London, Twinned With Baghdad


NOTHING can justify the 7 July attacks in London, which killed 56 people along with their suicide bomber perpetrators. Murdering innocent civilians in the name of a supposed just cause is never a defence of a just cause. It is just murdering innocent citizens.

These attacks were predictable. In the words of Christophe Chaboud, head of anti-terrorist operations in France, they “were not a surprise but the confirmation of an inevitability, given the international context, particularly . . . the war in Iraq” (1). For months security experts have told us that it was not a question of whether these attacks would happen, but when. The opening of the G8 summit (the seven richest countries in the world, plus Russia) in Gleneagles was the symbolic opportunity. British security services MI5 and MI6 were unable to prevent the carnage, thus confirming that nobody has yet found a secure defence to terrorism.

Tony Blair rejects the idea that there is any link between his Iraq policy and the attacks in London. However, it is clear that Britain’s alignment with US warmongering, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq despite strong popular opposition would eventually have tragic consequences in Britain. The Madrid bombings of 11 March 2004 were already a grim warning.

The situation in Iraq remains chaotic. The US authorities, who have been proven to have lied to justify the invasion, overrated their capacity for controlling the postwar situation. Iraq has become both a quagmire and a powder-keg (see Occupied Zones by Howard Zinn).

Contrary to statements by President George Bush, the world is not a safer place now that Iraq has been occupied. Osama bin Laden has not been arrested. Jihadists have struck at places that had been spared: Istanbul, Bali, Casablanca, Madrid, and now London. In the view of the US secret services Iraq has become a “school for urban guerrillas”, a “laboratory of terror” (2), welcoming hundreds of volunteers from many countries.

Violence in Iraq has reached a fearful level. The insurgents have killed more than 12,000 people in the past 18 months. The number of Iraqis killed in bomb attacks has risen to 200 a week. The Pentagon estimates that the (essentially Sunni) rebellion has about 20,000 fighters, supported by about 200,000 irregulars. The occupation forces have no idea how to control the situation, despite a level of repression that has no taboos about kidnappings, secret prisons, torture, as the abuses at Abu-Ghraib have shown, and the disproportionate use of force.

Jim Talib, a US soldier who took part in the attack on Falluja, describes his experience: “On one of my trips to drop off a detainee at the jail, the senior interrogator told us not to bring them in any more. Just shoot them,’ he said. I was stunned, I couldn’t believe he actually said it. He was not joking around, he was giving us a directive. A few days later a group of Humvees from another unit passed by one of our machine gun positions, and they had the bodies of two dead Iraqis strapped to their hoods like a couple of deer. One of the bodies had exposed brain matter that had begun to cook on the hood of the vehicle, it was a gruesome, medieval display. So much of what I experienced seemed out of control, I saw so little respect for the living and almost none for the dead, and there was almost no accountability” (3).

At the World Tribunal on Iraq, held in Istanbul on 25-27 June and largely ignored by the mass media, one of the most devastating accounts was given by a Lebanese-American journalist, Dahr Jamail.

He told how a member of the Baghdad administration, Ali Abbas, had gone to a US base to inquire after the fate of one of his neighbours who had disappeared. Because he insisted on getting a hearing, Abbas was arrested, stripped, hooded and forced to simulate sexual acts with other prisoners, a standard procedure. Then they set dogs on him; he was beaten on his genitals and they applied electric charges to his anus. The barrel of a gun was put into his mouth and his tormentors threatened to kill him if he shouted. They left him in his own excrement (4).

Tony Blair tells us that there is no connection with the abuses in Iraq and the attacks in London. And if there were? ________________________________________________________

(1) Le Monde, 12 July 2005.

(2) International Herald Tribune, 22 June 2005.

(3) Jim Talib can be reached at jimtalib@yahoo.com

(4) See http://dahrjamailiraq.com. See also John Pilger, “Lest we forget: these were Blair’s bombs”, thruthout.org.

 

 Translated by Ed Emery

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