Monday, February 13, 2006

Iraqi Voices Are Drowned Out In A Blizzard of Occupiers' Spin

The deception that launched the invasion of Iraq now increasingly shapes media coverage of the occupation.
by Sami Ramadani
Three years after invading Iraq, George Bush and Tony Blair are still dipping into the trough of deception and disinformation that launched the war: hailing non-existent progress, declaring sanctimonious satisfaction with sectarian elections, and holding out the mirage of early withdrawal. In reality, the occupation and divide-and-rule tactics have spawned death squads, torture, kidnappings, chemical attacks, polluted water, depleted uranium, bombardment of civilians, probably more than 100,000 people dead and a relentless deterioration in Iraqis' daily lives.

Much of this goes unreported in the British and American media, stripped of context or consigned to the small print. The headlines are reserved for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terrorism, Saddam Hussein's farcical trial and the perennial "exit strategy". We are fed the occupiers' spin, while words of scepticism are deemed jarring. Invited to join a popular BBC radio programme for Iraq's recent elections, I quoted George Bush's accidental brush with reality when he declared: "You can't have free and fair elections in Lebanon under Syrian occupation." An editor politely said: "Sorry Sami, but we are sticking to a positive spin on this one. I am sure we will invite you on other occasions."

A few days ago, a large-scale opinion poll conducted by Maryland University showed that 87% of Iraqis (including 64% of Kurds) endorsed a demand for a timetabled withdrawal of the occupiers. The findings were mostly ignored by the British media.

Admittedly, reports on the ground are difficult and dangerous. But while western media are not averse to revealing deceptions around the WMD scare and pre-war lies, occupier-generated news still takes pride of place, and anti-occupation Iraqi voices of all sects - particularly Shia clergy such as Ayatollahs Hassani, Baghdadi and Khalisi - are ignored.

A few months before US soldiers boasted of using white phosphorus, the BBC's Paul Wood defended his reporting from Falluja in the November 2004 siege, telling Medialens: "I repeat the point made by my editors, over weeks of total access to the military operation, at all levels: we did not see banned weapons being used ... or even discussed. We cannot therefore report their use." Doctors and refugees fleeing US bombardment talked of "chemical attacks" and people "melting to death". But for the BBC, eyewitness testimony from Iraqis is way down the pecking order of objectivity.

It would clearly be wrong to portray victims' claims as uncontested facts, but there is a duty to publish and investigate them. Had, for example, Iraqi families' claims been highlighted shortly after the occupation began, the world would not have waited over a year to learn of torture at US-run jails. It was not until US soldiers gleefully circulated sickening pictures of tortured Iraqis that the media paid attention.

Many Iraqis have persistently accused US-led forces of "controlling" an assortment of death squads or private militias and "turning a blind eye" to many terrorist attacks. Almost every week, handcuffed and blindfolded men are found lying next to one another, each killed by a single bullet to the head. Who is methodically torturing and killing these people? Who has so far assassinated more than 200 academics and scientists? Iraqis not linked to the Green Zone regime are convinced that US forces and US-backed mercenaries are involved.

Support for some Iraqi claims, however, comes from unexpected sources: two US generals have admitted the presence of targeted killing squads, and last February the Wall Street Journal let slip the presence of six US-trained secret militias. In the same month, Lt General William Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defence for intelligence, told the New York Times: "I think we're doing what the Phoenix programme was designed to do, without all the secrecy." US death squads assassinated about 40,000 people in Vietnam before Congress halted "Operation Phoenix".

A retired general, Wayne Downing, the former head of special operations forces, affirmed that US-led killing squads started operating immediately after the March 2003 invasion. He told a bemused NBC interviewer: "Katie, it's a nasty situation in Iraq right now, and this may help it get better."

But the occupiers' "Sunni vs. Shia" mantra dictates the agenda and clouds the issues. The daily news intake is moulded by senior occupation forces' PR officers and embassy officials camped in the Green Zone - once Saddam's fortress, now a vast monstrosity housing the occupation authorities and their competing and corrupt Iraqi proteges of all sects.

The lie of WMD embroiled Britain in an immoral, illegal war. Disinformation about the war is the pretext for keeping troops and bases in Iraq. Cosmetic sovereignty and partial withdrawal will not convince Iraqis witnessing the completion of permanent US bases, and US advisers controlling "sovereign" ministries and planning back-door oil privatization.

Only complete withdrawal will satisfy most Iraqis. And if genuine liberty and independence are not forthcoming, the spiral of violence will intensify from Afghanistan to Palestine.

Sami Ramadani was a political exile from Saddam's regime and is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University. Email to:


Blogger sevenpointman said...

Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire, witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to serve.

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated in the theater, if both the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after six-months.

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18 autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives. When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that province.
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of governing.

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other prisoners.
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to choose freely their own lawyers.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's better to finish it now than to have our grandchildren fight these guys in 10 years or so in World War III, especially after they have nukes.

12:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Search WWW Search