Memo To: To: Website Readers
From: Patricia Koyce Wanniski
Re: Jude`s Final Thoughts on Iraq
When Jude died on August 29, he was at his office desk, working on this memo on Iraq. I know Jude would have been appalled at the recent Al-Qaeda bombings, and the rising toll in American and Iraqi lives, military and civilian, over the last few weeks. It is with this in mind that I offer a last look at the questions Jude was posing to one of his key sources, Dr. Mohammed Al-Obaidi, about the Iraqi elections, and to Joost Hiltermann, one of his key sparring partners on the opposing side, about mass graves. Ever the reporter, Jude was tireless and passionate about finding out what was happening in Iraq. Note that he writes to Mr. Hiltermann that "If the bodies had been found, I would be…encouraging the trial and execution of Saddam as a mass murderer." This last flexibility demonstrates that indeed Jude had no direct political agenda but was merely concerned with finding the truth. I`ve never been prouder of my husband.
Q. Can you give me your best explanation of how the National Assembly is a puppet government" when the American people had been told it was a fair election process. I recall at one point you and your Freedom Party was preparing to be involved in the process.... but that did not happen. My recollection is that the hole process was "rigged" by the U.S. in conjunction with the Iraqis who had supported the Iranians in the war. I`m getting e-mails from people who insist the National Assembly fairly represents the will of the Iraqi people. I even wonder if the Kurdish people as a whole are happy with being led by Barzani and Talibani, who were on Tehran`s side in the war. What do you think? Jude
A. Dear Jude, Most Iraqis now admit that the election in which some of them participated and by which this assembly was formulated, was nothing but a mess, particularly when the figures later showed that only 38% of the Iraqis participated in that election, and not as announced by the occupation forces.
The reason why most Iraqis did not participate in that election is because their belief that it was a violation of all international laws. International charters that regulate the relationship between occupiers and occupied do not give occupying authorities the mandate to instigate a change in the country`s social, economic and political structure.
As anticipated, the election suited only the interests of the occupiers. The changes that followed the election also, as expected, lead to ethnic, sectarian and religious divisions that the Iraqi state and people had succeeded to avoid for generations. Historically, Iraqis have been able to coexist and the spectre of civil war did not loom until the country was stricken by the US-led occupation.
As I said before, the election results have been decided already, and most Iraqis believe the electoral process was not free and democratic but was exclusively for those who maintain strong ties with the US occupation authorities, and all steps have been taken to secure full US domination of decision-makers in Iraq.
A closer look at the current assembly reveals that the dominant people in it are some of the country`s most notorious politicians who have constantly spoken proudly of their links to international intelligence agencies; politician who has assisted the invaders and collaborated with them to consolidate the occupation. Therefore, I believe that the decision-making process has been taken in the US embassy in Baghdad and the puppet government is no more than a vehicle to carry out Washington`s decisions.
As I also mentioned in my piece in Al-Jazeera, it is very difficult for any sensible person to believe that the US would give up its domination of Iraq after spending billions of dollars and sacrificing the lives of hundreds of its soldiers. Therefore, no sensible person believes that after all this the US would simply allow the formation of a government which could make it its first priority to tell foreign troops to get out.
So, where is the transparency in such a government or national assembly?
As for the Kurds, I strongly advise you not to believe what you hear. The majority of the Kurds, of whom I met many here in the UK, hate Barzani and Talabi, whose parties are ruling the Kurdish areas in a worse dictatorship ways than Saddam did.
You probably heard that British government is about to deport about 7000 Kurds back to Kurdistan. Those people don`t want to go, simply because the worse is awaiting for them there. This is just an example.
Hope that I have given you sensible explanation.
Q. Thank you again, Mohammed. This is excellent. I do recall that even some of those who voted did so in the belief that they would lose their food cards if they did not. And also that the slates were arranged so those at the top of the slates, like Chalabi, Barzani and Talibani, were guaranteed election. I`ve also heard that there were large amounts of US currency that were used, and now unaccounted for, to produce the results that the US embassy in Baghdad desired. Can you comment, one way or another? Jude
A. Hi Jude
If you want to hear some real stories about the election, then read this:
1. Everyone recall that Sistani himself issued a Fatwa (religious decree) asking all Shiites to participate in the election, and those who do not participate will enter the hell in the hereafter !!!!! Imagine, simple illiterate Iraqis reactions!!!
2. Families were threatened losing their ration cards if they don’t participate.
3. Hundreds of thousands Iranians entered Iraq before the election and issued with Iraqi IDs to allow them take part in the election.
4. Stalls were erected openly in every part of Iraq selling forged IDs to Iranians for a price that reached US$300; all paid for by Al-Hakim and Al-Ja’afari parties.
5. It was noted by several tribes and opposition parties that Iran paid several millions of US$ to families in order to take part in the election in favour of those backed by them.
6. Even in Kirkuk, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were brought from outside Kirkuk to vote, and large numbers have even voted twice in order to change the results in favour of the Kurds.
7. Now, in Najaf, Kerbala and Kadimiyyah (holy places for the Shiites), you hear Persian more than Arabic. In fact, even the Iranian currency, Tuman, is accepted by any shopkeeper.
8. In addition to the above, my youngest sister who was a school teacher during Saddam’s regime left her job because her salary at that time was not even enough to cover her transportation expenses between her home and her school. She decided several months to go back to teaching. She applied for a teaching position, and was rejected, unless she brings a recommendation from Al-Da’awa party (Al-Ja’aferi party) or be a member of that party.
What else you want to know? This is Iraq during occupation. Add to this lack of the very simple services from electricity, which comes two hours a day, fuel, clean water, medicine, abundant amount of expired food in the markets, etc…
On what should be done, the simplest answer is to give up supporting the Kurds and the Shiites for federalism. This could be a first step. Iraq must remain united. Iraq is not the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia. I assure you that civil war will erupt if federalism is implemented in Iraq. And second, the US has stop play mouse and cat with Iran on the Iraqi soil….
Q. Dear Joost..... The only reason I asked you about Anfal is that I don`t look for news about it in the normal course of running my business, which is about Wall Street activities. I do stay in touch with [Steve] Pelletiere and he says he hasn`t seen any reports of the 80,000-100,000 bodies that were supposed to have been killed by machine-guns and dumped in mass graves (according to HRW). There have been lots of "graves" cited, but only small numbers of bodies unearthed and those not identified by recognized forensic experts... which would be necessary for genocide convictions. The issue is of some historic importance, but also of interest because of the upcoming trial of Saddam. If such were reported and compiled, I have not seen news accounts of them but thought you are closer to the situation and have said you worked with the Pentagon in looking for the sites. Any internet link that you believe is authoritative would be appreciated. Jude
A. Jude: I have previously warned you that Pelletiere is not a scholar, but a person who suffers from selective vision. The New York Times ran a long story, not So long ago, about the forensic digs carried out by US investigators linked to the Iraqi tribunal in the area of Al-Hatra, where they found the bodies of Kurdish women and children. They also found mass graves in other parts of Iraq of both Kurds and Shiites, as per conversations I had recently with one of the US prosecutors attached to the tribunal, who said he had personally surveyed over a hundred mass graves (some small, some large).
I am currently on vacation. But when I`m back in my office, I could dig up the NYT piece, but I`m sure that if you really care about this, you can find it yourself. Joost
Q. Dear Joost: Here is the quick response from Dr. al-Obeidi, the man I said I was going to inquire further about Halabja and Anfal. He is not a Saddam apologist by any means and has lived in exile in London/Liverpool for 20 years or more, a surgeon in a U.K. hospital. He mentions his brother, who is still in Iraq, a man who was a colonel in the Iraqi army in 1988 and who was among the first to arrive in Halabja in March 1988 with troops assigned to taking back the town from the Iranians. As far as I am concerned, the evidence is on the side of Pelletiere so far, unless by some miracle those 100,000
Kurds are found in mass graves. Please don`t be irritated with me, Joost. If the bodies had been found, I would be writing this to Pelletiere and encouraging the trial and execution of Saddam as a mass murderer. Unless you are completely sure in your own mind that he is, based on the scant evidence of genocide found so far, you should reconsider the presentation you have been making.... and maybe hold back your book until the smoke clears. Sincerely, Jude
A: Dear Jude, After I received a copy of your correspondence with Joost yesterday, I realised that this guy is so rude and still insisting on something that never happened, so I wrote an email message to one of my cousins, who works as Managing Director at the Ministry of Health in Iraq, hoping that he may have some information about the discoveries of these alleged mass graves.
He replied to me today, with information saying that NO mass graves have ever been found except few very small ones here and there, and those discovered in southern Iraq were graves of Iraqi soldiers who were either killed by the American army during the withdrawal of the Iraqi army from Kuwait or killed by the mob in what is called the "uprising" after the Iraqi army withdrew from Kuwait. So far, he said, no other graves for Kurds or Shiites have been found at all. In fact, he said, that the occupation armies, and particularly the US army has committed more genocide than what is alleged that Saddam did.
After I received your last message a short while ago, I picked up the phone and talked to my brother. I asked him if he could recall the use of aircrafts by the Iraqi army to drop CW on the Kurds in Halabja, he immediately replied, and without hesitation, that no aircraft has ever been used. In fact, he said, "how precisely could an aircraft drop CW on very small area to get the effect of using such a weapon? It is very hard to drop a chemical bomb on small area in order to get the effect you want". Besides, he was absolutely sure that it was the Iranian and not Iraqis who committed the crime in Halabja.
I talked with him about the allegations made by Joost regarding the mass graves, and the number cited by HRW, he laughed and said: I could only imagine that this US propaganda is still running behind the scene, and confirmed that to the best of his knowledge while his unit was all the time in northern Iraq, no such crime has ever been committed against the Kurds. He even said: I bet Joost for a million US$, if they can find such graves in the whole country. He also said: after two and a half years of occupation, the country is filled with American of all kinds, and they never had the chance to find any mass graves yet. Do they need two and a half years more to find them, he added. Best regards, Mohammed