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Occupation and Rule in Iraq


General Articles on the Occupation


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Iraq Abuse Ruling By European Court Says UK Failed Human Rights Role (July 7, 2011)

A European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling on July 7, 2011, in a case involving the killings of Iraqi civilians by UK soldiers, is a landmark judgment in the universal application of human rights. The ECHR said that the UK failed to carry out effective investigations into the killing of civilians in Iraq . The UK had argued that because the violations occurred in Iraq (and not within UK borders), human rights law did not apply and that applying them would constitute “human rights imperialism.” ECHR Judge Bonello was unimpressed by these arguments. The UK had imposed its military imperialism when intervening in Iraq in 2003 without international authority and, together with the US , occupied Iraq until the formation of the Iraqi interim government in 2004. According to Bonello, the UK’s flexible definition of imperialism “is like wearing with conceit your badge of international law banditry, but then recoiling in shock at being suspected of human rights promotion.”  The UK will now have to investigate the deaths of civilians in Iraq. (Guardian)

"War and Occupation in Iraq" – A New NGO Report (June 2007)

Since the March 2003 invasion, the US-UK occupation of Iraq has utterly failed to bring peace, prosperity and democracy, as originally advertised. This major report assesses conditions in the country and especially the responsibility of the US-led Coalition for violations of international law. In twelve detailed chapters, brimming with information, the authors provide a unique and compelling analysis of the conflict, concluding with recommendations for action. Among the topics covered are: destruction of cultural heritage, killing of civilians, attacks on cities and long-term military bases. The report has been written and produced by Global Policy Forum and co-published by thirty NGOs.

Iraq, 1917 (June 17, 2004)

Robert Fisk contends that "Britain's 1917 occupation of Iraq holds uncanny parallels with today - and if we want to know what will happen there next, we need only turn to our history books..." Is the US repeating the British mistakes of 1917? Fisk asserts that "for Iraq 1917, read Iraq 2003. For Iraq 1920, read Iraq 2004 or 2005." (Independent)

The Way of the Commandos (May 1, 2005)

Having rejected the "clean-hands" policy of excluding all Baathists from the new Iraqi security forces, the US now relies heavily on Sunni-dominated commando units for counterinsurgency operations. These units closely resemble the US-trained paramilitary forces which fought against leftist rebels in El Salvador in the 1980s. Such conflicts, the author notes, are all inherently "dirty wars." (New York Times)




Steroids, Drink and Paranoia: the Murky World of the Private Security Contractor (September 1, 2009)

Private Security Companies experienced a gold rush in Iraq in 2003, as the US and UK spent billions on contracts with these companies. However the heyday for these companies has passed. The Iraqi authorities, for a long time too weak to act, are reclaiming control. Iraqi police are searching the compounds and checking the licenses of private contractors, and have banned them from practices such as blocking roads. (The Independent)

War without End: The Iraq War in Context (January 2009)

Michael Schwartz's book reveals the economic interests behind the US occupation of Iraq. Neo-liberals dismantled state industries and replaced them with foreign contractors to monopolize Iraq's energy reserves and create an "unfettered free-market." The national health care system, one of the best in the Arab world, collapsed. UNICEF has reported that only one-sixth of Iraqi children are being educated. The rise of resistance in Iraq was not irrational but rather "a product of the arrogance of US occupying officials and the failure of US state-building policies" to guarantee basic social services. (Z Mag)


Is the US Pushing Arab Capitals on Ambassadors? (November 10, 2008)

Political commentator Abdel-Halim Kandil says Washington is pressurizing the Arab states; Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to send Ambassadors to Iraq. Many Iraqis fear this diplomatic drive and they view it as a US attempt to cement the occupation and to legitimize the unpopular al-Maliki government. (Inter Press Service)

Iraqi Industrial Workers Strike and Sit-in over Pay Cuts (August 25, 2008)

The Iraqi Ministry of Finance (MOF) plans to reduce the salaries of those employed by the Ministry of Industry by 30 percent. The Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq calls for sit-ins and strikes to protest this reduction and claims they will continue to strike until the MOF cancels the cutbacks. Iraqi labor unionists also call for an end to privatization and International Monetary Fund policies.

The New Walls of Baghdad (April 21, 2008)

By modeling their military strategies on the French occupation of Algeria, the US and Israel believe they can "get right what the French did not." However, the two countries have failed to learn the most important lesson: "that they could have negotiated a withdrawal far earlier and spared all this bloodshed and violence." The US mimics Israeli policies in Iraq by creating hundreds of checkpoints and using twelve-foot-tall concrete walls, separating Sunnis and Shias into enclaves surrounded by razor wire. (Foreign Policy in Focus)


A Climate of War: The War in Iraq and Global Warming (March 2008)

This report by Oil Change International addresses the link between the US occupation and global warming. The war in Iraq contributes to climate change through carbon dioxide emissions from fuel and artillery while global warming creates conflict over access to natural resources. The report produced astonishing findings, including one figure which stated that the "CO2 released by the war to date equals the emissions from putting 25 million more cars on the road in the US this year."



British Move Raises Fears on Iraq Supply Lines (September 16, 2007)

Iraqi military commanders and government officials in the southern part of the country express concern that the supply route from Baghdad to Basra will be open to attacks as the British hand over regional control to the Iraqi security forces. The road from Basra is one of the major supply routes for convoys carrying fuel, food, ammunition and equipment throughout Iraq. According to statistics, 3.3 million gallons of fuel and food for 780,000 meals is required every day to sustain the war. General David Petraeus suggests that in the absence of the British forces that Iraqi patrols will be able to secure the supply routes. However, Iraqis in Basra are concerned that the Iraqi security forces are unprepared, not equipped and are infiltrated by the militias. (New York Times)

Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations (August 28, 2007)

The Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating discrepancies in military records and missing arms destined for Iraq. The inquiry has uncovered a wider ring of fraud and kickbacks relating to contracts worth billions of dollars. Several civilian and military personnel are being investigated, including a senior US officer close to General David Petraeus, for fraud in the "purchase and delivery of billions of dollars in weapons, supplies and other material to US and Iraqi forces." As of August 2007 as many as 73 criminal investigations are under way for contract fraud in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, indicating widespread accountability problems in the US military. (New York Times)

Missing US Arms Probe Goes Global (August 17, 2007)

After the news that the US military could not account for 190,000 weapons meant for Iraqi security forces, further reports of lost US weapons are emerging. Italian police uncovered a questionable arms deal to supply Iraqi police in al-Anbar, to the surprise of the US military who have already supplied over 350,000 weapons to Iraqi police. Further, hundreds of thousands of arms did not arrive in Iraq as planned under a sub-contracting arrangement between the US Department of Defense and renowned arms dealer Victor Bout. The revelations add another serious scandal to the dismal US military record in Iraq. (Asia Times)

The US Arsenal Lost in Iraq (August 7, 2007)

According to an official report, the Pentagon cannot account for as many as 190,000 weapons including AK-47 rifles, pistols, body armor and helmets issued to Iraqi security forces. Due to the flawed distribution and tracking system, some of this missing weaponry will likely wind up in the possession of Iraqi insurgents. Ironically, the Bush administration has repeatedly accused Iran of arming militias in Iraq. (Guardian)

Harvard's Humanitarian Hawks (July 14, 2007)

"Should a human rights center at the nation's most prestigious university be collaborating with the top US general in Iraq in designing the counter-insurgency doctrine behind the current military surge?" asks The Nation. This article discusses how the Harvard-based Carr Center for Human Rights contributed to the shaping of the new Pentagon "warfighting doctrine" and questions the role played by the human rights institution, known to be a strong advocate for humanitarian intervention.

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness (July 9, 2007)

The Nation details a pattern of US troops' brutality towards Iraqi civilians and apparent disregard for Iraqi lives. In this report, a number of US soldiers who served in the war describe incidents of gross misconduct by colleagues during raids, at checkpoints and in detention centers. These accounts from within the military itself reflect the devastating toll that the war has taken on ordinary Iraqis – a reality of the war that the Bush administration and other high-ranking officials repeatedly downplay.

Prison City: The New Walls of Baghdad (July 4, 2007)

In April 2007, US troops began to construct a concrete wall enclosing the predominantly Sunni suburb of Adhamiya in Baghdad, purportedly to "curtail inter-communal violence." Construction has continued, despite protests from residents who blame the occupying forces' segregation tactics for deepening ethnic and religious tensions in Iraq. Further, the wall reinforces the image of Iraqis as a conquered people, imprisoned in their own communities. (Toward Freedom)

The Numbers Surge in Iraq (June 27, 2007)

Drawing from various sources, this TomDispatch piece summarizes a number of estimates of attacks on civilians, troop deaths, refugees and other indicators showing that "the US military is a motor driving the Iraqi cataclysm." Washington has presented the US troop "surge" as a way to stem the tide of the conflict. However, violence in Iraq has increased at an alarming rate while the country's economic situation, social fabric and health infrastructure have all continued to deteriorate. The figures reflect ever worsening living conditions and predict a gloomy future for Iraqis.

Is US Eyeing UN as Dumping Ground for Iraq? (June 7, 2007)

As the situation in Iraq rapidly deteriorates and in light of a new UN Secretary General "who appears more pliable" to Washington, the US might seek a greater UN role to resolve the crisis. Such a move would allow the Bush administration to shed some responsibility for the catastrophe it has created, and would likely discredit the notion of an impartial, autonomous UN. Norman Solomon, the Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, asserts that, "the only proper UN role would be to strongly oppose the US occupation of Iraq." (Inter Press Service)

US Doubles Air Attacks in Iraq (June 5, 2007)

In the first four months of 2007 alone, the US Air Force has dropped more bombs and missiles than in the whole year of 2006, official figures show. The number of Iraqi civilian casualties from US airstrikes has risen sharply, with an average of more than 50 a month, according to conservative estimates. Yet, such casualties "pale in comparison" to civilian casualties from ground combat, said a US Air Force commander. (Associated Press)

Commanders Say Push in Baghdad Is Short of Goal (June 3, 2007)

A US military assessment reveals that despite the Baghdad Security Plan, US forces control less than one third of the capital's neighborhoods. Instead of questioning the US military strategy in Iraq , US commanders attribute the failure of the troop surge largely to the poor performance of the Iraqi police and army. (New York Times)

Regional Conference Unlikely to End Violence, Say Analysts (May 6, 2007)

Analysts and civilians report that the commitments made at a regional conference on the situation in Iraq will not stabilize the country. A professor of political science at the University of Baghdad, Saad al-Hadithi, said that the conference in Sharm al –Shaik, Egypt did not come up with anything new and that it is unlikely that the commitments will be transformed into concrete steps. Further, former Iraqi Army official Khalid Haza'a Nafie argued that the meeting will not benefit Iraqis because it was an attempt by the US to use the Iraqi government to implement its own agenda in the region. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

US Officials Exclude Car Bombs in Touting Drop in Iraq Violence (April 26, 2007)

US officials have been claiming that the Baghdad Security Plan is a success, citing as evidence a decrease in the casualty count. However, these statistics do not include the deaths by car bombs and other explosive devices that have killed thousands of Iraqis since 2003. Further, much of the decline in the number of violent deaths occurred before the security plan began and was due to the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordering his Mahdi Army to stand down. According to an Iraq specialist at Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank, "since the administration keeps saying that failure is not an option they are redefining success in a way that suits them." (McClatchy)

Will Iraq Be the Next Rwanda? (April 15, 2007)

This Washington Post opinion piece claims that the withdrawal of US troops would generate more sectarian violence and create a humanitarian catastrophe on the scale of the Rwandan genocide. The author uses the discourse of "humanitarian intervention" to justify the US presence in Iraq. However, critics argue that the occupation has indeed exacerbated, if not generated, violence in the country.

Divided Iraq Has Two Spy Agencies (April 15, 2007)

Since the beginning of the US occupation, the CIA has supported and funded the Iraqi National Intelligence Service, putting its longtime Sunni "asset", Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani, at the helm of the organization. According to a US military official, "US funding for the Iraqi National Intelligence Service amounted to US$3 billion over a three-year period that started in 2004." However, Shia politicians said they do not trust this agency and the Shia Minister of State for National Security Sherwan Waili created a new secret service that has an estimated 1,200 staff all over the country. (Los Angeles Times)

Divide and Rule – America's Plan for Baghdad (April 11, 2007)

The US is launching a new counter-insurgency strategy in Baghdad, creating enclosed neighborhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with new ID cards to enter. This Independent article points out that a similar tactic was employed in the Vietnam War and the French war in Algeria, but showed little success. According to a former US officer in Vietnam who knows the plan well, the strategy is useless as the insurgents live in the same population centers as civilians and enjoy their support. This plan also restricts the Iraqis' freedom of movement while putting them inside "controlled population" prisons.

US Protects Iranian Opposition Group in Iraq (April 6, 2007)

US Coalition forces are protecting Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq considered as a terrorist group by the US State Department. The MEK serves US political interests as it opposes the Iranian government and claims to have valuable knowledge of Iran's nuclear program. Although MEK denies being a terrorist group, the Iraqi government accuses it of perpetrating terrorist attacks. Iraq's National Security Minister Shirwan al-Wa'eli wants the organization to leave the country, but MEK is protected by the US troops and Geneva Conventions. (CNN)

Iraq Says British Raid Was a Violation (April 6, 2007)

British troops raided the National Iraqi Intelligence Agency in Basra, claiming the act aimed to capture a death squad leader and that they found 30 prisoners with signs of torture. However, the Iraqi government condemned the raid, saying it violated Iraqi sovereignty in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1546. According to a report by the Iraqi government, the British forces violated the orders of an Iraqi judge by arresting prisoners already in Iraqi custody and were negligent in allowing several prisoners to escape during the raid. (Associated Press)

The Botched US Raid that Led to the Hostage Crisis (April 3, 2007)

The Independent claims that a January 2007 US raid on an Iranian liaison office in Iraqi Kurdistan – during which several purported Iranian "intelligence agents" were detained – led Tehran to retaliate by arresting British navy personnel. The author further argues that other hostile US actions – such as backing Iranian Kurdish guerrillas inside Iran – have only fuelled the tense relations between Tehran and Western governments.

In Iraq, the Tough Go Shopping at Military Malls (April 1, 2007)

This Washington Post article reveals that while Iraqis face innumerable hazards in Baghdad and have no access to basic necessities, the US military live in a completely different reality. Inside the Green Zone, the troops spend most of their free time shopping in the new military malls, which sell fancy imported products like motorcycles, jewelry and plasma televisions. Further, the Bush administration constructed food courts with foreign restaurants like Burger King in an attempt to recreate life in the US. However, this alienates US soldiers from the local reality and deepens the gap between them and Iraqis.

Brokered Peace (March 27, 2007)

The Bush administration has been ignoring since 2003 the need for a formal political settlement in Iraq and trying to achieve stability simply by the use of force. The Baghdad Conference was a good start for a political dialogue, bringing together the US and Iraq's neighbors, and calling on them to address border security, fuel imports and refugees issues. This Washington Post opinion piece argues that the US now needs UN mediation to generate a formal agreement that includes the sharing of oil revenues, federal-regional power sharing, amnesty for combatants and disarmament of militias. However, the UN faces the risk of being seen as a tool of US power endorsing the occupation, thus losing its credibility among Iraqis.

Iraq's Good Terrorists, Bad Terrorists (March 27, 2007)

This Asia Times article questions the concept of terrorism, showing that groups in Iraq are labeled terrorists depending on political interests. The US threatens to withdraw its support of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government if it does not bring stability to Iraq. However, Maliki does not appear to seriously engage in disbanding militias, as he opposes Sunni militias while he tolerates the Shia Mahdi Army and Badr organization. The US has also been pursuing a contradictory policy in Iraq, claiming to fight terrorism, yet supporting the pro-US Kurdish militias that operate against Turkey in the north of the country.

How to Stop Genocide in Iraq (March 5, 2007)

According to this Los Angeles Times article, the US government attempts to justify its occupation of Iraq by arguing that a "possible genocide" could result from the troops' departure. Those who defend the US presence in Iraq have failed to explain how US forces could reverse the civil war, especially since that since after four years the US government has not succeeded in stabilizing the security situation and preventing huge flow of refugees. The author argues that in order to avoid a greater bloodletting in Iraq, Washington should announce a withdrawal and address the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Surge and Destroy (March 12, 2007)

This Tom Dispatch article criticizes the US strategy in Iraq, arguing that US raids in Shia neighborhoods only increased the opposition to US occupation and brought more support to the Mahdi Army. In addition, this piece reveals that US efforts to pacify Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad have failed and there has not been a real program of reconstruction in these communities to date.

Staticide in Iraq (February 2007)

Le Monde diplomatique analyzes the underlying causes of the violent instability in Iraq. According to this piece, the dominance of the militias is a direct result of the collapse of the Iraqi state. The US invasion destroyed the administrative and the coercive capacity of the state, creating a security vacuum in which violence could flourish. Further, the US government has failed to recognize the root causes of the US debacle and that the surge in troops will not stabilize the situation. It is only by reconstructing the capacity of the Iraqi "failed state" that long-term security can be assured.

How Much Embassy Is Too Much? (March 2, 2007)

This Washington Post article points out that the US is building a huge embassy complex in Baghdad and that the US mission in Iraq is one of the largest foreign missions the US State Department has ever operated, with a staff of 1,000 employees. Some former State Department officials claim the mega-embassy is hindering reconstruction efforts. This huge complex is counterproductive as it has become a key target for violence. Further, many Iraqis see it as an arrogant enterprise, which aims to show US "superiority."

New Martial Law Powers Threaten Basic Rights (February 23, 2007)

The new security plan for Baghdad, which aims to prevent the escalation of civil war in the capital, instead restricts the basic rights of Iraqis. As part of the plan, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki granted military commanders the power to conduct searches and seizures without warrants, arrest and interrogate people, monitor private communications, confiscate communication devices and restrict all public gatherings. According to the Middle East Director of Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitson, "the security situation in Baghdad is dire, but giving the military free rein to violate the basic rights of Iraqis is not the answer."

Mission Imperial (February 19, 2007)

While most of Iraqis struggle to survive in chaotic Baghdad, US military personnel and private contractors living in the city face a completely different reality. Isolated within the borders of the Green Zone, they live in luxurious villas and have access to modern facilities, such as restaurants, movie theaters, bars, clubs, a swimming-pool and gymnasiums. The Coalition Provisional Authority tried to construct an "American way of life" inside the Green Zone, importing US products and outsourcing services to US companies like Halliburton. This has further distanced US staff from the local reality and deepened the differences between them and Iraqis. (Guardian)

More Troops, And More Violence (February 13, 2007)

Violence has increased in Iraq since the proposed surge in US troops. The Brookings Institution report listed 185 attacks a day against US and Iraqi forces in December 2006, the highest record since the beginning of the occupation in April 2003. Iraqi military strategists believe the increase in the number of troops will not bring Iraqis security or prosperity. Further, many Iraqis claim the surge is only meant to curb the resistance, but will have the reverse effect of stimulating it. (Inter Press Service)

Bombs over Baghdad (February 7, 2007)

This TomDispatch article points out that a secret air war is taking place in Iraq. US and Coalition forces are bombing population centers and killing thousands of civilians. Although the US military has continually refused to give information on the scale of use of air power, US Air Force officials say they used more than 177 bombs in Iraq in 2006. Further, a study published in British medical journal The Lancet reveals that Coalition air strikes are responsible for 13% of deaths in Iraq and that more than 78,133 people were killed in this way since 2003.

No Light at Tunnel's End (February 2, 2007)

A report released by leading US intelligence agencies, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), described the ongoing conflict in Iraq as a "civil war" that could lead to the country's partition. This document argues that violence is worsening in Iraq and the instability is generated internally, rejecting Bush administration's claim that Iran is playing a major supportive role to Shiite militias. According to Congressman Ike Skelton, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, "rather than convincing me that [Bush's new strategy] is the right approach, the NIE makes it more clear than ever that the president's plan has little chance of success." (Inter Press Service)



Iraq: Not Civil War, Occupation (December 7, 2006)

Although UN Secretary General Kofi Annan comments that the situation in Iraq "is worse than civil war," this openDemocracy article points out that the country remains "occupied" by US forces, which fuels and escalates the violence in that country. The author emphasizes that the Iraq conflict is not a civil war and that abuse of the term can "mislead the public into supporting or acquiescing in policies on vital matters" that they would otherwise condemn. Furthermore, the author notes that Iraqis will not relent in their resistance to the occupation until foreign troops are withdrawn.

The Roman Empire Is Falling - So It Turns to Iran and Syria (December 7, 2006)

This Independent piece compares US President George W. Bush's quest for dominance in the Middle East to that of the Roman Empire, noting that the US "empire" faces "collapse and catastrophe" if it does not enlist the help of Iraq's neighbors to bring stability and security to the region. Even the Iraq Study Group acknowledges that "the ability of the US to influence events within Iraq is diminishing." However, as the author suggests, the US has been unable to influence events in Iraq for years, and its failures have only enflamed sectarian violence and provoked an insurgency.

Ten Fallacies about the Violence in Iraq (November 28, 2006)

This AlterNet piece criticizes the US media for dispersing a variety of myths regarding the Iraq war. The author argues that the presence of US troops does not prevent but rather escalates violence, a common misconception amongst the US general public. Furthermore, the author asserts that other fallacies, such as the involvement of Iran and Syria in supporting sectarian violence, distort the reality of the conflict, which has caused half a million deaths and displaced more than two million civilians with "no end in sight."

Twenty-One Reasons Iraq Is Not Working (October 5, 2006)

This TomDispatch piece discusses the various reasons why US President George W. Bush's "victory in Iraq" can no longer be obtained. Author Tom Engelhardt points out that, while the security situation continues to worsen, Bush continues to claim small "victories" for US troops in combating violence and insurgency movements. Yet rising civilian death tolls, increased militia activity and general public support for US withdrawal amongst Iraqis all suggest that Bush's rhetoric contradicts the reality of the Iraq war.

The War on Terror, Five Years on: An Era of Constant Warfare (September 4, 2006)

Despite pronounced military triumphs in the early stages of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, the US-led coalitions failed to bring stability and democracy to either of these countries. In Iraq the average number of attacks against all targets stands at around 800 a week, whilst civilian deaths have soared to 3,000 every month. Even US President George W. Bush has shifted his rhetoric on US involvement in the Middle East, no longer stressing the benefits of creating peace and security, but instead focusing on the adverse impact of US withdrawal on regional stability. (Independent)

Aid Workers Threatened by Sectarian Violence (August 16, 2006)

As international aid agencies increasingly withdrew their staff from Iraq for security reasons, local NGOs assumed a greater role in helping sick, displaced and hungry Iraqis. But now these local humanitarian groups "also have become victims" of sectarian violence, with volunteers under personal threat. The dire situation highlights the need for greater security so that Iraqi NGOs can deliver aid to those who need it most. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)

Better Saddam than Dead (August 16, 2006)

The author of this TomPaine article questions whether Iraqis are in fact better off under the US-led occupation than they were under Saddam Hussein. The author acknowledges that the former dictator presided over "brutal and horrific acts of mass murder" and violated people's human rights political freedoms. However, since the 2003 invasion, which the US claimed would save the Iraqi people, "tens of thousands" of Iraqis have died and the country remains on the brink of collapse. As the author concludes, "given what has taken its place, it would not be an irrational choice for many Iraqis to prefer the Iraq of 2002 rather than the Iraq of 2006."

Political Unity Missing in Iraq (July 25, 2006)

US President George W. Bush has announced plans to send more forces and equipment to Baghdad in an effort to "pacify the strife-torn Iraqi capital." Violence appears on the rise, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's major initiative to secure the city has failed. Former Pentagon analyst Anthony Cordesman warns that adding more military force "risks alienating more Iraqis and discrediting the government." (Associated Press)

America's Moral Abyss (July 13, 2006)

This furious article from Al-Ahram, a leading Arab world newspaper, compares the March 2006 rape and murder of a young Iraqi girl by US soldiers to the fate of the Iraqi nation. The article suggests the widespread anger in the region, as it argues that the US-led occupation has "scarred, mutilated, and contorted" Iraq, plundering its wealth and stripping the country of its dignity.

If Wanton Murder Is Essential to the US Campaign in Iraq, it's Time to Leave (June 26, 2006)

In addition to atrocities committed in Haditha, Balad, Ishaqi and Hamdania, US forces have killed "untold thousands" of Iraqi civilians in conditions considered "insufficiently atrocious" to be worthy of investigation. These incidents are the "natural and inevitable consequence" of the occupation, in which dead women, children and disabled people "are the price you pay for being invaded." As this Guardian article states, those responsible for such acts remain in the White House, while the many embroiled in the conflict are "brutalized or murdered."

Line Between War, Murder Tough to Draw (June 22, 2006)

The US military has charged a number of Marines with the murders of Iraqi civilians and detainees, stirring further criticism of US troops' behavior. This Christian Science Monitor article points out these charges are nothing new in Iraq. Only a small proportion of cases have been investigated, but at least 11 US servicemen and eight British soldiers have faced murder charges since the US-led invasion of 2003. With few exceptions, past cases have yielded relatively light punishments, and have largely escaped public notice.


Leaked Memo Reveals Plight of Iraqis (June 20, 2006)

A leaked memo from US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice paints a grim picture of the situation in Iraq. The revealing cable describes a situation in Iraq wholly at odds with the optimistic account of developments given by coalition leaders. The memo depicts a deteriorating situation, with Iraqis employed by the US embassy living in fear of attack, Iraqi women finding it dangerous not to wear a veil, and power cuts and fuel shortages placing a drain on Iraqi society.

Another US Cover-Up Surfaces in Iraq (June 13, 2006)

In the wake of the Haditha massacre, US troops reportedly killed two women in Samarra and attempted to hide evidence of their responsibility. US snipers shot the two women who were traveling in a car, claiming they failed to stop at a check point. Other reports claim the area was completely unmarked. The US military offered the brother of one of the victims $5000 in compensation, as part of the $19 million in total compensation paid to Iraqis – an indication that "these kinds of killings by the Americans happen daily in Iraq." This Inter Press Service article calls for a "truly independent investigation" of the killing and cover-up, "rather than one by the US military."

Painful Legacy (June 8-14, 2006)

Since the beginning of hostilities, Iraqis have complained that US troops are ruthless and trigger- happy, often responding to incidents of violence with disproportionate force and caring little for Iraqi casualties. Al-Ahram documents many such incidents that have been "lost in the so-called fog of war." The author calls for the Iraqi government and the US military to reopen all allegations of murder and killing of civilians during and after the March 2003 invasion to encourage the pursuit of justice and prosecution of war crimes.

Countless My Lai Massacres in Iraq (May 30, 2006)

US Marines allegedly slaughtered at least 15 civilians in Haditha in November, 2005, including seven women and three children. The mainstream media refer to the Haditha massacre as "Iraq's My Lai", however, this article argues that "trigger-happy American soldiers" in fact slaughter Iraqi civilians daily, under the "shoot first ask questions later" policy. While high-ranking members of the Bush administration blame policy failures on a "few bad apples," they are ultimately responsible for the occupation. (truthout)


Appeal against Electing the Occupied Iraq to the UN Human Rights Council (May 7, 2006)

In light of Iraq's nomination to the new UN Human Rights Council, human rights groups in Iraq urge UN member states to vote against Baghdad's membership to the Council. The current Iraqi regime, they point out, is largely a continuation of the US-appointed Governing Council, and does not represent a free Iraq. Along with Iraq's government, US occupation forces have committed "gross and systematic" violations of human rights. As such, Iraqi membership to the Human Rights Council would discredit the body, and complicate political negotiations in Iraq. (Monitoring Network of Human Rights in Iraq)

National Sovereignty and Military Occupation Not Compatible (May 3, 2006)

Following the nomination of Jawad al-Maliki as prime minister, commentators constantly repeat the need for Iraq's government to overcome sectarian divisions, political deadlock, and a "brewing civil war." Yet as this article points out, Iraq cannot achieve national sovereignty and political legitimacy as long as the US-led occupation continues. Violence, corruption and sectarianism have all sprung from the military occupation, and will persist so long as it continues, despite the best efforts of Maliki or any other Iraqi politician. (Uruknet)

US Building Massive Embassy in Baghdad (April 14, 2006)

The US embassy complex in Baghdad will be the largest in the world when its construction is complete, totaling 21 buildings on 104 acres. Rivaling the Vatican City in size, the US embassy will host its own defense force, water supply, and electricity plant. The massive complex, which is being built in the Green Zone near Iraqi government buildings, presents a clear indication "of who actually exercises power" in Iraq. (Associated Press)

US Military Airstrikes Significantly Increased in Iraq (March 14, 2006)

As part of an effort to reduce the "visibility" of the occupation, the US military has dramatically increased the number of airstrikes in Iraq. From October 2005 to February 2006, the number of daily bombings has increased more than 50 percent over the same time period a year earlier, with the US conducting airstrikes once every two days. Iraqis fear and resent the "unjustified and random" bombings, noting the high risk of civilian casualties. (Knight Ridder)

NGO Letter to the Security Council on Iraq (March 14, 2006)

On the eve of the Security Council's quarterly discussion on the situation in Iraq, a group of NGOs has written the Council to voice their concern. Several disturbing reports have been released by Secretary General Kofi Annan, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and human rights organizations. These reports have highlighted significant violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, especially in the area of detention practices. In response, the NGOs ask the Council to break its pattern of pro forma review, "accept its responsibility" and "substantially review the mandate it has given to the MNF."

A South Korean Withdrawal (January 26, 2006)

The US occupation of Iraq has been compared to past US military campaigns in Vietnam and Japan. According to Sawsan Assaf of Baghdad University, South Korea provides a more appropriate parallel. As was the case in South Korea, Iraq has become politically and militarily dependent, allowing the US to operate and retain large military bases as part of its long-term geo-strategic interests, while advancing an "illusory" strategy of withdrawal. (



Iraq: 1,000 Days of War (December 13, 2005)

December 13 marks the 1000th day of war in Iraq. As the Independent points out, the Iraqi resistance has strengthened, sectarian divisions have intensified, and the US occupation continues alongside a "colonial regime" that many Iraqis do not trust. While the December 15 parliamentary elections hold hope for the future, the newly emerging Iraqi state is already "drenched in blood."

America's Unsung War Dead (November 30, 2005)

While the US public and media widely discussed the 2000th military death in Iraq, casualties from the "other [US] army" receive little attention. As of November 14, 2005, 280 private military contractors have been killed in Iraq. Though they operate largely outside of the public's view, private military companies play a significant role in the Iraq war, with roughly 20,000 contractors and $1 billion in contracts. (Asia Times)

Iraq Asks Return of Some Officers of Hussein Army (November 3, 2005)

Iraq's Defense Ministry is encouraging the return of former officers from Iraq's disbanded army, even though US policy forbade this in the past. In 2003 Coalition Provisional Authority chief L. Paul Bremer III dissolved Iraq's army and purged government officials in a process of "de-Baathification." In reversing course, Iraqi officials hope to bolster Iraq's security forces and gain Sunni support for Iraq's government. (New York Times)

The Iraqi Constitution: A Referendum for Disaster (October 13, 2005)

Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies critically examines Iraq's constitution. The Bush administration has heavily influenced the entire process, from drafting the document to rushing into elections, in an eager attempt to consolidate US control while validating claims of "democratization." Far from democratic, the constitution lacks legitimate Iraqi consensus and threatens the country with increased conflict.

Coalition Warships Safeguard Iraq's Precious Oil Terminals (October 12, 2005)

Australian, British, and US warships constantly patrol the waters off the Iraqi oil terminals in Basra and Khor al-Amaya. With the world's second largest proven oil-reserves, Iraq plays a significant role in international crude markets. Given the stakes, US Captain Hank Miranda says, "I don't think we will ever leave. We'll always have ships here." (Agence France Presse)

A Central Pillar of Iraq Policy Crumbling (October 9, 2005)

US officials have begun questioning the prevailing strategy of establishing a democratic Iraq. As many experts argue, success in Iraq does not depend on elections or a formal constitution, but rather on reaching genuine political consensus. Many believe this process has been sacrificed to arbitrary deadlines in order to maintain US public support for the war. (Los Angeles Times)

Aid to Iraq Ministries to Shift to Pentagon (September 26, 2005)

The US military plans to replace the State Department in providing assistance to Iraq's Defense and Interior Ministries. While the State Department has allowed Iraqis more independence in establishing their own institutions, the Pentagon plans to take a more hands on approach in advising the ministries. According to Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who will assume these new responsibilities, the Pentagon is now in a position to "control the entire process, from foot soldier and policeman to minister." (Washington Post)

Basra Officials Demand British Apology (September 22, 2005)

"I support boycotting the British troops and stopping all cooperation with them" until London apologizes, Basra's governor, Mohammad al-Waili said in response to the British storming of a Basra prison. While Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called it a "regrettable event," Waili asked British troops to "stop these barbarian and illegal actions." (Daily Star - Lebanon)

US Claims Success in Iraq Despite Onslaught (September 19, 2005)

The Washington Post reports that, in a nod to the Vietnam era, the US military is again using body counts as a measure of success. Many of these figures are flawed, as numerous detentions are made on the recommendations of "local teenagers who had stepped forward as informants" for the purpose of "settling local scores." Though Iraq's stability remains in question, "American officials have insisted that the insurgency is not growing."

Security Contractors in Iraq Under Scrutiny after Shootings (September 10, 2005)

Private security firms have been responsible for numerous Iraqi civilian deaths, highlighting the need to clarify the role of these firms in Iraq's reconstruction. According to Brig. Gen. Karl R. Horst, "these guys run loose…and do stupid stuff. There's no authority over them, so you can't come down on them hard when they escalate force." Private Security Companies, known as PSCs, fall outside of US military control and are immune from prosecution in Iraq. (Washington Post)

US Influence 'Too Much' (September 5, 2005)

A legal affairs officer for the office of constitutional support with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) criticizes US Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad for trying to manipulate Iraq's constitution drafting process. He condemns Washington's influence as "highly inappropriate for a country with 140,000 soldiers in country." The article points out the illegality of these efforts and their divisive effects upon Iraqi society. (Inter Press Service)

My Sadness at the Privatisation of Iraq (August 12, 2005)

This article makes the case that the US and UK did not invade Iraq in order to bring democracy to the country. Rather, their goal was the "imposition of a neoliberal capitalist economy controlled and run by US transnational corporations." Paul Bremer, when he was leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority, issued decrees authorizing the large-scale privatization of the Iraqi economy. These laws still stand, and the Iraqi government is unlikely to reverse them as long as the US keeps a military presence in the country. (Times, London)

Iraqi Unions Defy Assassinations and Occupation (August 10, 2005)

Unions find themselves in a precarious situation in post-invasion Iraq. Insurgents have assassinated union members who promoted or participated in the January 2005 elections, seeing them as collaborators with the occupation. In addition, the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer introduced neo-liberal, anti-labor policies that are still in effect and that reduce workers' pay and drastically curb unions' right to organize. (truthout)

New Resistance in Iraq (August 2, 2005)

Iraqi authorities have announced that they intend to privatize a broad section of Iraq's publicly-held industries. This article wonders what this will mean for Iraqi workers, and surveys the activities of labor unions since the US-UK invasion. Although US occupation authorities preserved the repressive labor laws dating from Saddam Hussein's rule, workers still organize unions and have occasionally gone on strike, demanding better wages and more Iraqi control over the oil sector. (

Ghosts of the 1915 US Invasion Still Haunt Haiti's People (July 25, 2005)

The Miami Herald looks back at the 1915 US invasion of Haiti, and warns Iraqis that it takes a long time for a nation to recover from occupation. Detailing the little known nineteen years of US occupation in Haiti, followed by many years of economic control, the author shows how imperialist aggression contributed to the bloodshed and instability of more recent times.

"Who's the Enemy?" Distraught Iraqis Wonder (July 25, 2005)

US-trained Iraqi security forces often behave as violently as criminals, say Iraqis. This article describes incidents of police brutality, and notes that Iraqi officials and foreign diplomats have admitted the gravity of the problem. Furthermore, the US deploys Shiite security forces to police Sunni areas, increasing sectarian tensions between the two groups. (Reuters)

Pentagon Report Says Iraqi Forces Are Not Yet Able to Defend Country (July 22, 2005)

In a report to the US Congress, the Pentagon admitted that only a third of Iraqi security forces are capable of counterinsurgency operations "with coalition support." The remaining two-thirds are "partially capable." Democratic Party lawmakers criticized the Pentagon for keeping the details of Iraqi troop readiness classified, saying that the US public deserves to know the facts, even if its support for the war wanes as a result. (Washington Post)

Allawi: This Is the Start of Civil War (July 10, 2005)

Former Interim President of Iraq Iyad Allawi has criticized the US's lack of vision in Iraq. The "long-time ally of Washington" said that Iraq has collapsed as a state, and complained that the US has not delivered the promised funds to rebuild the Iraqi army. Nevertheless, he believes that US troops should stay in the country until Iraq "develops the capability to deal with threats." (Sunday Times)

As Iraqi Army Trains, Word in the Field Is It May Take Years (June 13, 2005)

US military officers who work directly with the new Iraqi army "believe that it could be several years, at least, before the new Iraqi forces will be ready to stand alone against the insurgents." The US expects Iraqis to take over security duties, but takes demoralized troops who join the army because it offers some of the only regularly paying work in Iraq and equips them with "cheap fiberglass helmets and poor-quality flak jackets." US officers describe many of the Iraqi units sent into the field as not having "even minimal operational capability." (New York Times)

Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable (June 10, 2005)

Two Washington Post reporters spent several days traveling with joint US/Iraqi military unit in a journey that "revealed fundamental, perhaps irreconcilable differences" between the two. While Iraqis feel that the are poorly supplied and treated without respect by US troops, the US forces complain about Iraqi cowardice and incompetence. Soldiers on both sides, however, agree that the US won't be leaving anytime soon.

Torture's Part of the Territory (June 7, 2005)

Naomi Klein suggests that supporters of the Iraq war should take a lesson from a straight talking French general in epic movie "The Battle of Algiers" and admit "there is no nice, humanitarian way to occupy a nation against the will of its people." In the absence of consent to its occupation, like the French in Algeria, the US leadership is using the only alternative tool to govern Iraqis: fear. "Unwanted regimes…rely on torture precisely because they are unwanted." While the US remains in Iraq, the reliance on morally outrageous methods of control will continue, and to pretend otherwise is pointless. (Los Angeles Times)

Iraqi Official Appeals for Greater US Role (June 3, 2005)

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has requested a greater US role on four key political and military issues, including the crafting of Iraq's constitution. In talks with the US Vice President and Secretary of State, Zebari also said the US had pulled back too much in Iraq, and called on Washington to play a more "engaged" role in Iraqi affairs. Iraqi officials fear that a lack of Sunni support for the constitution may lead to civil war, and want the US administration to ask other Sunni leaders--such as the heads of Egypt and Jordan--to convince Iraqi Sunnis to end their boycott of the political process. (Washington Post)

At Iraqi Request, the UN Extends Approval for US-Led Forces to Stay (June 1, 2005)

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved extending the mandate of US-led forces in Iraq beyond the end of 2005. The approval came in a private, closed-door consultation with no open discussion of the matter. Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari asked for and strongly endorsed the continued presence of "multinational forces," calling them "friendly forces [...] helping us to establish security, carrying out missions in the interests of the Iraqi people, and under the authority of the government." (New York Times)

Down and Out with Iraqi Forces (May 23, 2005)

Security analyst John Pike says that "Iraq will remain an American protectorate well into the next decade," citing the time required to restore Iraq to "military self-sufficiency." General John P. Abizaid, the top US officer in the Middle East, reinforces this view with the admission that Iraqi security forces, particularly the police, lack "sophistication, chain of command, [and] cohesion of leadership." (Salon)

Iraqis Lament a Call for Help (May 17, 2005)

When tribal leaders from towns near the Iraqi border with Syria asked for US assistance in stemming the tide of foreign jihadis entering the country across the unprotected border, US forces responded with a massive assault that did not distinguish between friendly Iraqis and foreign fighters. US troops flattened neighborhoods and killed Iraqis who supported the US effort, prompting tribal leaders to wish they had never asked for US assistance. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Iraq Is a Bloody No Man's Land. America Has Failed to Win the War. But Has It Lost It? (May 15, 2005)

Patrick Cockburn writes that "even by the standards of other conflicts, Iraq has been particularly fertile in lies." He cites an example where newly-elected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani interrupted "his own relentlessly upbeat account of government achievements to snap orders to his aides on the correct positioning of troops and heavy weapons around his house." But the US failure to secure Iraq goes mostly unreported because "it is too dangerous for the foreign media to venture out of central Baghdad." (Independent)

Amidst Doubts, CIA Hangs on to Control of Iraqi Intelligence Service (May 8, 2005)

The CIA refuses to transfer control of the Iraqi Intelligence Service and its archives to the newly elected government, under the pretext that the new government's ties to Iran would put Iraq's state secrets in jeopardy. Senior members of the two major Shiite parties, however, "suspect the real reason behind US reluctance to hand over the archives is that Americans don't want them to know the extent of US-led spying on the Shiite politicians Iraqis risked their lives to vote into office." (Knight Ridder)

Iraqi Commando Battalion Pulled out of Samarra (May 5, 2005)

A battalion of Iraq commandos "widely perceived as running amok" was pulled out of Samarra after incidents of looting and the torching of a home. The commandos, whom US soldiers regularly referred to as "thieves," make up the vanguard of Iraq's security forces. This makes criticism of the commandos awkward for the US, which wants to see Iraqis take over security responsibilities. (Middle East Online)

Lessons from Iraq: Rand Offers War 101 Textbook (May 4, 2005)

Rand Corp., a think tank with close links to the US government, has published an uncharacteristically critical report on "lessons learned in Iraq." In the report, Rand strongly criticizes the lack of post-war planning and suggests that "some process for exposing senior officials to possibilities other than those being assumed in their planning [needs] to be introduced." (Knight Ridder)

Two Years Later (March 2005)

Taking stock of the situation in Iraq two years after the war, this Foreign Policy In Focus piece calls US involvement "disastrous." While acknowledging some positive outcomes, such as the January 30 elections, the author concludes that the US should cease all offensive military operations in the country, withdraw from population centers, and expedite the training of Iraqi armed forces "with special attention given to respect for internationally recognized human rights." He also recommends that the anti-war movement advocate the repeal of Bremer's Transitional Administrative Laws and that construction on all long-term US military facilities should cease.

Strength of Iraqi Forces Questioned (March 15, 2005)

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a US government audit agency, Bush administration officials and military commanders have overstated the number of Iraqi security forces on duty. The GAO claims that the Pentagon's figure of 142,000 Iraqis trained as police and soldiers includes "tens of thousands of Iraqi policemen who had left their jobs without explanation." The number also includes "more than 50,000 police officers who were given as little as three weeks of basic training." (Los Angeles Times)

What Iraq's Checkpoints Are Like (March 7, 2005)

The confusing nature of checkpoints in Iraq, coupled with language barriers that make it difficult for Iraqis to understand US instructions, lead to dangerous situations and deaths. The US author of this Christian Science Monitor article finds the checkpoint system perplexing at times, and wonders: "what is it like for Iraqis who don't speak English?"

Winning the Unwinnable War (January/February 2005)

James Dobbins argues that "insurgencies are defeated not by killing insurgents, but by winning the support of the population." By failing to do so, "the Bush administration has already lost the war." Only moderate Iraqis, working independently of the US and with the help of neighboring states, can salvage Iraq. For this to happen, says Dobbins, the US must disengage and withdraw as soon as possible. (Foreign Affairs)

Across Baghdad, Security Is Only an Ideal (January 27, 2005)

The New York Times reports "Baghdad is not under control, either by the Iraqi interim government or the American military." As Iraq's most populated and cosmopolitan city, Baghdad will greatly influence the elections' credibility. Yet US forces have no control over vast areas of the capital, with 37 roadside bombs and 52 insurgent attacks in the week preceding the elections alone.

The Salvador Option (January 20, 2005)

Former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter condemns the Pentagon for considering the use of death squads against insurgents in Iraq. Called the "Salvador option," these squads would infiltrate insurgent groups and assassinate leaders and other key personnel. Not only would such an operation be unethical, writes Ritter, but it is also doomed to fail, the way the similar Vietnam-era Phoenix program did. (Aljazeera)

How the US Can Salvage Iraq (January 11, 2005)

Robert Malley and Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group argue that the US should give up its struggle in a war it has already lost, and that it should rather focus on process of "dual disengagement." US military and political disengagement from Iraq and Iraqi disengagement from the US could lead to a "convincingly sovereign" Iraq, one "whose credibility will depend on it being independent from America." (International Herald Tribune)

Iraq's Government Extends State of Emergency (January 6, 2005)

Iraq's Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has renewed emergency laws and extended the "state of emergency" he declared in November 2004. The laws allow the interim government to impose curfews, close borders, launch military operations and arrest people without warrants "whenever it deems necessary." Allawi based his decision on the necessity to "protect […] the process of elections," but nationwide elections under martial law will simply further discredit the Iraqi ballot. (


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