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destroying water-treatment facilities etc ...

Can anyone provide more information about the following ? :

"During allied bombing campaigns on Iraq the country's eight multi-purpose
dams had been repeatedly hit, simultaneously wrecking flood control,
municipal and industrial water storage, irrigation and hydroelectric power.
Four of seven major pumping stations were destroyed, as were 31 municipal
water and sewerage facilities - 20 in Baghdad, resulting in sewage pouring
into the Tigris." (Allies deliberately poisoned Iraq public water supply in
Gulf War, Sunday Glasgow Herald, 17th September 2000).

In October 1991 the International Study Team concluded that "Direct physical
damage, either from bombing or from looting during the civil uprisings, was
found to be only a minor factor in the impairment of  water and wastewater
systems. The primary rate-limiting factors are lack of spare parts and
supplies of chlorine and erratic electric supply ... A lack of electrical
power has rendered inoperable wastewater treatment plants in Baghdad and
southern Iraq. As a consequence, raw sewage is being discharged into
receiving waters." (See below for more on the bombing and the electricity

In their 1991 report "Needless Deaths in the Gulf War" Human Rights Watch
have only the following to say about "attacks on water-treatment facilities"

"During a visit to Basra in May, journalist Ed Vulliamy reported that
water-treatment plants in Iraq's second-largest city had been bombed, and
that the allies targeted both the transformers and the turbines of these
facilities. "It was not merely the transformers in the water plants that
were bombed," he wrote, "but the giant Japanese-built turbines themselves,
which cannot be repaired under the embargo."

An Iraqi exile who arrived in Basra from Iran on March 1 told [Middle East
Watch] that the water supply facility in the densely populated Bratha'iyya
quarter of the city had been damaged beyond repair. He said that he system
in nearby Tenuma "was only hit by machine guns from the planes, so we were
able to repair it." British journalist Patrick Cockburn told MEW that the
water facilities near the al-Khalij Hotel were partially destroyed."

Eric Herring's contact -  who was involved in drafting the DIA document -
writes that "we never deliberately destroyed such targets [as Iraq's water
and sanitation system]". The following, taken from a new voices uk briefing,
sheds some interesting light on this. Note, in particular, Human Rights
Watch's comment that ‘insofar as the civilian population is concerned, it
makes little or no difference whether [a civilian facility] is attacked or
destroyed, or is made inoperable by the destruction of the electrical plant
supplying it power. In either case, civilians suffer the same effects - they
are denied the use of a public utility indispensable for their survival.’


"By the end of the [1991 Gulf] war only two of Iraq’s twenty electrical
plants were functioning, generating less than 4 percent of the power
produced before the war.

Dr Eric Hoskins notes that, ‘The breakdown in water and sanitation that
occurred during the Gulf War, and the Iraqi Government's inability to
effectively repair these services, have been responsible for outbreaks of
cholera, typhoid, gastroenteritis, malaria, meningitis, brucellosis,
measles, polio, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases.’

According to the data collected by the International Study Team in August
1991, there were an estimated 47,000 deaths among children under the age of
five during the first eight months of 1991 as a result of the Gulf War and
its aftermath.

The US human rights group, Middle East Watch, notes that, ‘insofar as the
civilian population is concerned, it makes little or no difference whether
[a civilian facility] is attacked or destroyed, or is made inoperable by the
destruction of the electrical plant supplying it power. In either case,
civilians suffer the same effects - they are denied the use of a public
utility indispensable for their survival.’

In other words, if the destruction of electrical power plants was
deliberate, then the US-led forces ‘effectively bombed hospitals and sewage
treatment and water purification plants, which are the kinds of war crimes
that would have led to hanging at Nuremberg.’ (Norman Finkelstein, The Rise
and Fall of Palestine, University of Minnesota Press (1996), p. 62.)

It is shocking, then, to realise that power plants were deliberately
targeted during the war.
In 1991 Colonel John A. Warden III, the deputy director of strategy,
doctrine and plans for the US Air Force, acknowledged that the wrecking of
Iraq's electricity system ‘gives us long-term leverage’: ‘Saddam Hussein
cannot restore his own electricity. He needs help. If there are political
objectives that the UN coalition has, it can say, “Saddam, when you agree to
do these things, we will allow people to come in and fix your electricity”.’

General Schwarzkopf, US commander in the Gulf region, claimed that ‘we never
had any intention of destroying all of Iraqi electrical power.’ Yet after
this statement, US-led attacks on power generation facilities continued -
including the destruction, after Schwarzkopf’s statement, of two of Iraq's
critical hydroelectric facilities, not hit by Coalition bombers until early
February. By the time the air war was over, Schwartzkopf’s forces had
destroyed 95 percent of Iraq’s prewar electrical-generating capacity.
Reuters reported that after the biggest power plant in southern Iraq was
bombed, Basra ‘came close to drowning in its own filth’. The power plant was
then bombed twelve more times. It was ‘completely incapacitated’ after the
first attack, according to the chief engineer, ‘[so] we though that would be
it, there would be no further attacks. But they came back and struck again,
and again and again.’ The final attack came on 28 February, half an hour
before the cease-fire. By then, most of the facility was apparently a ‘scrap

US Air Force officers were quoted in the US press in June 1991 as saying
that the targeting of Iraq's infrastructure had been related to an effort
‘to accelerate the effects of sanctions.’ "


N.B. The above excerpt draws heavily on Norman Finkelstein's devastating
critique of "Needless Deaths in the Gulf War" : "Watching Rights, Wrongly"
(which can be found in his book "The Rise and Fall of Palestine" published
by the University of Minnesota Press).

Copies of the full briefing "Strangle Hold  : How the Sanctions Committee
Helps Perpetuate the Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq" (complete with references)
are available from the voices office.

Best wishes,

Gabriel Carlyle
voices in the wilderness uk

16b Cherwell Street
Oxford OX4 1BG

tel. 01865 - 243 232

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