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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Steel Curtain

Yet another war crime (or giant collection of war crimes). From the WSWS:
Once again the US military has laid siege to an Iraqi city. Dubbed “Operation Steel Curtain,” the offensive launched by some 2,500 American troops and 1,000 US-trained Iraqi forces entered its third day Monday in the Euphrates River market town of Husaybah.
As to the impact of such a military operation upon the people who live in Husaybah, the media is relatively silent. Needless to say, none of their reporters are embedded with the men, women and children facing this onslaught.

Nonetheless, there is enough in even these reports—despite their slant toward military propaganda—to establish that the Bush administration and the Pentagon are conducting another war crime against the Iraqi people.

“U.S. forces have used Hellfire missiles and dropped 500-pound bombs on homes believed to house insurgents,” CNN reported. “Marine Capt. Brendon Heatherman said troops were clearing every home in central Husaybah, looking out for homemade bombs and ‘bad guys,’” the network added.
“There had been an exodus of families during the past several weeks, officers said,” according to the Times, which added, “The Marine Corps says it plans to go through all the residences in Husaybah and the immediate area, a total of 4,000 homes.”
According to the United Nations-affiliated news agency, IRIN, scores of civilians have been killed and thousands driven from their homes by the offensive against the impoverished city near the border with Syria.

“The situation is becoming critical,” Ferdous al-Abadi, spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) told IRIN. “People are seriously suffering.”

According to the news agency, “One doctor in al-Qaim said [on Saturday, the first day of the offensive] that the US military’s regular use of anti-personnel cluster bombs had left at least 31 dead and 44 wounded, among them women and children.”

According to the International Red Crescent Society, people began fleeing Husaybah a week before the US onslaught began, IRIN reported. It added that the relief agency’s local volunteers put the number of displaced persons at 4,000, many of whom are living in makeshift camps and tents in the desert.
Quoting an Iraqi journalist, the news network reported, “The US shelling has demolished government buildings, including al-Jamahir primary school, al-Qaim preparatory school for boys, the educational supervision building, al-Qaim post office and communication centre, al-Qaim education directorate and two mosques in the city.”

The journalist added, “The city is suffering a complete lack of all of life’s basic necessities. There is no fuel and winter is upon us. There is no food and there are no services whatsoever, not even health services.” He added that ambulances cannot respond to emergencies because they face being fired upon by US forces.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that “Scores of terrified Iraqis fled the besieged town of Husaybah Sunday, waving white flags and hauling their belongings to escape a second day of fighting...” The news agency added, “Residents said coalition forces warned people by loudspeakers to leave on foot because troops would fire on vehicles.”

The Pentagon chose to launch the offensive on the final day of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day festival that is one of Islam’s principal holidays. The Washington Post, which had an Iraqi correspondent in Baquba, spoke by cell phone to a 45-year-old government employee as he trudged out of Husaybah with his wife and three children: “We are in the third day of Eid,” he said “We are leaving the town not for fun but to save ourselves from death. Instead of having my family for a picnic in an amusement park, I am taking them out of the town, walking and expecting death every moment. Let Bush see how he created a generation that hates the Americans.”
For those without a program, WIIIAI reminds us:
Remember: Iron Curtain bad, Steel Curtain good.
Meanwhile, our lunatic at the UN, John Bolton, is trying to extend the legal veneer over this profoundly illegal war:
The Bush administration pressed the U.N. Security Council on Monday to pass a resolution extending the mandate of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq, providing a legal basis for U.S. and allied troops to remain for at least a year after Iraqis elect their first government under the new constitution on Dec. 15, according to U.S. and European diplomats.

Administration officials said they are seeking the resolution now to spare a new government the politically challenging burden of explicitly approving the continued presence of foreign troops in Iraq. They also hope a U.N. mandate authorizing troops through 2006 would encourage the United States' coalition partners to remain in Iraq, and would avoid a potentially contentious battle within the Security Council next year over whether to renew the authorization even though a new Iraqi government has taken power.
The United States sought to extend the mandate "far in advance of the Iraqi election" so it "didn't become an issue in the election," John R. Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said in a telephone interview. "We thought it was also important to show the continuing international commitment to progress in Iraq. We expect this to be voted tomorrow. I don't know anybody who is going to vote against it."
Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari appealed to the council on Oct. 27 to approve the coalition's stay in Iraq until Dec. 31, 2006. Jafari said Iraq's national security forces "need more time" to prepare to "take over primary responsibility of providing adequate security for Iraqis." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote the council two days later, saying the U.S.-led multinational force "stands ready" to support the Iraqis.
Of course, Jafari would never have survived to be interim PM if he weren't a Bush puppet.

I suspect Russia, France and the rest of the Security Council are cynically supporting this resolution (if Bolton is correct) not for the benefit of Iraq, but to see the U.S. further embarrass and weaken itself.

[Update] The foul extension a in the Security Council unanimously.