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US-British crimes against the Iraqi people continue to mount, as does all the lies and disinformation designed to cover them over and justify them. By the end of April 11, reports say that over 700 people have died in Fallujah alone.
At least 280 Iraqis were killed and a further 400 wounded over the previous week as a result of the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Among the dead were 16 children and up to eight women killed when warplanes struck four houses late Tuesday, and as many as forty people killed when the US dropped two 500-pound bombs on a mosque compound on Wednesday. Meanwhile British troops have killed at least a dozen Iraqis in the southern city of Amara, as fighting rages around the country and the US prepares for a major assault on Najaf where Shiite Islamic leader Muqtada Sadr is staying.
The US military spokesman, Mark Kimmitt, has also been denouncing the "terrorists and killers", boasting that Fallujah will be rid of them, and pledging to kill all the members of Muqtada Sadrs Mahdi army, while US occupation chief Paul Bremer called Sadr who is justly resisting the occupying power "an outlaw attempting to establish his authority in the place of the legitimate authority. We will not tolerate this."
At the same time, the Iraqi people are stepping up their resistance. Sunni and Shiite militias are fighting side by side in Baghdad and declared that they will cut the road from Baghdad to Najaf to prevent US supplies and reinforcements moving in this direction. In Karbala, the Iraqi resistance has been engaged in fierce fighting. The slogan has been put forward, "No Sunnis, no Shiites, yes for Islamic unity. We are Sunni and Shiite brothers and will never sell our country."
In a statement read out in a mosque in Kuda, Muqtada Sadr said last week, "I am accused by one of the leaders of evil, Bremer, of being an outlaw. If that means breaking the law of the American tyranny and its filthy constitution, Im proud of that and that is why Im in revolt."
In these circumstances Tony Blair is set to meet US President Bush, having declared that the British government is completely behind the crimes against humanity of US imperialism in Iraq and as its accomplice in these crimes. He has vowed to stand firm in the "historic struggle" against the uprising of the Iraqi people. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon echoed his words, saying that those who were fighting the US-British forces were "terrorists and fanatics", a description better suited to the imperialist criminals. He refused to make even the mildest criticism of US tactics in Fallujah, and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that if British forces "faced a similar sized insurgency" they would "have to take similar kinds of action".
US imperialism and the British government are making plans to step up their bloody offensive with the aim of crushing by force the armed resistance of the Iraqi people, and instituting their own style of democracy with the fraudulent "transfer of sovereignty" on June 30.
The working class and people must determinedly organise in Britain for an anti-war government to put an end to war, aggression and conquest, by establishing in this country a democracy that takes as its starting point the will of the masses of the people against war and aggression and recognises the rights of the peoples of the world to determine their own affairs free from outside intervention and interference.
WDIE once again calls on the workers themselves to become worker politicians and take up and organise for such a government of the people which stands against war and the crimes of imperialism, and for the people to unite around it and fight for its implementation. Now is the time for people to unite to work out a common programme and mechanisms to bring an anti-war government into being.
by Dahr Jamail | Posted April 11, 2004 at 10:00 PM Baghdad time
I knew there was very little media coverage in Fallujah, and the entire city had been sealed and was suffering from collective punishment in the form of no water or electricity for several days now. With only two journalists there that I'd read and heard reports from, I felt pulled to go and witness the atrocities that were surely being committed.
With the help of some friends, we joined a small group of internationals to ride a large bus there carrying a load of humanitarian supplies, and with the hopes of bringing some of the wounded out prior to the next American onslaught, which was due to kick off at any time now.
Even leaving Baghdad now is dangerous. The military has shut down the main highway between here and Jordan. The highway, even while just outside Baghdad, is desolate and littered with destroyed fuel tanker trucks -- their smouldering shells littered the highway. We rolled past a large M-1 Tank that was still burning under an overpass which had just been hit by the resistance.
At the first US checkpoint the soldiers said they'd been there for 30 hours straight. After being searched, we continued along bumpy dirt roads, winding our way through parts of Abu Ghraib, steadily but slowly making our way towards besieged Fallujah. While we were passing one of the small homes in Abu Ghraib, a small child yelled at the bus, "We will be mujahedeen until we die!"
We slowly worked our way back onto the highway. It was strewn with smoking fuel tankers, destroyed military tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and a lorry that had been hit that was currently being looted by a nearby village, people running to and from the highway carrying away boxes. It was a scene of pure devastation, with barely any other cars on the road.
Once we turned off the highway, which the US was perilously holding onto, there was no US military presence visible at all as we were in mujahedeen-controlled territory. Our bus wound its way through farm roads, and each time we passed someone they would yell, "God bless you for going to Fallujah!" Everyone we passed was flashing us the victory sign, waving, and giving the thumbs-up.
As we neared Fallujah, there were groups of children on the sides of the road handing out water and bread to people coming into Fallujah. They began literally throwing stacks of flat bread into the bus. The fellowship and community spirit was unbelievable. Everyone was yelling for us, cheering us on, groups speckled along the road.
As we neared Fallujah a huge mushroom caused by a large US bomb rose from the city. So much for the cease-fire.
The closer we got to the city, the more mujahedeen checkpoints we passed -- at one, men with kefir around their faces holding Kalashnikovs began shooting their guns in the air, showing their eagerness to fight.
The city itself was virtually empty, aside from groups of mujahedeen standing on every other street corner. It was a city at war. We rolled towards the one small clinic where we were to deliver our medical supplies from INTERSOS, an Italian NGO. The small clinic is managed by Mr. Maki Al-Nazzal, who was hired just 4 days ago to do so. He is not a doctor.
He hadn't slept much, along with all of the doctors at the small clinic. It started with just three doctors, but since the Americans bombed one of the hospitals, and were currently sniping people as they attempted to enter/exit the main hospital, effectively there were only 2 small clinics treating all of Fallujah. The other has been set up in a car garage.
As I was there, an endless stream of women and children who'd been sniped by the Americans were being raced into the dirty clinic, the cars speeding over the curb out front as their wailing family members carried them in.
One woman and small child had been shot through the neck -- the woman was making breathy gurgling noises as the doctors frantically worked on her amongst her muffled moaning.
The small child, his eyes glazed and staring into space, continually vomited as the doctors raced to save his life.
After 30 minutes, it appeared as though neither of them would survive.
One victim of American aggression after another was brought into the clinic, nearly all of them women and children.
This scene continued, off and on, into the night as the sniping continued. As evening approached the nearby mosque loudspeaker announced that the mujehadeen had completely destroyed a US convoy. Gunfire filled the streets, along with jubilant yelling. As the mosque began blaring prayers, the determination and confidence of the area was palpable.
One small boy of 11, his face covered by a kefir and toting around a Kalashnikov that was nearly as big as he was, patrolled areas around the clinic, making sure they were secure. He was confident and very eager for battle. I wondered how the US soldiers would feel about fighting an 11 year-old child? For the next day, on the way out of Fallujah, I saw several groups of children fighting as mujahedeen.
After we delivered the aid, three of my friends agreed to ride out on the one functioning ambulance for the clinic to retrieve the wounded. Although the ambulance already had three bullet holes from a US sniper through the front windshield on the driver's side, having westerners on board was the only hope that soldiers would allow them to retrieve more wounded Iraqis. The previous driver was wounded when one of the sniper's shots grazed his head.
Bombs were heard sporadically exploding around the city, along with random gunfire.
It grew dark, so we ended up spending the night with one of the local men who had filmed the atrocities. He showed us footage of a dead baby who he claimed was torn from his mother's chest by Marines. Other horrendous footage of slain Iraqis was shown to us as well.
My entire time in Fallujah there was the constant buzzing of military drones. As we walked through the empty streets towards the house where we would sleep, a plane flew over us and dropped several flares. We ran for a nearby wall to hunker down, afraid it was dropping cluster bombs. There had been reports of this, as two of the last victims that arrived at the clinic were reported by the locals to have been hit by cluster bombs -- they were horribly burned and their bodies shredded.
It was a long night-between being sick from drinking unfiltered water and the nagging concern of the full invasion beginning, I didn't sleep. Each time I would begin to slip into sleep, a jet would fly over and I wondered if the full scale bombing would commence. Meanwhile, the drones continued to buzz throughout Fallujah.
The next morning we walked back to the clinic, and the mujahedeen in the area were extremely edgy, expecting the invasion anytime. They were taking up positions to fight. One of my friends who'd done another ambulance run to collect two bodies said that a Marine she encountered had told them to leave, because the military was about to use air support to begin 'clearing the city.' One of the bodies they brought to the clinic was that of an old man who was shot by a sniper outside of his home, while his wife and children sat wailing inside.
The family couldn't reach his body, for fear of being sniped by the Americans themselves. His stiff body was carried into the clinic with flies swarming above it.
The already insane situation continued to degrade, and by the time the wounded from the clinic were loaded onto our bus and we prepared to leave, everyone felt the invasion was looming near. American bombs continued to fall not far from us, and sporadic gunfire continued. Jets were circling the outskirts of the city.
We drove out, past loads of mujahedeen at their posts along the streets. In a long line of vehicles loaded with families, we slowly crept out of the embattled city, passing several military vehicles on the outskirts town. When we took a wrong turn at one point and tried to go down a road controlled by a different group of mujehadeen, we were promptly surrounded by men cocking their weapons and aiming them at us. The doctors and patients on board explained to them we were coming from Fallujah and on a humanitarian aid mission, so they let us go.
The trip back to Baghdad was slow, but relatively uneventful. We passed several more smoking shells of vehicles destroyed by the freedom fighters; more fuel tankers, more military vehicles destroyed.
What I can report from Fallujah is that there is no ceasefire, and apparently there never was. Iraqi women and children are being shot by American snipers. Over 600 Iraqis have now been killed by American aggression, and the residents have turned two football fields into graveyards. Ambulances are being shot by the Americans. And now they are preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of the city.
All of which is occurring under the guise of catching the people who killed the four Blackwater Security personnel and hung two of their bodies from a bridge.
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. For more information, visit The NewStandard, http://newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches.
- Decision came nine days after 9/11 -
- Ex-ambassador reveals discussion -
by David Rose, Sunday April 4, 2004, The Observer
President George Bush first asked Tony Blair to support the removal of Saddam Hussein from power at a private White House dinner nine days after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. According to Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British Ambassador to Washington, who was at the dinner when Blair became the first foreign leader to visit America after 11 September, Blair told Bush he should not get distracted from the war on terror's initial goal - dealing with the Taleban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan.
Bush, claims Meyer, replied by saying: "I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq." Regime change was already US policy.
It was clear, Meyer says, "that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions". Elsewhere in his interview, Meyer says Blair always believed it was unlikely that Saddam would be removed from power or give up his weapons of mass destruction without a war.
Faced with this prospect of a further war, he adds, Blair "said nothing to demur".
Details of this extraordinary conversation will be published this week in a 25,000-word article on the path to war with Iraq in the May issue of the American magazine Vanity Fair. It provides new corroboration of the claims made last month in a book by Bush's former counter-terrorism chief, Richard Clarke, that Bush was "obsessed" with Iraq as his principal target after 9/11.
But the implications for Blair may be still more explosive. The discussion implies that, even before the bombing of Afghanistan, Blair already knew that the US intended to attack Saddam next, although he continued to insist in public that "no decisions had been taken" until almost the moment that the invasion began in March 2003. His critics are likely to seize on the report of the two leaders' exchange and demand to know when Blair resolved to provide the backing that Bush sought.
The Vanity Fair article will provide further ammunition in the shape of extracts from the private, contemporaneous diary kept by the former International Development Secretary, Clare Short, throughout the months leading up to the war. This reveals how, during the summer of 2002, when Blair and his closest advisers were mounting an intense diplomatic campaign to persuade Bush to agree to seek United Nations support over Iraq, and promising British support for military action in return, Blair apparently concealed his actions from his Cabinet.
For example, on 26 July Short wrote that she had raised her "simmering worry about Iraq" in a meeting with Blair, asking him for a debate on Iraq in the next Cabinet meeting - the last before the summer recess. However, the diary went on, Blair replied that this was unnecessary because "it would get hyped ... He said nothing [was] decided, and wouldn't be over summer."
In fact, that week Blair's foreign policy adviser, Sir David Manning, was in Washington, meeting both Bush and his National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, in order to press Blair's terms for military support, and Blair himself had written a personal memorandum to the President in which he set them out. Vanity Fair quotes a senior American official from Vice-President Dick Cheney's office who says he read the transcript of a telephone call between Blair and Bush a few days later.
"The way it read was that, come what may, Saddam was going to go; they said they were going forward, they were going to take out the regime, and they were doing the right thing. Blair did not need any convincing. There was no, Come on, Tony, we've got to get you on board. I remember reading it and then thinking, OK, now I know what we're going to be doing for the next year."
Before the call, this official says, he had the impression that the probability of invasion was high, but still below 100 per cent. Afterwards, he says, "it was a done deal".
As late as 9 September, Short's diary records, when Blair went to a summit with Bush and Cheney at Camp David in order to discuss final details, "T[ony] B[lair] gave me assurances when I asked for Iraq to be discussed at Cabinet that no decision [had been] made and [was] not imminent." Later that day she learnt from the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, that Blair had asked to make 20,000 British troops available in the Gulf. She still believed her Prime Minister's assurances, but wrote that, if had she not done so, she would "almost certainly" have resigned from the Government. At that juncture her resignation would have dealt Blair a very damaging blow.
But if Blair was misleading his own Government and party, he appears to have done the same thing to Bush and Cheney. At the Camp David meeting, Cheney was still resisting taking the case against Saddam and his alleged weapons of mass destruction to the UN.
According to both Meyer and the senior Cheney official, Blair helped win his argument by saying that he could be toppled from power at the Labour Party conference later that month if Bush did not take his advice. The party constitution makes clear that this would have been impossible and senior party figures agree that, at that juncture, it was not a politically realistic statement.
Short's diary shows in the final run-up to war Blair persuaded her not to resign and repeatedly stated that Bush had promised it would be the UN, not the American-led occupying coalition, which would supervise the reconstruction of Iraq. This, she writes, was the clinching factor in her decision to stay in the Government - with devastating consequences for her own political reputation.
Vanity Fair also discloses that on 13 January, at a lunch around the mahogany table in Rice's White House office, President Chirac's top adviser, Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, and his Washington ambassador, Jean-David Levitte, made the US an offer it should have accepted. In the hope of avoiding an open breach between the two countries, they said that, if America was determined to go to war, it should not seek a second resolution, that the previous autumn's Resolution 1441 arguably provided sufficient legal cover, and that France would keep quiet if the administration went ahead.
But Bush had already promised Blair he would seek a second resolution and Blair feared he might lose Parliament's support without it. Meanwhile, the Foreign Office legal department was telling him that without a second resolution war would be illegal, a view that Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General, seemed to share at that stage. When the White House sought Blair's opinion on the French overture, he balked.
A Downing Street spokesman said last night: "Iraq had been a foreign policy priority for a long time and was discussed at most meetings between the two leaders. Our position was always clear: that we would try to work through the UN, and a decision on military action was not taken until other options were exhausted in March last year."
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