by Mohammad al-Obaidi / Iraq Freedom Party –
James Ridgeway writes:
(August 21, 2003) James Ridgeway in the Village Voice — By far the most interesting and quite possibly most realistic report [on civilian deaths in Iraq] comes by way of Jude Wanniski [http://wanniski.com], the supply-side economist and ex-Wall Street Journal reporter who has struck up a correspondence with Mohammad al-Obaidi, an Iraqi doctor living in Britain.
Al-Obaidi coordinates the small Iraqi Freedom Party, which favors free enterprise and is both anti-Saddam and anti-US. Al-Obaidi tells the Voice that members of his family have been tortured and killed by Saddam’s secret police, and others have been killed in American air and ground attacks. Al-Obaidi, whose brother is a retired general now living in Iraq, says he has no ties with any intelligence service and has nothing to do with the American stooge Ahmed Chalabi.
Jude Wanniski writes:
I doubt you have ever read an estimate, formal or informal, of the number of Iraqi civilians who were killed in the recent Gulf War. Collateral damage in the USA’s “liberation” of the Iraqi people. I’m not in any position to validate the report you will see here from . Mohammad al-Obaidi, but it does not seem unreasonable. I’ve run reports from the Freedom Party from time to time and its arguments on what is really happening on the ground have proven far more accurate than the rosy scenarios coming from the Pentagon.
The report on civilian FATAL casualties in a nation of 23 million is staggering, the equivalent in percentage terms of 460,000 civilian deaths if such havoc were wrought in the US.
To add in the number of young Iraqi soldiers killed in the conflict – an equal number? — further staggers the mind…. The report may not be entirely accurate, but I would hope it would spur the press corps into investigating on its own.
At Least 37,000 Civilian War Deaths in Iraq
Mohammad al-Obaidi / Iraq Freedom Party
BAGHDAD (August 21, 2003) — The World, and particularly the peace-loving World, is far from knowing the truth of the real number of civilian casualties during the American-led aggression on Iraq.
Although we know that there were groups of organizations (see http://www.iraqbodycount.net) who tried their utmost best to come up with an accurate figure of the total civilian deaths, but reaching the sites where these deaths occurred was one major obstacle in their effort. Besides, the language barrier and hesitation of the people in Iraq to talk to foreigners were also part of the lack of accurate information regarding this issue.
As the general coordinator of the Iraqi Freedom Party, I made a request to our Party Headquarters in Iraq to fully investigate this matter and to come up with accurate and up-to-date information of the total civilians killed during the invasion of Iraq.
After more than five weeks of intensive and thorough investigations carried out by hundreds of our party’s cadre — which included all villages, towns, cities and some of the desert areas etc. affected by the aggression (with exception of the Kurdish area), and also by interviewing hundreds of undertakers, hospital officials and ordinary people in these places — the figure of civilians killed since the beginning of the invasion came to 37,137. This figure does not include militia, paramilitary or Saddam’s Fiday’een.
The breakdown of the total number of civilians killed during the invasion of Iraq is as follows (Please note that the names underneath represent that of 14 Governorates, excluding Iraqi Kurdistan):
Karbala (including Najaf) 2263
The above figures were the actual civilian deaths killed violently since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq in March this year and until the middle of June (including those killed after the fall of Saddam’s regime and who in a way of another caught between gunfire of the US troops and the Iraqi resistance).
Due to the absence in Iraq (with the exception of the Kurdish area) of functional communication systems with the outside World, our party headquarters in Baghdad tried to send me a fully comprehensive and detailed report by fax from Al-Sulaymaniyah (a Kurdish area). However, by crossing to the Kurdish area, the Kurdish “Peshmarga” searched the person carrying that report which was found with him and confiscated it. Accordingly, he was handed over to the American troops where he was arrested and no one knows yet of his whereabouts.
This incident clearly indicates that the US Army does not want the truth of the civilian casualties made public.
We want the whole World to know the reality behind what misery was inflicted on our people during this aggression, not to mention the 14 years of economic embargo.
We believe that our people, like all the people of the World, deserve to live decently and without any more oppression. But what we see in Iraq since its occupation was nothing but more oppression and more humiliation, and this time by the aggressors.
The appointment by the American Administrator to Iraq of what is known as “Iraq’s interim governing council” is another slap in the face of the Iraqi people, who genuinely believe that this “Council” is nothing less than another “Vichy Government” similar to the one appointed by the Nazis in France. Also, the biggest lethal mistake committed by the American Administrator was to dissolve the Iraqi Army and other government personnel, leaving Iraq without any efficient technocratic power.
What we and the majority of the Iraqis were looking for was an Interim Council appointed by the Iraqis and not by the occupier. We also believe that what was brought by the occupier will not serve the Iraqis, but the occupier and its interests. After four months of the fall of Saddam’s regime, and following the continued volatile situation in Iraq, and the lack of the basic needs of the Iraqi people, Iraqis are talking now about what President Nasser of Egypt said: “what was taken by force must be retrieved by force.”
If Iraq will not be handed over soon to the real patriotic Iraqis, a black page will be written again in the history of America and its allies in Iraq.
Mohammed Al-Obaidi is the general coordinator of the Iraqi Freedom Party. He lives in London.