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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le chaos meurtrier, l’ONU accuse

by Hassane Zerrouky

Iraq: Death and Chaos, According to the United Nations

Translated Thursday 28 September 2006, by Patrick Bolland

Iraq: Nearly 50,000 civilians have been killed since March 2003, 3000 of whom died during August 2006. Torture is becoming increasingly widespread. Members of the Jihad, death squads and bombing by American forces are responsible for the death-toll.

Translator’s introduction: The UN is a conservative agency, operating within diplomatic channels. The death-toll in Iraq is necessarily conservative – but still shocking. In 2004, the most important British medical journal, Lancet, had already recorded more than 100,000 deaths since the American invasion of Iraq [1], an article widely reported in the media. Perhaps we should compare this conservative UN estimate with the number of people killed during the attack on New York’s “Twin Towers”, which was the official justification by the Bush administration for the invasion of Iraq: The death toll in New York is now estimated officially at 2,823: just 5% of the deaths generated by the US invasion of Iraq.

48,994 Iraqi civilians were killed since the March 2003 American invasion and the end of August 2006. The average of 100 dead a day is increasing and torture is becoming a common practice. A new UN Report only mentioned officially-recognized deaths. And as we get closer to the fast of Ramadan, considered “the month of Redemption and of the Martyr” by members of Jihad, which starts in principle this Sunday, the Iraqis are expecting the worst. Last Saturday, 31 people, women and children included, were killed and 34 wounded by booby-trapped jerry-cans, near a gas-station in the Shia neighborhood of Sadr City in Baghdad.

From March 20 to April 9, 2003, when Baghdad fell, 4,299 civilians were killed by the joint British-American bombardments. From May to December 2003, the period which saw the beginning of the Iraqi insurrection, the number of civilians killed more than doubled, to 9,619 dead. Many were killed by Iraqi guerilla attacks.

During 2004, 12,846 civilians, mostly Shias, were killed. If some died from suicide attacks by Jihad militants, several thousand died during the battles of Najaf, Kufa and Baghdad, which pitted the US army against the Mahdi militias of the radical Shia imam Moqtada Sadr, during the summer of 2004. Numerous civilians lost their lives during the two Fallujah sieges by the American army in April 2004 and Fall of the same year. The second offensive, aimed at ejecting the Sunnites and Jihad militia out of Fallujah, was particularly vicious: more than half of the city was destroyed by aerial bombardments.

For 2005, the UN report identified 12,846 deaths. Suicide attacks were partly responsible but the US offensives north of Baghdad, in the province of Al-Anbar and along the Syrian border, created the greatest number of victims.

The death rate was high in the first six months of 2006: l5,299 deaths, more than all those killed in 2005. Worse still, during just July and August, 6,599 deaths were recorded.
Although no-one was killed and no-one claimed responsibility, the February 2006 assault on the Shia Great Mosque of Samara marked a new stage in the downward spiral of the Iraq War.

Some consider that the red line was crossed with this attack. The Shia clerics, who had previously called for constraint, now called on their followers to seek revenge. This was the beginning of sectarian violence. Moktada Sadr lost control of many of his militias, who switched allegiance to a dissident party that came out of his camp, al-Fadhila (“the Islamic Virtue Party”), more or less headed by the Grand Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yaqoubi, in whose name numerous prayer-meetings have been held, such as the ones in the center of Baghdad in March 2004.

Death squads have made their appearance. Some have links to the ministry of the interior, others to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to Abdelaziz Hakim, its deputy head, and others to Maktada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army. They organize terrible reprisals against the Sunnites. Dozens of corpses of civilian Sunnites, arms tied behind their backs, bearing clear traces of torture, are being discovered almost daily in the streets of the capital.

For the UN Special Rapporteur, Manfrek Nowak: “The torture situation is now out of control in Iraq. A lot of people are saying that it’s worse than during the time of Saddam Hussein.” The spectre of civil war is hanging over Iraq, as American officials are now admitting. “If this doesn’t stop”, warned General John Abizaid, the head of US military operations in Iraq, “it’s possible that Iraq will descend into civil war.” Lakhdar Brahimi, ex-UN special representative in Afghanistan and Iraq pointedly replied: “The civil war was already in full throttle already in 2005”, in an interview with the magazine “Jeune Afrique”. Moreover, violence between religious groups has provoked the displacement of more than 300,000 Iraqi civilians. Shias are moving out of Sunni neighborhoods and vice-versa.

Unable to stop this violence, the Iraqi government has put up concrete walls in some areas of the capital city to separate communities and is ringing the city Baghdad with trenches. Moreover, “Access to Baghdad will be allowed only through 28 routes, which will be controlled by military barricades”, declared the spokesman for the Iraqi Minister of Defense, General Abdel Karim Khalaf.

American troops, although moving around less and less within the city’s boundaries, continue to be attacked. According to a document from the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), there has been an increase in bomb attacks aimed at American GIs. Last Thursday, two marines were killed, increasing the number of US soldiers killed to 2,689 since April 2003. If this situation persists, the number of dead GIs will soon reach 3000.

The “creative chaos”, dear to Condoleezza Rice, is not going to end soon. Instead of a democratic Iraq, prelude to the democratization of the Greater Middle East, there is a greater danger of implosion in Iraq and therefore more regional instability.

[1Translator’s note:
See, for example the article in the New Scientist

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