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Iraq Occupation Focus
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Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter

Iraq Occupation Focus
www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk
Newsletter No. 30
November 16, 2005

This IOF Newsletter is produced as a free service for all those opposed to the occupation. In order to strengthen our campaign, please make sure you sign up to receive the free newsletter automatically – go to: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/iraqfocus. Please also ask all those who share our opposition to the increasingly brutal US-UK occupation to do likewise.


Operation ‘Steel Curtain’

Eye witness in Haditha

Dahr Jamail reports (November 7th): There is a huge US military operation once again targeting the Al-Qa'im area of Iraq, this one named ‘Steel Curtain.’ US warplanes on targeted al-Jamahir, al-Risala and other neighbourhoods in the town, destroying houses, and killing and injuring dozens of people. The US shelling has demolished government buildings and two mosques in the city. The following is a first-person account from journalist Sabah Ali who ventured into Haditha recently.

“The American and the Iraqi soldiers were everywhere in the streets. Traces of the last attack could be seen everywhere on the buildings, the faces, and the suspicious eyes. We heard the same scenario. Water, electricity, phones, roads were all cut. The city was besieged before the bombing began on October 5, 2005 and went on for 18 days. Many houses were demolished; many families left to the refugee camps, many people were arrested. The general hospital was occupied for 10 days; the hospital director and one of the doctors were brutally beaten and then arrested for a week inside the hospital. Many schools and offices were still occupied. All houses were raided, some twice a day. There is no government, no offices, no schools, no work, no markets... nothing.

“Dr. Walid Al-Obeidi, the director of Haditha General Hospital and Dr. Jamil Abdul Jabbar, the only surgeon in the Haditha area were arrested for a week, very badly beaten. Dr.Walid said: ‘They beat me on my eyes, nose, back, hands, legs... My face was covered with blood. Then they tied my hands to the front, and left me for two days. A few days later, one of the soldiers came in the room, did not say anything, kicked me again on my face and left.’

“Dr. Jamil, a surgeon for 20 years, was also arrested and very brutally beaten. When we met him, 22 days later, his face was still bluish. His nose was broken, and a big opening in his head. He said: ‘They beat me on my eyes and nose, kicked me with boots under my chin. One of them threatened me if I do not talk after he counts to three, he would shoot me.’”

Civilians killed near al-Qaim in air strike

IRIN report (1st November): Dozens of civilians including women and children were reportedly killed in US air strikes near the western Iraqi town of al-Qaim, some 12 km from the Syrian border, local doctors said. Local witnesses say the dead and injured were mainly civilians. According to Dr al-Rabia'a, several women and children were among the 43 dead and 25 injured who reached his hospital.

Dozens dead, thousands displaced in west, doctors say

IRIN report (November 7th): Dozens of civilians were killed and injured when US-led forces launched an offensive on the western Iraqi town of Husaybah, according to local doctors. One doctor in al-Qaim said that the US military’s regular use of anti-personnel cluster bombs had left at least 31 dead and 44 wounded, among them women and children.

According to the IRCS, people began to flee Husaybah nearly a week before the launch of the offensive. The agency added that local volunteers had estimated the number of displaced at some 4,000.

Urgent assistance needed for al-Qaim displaced

IRIN reports (November 10th): Thousands of displaced people from the towns of al-Qaim and Husaybah are living in desperate conditions and in urgent need of assistance. Relief workers said many of the displaced were in urgent need of medical attention, but there were only two hospitals in the area, which were already overwhelmed. Several injured people had been forced to trek up to 200 km to Fallujah hospital for treatment. "Some people are dying on their way to the hospital," said Ferdous al-Abadi, spokeswoman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS).



Extension of US-led military mandate draws demonstrations

IRIN report (November 10th): A unanimous decision by the United Nations Security Council to extend the mandate of the US-led multinational force in Iraq received a mixed reaction in the country. Demonstrators marched in Baghdad urging the UN to change its decision. Protesters called for the departure of foreign forces once the new elected government takes office, following a 15 December poll.



Iraq Sunni group blasts defence minister

UPI report (November 5): An Iraqi Sunni group demanded Saturday the dismissal of Defence Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi for threatening to demolish civilian houses that harbour terrorists. In a statement, the Iraqi Council for National Dialogue called on the government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari to sack Dulaimi after he vowed the Iraqi forces will not hesitate to "demolish their houses on their women's and children's heads, as we did before."

The council said the minister's comment was a confession of committing war crimes and called for his trial as a war criminal in the International Court of Justice. It added there were more than 200,000 refugees stranded in the Anbar desert with no food and water, and warned of a "humanitarian disaster" as disease spreads among the "homeless people" in the area.



Oil cartel maintained

Greg Palast reports in Harpers (October 24th): Two and a half years and $202 billion into the war in Iraq, the United States has at least one significant new asset to show for it: effective membership, through its control of Iraq's energy policy, in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Just what to do with this proxy power has been the cause of a pitched battle between neoconservatives at the Pentagon, on the one hand, and the State Department and the oil industry, on the other. According to insiders and to documents obtained from the State Department, the neocons, once in command, are now in full retreat. Iraq's system of oil production, after a year of failed free-market experimentation, is being re-created almost entirely on the lines originally laid out by Saddam Hussein.

Under the quiet direction of U.S. oil company executives working with the State Department, the Iraqis have discarded the neocon vision of a laissez faire, privatized oil operation in favour of one shackled to quotas set by OPEC, which have been key to the 148% rise in oil prices since the beginning of 2002. This rise is estimated to have cost the U.S. economy 1.5% of its GDP, or a third of its total growth during the period.



Halliburton Should Repay Millions to Iraq, a U.N. Audit Finds

The New York Times reports (November 5th): An auditing board sponsored by the United Nations recommended yesterday that the United States repay as much as $208 million to the Iraqi government for contracting work in 2003 and 2004 assigned to Kellogg, Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary.

The work was paid for with Iraqi oil proceeds, but the board said it was either carried out at inflated prices or done poorly. Some of the work involved postwar fuel imports carried out by K.B.R. that previous audits had criticized as grossly overpriced.

But this is the first time that an international auditing group has suggested that the United States repay some of that money to Iraq. The group, known as the International Advisory and Monitoring Board of the Development Fund for Iraq, compiled reports from an array of Pentagon, United States government and private auditors to carry out its analysis.



Phosphorous Attack on Fallujah

Italians Release Video

Juan Cole reports (November 7th): The Italian television network RAI has released a video that includes an interview with an ex-Marine and footage of the use of phosphorous bombs at Fallujah in November of 2004.

The Italian press is calling the phosphorus bombs "chemical weapons" and alleging that they were used indiscriminately and against civilian populations.

The use of incendiary bombs against civilian targets or concentrations of civilians with no military function is forbidden by Protocol III of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Although the US ratified Protocols I and II of the Convention, it does not appear to have adopted Protocol III into US law.


US used white phosphorus on Iraqi civilians, report says

The New Zealand Herald reports (November 9th): US forces in Iraq have used incendiary white phosphorus against civilians and a firebomb similar to napalm against military targets, Italian state-run broadcaster RAI reported.

A RAI documentary showed images of bodies recovered after a November 2004 offensive by US troops on the town of Falluja, which it said proved the use of white phosphorus against men, women and children who were burned to the bone.

"I do know that white phosphorus was used," said Jeff Englehart in the RAI documentary, which identified him as a former soldier in the US 1st Infantry Division in Iraq. "Burned bodies. Burned children and burned women," said Englehart, who RAI said had taken part in the Falluja offensive. "White phosphorus kills indiscriminately."



Five US soldiers charged with abuse

Arab News reports (November 9th): Five US Army Rangers in Iraq alleged to have punched and kicked Iraqi detainees and hit them with a broomstick have been charged with assault, the military said.

US Army spokesman Paul Boyce said the five Special Operations troops had been charged with assault and maltreatment of prisoners and dereliction of duty in the incident, which occurred on Sept. 7 in Baghdad.


The BBC reports (November 8th): Figures released by the US last week said its forces were holding 13,885 prisoners at several detention centres across Iraq, including more than 5,000 at Abu Ghraib, a vast complex in western Baghdad.

Human rights groups have complained that US prisoners are sometimes detained arbitrarily, and kept for months on end without facing charges or trial.



Robert Fisk interviewed

Democracy Now reports (October 20th): “I think the whole Iraqi story for us as journalists is becoming almost impossible to cover. The last trip I made outside Baghdad it took me two weeks to arrange, to go down to Najaf. It was the most fearful trip. I drove the road with three Iraqi friends. All the checkpoints of the Iraqi army had been abandoned: this just after George Bush said the Iraqi army is in the field. There were up-turned Iraqi police cars, burned-out American vehicles. I didn't see a member of the Security Forces until I reached the outskirts of Najaf about 80 miles from Iraq.

“The whole of the countryside outside Baghdad is under the control, is now the property of the armed insurgents, both Sunni and Shia. This, we are not being told. This President Bush will not acknowledge.”



Iraq vet works against war

Rocky Mountain News reports (October 31st): Sgt. Kelly Dougherty went to Iraq in 2003, doubting that the war was just. She returned in 2004, certain it was wrong, and co-founded Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Dougherty said the thousands of innocent civilians who have been killed and the broken American promises about repairing water, electricity and sewage systems convinced her the troops should come home.

The worst events she experienced involved civilians, including children, hit by contractor convoys that thundered along rural roads under orders to never stop. "I wasn't protecting America. I was protecting Halliburton trucks going to military bases," she said.

Dougherty said she had hoped that American troops would help rebuild power plants, water systems and schools, but the only construction she saw was at military bases. "From what I saw, we just created more chaos and violence," she said. "I became less and less convinced that we were there for a good purpose."



Upcoming events

Tuesday 01 - 30 November 2005 ACROSS THE UK: REMEMBER FALLUJAH
A month of activities to mark the 1st anniversary of last year's US-led assault on Fallujah.
See http://www.rememberfallujah.org/

SPEAKING TOUR WITH RAHUL MAHAJAN

Rahul Mahajan, a US author and activist, was in Fallujah during the April 2004 siege of the city. He is the author of The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism and Full Spectrum Dominance: US Power in Iraq and Beyond and maintains the anti-war blog EmpireNotes.org. He is also a member of the Steering Committee of the US anti-war coalition United For Peace and Justice.

Friday 18 November 2005 (7.30pm) LEICESTER: Secular Hall, 75, Humberstone opposite Sainsburys. Organised by Leicester Campaign to Stop the War.
Email: chrisgoodwin29@yahoo.com or 0116 2219459

Saturday 19 November 2005 (1-3pm) NORWICH: at the Methodist Church, Chapelfield Rd, Norwich (behind Bignold School). Alongside Doug Jewell (Liberty) and Fahim Ahmed (Campaign Against Criminalising Communities).
Contact:thepeaceforce@theatreofwar.org or 01986 892 723.
See also ‘Film Screenings’, 19 November, below.

Sunday 20 November 2005 (2.30 – 4.30pm) KETTERING: Quakers Meeting House, Northall Street, Kettering. Organised by Kettering Stop the War.
Contact: mailto:ketteringstopwar@btopenworld.com or 07855 988 073

Monday 21 November 2005 (7- 8.30pm) BRADFORD: Richmond Building, University of Bradford. Organised by Yorkshire CND, Bradford Stop the War and the University of Bradford Students’ Union.
Contact: mailto:sarah@yorkshirecnd.org.uk or 01274 730 795.

Tuesday 22 November 2005 EDINBURGH: Organised by Word Power Books. Contact: 0131 662 9112 or books@word-power.co.uk
Full details on-line at http://www.word-power.co.uk/

Wednesday 23 November 2005 (7pm) GLASGOW: George Moore Building, Glasgow Caledonian University, 70 Cowcaddens Road, G4 0BA. Org. by Glasgow Troops Out.
Info: troopsoutglasgow@yahoo.co.uk or 0141-334-8506.

Thursday 24 November 2005 (7.30pm) BRISTOL: The Malcolm X Centre, 141 City Road, BS2 8YH. With Eric Herring (see ‘Film Screenings’, 8 Nov below). Organised Bristol Stop the War.
Contact: bristolstopwar@hotmail.com

Sunday 27 November 2005 (7.30pm) SHERBORNE: Methodist Hall, Cheap Street. Organised by Yeovil and Sherborne Stop the War.
Contact 01935 873 028.

Monday 28 November 2005 (7.30pm) BRIGHTON: Brighthelm Centre, North Rd. Organised by the Hands Off Forum.
Details: http://www.watchingthewarmakers.org.uk./

FALLUJAH FILM SCREENINGS

Saturday 19 November 2005 (7pm) NORWICH: Screening of ‘Testimonies from Fallujah’ with Rahul Mahajan (see ‘Speaking Tour’ above). United Reform Church, Prince’s Street. Organised by Norwich Stop the War.
Tel. 01603 270 420.

Thursday 24 November 2005 (7.30pm) SOUTHEND: ‘Testimonies from Fallujah’ Venue: Utopia Cafe (in the Royales in the street opposite BHS). Organised by Southend CND.
Details: irene.willis@tiscali.co.uk or 01268 682 820.

Friday 25 November 2005 (7.30pm) LONDON: Special fund-raising screening of ‘Testimonies from Fallujah’ with Rahul Mahajan.
Venue: Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Rd, NW1. All proceeds split between Muslim Peacemaker Teams (currently working in Iraq) and the costs of bringing Iraqi speakers to the IOF teach-in on 26 Nov (see below)

Saturday 26 November 2005 (10am - 5pm) “VOICES FROM OCCUPIED IRAQ” Themes: Corporate invasion; democratic, civil and human rights; resistance.
Organised by Iraq Occupation Focus.
Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1.
Registration: 10 am.

Speakers include: Hassan Juma'a, General Secretary, General Union of Oil Employees,Basra
Ismeel Dawood, human rights activist, Baghdad
Rahul Mahajan, author of Empire Notes (http://www.empirenotes.org/)
Jeremy Dear, General Secretary National Union of Journalists
Gilbert Achcar, author 'The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder'
Professor Kamil Mahdi, Exeter University Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
Sami Ramadani, lecturer, Iraqi-born activist, regular contributor to The Guardian,
Haifa Zangana, Iraqi-born novelist, activists and former political prisoner in Iraq, regular contributor to The Guardian

Registration �(waged), �(unwaged). Creche available if booked in advance.
To register in advance, or for further information contact Iraq Occupation Focus, http://www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk/or PO Box 44680, London N16 7XX Email: mailto:iraqfocus@riseup.net