 compensation to the family of an Iraqi teenager who drowned near Basra after being detained by British troops. In an out-of-court settlement with his relatives' British lawyers, the MoD did not admit liability for the death of 18-year-old Saeed Shabram in May 2003.
His cousin, Menem Akaili, who claims he was forced into the Shatt al-Arab river by soldiers at the same time, will also receive an official payment.


Rights group says draft law on demonstrations would erode the rights of Iraqi citizens

AFP reports (July 14th): Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to revise a draft law it said contained provisions that violate international law.
The New York-based watchdog said it had obtained a copy of the draft law, saying it curtailed freedom of assembly and expression and contravened Iraq s own constitution.

In Iraq's Tahrir Square, A Plea For Missing Relatives

NPR report (July 20th): Nearly every Friday, there's a small Arab uprising in Baghdad. The location is Tahrir Square, a plaza marked by a renowned modernist sculpture that depicts Iraqis in a lifelong struggle for freedom. Alongside young protesters calling for an end to corruption and better services is a distinctive and resolute group: women in black robes holding photographs of their male relatives — the mothers, wives and sisters of the missing.
It's thought that over the past three decades of war, hundreds of thousands of people have gone missing in Iraq — tens of thousands of these since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Officials say most disappearances occurred in 2006 and 2007, when bodies were dumped in rivers or mass graves. But many of the missing are thought to be alive and languishing in jail, with no way for their families to find them.

Daily life

For Refugees, a Frustrating Feeling of Permanence

NY Times reports (July 20th): Since 2003 an estimated four million Iraqis have fled their homes, the largest exodus since Israel’s creation in 1948. Deepening violence and sectarian strife have led to the internal displacement of many Iraqis and have driven others out of the country, largely to Syria and Jordan, but also to Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and the Gulf.

US builders indicted in Iraq kickback scheme

AFP reports (July 15th): Three former US army engineers and two foreign contractors have been indicted for a kickback scheme connected to $50 million in building projects in Iraq, the Justice Department said.
"The defendants allegedly treated projects to secure safe access to fuel, electricity, education and medical treatment as opportunities for illegally amassing personal wealth," US attorney Paul Fishman said in a statement.

Youth unemployment driving emigration

IRIN report (July 20th): A just released national youth survey in Iraq says youth unemployment is running at over 20 percent and many young people are thinking of emigrating.
Up to 23 percent of males and 21 percent of females aged 15-24 are unemployed, according to a 2009 National Youth Survey by the government and the UN Population Fund (released on 16 July). Of these, 33 percent intend to go abroad in search of work, it said.

Encroachments of ancient sites continues in Iraq

Azzaman reports (July 19th): Areas designated as archaeologically significant in Iraq are no longer immune from encroachments in a country where the role of law and order is diminishing.
More and more ancient mounds are being lost to builders and private entrepreneurs, said Abdulzahra al-Talaqani the department’s spokesman.

More than 42,000 Iraqi detainees await trial

Azzaman reports (July 18th): There were 42,223 detainees in Iraq at the end of June, a judicial source said. He did not say how long does it take on average for an Iraqi detainee to stay in jail before trail.
Iraqi security forces have massive powers to detain suspects for long periods even in the absence of conclusive evidence.

More than 6 million Iraqis cannot read and write

Azzaman reports (July 21st): There are more than six million illiterate people in Iraq, most of them women, according to the parliamentary committee on education.
“Iraq possess an army of illiterates of more than six million people, and the majority them are women,” said Moona al-Maamouri, member of the committee.

Corporate takeover

U.S. Set to Sell Fighters to Iraq

WSJ reports (July 12th): Iraq has quietly started negotiations to buy U.S. fighter jets and air-defense systems worth billions of dollars, a purchase Washington hopes will help counter Iranian influences and cement long-term ties with Baghdad after American troops pull out.

U.S. Blocks Oversight of Its Mercenary Army in Iraq

Danger Room reports (July 22nd): By January 2012, the State Department will do something it’s never done before: command a mercenary army the size of a heavy combat brigade. That’s the plan to provide security for its diplomats in Iraq once the U.S. military withdraws. And no one outside State knows anything more, as the department has gone to war with its independent government watchdog to keep its plan a secret.
Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), is essentially in the dark about one of the most complex and dangerous endeavors the State Department has ever undertaken, one with huge implications for the future of the United States in Iraq. “Our audit of the program is making no progress,” Bowen tells Danger Room.
For months, Bowen’s team has tried to get basic information out of the State Department about how it will command its assembled army of about 5,500 private security contractors. How many State contracting officials will oversee how many hired guns? What are the rules of engagement for the guards? What’s the system for reporting a security danger, and for directing the guards’ response?
And for months, the State Department’s management chief, former Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, has given Bowen a clear response: That’s not your jurisdiction.

US wasting billions on military contracts

Siasat reports (July 24th): July 24: A draft report by a bipartisan congressional panel shows that the United States has wasted or misspent USD 34 billion on contracting for services in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The three-year investigation comes from the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was established by Congress in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

BP accused of ‘backroom dealings’ in Iraq

From Greg Mutitt's Fuel on the Fire website:

Leaked oil contract reveals real extent of BP’s control of Iraqi oil

A leaked contract between BP and the Iraqi government has revealed the extent to which the company has gained control over Iraq's oil. The 20-year contract for the Rumaila field near Basra published today by oil industry watchdog PLATFORM, commits future Iraqi governments to paying BP whether or not it extracts oil, irrespective of OPEC quotas and of the state of Iraqi pipeline and export infrastructure.

BP was awarded the deal at an auction in June 2009, but suspicions were raised when the company did not sign the contract until four months later. The Iraqi government said nothing had changed in the interim, only "clarifications" - claims that the leaked contract show not to be true.

PLATFORM obtained from a reliable source a version of the Rumaila contract with BP/CNPC dated 8 October 2009. On that date, the contract was agreed and initially signed, and then submitted to the Iraqi Cabinet for approval, which was given on 16 October. Apart from any minor changes requested by the Cabinet, we believe this to be the final version as signed.

This leaked version was compared in a briefing published today, ‘From Glass Box to Smoke Filled Room - How BP secretly renegotiated its Iraqi oil contract and how Iraqis will pay the price’ with the official model contract, dated 23 April 2009, which formed the basis of the first bid round. The report shows that several key changes were made, including:

BP could opt to be paid for oil not produced as a result of OPEC quotas or Iraqi infrastructure bottlenecks. In the model contract for which companies bid at the auction, the cost of such scenarios would have been shared by both sides.

The threshold for BP's project expenditure at which Iraqi approval was required was raised from $50m to $100m and tight time limits applied to Iraqis' ability to check such expenditures are legitimate and not inflated.

Greg Muttitt, author of the report and the recently published book “Fuel on the Fire - Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq” said:

"The changes that took place behind closed doors at first look like technical details. But look more closely and you see their real meaning: BP, not the Iraqi government, will effectively control future rates of production. This gives the company a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy".

Kevin Smith, a campaigner from oil industry watchdog PLATFORM said:

“Fully informed public debate and scrutiny are vital to prevent the worst excesses of exploitation taking place when oil contracts are agreed. Whatever pressure BP has brought to bear in these backroom dealings, the changes are clearly to the detriment of the people of Iraq.”

Also revealed today:

In April 2009, just two months before the auction at which BP won the contract, Iraqi Ministry of Oil officials sought training on commercial and negotiating skills - from BP, the very company with which it would be negotiating.

When parliamentarians called the Oil Minister in for questionning on the contract, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wrote privately to the speaker of parliament calling for him to block the it, on grounds that the questionning would hold back Iraq's progress, in a way that would be "in harmony" with recent terrorist bombings in Baghdad.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

So much for US troop withdrawal from combat role

Tribal sheikh among three killed in US-Iraq raid

AFP report (July 30th): A US-Iraqi raid north of Baghdad killed a tribal sheikh and two of his family members, police said, as local leaders condemned what they branded a "massacre" of civilians.

 US forces said the operation aimed to nab a wanted insurgent but officials in the village of Rufayat, 70 kilometres (45 miles) from the capital, said the raid targeted a family with no ties to insurgent groups.