Laith Jawad, Haqi Ismael, Omer al-Mansouri & Fatih Abdulsalam / Azzaman – 2008-04-30 21:49:39
US Kills 800 in 3 Weeks in Sadr City
Laith Jawad / Azzaman.com
(April 28, 2008) — US occupation forces have killed more than 800 people, most of them innocent civilians, in their three-week long military campaign to subdue the Mahdi Army in Sadr City, the leader of Sadr movement in Baghdad said. Sheikh Salaman al-fariji said the troops have also injured more than 1,800 people and caused large-scale destruction of private property and the city’s rickety infrastructure.
Fariji made the remarks as he accompanied a delegation of 20 members of parliament on a tour of the impoverished city home to more than 2 million people.
US troops have imposed a tight embargo on the city and bombing by war planes and helicopter gun ships in the densely populated Baghdad neighborhood continued even during the MPs’ tour.
Falah Shanshal, an MP, said the group would write to the parliament to lift the siege of Sadr City and reach a peaceful solution to the standoff with Mahdi Army.
Mahdi Army is the military wing of Sadr movement which has 30 deputies in parliament. “The MPs were shocked by the scale of damage,” said Fariji.
Shanshal said: “The people of Sadr City undergo horrific humanitarian conditions as a result of US military operations and embargo.”
US Offensives on Falluja Have Disabled 500 Children
Omer al-Mansouri / Azzaman
(April 12, 2008) — The number of children who have been handicapped or disabled due to massive US offensives to subdue the restive city of Falluja has reached 500, according to a private aid group.
Alaa Hamed of the Society for the Welfare of Children said the US-led military operations in the city have left behind “massive destruction and at least 500 mentally or physically handicapped children.”
Falluja was once the main stronghold of groups opposing US occupation among them al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
The city of nearly 200,000 people exchanged hands several times with the US forces deploying disproportionate fire power from warplanes, heavy artillery and helicopter gun ships.
Hamed said all the 500 children were between one to five years of age. He said neither the US nor the Iraqi government was paying any attention to their plight. Hamed said his society was working with international aid organizations to transfer some of the most acute cases to hospitals in Jordan for treatment.
Iraqis Want to Revise Constitution as US Warplanes Bomb Baghdad
Fatih Abdulsalam / Azzaman
(April 28. 2008) — Bombing by warplanes, helicopter gun ships and rockets is going on unabated in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq while our politicians mull revising the ‘constitution’.
Ferocious fighting from street to street currently takes place in several parts of the country which makes ludicrous any talk about the constitution and its revision.
Iraqis now sarcastically remember the referendum on a constitution whose creators and sponsors themselves have not taken with a grain of salt.
That constitution, of which US and British occupiers bragged about, is the product of a dirty and vicious sectarian war that is being fed from several quarters whether domestic or foreign.
Our constitution has turned into a bargaining chip and there are so many of them in circulation in Iraq. This constitution has failed to preserve Iraq’s unity and halt its bloodshed.
Since the US invasion and the acrobatic move to write a democratic institution, Iraqis’ blood has been flowing like the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. This is not an exaggeration given the mass killing that has taken place since then.
We now read of at least one million Iraqis killed in the years since the US invasion.
The constitution should be the umbrella that brings the nation together. And where is the Iraqi nation? The factions battling each other in Iraq get refuge in the shade of their sectarian umbrellas and do not give a damn to a national reconciliation program to put the country back on the right path.
The Americans are now so insecure and unstable to the extent they are being used as proxies to wage battles at the behest of certain groups against others. In other words they have become partners in the civil war.
The country’s best minds – the cream of its academia and professionals – have fled abroad. It is estimated that there are four million of them now in foreign countries.
Under these circumstances the government has the stamina to call for a revision of the constitution. These revisions, even if they take place, will do no good because the constitution itself will remain in a valley and the actors with power in Iraq in another valley.
Whatever constitution we have, there will forces beyond its legislations among them the militias, the Americans, the foreigners and the so-called security guards or mercenaries.
Iraq Mulls Reintroducing the Draft
Haqi Ismael / Azzaman.com
(April 28, 2008) — Iraq is determined to reintroduce the draft which the US had it scrapped shortly after its 2003 invasion, a senior member of parliament said.
Hadi al-Ameri, chairman of parliament’s defense and security committee, said reinstating the draft was necessary given the country’s current conditions. The former Iraqi army, which the US disbanded, relied mainly on conscripts.
Draft dodgers were harshly punished and in the years before the fall of former leader Saddam Hussein many had part of their ears chopped off or their foreheads branded. Conscription is illegal under the new constitution which calls for the formation of a fully volunteer army.
Ameri declined comment on constitutional hurdles but made it clear that the former draft will be reintroduced “with minor modifications”. He said all males reaching the age of 18 will have to join the new army. Ameri also promised ‘decent wages’ to make military service tempting for young Iraqis.
Analysts say the fact that the government’s determination to reinstate the draft is an indication that the army is not finding enough volunteers.
As US troops are trying to reduce combat operations to lower casualties amid looming US presidential elections, the Iraqi army finds it almost impossible to work in a professional and independent manner, they said.
In recent battles in Basra a few hundred militiamen dealt a heavy blow to the ‘elite’ Iraqi military units sent there to contain violence.
The government cannot find enough troops to embark on new military operations to bring major cities under a semblance of control such us the northern city of Mosul which is now completely in rebel hands.
Whose Mass Graves Are These?
Laith Jawad / Azzaman
(April 14, 2008) — The phrase “mass graves” in Iraq has long been associated with former leader Saddam Hussein. But not anymore. In US-administered and occupied Iraq people now talk of ‘Bush’s mass graves.’
More and more mass graves are being unearthed with hundreds of bodies, most of them unidentified, but all of them dug in the post-Saddam era which Iraqis associate with President Bush and his occupation troops.
One such mass grave is the one discovered recently in Mahmodiya which, according to Hareth al-Ubaidi, a human rights activist and Member of Parliament holds “hundreds of bodies and bears all the marks of Saddam Hussein but does not belong to him.”
It is a characteristic of the ‘new and democratic Iraq’ the US and its Iraqi allies are keen to build.
“The current mass graves we are talking about are not those of Saddam Hussein,” said Ubaidi. They are, he added, a feature of the US-dominated, post-Saddam era.
No one says the US itself dug mass graves in Iraq. US occupation troops are notorious for their being trigger-happy bands and the worst jailors the world has ever known. There is enough evidence of this in Iraq.
But many Iraqis today have none to blame for the atrocities unfolding in their country but the United States and specifically its current President.
At least 80 bodies of men, women, children and elderly have been recovered from the mass grave in Mahmodiya, among them a girl still in her wedding gown, said Ubaidi.
“There are hundreds and hundreds of bodies in this mass grave,” Ubaidi, who is also a member of Human Rights Commission at the Iraqi Parliament, said. He said the commission has a list of 500 people who have been reported missing from Mahmodiya itself.
Mahmodiya, part of Baghdad’s southern suburbs, is a very small town of several thousand people. “On our lists there are 4,000 people who have gone missing. And these people, according to their relatives, were taken away by armed groups wearing Iraqi military or police uniform,” he said.
Azzaman is an independent Arabic daily newspaper published in London.
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