Taking on “our boys”

The political debate in Washington over the Iraq war is little more than a side-show. In the war-zone itself, a new reality is taking shape:

Killings, crime, lack of medical care, collapse of education, the list goes on. But with the occupation by U.S.-led forces now into a fifth year, and a supposedly democratic government in place, no one knows who to hold accountable for all that is going wrong.

It is the occupation forces, particularly the United States and Britain, that must be held accountable, many Iraqis say.

“It is good of these people to discuss accountability for theft, but the most important thing to account for is Iraqi blood,” Numan Ahmed, a human rights activist from the Adhamiya neighbourhood in Baghdad told IPS.

The British medical journal Lancet has reported that by July 2006, 655,000 people had died as “a consequence of the war.” It has reported that the risk of death among civilians is now 58 times higher than before the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

“By now a million Iraqis have been killed for no reason, and many millions disabled or badly injured just because of some thieves in Baghdad and Washington,” Ahmed said. “We are prepared to reveal the documents to condemn them even if takes us a lifetime.”

But Iraqis have no means to take action against occupiers.

The United States has not accepted jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, which has the power to investigate complaints of genocide. The United States took the view that the court could conduct “politically motivated investigations and prosecutions of U.S. military and political officials and personnel.”

U.S. opposition to the ICC is in stark contrast to the strong support for the Court by most of its closest allies. But Iraqis have found no way to proceed against these either.

With no doors of justice open to them, many Iraqis are now taking to unlawful ways to hit back at occupation forces and government targets.

“The only way to do it is at gunpoint,” 32-year-old Ali Aziz from Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad, told IPS. “They invaded us at gunpoint and we find it ridiculous to talk about any other way of getting back what belongs to us.”

Aziz said he had lost several friends in attacks by U.S. soldiers. “The whole world is dealing with this in a hypocritical way, and there is only us to claim our rights the way we find proper.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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