Incredibly it is twenty two years to the day since the telephone rang in the early hours and a friend said: “They are bombing Baghdad.”
It was not alone Baghdad, of course, Iraq was being systematically destroyed, from ancient southern Basra to haunting, historic Mosul in the north – in the West destruction was such that it was not even noticed by the outside world that about seventy miles of Iraq had been entirely illegally donated to Jordan, the border was simply “moved.” Kuwait, bordering of Iraq’s southern border benefited similarly illegally.
Then Secretary of State James Baker’s vow to “reduce Iraq to a pre-industrial age” was being minutely executed over what was to become a forty three day blitz, which morphed in to a thirteen year, vicious, murderous, one sided war of attrition and ultimately illegal invasion and occupation.
Of the 17th January 1991 onslaught, Media Lens pointed to French diplomat Eric Rouleau who observed that Iraqis:
"… had difficulty comprehending the Allied rationale for using air power to systematically destroy or cripple Iraqi infrastructure and industry: electric power stations (92% of installed capacity destroyed), refineries (80% of production capacity), petrochemical complexes, telecommunications centers (including 135 telephone networks), bridges (more than 100), roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies."
Further, ‘Former US Attorney-General Ramsey Clark said that: “U.S. planes flew more than 109,000 sorties, raining 88,000 tons of bombs, the equivalent of seven Hiroshimas …”
Moreover: Eric Hoskins, a Canadian doctor and coordinator of a Harvard study team on Iraq, reported that the allied bombardment: “… effectively terminated everything vital to human survival in Iraq – electricity, water, sewage systems, agriculture, industry and health care. Food warehouses, hospitals and markets were bombed …” Hoskins’ team asked themselves: “if these children are not the most suffering child population on earth.”
A UN team called the devastation: “near-apocalyptic.”
Invasions are, of course, a tragedy — unless it is the US-EU-NATO’s slaughterfest, then it becomes “The Right to Protect”, “Humanitarian Intervention” and of course “Liberation.” Iraq’s actions towards Kuwait were complex and Saddam Hussein was led to believe his action was US thus Western sanctioned. Iraq was, in fact, subject of an epic proportioned, historic, stitch up.
Academic, Dr Gideon Polya, author of Body Count – Global Avoidable Mortality since 1950, calls Iraq’s subsequent plight a “Holocaust” and a “Genocide.” He is less than impressed by “liberations” stating in the Preamble that his research: “… documents the … avoidable death of 1.3 billion people since 1950 on Spaceship Earth, with the First World in control of the flight deck.” That was to 2007.
Dr Polya has now researched attacks on Muslim countries. Given today’s anniversary this is “stolen” wholesale from his Iraq website “dedicated to informing” of the enormity of what has befallen the people of Mesapotamia (note, figures so far, to 2011.)
“The ongoing Iraqi Holocaust (1990-2011) involves 1.7 million violent deaths, 2.9 million non-violent excess deaths, 4.5 million violent and non-violent excess deaths, 2.0 million under-5 infant deaths, 1.8 million avoidable under-5 year old infant deaths and 5-6 million refugees. An Iraqi Genocide according to the UN Genocide Convention definition of: ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.’”
Dr Polya, who has filed a Formal Complaint with the International Criminal Court, states: “The Iraqi Genocide — still continuing under Nobel Peace Laureate Obama — is of a similar magnitude to the WW2 Jewish Holocaust (5-6 million killed, 1 in 6 dying from deprivation.) “
On this anniversary of a night of terror and tears which set the stage, the war “theatre” or threat of it — with Muslim countries the target — this is dedicated to the people of Iraq – and their neighbours in Syria, in Iran, to the decimated of Afghanistan and Libya and to the people of Palestine. To all those victims of “Spaceship Earth with the First World in control of the flight deck.”
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity over on Dissident Voice.