Where there is Violence, Let Us Sow Peace
A CALL FOR GREATER VIGILANCE IN THE U.S. HANDOVER OF SOVEREIGNTY TO IRAQ
A year ago U.S. President George W. Bush, under the “Mission Accomplished” banner, declared victory over Iraq, and the United States took total control over the governance of that country. Today it is increasingly evident that the pretexts for the “pre-emptive” war against Iraq-possession of weapons of mass destruction and the Saddam regime’s links with the Al Qaeda-are all lies. Every justification for the rush to war-to disarm Iraq and prevent attacks on U.S. territories and interests, to liberate Iraq and bring greater freedom to the Middle East-are no more than carefully crafted alibis deliberately promoted to conceal America’s real agenda in the Middle East.
Bush was confident that coalition invaders would be welcomed as “liberators” by a people who had suffered long and hard under the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein. But the fall of Baghdad did not usher in a new and free Iraq. Far from it .. Today, the people are in a turmoil so pervasive that the promise of sovereignty handover by the end of the month seems more and more a public-relations act to gain respectability for the U.S. occupation that has lost all credibility and to draw in a multinational force to do the dirty job of fighting the insurgency in Iraq.
The “transfer of sovereignty” issue has become the subject of the new discourse. The focus of the Media-and that of the U.N. Security Council-will be on the details of the transfer along with internal bickering that usually accompany changes in governing bodies. The shift in the area of interest will likely result in the diminution of concern over the still unanswered questions regarding the invasion itself along with the issues of human-rights violation and breaches on the Geneva Convention.
The new discourse will also likely redefine the concept of sovereignty, going the same way of debasement as “peace,” “democracy,” “freedom,” and many other noble concepts. For what is going to take place on June 30 does not in any way conform to existing definitions of “sovereignty.” On June 30th, Iraq will not become a sovereign state but remain a colony or a puppet state, subservient to Washington and protective of American interests. As such, despite the “Iraqi face” of the new government, the insurgency is bound to continue with a likelihood of developing into a civil war.
There is much to demand regarding the issue of the “transfer of sovereignty,” but the accountabilities of the occupying forces that predate the transfer of government must remain areas of focus and concern for all peace-loving people.
The wanton disregard for life and human dignity shown by recent revelations of death, torture, sexual abuse and humiliation suffered by Iraqi prisoners in the hands of their American jailers
Based on previous reports by organisations such as Amnesty International and the Red Cross of widespread torture and ill-treatment of prisoners by Coalition Forces since the fall of Baghdad, it is apparent that the reports of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib-especially noting the little known but confirmed reports of rape and torture of Iraqi women prisoners-are not isolated incidents and that culpability ultimately leads to the doorstep of the Bush Administration. With similar reports emanating from U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, it is telling that, far from being individual roguish acts, the practice of breaking down prisoner morale and using excessive force during arrest and detention-even to the point of death, as has been reported in a number of cases-is systemic in the policy of occupation. This is further evidenced by the U.S. government’s moves to seek another year’s extension of immunity from criminal prosecution for U.S. forces. We lament the fact that Iraqi citizens do not have a form of legal redress for crimes and abuses committed by U.S. forces.
Abu Ghraib underscores the importance of an international court to prosecute war crimes. But the refusal of the U.S. and Iraq to ratify the Rome Statute in 1998 now prevents the International Criminal Court from exercising jurisdiction over recent events in Iraq. U.S. occupation troops in Iraq will continue to act with impunity as it seeks to extend the application of Order 17-an agreement signed with the Coalition Provisional Authority granting immunity from prosecution for U.S.-UK forces-to the U.S.-led multinational force that is expected to remain in Iraq after the June 30 handover.
The rising death toll among Iraqi civilians, especially women and children, foreign workers, Iraqi insurgents, and Coalition Forces Thousands of senseless deaths have occurred in Iraq more than a year after the declared end of combat operations on May 1, 2003. In April alone, during the height of the crisis in Fallujah and Najaf, 1,200 Iraqis, including hundreds of civilians, and 120 U.S. soldiers were killed. There is also a patent rise in kidnapping and targeting of foreigners, presumably by foreign extremist groups.
The mutilation of U.S. mercenaries, which ignited the Fallujah siege by U.S. forces, and the widely publicised beheading of Nicholas Berg, a young American communications entrepreneur, attests to the vicious cycle of violence that has engulfed Iraq as a result of deep hatred over the presence and dominance of Coalition invaders. The only way is to find a lasting solution to the root causes of Islamic terrorism, which must be a priority focus of any agenda to fight terrorism.
The millions of dollars in war profits made by U.S. corporations from military contracts and the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq amidst staggering poverty and unemployment among the Iraqi population
The Bush Administration has publicly framed its invasion of Iraq as falling within the agenda of the international crusade against terror. But the imposition of neoliberal policies on Iraq’s economy by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), as well as widespread reports of corruption, profiteering and fraud by U.S. corporations and members of the U.S.-appointed Interim Governing Council (IGC), lay bare the fact that the Iraq War has been pursued by the Bush administration to advance its economic globalisation project.
Iraq’s markets have been opened up to foreign contractors while 70 percent of Iraq’s workforce is unemployed. The CPA has suspended tariffs and imposed a 15 percent ceiling on all future taxes. It has abrogated an Iraqi law restricting foreign investment and property ownership in Iraq and now plans to privatise state-controlled enterprises. Moreover, a specia investigation by the National Public Radio’s Marketplace and the Center for Investigative Reporting in the U.S. estimated that 20% of Iraq reconstruction funds-U.S.$18.6 billion, most of which are controlled by the Pentagon-are being lost to corruption: awarding of contracts without bidding to well-connected corporations, financial fraud, cost overruns, and poor performance. We believe that moves to rearrange Iraq’s economy to favour the interests of foreign corporations has put billions of dollars to waste and derailed the economic and political rebuilding of Iraq.
The Bush Administration has set June 30 of this year as the deadline for the transfer of sovereignty to the people of Iraq. Yielding to an overwhelming clamour for direct elections, both from the Iraqi people and the international community, the U.S. has sought the help of the United Nations to facilitate the transition process. The June 30 sovereignty transfer as specified in the plan submitted to the Security Council leaves a lot of questions as to the real motives of the June 30th “transfer”. It is dubbed to be part of President Bush’s election-year plan.
We believe Iraq’s transition to self-rule must be pursued with vigilance and within the framework of the following principles:
1. Relinquishment of all political, military and economic control of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies, and the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces and facilities from Iraq.
2. Immediate and unconditional end to all military offensives by the U.S.-led coalition against the people of Fallujah and Najaf and other areas of Iraqi resistance.
3. Full ownership of the political process by the Iraqi people. The task of rebuilding Iraq-including the management of reconstruction funds, control of the country’s human and natural resources, and major decisions regarding economic, political and social policy-must be founded within the framework of human rights and on the principle of self-determination, and thus restored in the hands of those who have most at stake in the country’s future-the Iraqi people.
4. Independent and wider role of the United Nations as the representative of the international community in the process of Iraq’s transition to self-rule. The United Nations must issue an unequivocal statement that the occupation has ended, and it must be given an independent mandate to work directly with all sectors and groups of the Iraqi population in facilitating a political process that meets internationally-recognised standards and guarantees broad participation and transparency, as well as a constitutional framework that all Iraqis can agree upon and participate in.
The Iraq War continues to be a focus in our efforts to contribute our share in the global resistance against globalisation and militarism. Indeed, the nexus between militarisation and corporate globalisation has never been more apparent than in Iraq. The foreign meddlers of Iraqi affairs now find themselves in a quagmire that has claimed thousands of lives and put to waste billions of dollars in war profiteering. The violence and widespread resistance now raging in Iraq are not merely offshoots of poor strategy on the part of the coalition invaders. These are deeply rooted and indeed are natural outcomes of the unjust and self-serving ends of U.S. military aggression that seeks not to liberate people from terror but to impose the U.S. government’s imperial agenda upon the world. An end to the senseless violence gripping this country and the genuine liberation of its people are urgent tasks for the peace movement of which we are part. The peace agenda is always urgent for as long as threats to life and the integrity of creation persist.
PEOPLE’S FORUM ON PEACE FOR LIFE
June 28, 2004
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on July 2nd, 2004