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الأحد، 6 يوليو، 2014

Iraq Inherits Israeli Practices via US Occupation

“The New Iraq” regime, with its sectarianism and corruption, proved it was incapable of freeing itself from its masters, the occupiers. Rather it has opened up the gates wide for a second and a third occupier. In the process it is offering Israel its best guarantee by the splintering of Iraq.



If you manage to move in the occupied Palestinian towns, you would live the racist policy of the Zionist Regime, the marginalization of the other, even if “the other” is the rightful owner of the land.
The practices of the Zionist Regime are shown in many forms; it begins by describing Arabs of all religions as terrorists, and ends by their arrest and torture, to add to the apartheid practices of racial physical segregation. Palestinian cities are infested with checkpoints and surrounded by them. Cities are no more. The aim of this policy is to force people to abandon their land and emigrate. All of this happens under the banner of “Israel is a democratic, peace-loving country”, if not “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East”.
This, in many ways, is similar to what has been taking place in the “New Iraq”. Recall that Israeli brutal practices had been part and parcel of the practices towards Iraqis in the first nine years of the US/UK occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2011. Israeli ways were adopted, and surpassed, in training of the Iraqi army and the Iraqi Special Forces, in interrogation and torture of detainees and above all in collective punishment and segregation. This same policy continued and is still applicable now by the Iraqi regime, after the partial withdraw of the US combat forces in 2011.
Some people will strongly object to this comparison, but I will explain it, based on my own experience in Palestine. These are experiences I went through last month (June 2014, just before the latest explosion of Palestinian anger) visiting a number of Palestinian cities, including  Nablus, Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah. That was in a journey I finally made, first to take part in the Palestinian Literature Festival (Palfest) in its seventh year, and second; through teaching a British Council course on cultural journalism in Al-Sakakini Centre in Ramallah. That involves working with 15 young Palestinian journalists who work for different institutions with audio, written and visual media. The journalists were daily facing myriad difficulties to reach the course because of checkpoints, travel routes and getting a access permits. A 20 minutes trip between neighbouring towns turns into a journey of several hours, and one is often forced by the futility to think of staying at home rather than going out.
Now citizens in Iraq are living in this same situation almost every single day in the last several years. The number of the checkpoints in Iraqi cities count in hundreds, especially in Baghdad itself, in addition to the concrete barriers separating neighbourhoods, which are similar to the Israeli West Bank Wall.
The Israeli racist policy is based on emptying the cities of Palestinians, and re-drawing the map of Palestine accordingly. It uses all means to expel population including recurring raids, searches and mass arrests. The Israeli regime keeps inventing ways to cover its actions with legality, frequently changing laws to get rid of the Palestinian people. ‘Administrative Arrest’ means the detainee doesn’t know the charge, or the detention period, which might extend to years.
This is the very same policy currently practiced by the Iraqi regime, through recurrent raids on houses and arbitrary arrests without warrants or charges. It mostly ends up using Terrorism Law Article 4 based on secret informant’s testimony. And the outcome in Iraq is execution.

There are more than 40 charges punishable by execution. That’s what being arrested often means in the “New Democratic Iraq”. There are attested 30.000 prisoners in Iraq, including 4500 women who were sexually and physically abused, in many cases raped, according to the reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Geneva International Centre for Justice.
In cultivating Iraqi collaborators, the Anglo-American occupation relied on ethnic and sectarian bigotry.  The ethnic-sectarian parties that inherited the government from the occupation had additionally excelled in exploiting the country’s enormous wealth to develop mechanisms of corruption to entrench themselves. This has been a fatal mixture, in addition to re-drawing the map of the intermingled Iraqi population by sectarian cleansing and sieges of the cities. It all proved effective in keeping in power the very same people who opened the gates of Iraq to invasion and occupation, amongst whom Jafari, Hakim, Maliki, Allawi, Samarra’i, Chalabi, Barazani and Talabani.
In Palestine, the Palestinian authority works nominally through the Palestinian-Israeli security coordination, while the real authority is in the hand of Israel, which carries out what it wants, the way it wants, guaranteeing its interests. Israel uses the Palestinian authority mostly as a shield from the rage of the Palestinian people, or as a decorative façade for its policy.
The same applies to Iraq. The Iraqi regime is tied by the Strategic Framework Agreement, signed in 2008 by Maliki, the Secretary General of the sectarian Al-Dawa Party, with George Bush administration. Four joint coordination committees were formed, one specialized in matters political, economical and commercial, security and military, and in communications and education.
The higher coordination committee, headed from the Iraqi side by Maliki himself, was formed to oversee the work of the four committees. The American Minister of Foreign Affairs, Condoleezza Rice described the indefinite Agreement at the time as “a living Agreement” that symbolizes long term US-Iraq friendship, and embodies the commitment of the United States to the future of democracy in Iraq, as well as the protection of American national security.
It is worth noting that it was Maliki himself who insisted on monthly meetings of the committees. He focused on security and military issues, especially on requests for weapons and technology to fight "terrorism." As the 8 years of Al-Dawa Party rules proved, terrorism meant eliminating anyone opposing its sectarian policy and its corruption. Al-Dawa’s slogan is “reckoning”, translated into continuous revenge campaigns.
Hence, the current entreaties by Maliki to the US to provide him with weapons are not new. There was also a precedent at the time of British mentored monarchy in Iraq.  Collaborators were servile to their foreign masters, ”but fierce as lions to their own folks”, as the late poet Al-Rasafi wrote. Those politicians who returned to the country with the invaders and occupiers in 2003 can never gain people’s trust.  They live in panic and fear from demonstrations, vigils and from uprisings. The charge of “terrorism” is their shield to protect their dictatorship and the interest of its masters.
No wonder the American president Barack Obama is sending 300 military advisors and Special Operations Forces to Baghdad, after Maliki signed an immunity agreement for them. He agreed on the US using reconnaissance aircrafts, the very same aircrafts Israel uses to target and eliminate the leaders of the Palestinian resistance. These, like the Iraqis, are accused of terrorism. In addition the US ensures media silence on the bombing of Iraqi cities, just like Israeli collective punishment, this time under the pretext of defending its inhabitants.
“The New Iraq” regime, with its sectarianism and corruption, proved it was incapable of freeing itself from its masters, the occupiers. Rather it has opened up the gates wide for a second and a third occupier.  In the process it is offering Israel its best guarantee by the splintering of Iraq.
Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist and artist, columnist for al-Quds newspaper. her comments on Iraq have been published in The Guardian, Red Pepper, al-Ahram Weekly and LA Times. Haifa is a co founder of Tadhamun ( Iraqi women solidarity) and a consultant at UN.Her recent books are Dreaming of Baghdad and The Torturer in the Mirror with Ramsey Clark and Thomas Ehrlich Reifer.  Member of the Executive Committee of the BRussells Tribunal

The Arabic version of this article was published in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi Tuesday  1 July 2014 - see also here

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