The “New Iraq”: Death Threats and Duplicity

Throughout the world, on any given day, a man, woman or child is likely to be displaced, tortured, killed or ‘disappeared’, at the hands of governments or armed political groups. More often than not, the United States shares the blame.

— Amnesty International, Washington Office, 1996

Given the scale of duplicity and violence which America’s first puppet Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, has wrought upon the country over decades, many may find it a struggle to feel sympathy for the death threats he is allegedly now receiving. As for the flailing around, by the the US occupiers’ “Intelligence Agencies”, to find out who may be responsible, it would be unsurprising if there were not queues of contenders, quietly, or less so, awaiting an opportunity.

Allawi has told the (London) Times, that he does not know who might want to kill him. Indeed. It must be quite a list.

US Intelligence, however, should know quite a bit about about Mr Allawi.

In March,1996, the US hosted an anti-terror Conference of twenty seven world leaders, after suicide bombings had killed many in Israel. President Clinton dusted off that obligatory statement on the region, meaninglessly, repeatedly, parroted by his predecessors and successors: “We must be clear in our condemnation of those who resort to terror. Violence has no place in the future we all seek in the Middle East.”1

“At the very same time, in Iraq, the US was supporting, with millions of dollars, the Iraq National Accord (INA), which was using car bombs and other bombings in Baghdad and other cities, in order to destabilize Saddam Hussein’s government (whose “sovereignty and territorial integrity” was guaranteed by the United Nations.) It was estimated that the bombs had taken the lives of more than a hundred civilians in Baghdad alone during the preceding few years.”1 Iyad Allawi headed the Iraq National Accord.

Operating clandestinely for years, the INA was launched officially, in 1991, with Iraqis still reeling from a forty two day, thirty country, allied blitz. Allawi, seemingly a man to keep as many doors open as possibly, living in London since 1971, also reportedly remained active in the international Ba’athist movement. His INA co-founder, Salah Omar Al-Ali, left, after learning the extent of Allawi’s links to the CIA and MI6. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Allawi told a reporter that, in fact: “I did not just work with the CIA., but with fifteen intelligence agencies.”

The INA and CIA were involved in an abortive coup against Saddam Hussein, in the year of Clinton’s “condemnation of those who resort to terror”, 1996, resulting in Iraq’s execution of thirty of INA recruits involved, with imprisonment of scores more. Numerous others were killed in Kurdistan, from where the debacle was mounted. Allawi’s cousin, Ahmed Chalabi, who headed the other exile based, CIA-funded, Iraq National Congress, was also involved. Between them, the CIA was fed much purported Iraqi “intelligence.” Considering the trouncing they received from Iraq’s ancient, decimated army and ancient, decrepit remaining military hardware, it was information gained by money spectacularly badly invested. Ironically, given the disasterous US “de-Bathification” project, since 2003, Chalabi told Patrick Coburn: “The only real friends and contacts the CIA had in Iraq, were Ba’athists.”2

Allawi had also plotted a coup in 1978, of which the Iraqi leader learned, and was believed responsible for a subsequent attack on Allawi in his London home, which left him hospitalized for a year. Persistence though, not being one of his failings, he travelled in the Middle East throughout the 1980’s, scheming further, in clandestine meetings, before the official (1991) announcement of the INA’s existence.

In 2002, it is widely alleged that it was through a contact of Allawi that the dodgiest and deadliest dossier — claiming Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within forty five minutes — was dreamed up, with a few extra embellishments here and there, taken from a ten year old student thesis and with input from Downing Street fiction-writer wannabes. The subsequent destruction of Iraq, its history, infrastructure, murder of the country’s intellectuals, academics, health professionals, with nearly million and a half of its population (Foreign Policy in Focus, who are still counting) is eye-wateringly recorded in millions of words.

In December 2003, Allawi flew to CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to discuss setting up a secret security service for Iraq (Mukhabarat) to be headed by Nouri Badran, a “former” Ba’athist who had been an Ambassador for Saddam Hussein until 1990 and alleged to have recruited agents for Saddam’s Mukharbarat. When the Iraqi National Intelligence Service was set up in March 2004, it was headed by “Abdullah Mohammed al-Shewani, another former Ba’athist exile with ties to the INA.”3 A number of former Mukharbarat from the Ba’ath regime, were also recruited to the General Security Directorate — as the US and UK occupiers were declaring all out war at worst and exclusion from any work at best, on former Ba’ath Party (ie pan-Arab nationalist) members.

Allawi, a British passport holder who had thus taken allegiance to a foreign country, became first interim Prime Minister of Iraq under occupation, on 28th June 2004. Saddam Hussein, head of a sovereign state, went before a kangaroo court under Allawi’s Prime Ministership and was subsequently lynched. It was under Allawi’s premiership that the death penalty was re-introduced, abolished after the invasion.

Allawi’s tenure was given as widely endorsed by the the United Nations. However, it was reported that UN special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi concurred with reluctance, after pressure from the US. Under a month later, Brahimi resigned due to: “great difficulties and frustrations.” Allawi’s tenure also witnessed the departure of, allegedly, over a billion dollars from Iraq’s Defence Ministry, one of the largest heists in history, reported the (London) Independent. $500 million to $600 million, also reportedly disappeared from the electricity, finance, interior and other ministries.

Allawi, presented as a secular nationalist by the US, became quickly dubbed “Saddam without the moustache”, by many Iraqis. Reports that he had personally summarily executed six handcuffed, suspected “insurgents”, in front of US officials, Iraqi police and Iraq’s Interior Minister, a week before he took office, were less than emphatically denied by then US Ambassador, John Negroponte.

In July 2004, a $285,000 reward was offered to anyone who could kill Allawi, by “militants”, “insurgents” or “resistance”, depending on the viewpoint. He survived to boast, according to an eminent legal and political expert: “I have ordered the US army to clear Falluja” and also Najav. Falluja, of course, was first attacked devastatingly and indiscrimately in November 2004. The holy city of Najav was decimated between August and October, the same year. The Washington and Whitehall mantra in the run up to the invasion had been: “He kills his own people.”

That December, Allawi visited Najav’s revered Imam Ali shrine, where shoes were hurled at him. Ironically, he ludicrously claimed it an assassination attempt, seemingly to regain ground from an act of absolute rejection and humiliation at a site, sacred to and revered, by fellow Shias. Allawi had an eventful 2004. That December there seems to have been a genuine assassination attempt against him in Germany.

Nor is Allawi, seemingly, squeamish about international trouble making. In 2002, this publication witnessed a gang setting upon dignitaries attending celebrations for Iraq’s national day (17th July) at the London residence of the country’s acting Ambassador. There were significant injuries and broken bones. Iraqis of all political persuasions pointed the finger at the INA. Interesting to note is that for the first time ever, that day, the British government had allowed rigid diplomatic restrictions to be lifted and an anti-Saddam demonstration held outside an Ambassador’s actual residence – that of Iraq’s representative – instead of, as is usual, Embassy or Consulate. The police charged no one – yet the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board paid compensation to one of those injured.

Just fifteen months later, Allawi held the rotating Presidency of the puppet Iraqi Governing Council.

The illegality of Iraq’s invasion, is seemingly, uniquely, compounded year on year. According to the highly respected expert quoted above4 : “Not alone Iyad Allawi, but the overwhelming majority of Iraq’s first line Ministers, those working for the first line Ministers and their top advisers, have taken oath of allegiance to a foreign country. It is morally, ethically, absolutely incorrect that those other than Iraqis, should take charge of the country.

“(Moreover he alleges) there are those (in government) still claiming welfare benefits from their adopted home countries. These countries include : Britain, the US., France, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Belgium, Italy – and the UAE and Syria. These are no different to Bremer and the occupying powers.” Astonishingly, allegedly: “Sixty Iraqi Ambassadors have foreign passports, with the UN Representative, being a British citizen.”

Many Iraqis cite their government as being: “A thousand Saddams, but with foreign passports.” Yet whatever the former President’s indisputed failings, his courage and nationalism could not be faulted. He refused deals, stated he would die in Iraq – and did, horribly. Seemingly none of the foreign passport holders have brought their family to Iraq with them and most spend more time out of Iraq in their fine homes, in adopted countries than sorting out the plight of Iraq’s citizens, of whom an estimated five million have either been killed, maimed, displaced, widowed or orphaned, since 2003.

“Almost a fifth of Iraq’s population are refugees or internally displaced, and almost half live in abject poverty – despite $53 billion in “aid” spent since the 2003 invasion (funds that lined the pockets of foreign military contractors and corrupt officials but left seventy percent of Iraqis without potable water or predictable electricity) … Iraq is now ranked the fifth most corrupt country out of 180 studied by Transparency International, and with no laws on campaign financing, with incumbents who used state funds to further their own campaigns and imprisoned opponents on trumped-up charges of terrorism and with government ministers maintaining their own private militias …”, writes Hadani Ditmars,in the San Franciso Gate (27th June 2010.)

As Iraq heads for the fourth month since another trumpeted really democratic election (elections under an occupation are illegal) with no government formed, and Allawi and Nuri Al-Maliki (he of the torturous secret prison under the Interior Ministry) with less than a handful of votes between them, fighting more like ferrits in a sack, than statesmen, their party members (without foreign passports) are paying the price in assassinations.

It is salutary to turn again to William Blum (referenced below) to reflect on what has been inflicted upon Iraq:

“Mental hospitals and prisons are filled with people who claim to have heard voices, telling them to kill certain people … they’ve never met and who have never done them any harm.” US soldiers, he writes, first went to Iraq in 1991, on behalf of George Bush Senior, who seemingly had heard such a voice. “In 1991 one hundred and seventy seven million pounds of bombs were dropped on Iraq.” The US and UK (illegally) “continued to launch missiles against the burned-out ash called Iraq”, under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush until the (illegal) invasion of 2003. In context, writes Blum, in the first eight months of 1999 alone, “.. more than ten thousand sorties were flown over Iraq, unleashing more than one thousand bombs and missiles on more than four hundred targets.”

Of this, reminds Blum, the aptly named General William Looney, said:

“They know we own their country. We own their airspace … the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America, right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there is a lot of oil out there we need.”

Blum concludes: “It can be said that the United States has inflicted more vindictive punishment and ostracism on Iraq than upon Japan or Germany after World War 11.”

Then they inflicted Allawi and assorted, ruthless puppets.

Iraqis are now being murdered under President “Change We Can Believe In” Barrack “Nobel” Obama.

Hadani Ditmars, however, writes of a comment recently by a Baghdadi friend. Inspite of all, he told her, Iraq is still a great civilization, which has always found its own way, at whatever cost.

” … Iraqis love a challenge. Allawi represents the bad Baathists,” he says, “and the religious parties are corrupt reactionaries. But still Iraqis will find their way to democracy in an anarchistic way, so I’m hopeful because anarchy is the mother of all order.” Iraqis will tread their own path: “something both Alexander the Great and Imam Ali both observed.”

Iyad Allawi, some say, would be prudent to keep an eye on the expiry date of his British passport. And another former exile, Nuri Al-Maliki (passport unknown) maybe reflect thoughtfully on the sticky end his name sake, another Nuri, another foreign imposed Prime Minister, came to.

*****

The state of Iraq

Health: Iraq’s child mortality rate has increased by 150 percent since 1990, when U.N. sanctions were first imposed.

Education: By 2008, only 50 percent of primary school-age children were attending class, down from 80 percent in 2005, and approximately 1,500 children were known to be held in detention facilities.

Children: In 2007, there were 5 million Iraqi orphans, according to official government statistics.

Refugees: More than 2 million Iraqis are refugees and almost 3 million internally displaced; 33 percent — 500,000 people — of the 1.5 million internally displaced people forced from their homes in 2006 and 2007 live as squatters in slum areas.

Water: 70 percent of Iraqis do not have access to potable water.

Jobs: Unemployment is as high as 50 percent officially, 70 percent unofficially.

Poverty: 43 percent of Iraqis live in abject poverty.

Assistance: 8 million Iraqis require immediate emergency aid.

Food: 4 million people lack food and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

Sanitation: 80 percent of Iraqis do not have access to effective sanitation.

Deaths: At least 210 lawyers and judges have been assassinated since the 2003 invasion. At least 15,000 Iraqis disappeared during the first four years of U.S. occupation. According to the Brussels tribunal, 437 Iraqi academics have been murdered since the invasion. There are at least a million widows in Iraq.

Women: In a recent Oxfam-designed survey, 33 percent of women had received no humanitarian assistance since 2003; 76 percent of widows did not receive a pension; 52 percent were unemployed; 55 percent had been displaced since 2003; and 55 percent had been subjected to violence: 25.4 percent to random street violence, 22 percent to domestic abuse, 14 percent to violence inflicted by militias, 10 percent to abuse or abduction, 9 percent to sexual abuse and 8 percent to violence inflicted by multinational forces.5

  1. William Blum, Rogue State, Common Courage Press, 2002. [] []
  2. Patrick and Andrew Cockburn, Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession, Verso, 2002, p. 181. []
  3. Wikipedia and many sources. []
  4. Writer’s decision to withold name, for obvious reasons. []
  5. Compiled by Hadani Ditmars, author of Dancing in the No-Fly Zone, Olive Branch Press, 2005. []

Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.

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  1. bozh said on July 1st, 2010 at 8:58am #

    US does pick on multi-ethnic and bireligional empires and which are evil and dysfunctional.
    This is what saddam inherited: an evil governmental and societal structure that cld be held together only by repression, murder, incarciration, threats, etc.
    Of course, US masters of warcare and profitcare knew this and, i conclude, expected even worsening there after ther invasion of iraq.

    This may or may not be ultimate evil, but may parallel or even exceed nazi crimes; since nazis murdered by far fewer people than american masters of profitcare and land acquistioncare. tnx