Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar / Islam Online – 2005-02-26 23:41:23
BAGHDAD, Occupied Iraq (February 24, 2005) — Dear Mr. Bush:
It was regrettable that you were not allowed to see and talk to ordinary Iraqi citizens during your sneak visit to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day in 2003. Those Iraqis you met during that visit were part of the US-installed puppet government, which came on the back of American tanks.
Naturally, they told you what they thought you wanted to hear. Moreover, they lived, like your other advisors in Iraq, in their isolated bubbles in the secured “Green Zone,” with very little contact with ordinary Iraqis.
I am sure that had you talked to ordinary Iraqis you would have gotten different opinions than those being passed to you by your American or Iraqi advisors. As an ordinary Iraqi citizen, I would like to share my thoughts on the Iraqi dilemma that America has found itself in.
More than a year ago, you told the Iraqi people that “the torture chambers and the secret police are gone forever.” I honestly wanted to believe you then. I discovered later that your American soldiers had been torturing the Iraqi people from May 2003. I discovered also that your army generals knew about it and wrote reports to their higher authorities about such abuses of human rights. I will give you, Mr. President, the benefit of the doubt and assume that your advisors did not tell you the facts.
Having known the facts, you did not apologize to the victims of the American torture, but went ahead and put the blame only on the “seven bad apples.” That did not stop the torture or the human rights violations committed by your troops in Iraq. Reports are still coming to date confirming that torture is being committed against Iraqis in American detention camps. I am sure that your advisors will tell you that this is necessary to protect the security of America, several thousands of miles away from Iraq.
A New Regime of Beatings and Torture
Your partners in the “coalition of the willing” are not doing any better. The British Army is torturing Iraqi detainees. Now we discover through human rights reports that the “new Iraqi army,” created and trained by your government, is also torturing Iraqis.
It is clear to me that while we were tortured — before the “liberation” — by one force of evil, we are currently being tortured by at least three evil forces. It looks to me that, contrary to your announcement, the “torture chambers” may truly be here forever.
Allow me, Mr. President, to tell you that blaming seven “apples” only set the legal precedent for every dictator in the world to escape the responsibility for torture and human rights violations. Like you, every dictator will pin the responsibility on the seven, ten, or twenty bad apples in his forces. I am sure that decent American legal scholars would tell you that this excuse is very dangerous and would not stand in a proper, impartial court of law.
Actions are judged by results, not by rhetoric. Ordinary Iraqis, like your American soldiers, are faced with threats against their lives. The general lawlessness that still exists, as a result of your occupation of Iraq, makes ordinary Iraqis’ life miserable. We Iraqis are afraid to go out lest we get kidnapped by criminal gangs roaming the country. We also fear getting shot at by your nervous, trigger-happy troops, or killed by a bomb directed at them.
Trigger-happy Soldiers and Dead Civilians
The innocent Iraqi people are not using Armored Personal Carriers, nor are they using armored cars, to help them protect themselves. More innocent Iraqi civilians are killed by your troops than those killed by criminal gangs. You probably know, Mr. President, that your trigger-happy soldiers enjoy freedom from prosecution for these unlawful killings. From what I have witnessed, those killers do not even stop to say sorry for their actions.
Allow me to remind you that, now, in your “liberated” Iraq, more than 60% of the Iraqi workforce are unemployed—as compared to 30% before your liberation. It seems that your action has doubled the number of Iraqis “liberated” from their jobs.
The US Congress issued a report on Iraq at the end of June 2004. The report states that in May 2003 (just after the invasion) seven out of the 18 governorates of Iraq had more than 16 hours of electricity per day. It also says that this number was reduced to one governorate in May 2004, one year after the invasion. Now we consider ourselves very lucky if we get six hours of electricity per day in Baghdad, a city of five million people.
Health services have continued to deteriorate throughout the past 22 months of occupation. Hospitals still lack even the simplest things. Drugs are not available. Fewer patients seek medical treatment or examination because of the security situation and the closed streets. Doctors are not safe at hospitals because they have been physically attacked by relatives of patients, who vent their frustration at the poor, helpless doctors.
Due to the lack of security and the inefficiency of the police force, criminal gangs have kidnapped for ransom a few hundred doctors. Some were threatened. As a result, hundreds of highly qualified doctors have fled the country, which has resulted in further deterioration of health services. Those highly qualified doctors did not run away from the tyranny of the dictator, Mr. President, but from the chaos and lawlessness in your “liberated Iraq.”
Records show that the Iraqi government smuggled up to a hundred thousand barrels of refined diesel fuel a day through Turkey, with your government’s knowledge. These figures indicate that the Iraqi refineries had an excess refining capacity allowing it to export refined oil products.
Why Is Iraq’s Money Being Spent to Import Oil?
During the “liberation” of Iraq, refineries were not targeted, like in 1991; so one assumes that the damage was minimal. I wonder why refineries are not fixed yet — after 22 months of “liberation.” I still cannot understand why Iraq continues to import refined oil products from Turkey, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, and to my amazement, from Israel.
We Iraqis need to know why our money is currently being spent, unwisely, to import gasoline, given that we were an exporting nation in the past. I might understand that Halliburton and KBR needed to import gasoline for a few months, but not after 22 months of “liberation.”
In 1991 our refineries were severely damaged by the bombing. We the Iraqi people were able—despite the sanctions and without help from the Halliburtons—to fix the refineries in a few months only. We kept them working and going for 13 years and we were exporting products. Similarly, the Iraqi people were able to restore the electricity in a few months. The Iraqi people reconstructed every building damaged by the 1991 war in less than a year. Seeing the lack of any reconstruction efforts after 22 months of “liberation” makes me sad.
Our Children Have Been Traumatized by Your ‘Liberation’
Mr. President, In 1991 America promised that Iraq would be returned to the “pre-industrial” age, and they nearly did that by bombing and destroying everything. The Iraqi people surprised the world by reconstructing what had been bombed. On top of that, new projects were implemented despite the sanctions. As an Iraqi, this makes me extremely proud of our achievement in 1991. We the Iraqis set the standards of reconstruction. After 22 months of “liberation” and the lack of honest and visible reconstruction work, I feel that America miserably failed to meet those standards.
For 13 years, Iraqis lived on food rations given by the government. We were told that our government was robbing us and providing us with only 2200 kcal per day. The “liberated” government of Iraq, after the liberation, is still providing us with about 2200 kcal per day.
The government of Iraq used to spend about $150 million a month to import and distribute food rations. According to your CPA Inspector General, 8.8 billion dollars were unaccounted for in one year. These $8.8 billion are enough to feed all the people of Iraq for nearly 60 months. This fiscal irresponsibility and the lack of transparency in spending our money make me wonder about the aim of the “liberation” of Iraq. I’m sorry to say that the Iraqi people are being robbed blind. We are being “liberated” from our wealth also.
I am sure, Mr. President, that our traumatized kids will never forget what was done to their future by your “liberation.” I am sure that your kids have to deal, in the future, with our traumatized kids. I am also sure that your kids will have to repay for all the damage and the stolen money. I can see that the price will be very high.
I do not want to be like the rest of your advisors, who give you a rosy picture. They have told you about the WMD, the Al-Qaeda link, the 9/11 link, the Iraqis welcoming your troops as “liberators” … and it has been proved that they were not telling you the truth. It is about time that you listen to other people.
We do not hate America for its “freedom” or “democracy.” We don’t hate America. We hate the crimes, the destruction, and the devastation committed by America against the innocent people in our country.
Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar is a retired Iraqi engineer based in Baghdad, Iraq. An independent thinker, Al-Mukhtar doesn’t belong to any political parties, and he didn’t belong to any parties in the past. He can be reached at email@example.com
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.