Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The American violence against the people of Iraq has noticeably escalated, and is even starting to take on the qualities of a frenzy:

  1. The most dramatic incident has been the massacre in Mansur. American troops, supposedly on a search for Saddam, attacked the neighborhood of Mansur in Baghdad. Mansur had already been the victim of American attempts to kill Saddam, as an American bomb on a building in which Saddam was supposed to be killed 16 Iraqi civilians in April. In the newest incident, the Americans opened fire on vehicles and killed as many as 11, including two children (other sources say five were killed, or perhaps three). A witness said (or here):

    "The Americans didn't try to help the civilians they had shot, not once. They let the car burn and left the bodies where they lay, even the children. It was we who had to take them to the hospitals."

    This was another operation of Task Force 20, responsible for the deaths at the Syrian border and the attack on Saddam's sons. It was completely botched, with the Americans closing the main streets but failing to close the side streets. Unwitting residents, who had absolutely no way to know that an American operation was going on, then drove right into the massacre from the side streets, dying in a hail of indiscriminate fire. If the Americans were wise, they'd drag these incompetent cowboys back home as quickly as possible. As Robert Fisk, who appears to be the only one to take this incident seriously, writes:

    "Yet again, false informers, ill-trained American soldiers who appeared to exercise no fire control and a lack of military planning has created a tragedy among the people the Americans claimed to be 'liberating' from Saddam Hussein only 15 weeks ago."

  2. On Sunday, U. S. troops opened fire on protesters in Karbala, killing three. The protesters were protesting the killing of a man by the Americans the day before. That man had been killed when residents tried to block an American patrol from approaching the religious shrine of Imam Hussein, the Americans fired tear-gas, with one canister striking the mausoleum, and a predictable protest occurred. Step by step, things are spiralling out of control, with another combination of cultural and religious insensitivity, violent response to protest, lack of training in crowd control, inability or unwillingness to use non-lethal control methods, and lack of fire-control.

  3. Last week, Americans appear to have fired into a crowd in Mosul, killing one and wounding others. The Americans deny it, but there is enough independent testimony of residents that it probably did happen. This shooting occurred very near the house where the Saddam sons were killed, and was in response to rock throwing by residents who were blocked from going to their mosque immediately after the firefight at the house had ended. Mohammed Ramzi, who was shot in the arm, said, referring to the American troops:

    "They were angry and they just started shooting at everybody; it was not a spontaneous thing."

  4. There is a growing brutality amongst the American troops, even in cases where they don't manage to kill anybody. A witness to a raid in Mansur said:

    "They tied up all the men with plastic and steel cuffs around their wrists and took all our guns. A soldier pointed his rifle at this child here and his Iraqi translator said in Arabic that they'd count to 10 to be told where our guns were. Yes, of course we have guns: we have to defend ourselves from thieves who come in the night. Everyone in Baghdad has a gun now because there is so much robbery and killing."

    When the Americans left, they didn't bother to remove the handcuffs.

  5. There are rumors amongst the Iraqis that the Americans are stealing from them, and at least one instance where an American soldier was caught red-handed. It is unknown whether he received any punishment.

  6. One American officer claims to have seen at least twenty incidents where American soldiers have beaten or robbed civilians at checkpoints. One such incident, involving victim Rahim Nasser Mohammed, was particularly serious. An American officer said: "They beat him pretty bad. They beat him, tied him up and beat him again." This was for being caught with a small handgun in his car at a checkpoint.

  7. In unequivocal contravention of the Geneva Conventions (Protocol One, relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, Article 75, Paragraph 2(b)) [Note: I shouldn't rely on Protocol 1 because the United States hasn't ratified it, but it has ratified the Geneva Conventions, the fourth of which states (Article 34) "The taking of hostages is prohibited" and the "International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages", Article 1 of which clearly applies here; see also 18 USC 1203, which, together with the Hostages Convention, would seem to compel the United States to criminally try all the Americans involved], the Americans are now taking hostages:

    "Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: 'If you want your family released, turn yourself in.' Such tactics are justified, he said, because, 'It's an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info.' They would have been released in due course, he added later.

    The tactic worked. On Friday, Hogg said, the lieutenant general appeared at the front gate of the U.S. base and surrendered."

    I guess we can now add hostage taking to the list of other breaches of international law committed by the United States.

  8. In Bayji, a mother and two of her daughters were killed by American fire. The Americans claim the Iraqis were killed in the crossfire when the Americans were attempting to shoot a 'terrorist', but it appears that the Americans panicked and fired blindly when the mother rose suddenly to get her family off the roof where they were sleeping.