The following is an archived copy of a message sent to the CASI Analysis List run by Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of Cambridge Solidarity with Iraq (CASI).

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [CASI Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi-analysis] Re: What happened in Halabja?

[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ]

Regarding the article what happened in Halabja, having only visited for a single day 16 years after 
the supposed event so I am not the most qualified person to say.  Also I am aware that it would 
interfer in CASI's mission if I gave free rein to my opinions however I there are a couple of 
things on the public record that I am reasonably confident are not accurate.

As visiting as a private person I was spared any escorting by Kurdish political factions, on the 
other hand the trip to Halabja from Sulmeniyah was punctuated with numerous trips to security 
offices on the way where I was repeatedly asked who I was working for and the guide I had hired in 
Sulimeniyah was taken away for extensive questioning.

1)  Claims by HRW that Halabja was bulldozed upon recapturing by Iraqi forces are simply not true, 
nor are those claims true of neighbouring towns.  There was certainly some damage on the outskirts 
and most likely the larger central buildings suffered damage or were destroyed.  Upon being pressed 
my guide said it was mainly buildings which Iranian troops had been using as posts.  But large 
sections of the town was original housing, there was also a considerable region in the northern 
area of the town that was new housing.

2) The other subject I was interested in was the subject Christine Gosden reports on high rates 
cancer and mutational damage to children as a result of mustard gas.  CF
I interviewed a doctor and a group of pharmacists and nurses at the new hospital and systematically 
went through each of Dr Gosden's claims.  As of 2004 there is no unusually high rate of deformed 
babies being born (the doctor could not recall any in time she had worked there - 8 months) nor of 
leukemias (or skin cancers, or neurological disorders, or blindness).  Eventually the pharmacist 
told of me of two children in one family that have thalessemia - however, this is genetic disorder 
resulting from a particular inheritable mutation unlikely to be caused by DNA damage from mustard 
gas.  I basically went through every item in Dr Gosden list simply to be told that the local doctor 
was not aware of any cases or not aware of  any elevated rates.

When I asked what the needs of the hospital were they said they needed an incubator and all 
standard medicines, specifically mentioning those for heart disease and diabetes.  Inside the 
hospital I visited a ward that contained 3 patients, from memory one was an old man with pneumonia 
and the other had a veneral disease.

While I expect the health needs of Halabja are quite real and pressing, they arent particularly 
different in kind to those facing the rest of country or its rural areas.  As such it isnt likely 
to attract any more foreign interest now that the war has been sufficiently justified and 

T. Y.

> Today's Topics:
>     1. What happened in Halabja? (
>     2. Custer's last  dodgy dealing - allegedly - stand (farbuthnot)
> -- __--__--
> Message: 1
> From:
> Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 15:59:29 EST
> Subject: What happened in Halabja?
> To:,,
> [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]
> By Mohammed al-Obaidi
> The truth of what happened in Halabja  had always been hidden from
> the public, and many who knew exactly what  happened in this Kurdish
> village in the second half of March 1988 disputed  the western media
> coverage of the story.
> It is a fact that key  Kurdish leaders aided by the CIA and the
> Israeli Mossad have used a wide  network of public relations
> companies and media outlets in the west to  manipulate and twist the
> truth of what happened in Kurdish Halabja in 1988  in favor of the
> Kurdish political parties.
> In 1993, an organization  was established in Israel called The
> Kurdish Israeli Friendship League  founded by a Jewish Kurd called
> Moti Zaken, who originally immigrated from  Zakho, Iraq, and worked
> closely with the American Zionist lobby in the US.
> His efforts ended in 1996 in the establishment of the Washington
> Kurdish Institute, an organization founded with the financial help
> and  supervision of the Zionist Mike Amitay.
> Mike Amitay is the son of Morris  Amitay, a long-time legislative
> assistant in Congress and lobbyist for the  influential American
> Israeli Public Affairs Committee.
> Amitay junior  is an adviser to Frank Gaffney's Centre for Security
> Policy and the former  vice-chairman of the Jewish Institute for
> National Security Affairs (JINSA),  a US-based pro-Israeli Likud
> advocacy outfit that specialises in connecting  US military brass to
> their counterparts in the Israeli armed forces.
> JINSA associates include Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Douglas Feith,
> and Richard Perle. A group of Kurdish figures known for their
> connection  with the Israeli Mossad manage the Washington Kurdish
> Institute. Those are:  Najmaldin Karim, Omar Halmat, Birusk Tugan,
> Osman Baban, Asad Khailany,  Kendal Nezan, Asfandiar Shukri and
> Mohammad Khoshnaw.
> Such organisations  have devoted themselves to championing the claims
> that the Iraqi army bombed  Kurdish villages with chemical agents
> throughout 1988.
> According to  Human Rights Watch (HRW) "at least 50,000 and possibly
> as many as 100,000  people, many of them women and children, were
> killed out of hand between  February and September 1988, the victims
> being Iraqi Kurds systematically  put to death in large numbers on
> the orders of the central government in  Baghdad".
> "It is a fact that key Kurdish leaders aided by the CIA and  the
> Israeli Mossad have used wide network of public relation companies
> and media outlets in the west to manipulate and twist the truth of
> what  happened in Kurdish Halabja in 1988 in favor of the political
> Kurdish  parties."
> There are other champions of the genocide claim. One is Jeffrey
> Goldberg, whose 18,000-word story, The Great Terror, in the 25 March
> 2002 issue of The New Yorker forms the basis of the US Department of
> State's website on alleged Iraqi genocide.
> Goldberg's story is long  on lurid details; we are told, for
> instance, that one woman, Hamida Mahmoud,  died while nursing her two-
> year-old daughter. Goldberg also follows the  Human Rights Watch
> formula in invoking the Nazis: "Saddam Hussein's attacks  on his own
> citizens mark the only time since the Holocaust that poison gas  has
> been used to exterminate women and children."
> What Goldberg did  not tell his readers about is that he has dual
> Israeli/American citizenship  and served in the Israeli defense
> forces a few years back. Or that he  purposefully ignored the War
> College report, which, of course, reached quite  different
> conclusions.
> The Iraqi army allegedly used chemical  weapons in "40 separate
> attacks on Kurdish targets" during a campaign that  HRW labels as
> genocide.
> The most prominent of these purported  attacks was the March
> 1988 "chemical assault" on the town of Halabja, in  which the number
> of dead, according to Human Rights Watch "exceeds 5000".
> It is known that both Iran and Iraq used chemical weapons in their
> eight-year war from September 1980 to August 1988. Most of Iraq's
> alleged assaults on the Kurds took place while this war was raging,
> although Human Rights Watch claims the attacks extended into
> September  1988.
> Iraq has acknowledged using mustard gas against Iranian troops to
> overwhelm the human wave tactic used by Iranians who wanted to
> benefit  from the fact that they outnumbered Iraqis, but has
> consistently denied  using chemical weapons against civilians.
> The only verified Kurdish  civilian deaths from chemical weapons
> occurred in the Iraqi village of  Halabja, near the Iran border, are
> several hundred people who died from gas  poisoning in mid-March
> 1988.
> Iran overran the village and its small  Iraqi garrison on 15 March
> 1988. The gassing took place on 16 March and  onwards; who is then
> responsible for the deaths - Iran or Iraq - and how  large was the
> death toll knowing the Iranian army was in Halabja but never
> reported any deaths by chemicals?
> The best evidence to answer this is  a 1990 report by the Strategic
> Studies Institute of the US Army War College.  It concluded that
> Iran, not Iraq, was the culprit in Halabja.
> "The  Iraqi army allegedly used chemical weapons in "40 separate
> attacks on  Kurdish targets" during a campaign that HRW labels as
> genocide
> While  the War College report acknowledges that Iraq used mustard gas
> during the  Halabja hostilities, it notes that mustard gas is an
> incapacitating, rather  than a killing agent, with a fatality rate of
> only 2%, so that it could not  have killed the hundreds of known
> dead, much less the thousands of dead  claimed by Human Rights Watch.
> According to the War College  reconstruction of events, Iran struck
> first taking control of the village.  The Iraqis counter-attacked
> using mustard gas. The Iranians then attacked  again, this time using
> a "blood agent" - cyanogens chloride or hydrogen  cyanide - and re-
> took the town, which Iran then held for several months.
> Having control of the village and its grisly dead, Iran blamed the
> gas deaths on the Iraqis, and the allegations of Iraqi genocide took
> root via a credulous international press and, a little later,
> cynical  promotion of the allegations for political purposes by the
> US state  department and Senate.
> Stephen Pelletiere, who was the CIA's senior  political analyst on
> Iraq throughout the Iran-Iraq war, closely studied  evidences
> of "genocide in Halabja" has described his group's  findings:
> "The great majority of the victims seen by reporters and other
> observers who attended the scene were blue in their extremities.
> That  means that they were killed by a blood agent, probably either
> cyanogens  chloride or hydrogen cyanide. Iraq never used and lacked
> any capacity to  produce these chemicals. But the Iranians did deploy
> them. Therefore the  Iranians killed the Kurds."
> Pelletiere's report also said that  international relief
> organisations that examined the Kurdish refugees in  Turkey failed to
> discover any gassing victims.
> After 15 years of  support to the allegations of HRW, the CIA finally
> admitted in its report  published in October 2003 that only mustard
> gas and a nerve agent was used  by Iraq.
> The CIA now seems to be fully supporting the US Army War  College
> report of April 1990, as a cyanide-based blood agent that Iraq never
> had, and not mustard gas or a nerve agent, killed the Kurds who died
> at  Halabja and which concludes that the Iranians perpetrated that
> attack as a  media war tactic.
> Despite the doubt cast by many professionals as well as  the CIA's
> recent report, and after years of public relations propaganda made
> for the Kurdish leaderships by the assistance and support of the
> Israeli  Mossad, the issue of genocide has been marketed to the
> international  community.
> In a telephone interview with the Village Voice in 2002,  Stephen
> Pelletiere said: "There is to this day the belief - and I'm not the
> only one who holds it - that things did not happen in Halabja the
> way  Goldberg wrote it.
> "And it is an especially crucial issue right now. We  say Saddam is a
> monster, a maniac who gassed his own people, and the world  should
> not tolerate him. But why? Because that is the last argument the US
> has for going to war with  Iraq."
> __________________________________________________________
> Professor  Mohammed al-Obaidi is the spokesman for the People's
> Struggle Movement  (Al-Kifah al-Shabi) in Iraq, and works as a
> university professor in the UK.  He was born and educated in al-
> Adhamiyah district in Baghdad. He is writing  a book about Halabja.
> posted Monday, 20 December  2004

Find what you are looking for with the Lycos Yellow Pages

Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list
To unsubscribe, visit
All postings are archived on CASI's website at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]