Does anybody really know?

The US occupation of Iraq that started in March 2003 has ended. It should be noted that the occupation is only over in military terms. With its embassies, consulates, military attachés, advisors, private companies, new bases and small but powerful military equipment, the US will continue to keep Iraq under its control. Civilians will have replaced military servicemen to oversee nearly 200 assignments, jobs and duties. Therefore, reports or analyses saying that the US has withdrawn and Iran filled the vacuum hold no truth. But, of course, Iran is trying to gain an edge by demonstrating initiative in Iraq; that is true.

At this point, there are four questions that we need to ask: What happened in Iraq? Why did it happen? What could happen next? And what should actually happen? The answer to the first question offers a dramatic and tragic picture. Everything relevant to this question is heartbreaking. The overall picture pertains to the kind of Iraq that the occupying forces have left behind following a complete US military withdrawal from Iraq.

There are different reports and figures. According to reports by independent agencies and institutions in 2008, the occupation claimed 1 million lives in Iraq. Back then, there were reports of some 2 million refugees. However, US sources argued in December 2011 that the number of Iraqis killed during the occupation was 100,000. The number of internationally displaced persons and refugees is 4 million.

According to French researcher Geraldine Chatelard, more than 1.5 million Iraqi people have left their country. It is not an exaggeration to say that 4 million people have left Iraq since the start of the invasion, in 2003.

Thirty-thousand Iraqi women, including 12-year-old girls, were raped; there is a visible rise in the number of blond babies in Iraq’s southern regions. Like in Bosnia, some mothers have committed suicide.

There have been 550 scientists and intellectuals deliberately killed. This number nears 3,000 when academics of all different disciplines are added to the equation. Based on witness accounts, the Iraqis hold MOSSAD agents and Pentagon staff responsible for the killings. According to journalist Layla Anwar, there were 45,000 scientists in Iraq before the occupation; now, they are gone.

There were 18,900 people put behind bars and tortured for being insurgents. The WikiLeaks cables published in 2010 showed that extreme methods of torture were employed to intimidate thousands of Iraqis between 2004 and 2009, just because they defended their homeland. The Abu Ghraib prison has become notorious because of the tortures committed there. There are 16,000 civilians still missing. A number of museums in Baghdad and other cities have been looted. Approximately 170,000 pieces have been stolen from the Iraq Museum alone.

The infrastructure of Iraq has totally collapsed. There is no potable water; the unemployment rate is around 70 percent. Seven million people live below the poverty line; they are struggling to survive on $2.20 a day. There are 1.5 million people who are homeless. During the period between 1990 and 2002, 1.5 million people died from the inhumane embargo imposed by the US. The number of deaths in connection with the embargo is on rise. According to a report by the Turkish Association of Physicians in 2005, 12 percent of the hospitals in Iraq were not suitable for use. Measures are falling short on addressing infant mortality. Twenty-seven percent of infants under the age of 5 are malnourished. The literacy rate was 80 percent in the past; now, it is down to around 50 percent. In short, Iraq is devastated and dilapidated.

In fact, nobody cares about the Muslim people who were killed. The US government does not keep records of Iraqi deaths; only statistics for the occupying forces are kept. These statistics show that 4,747 American, 179 British and 139 soldiers of other nationalities have been killed in Iraq. The number of wounded soldiers is around 32,000.

It should be noted that the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan is no less grave than the one in Iraq. A short note: While hundreds of thousands of people were being killed in Iraq and cities were being destroyed, the warplanes of the occupying forces were taking off from the Gulf states, the Arab brothers of the Iraqis, and the base in Adana, Turkey.

But what did the US and other occupying forces want? The argument about weapons of mass destruction was a lie; the American media admitted it. Saddam never had a relationship with al-Qaeda. What did the US want from Iraq? Does anybody know?

Source: Today’s Zaman

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