The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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First CASI's past: "The effects of sanctions on Iraq" "According to the UN, more than half a million people have died as a result of economic sanctions against Iraq." A talk by Felicity Arbuthnot gave the impetus in 1997 - CASI was formed: The Campaign against Sanctions on Iraq. (Tuesday 25th February , 8pm Munby Room, King's College) Against the maelstrom of current opinion, will that CASI spirit of 1997 prevail? The simplest way to break the sanctions on Iraq is surely to lift them. - And campaigning for the lifting of (non-military) sanctions is CASI's mandate. But war is now seen as the _only way_ to break the sanctions, not only by the warmongers but by others also - including some CASI members. And war (ie, invasion) would still be on the cards, even if the qualities of Ghandi and Mother Teresa were combined in Mr. Hussein. So the demonizing of SH is reaching fever pitch: A war must be justified - and reconciled with one's conscience. CASI too seems to be affected: Not infrequently of late, the list sounds more like a campaign against Saddam Hussein (CASH) than a campaign against sanctions on Iraq. Most people who oppose the sanctions against Iraq also oppose a war. But peaceniks are also frowned upon, especially outside CASI. A war (bombing) destroys not only the infrastructure and lives, it also destroys the hearts and minds of the survivors: "I have only just realized what terrible devastation the war has wrought in my spiritual and human universe: like a refugee, naked and impoverished, I have to flee the burning house of my inner life - where to I don't know." [Stefan Zweig in a letter to Romain Rolland, November 1914] In 1997 Sabah Al-Mukhtar, also at Cambridge University, expressed the similar sentiments: the Allied bombs have killed part of him, he told his audience. (Sabah Al-Mukhtar: Sanctions on Iraq - a fair penalty? 26 Nov. 1997) More literal, but equally strong, are the feelings expressed by Iraqi children in 2003: "I feel fear every day that we might all die - but where shall I go if I am left alone?" (a 13-year-old) "There will be a lot of destruction and loss of lives. We know that. What concerns me most is the situation afterwards if I am still alive." (a 16-year-old). More disturbing still: "Often I feel nothing. Nothing at all." (a 9-year-old) Stefan Zweig too had a great fear of war: he feared it more than his own death. In 1942 he committed suicide in Brazil. Zweig was 61 and not well suited to life in exile. People need roots, he believed, like plants and teeth. I was reminded of this by the words of an Iraqi exile - one Dr. B. Khalaf. His letter (or article?) "... And why I will not" appeared in the Guardian, February 14, and was posted on CASI. In contrast to Zweig, Dr. Khalaf advocates war - this one, at least. And he wrote in "protest" of those who oppose a war against Iraq - "mass hysteria" he called it. But like Zweig, he is an exile and may be longing for his home soil. The writer's credentials seem to run counter to his indignation: "an Iraqi doctor"; and "Locum consultant neurologist, London". Would a member of the medical profession use such arguments? Talk about a "war against Saddam Hussein", while ignoring 22 million potential victims? Would a medical doctor advocate war as the "last real chance" for the Iraqi people, especially since "all his family" is still living in Iraq? "I could argue one by one against your reasons for opposing this war", the writer challenges. And then gives just one: not even 1,000 Iraqi exiles will participate in Saturday's anti-war demo in Britain. Would an exile risk deportation by doing such thing in the current climate? Still, it's impossible to fathom the heart of another person. But some of his arguments are those of politicians, of the media, of the public... Remembering the Gulf War 1991: "But where were you when thousands of Iraqi people were killed by Saddam's forces at the end of the Gulf war to crush the uprising?", asks the writer of the war opponents. He states that he is not "Kurdish or Shia". The Kurds and the Shi'a remember these uprisings well: "Betrayal" by the Americans, a Shi'a exile living Australia calls it. "I carry a gun, I fight the government," he says. But then "they let us down". The uprisings were instigated by the Americans who then assisted the Iraqi troops to quell them. During the Gulf War the US used psychological operations, such as leaflets, loudspeakers...and clandestine radio transmissions. On February 15, 1991, George Bush Senior broadcast a message over the Voice of the Gulf: "(T)heres another way for the bloodshed to stop." "And that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside..." The Kurds did start a rebellion and were gunned down within days. And Americans, flying overhead, looked on as thousands of refugees were trying to flee into Iran. An autonomous Kurdistan was not what the US wanted. In March 1991, the Shi'a too followed Bush's call and rose up. They were successful. But then the US intervened to make sure they didn't succeed. In his book _The New Rulers of the World_, John Pilger writes: "'The opposition,' Said Aburish told me, 'found themselves confronted with the United States helping Saddam Hussein against them. The Americans actually stopped rebels from reaching arms depots. They denied them shelter. They gave Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard safe passage through American lines in order to attack the rebels. They did everything except join the fight on his side.'" In _Out of the Ashes: the Resurrection of Saddam Hussein_, Andrew and Patrick Cockburn describe the feelings of a Shi'a rebel leader who watched helplessly "American helicopters circling overhead as Iraqi government helicopter crews" attacked the rebels. "'I saw with my own eyes the American planes flying over the helicopters,' he said. 'We were expecting them to help; now we could see them witnessing our demise... They were taking pictures and they knew exactly what was happening.'" A Shi'a Muslin nation was also not wanted by the US. (As an aside, how would Washington react if the Canadian Prime Minister encouraged black and Hispanic Americans to rise up against the US government?) What Washington feared was that the Kurds might establish a socialist state - God forbid. And the Shi'a might form and "islamic alliance" with Iran. So they did not want for them to "take matters into their own hands", despite Bush's recommendation. What Washington wants is an "an iron-fisted Iraqi junta", which would be "the best of all worlds", wrote Friedman in the New York Times in 1997. An alter ego of Mr. Hussein, that is, but one who does as he is told - as SH once did. So many Kurdish and Shi'a Iraqis living in exile are very careful what they wish for these days: they remember the betrayals of the past and feel they could happen again. And Messrs. Bush and Blair might also remember the past occasionally. On April 3, 2002, a Kurdish Iraqi living in Germany also remembered the past: The Kurds might have had their autonomy from the Iraqi government had they not been sidetracked by the US. It was largely the "narrow-minded nationalistic position of the Kurds and the interference of foreign powers", he admits, "that prevented this democratic change from taking place". (This was in 1969, I believe, when the US promised the Kurds the moon and then let them down. Kissinger's comment was terse: "covert operations are not missionary work".) This Kurdish exile believes that the Iraqi people (Arabs, Kurds, and others) are perfectly capable of shaping their own destiny, if left in peace: "All people in Iraq, Arab, Kurd, Turkoman, Assyrian, have suffered the same fate. Colonial oppression and dependence, as well as their own submission, have shaped their destiny." He concludes: "Long live the unity of the Iraqi people based on self-determination." "Long live self-determination for all people." I second that, Elga Sutter _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk