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The Week in Iraq is a weekly assessment of significant incidents and trends in Iraqi civilian casualties by IBC's news collector and Recent Events editor Lily Hamourtziadou.

The analyses and opinions presented in these commentaries are personal to the author.

Recent weeks

Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008


The Week in Iraq

The price they pay for our humanity

by Lily Hamourtziadou

8 Oct 2006

How sad that Iraqis are suffering so much as a result of our 'humanitarian' war. In all wars there are civilian casualties, but in this case the deaths of Iraqi civilians are particularly tragic, because one of the main justifications for this war was humanitarian, especially after the Weapons of Mass Destruction threat proved to have been unfounded. Indeed, at first glance this reasoning seems fair: nations intervene to end massive suffering at little cost to themselves, and rescue civilians from a tyrant. However, what at first appeared to be a humanitarian intervention has ended up being a humanitarian disaster. What Iraq's 'liberators' are facing more and more is hostility and violence, rather than gratitude, as the new Iraq is facing a civil war and hundreds of civilians are murdered every week.
It comes almost as a joke when the Iraqi Foreign Minister declares that the situation in Iraq 'is not as desperate as people think'. Is it not? Let's see what happened in Iraq this past week.

At least 400 civilian deaths were reported between Monday 2 and Sunday 8 October.

Monday 2 October was declared a 'tragic day' by the US military, because on this day 8 US soldiers were killed in Baghdad. How tragic then for the Iraqis who lost nearly 70 of their people. Some of Monday's victims were workers abducted from a meat factory the previous day. Another kidnapping: 14 engineers are abducted from computer stores (their fate is still unknown). Also 2 children are blown up by a bomb hidden in a rubbish bag. It is announced that Martial Law, which has been in force since November 2004, is to be extended at least until 1 November. Which means that the curfews, raids and arrests without warrants, the army and police patrols will continue.

On Tuesday 3 October gunmen kill 4 members of the same family as they are moving to another house in Baquba, after receiving threats, while 7 bodies from another family are found. In Baghdad hundreds of Iraqis participate in a protest demanding the removal of Iraqi and US troops from their districts.

On Wednesday 4 October 16 are killed in a triple bombing in Baghdad, dozens of bodies are found in the streets, and a horrific killing takes places in Samara: gunmen storm a house, shoot dead 3 women and slit the throat of a baby girl.

On Thursday 5 October Condoleezza Rice arrives in Baghdad. Her arrival is delayed for nearly an hour, as her plane cannot land due to 'indirect fire' around the airport. She urges Iraqis to reconcile. A Kurdish lawmaker is assassinated together with his driver, becoming the first Member of this Parliament to be killed. In Falluja US forces kill a woman when their vehicle patrol, trying to make its way, opens fire over people's heads. This is apparently common practice.

Friday 6 October is the most peaceful day this week: only about 20 people die...but unfortunately it is followed by a very bloody Saturday 7, during which at least 90 people lose their lives. One of them is Nasir Shamel, former captain of the national volleyball team, found shot to death outside his shop. Another is a woman gunned down as she walks with her 5-year-old son down the street in Mosul. British soldiers open fire and kill an Iraqi customs policeman, after the British military base in Basra comes under attack. On the same day, Iraqi Police Major General Jamal Taher announces that a 15-km-long and 2m-deep trench has been dug south of Kirkuk to prevent car bombs and insurgents from entering.

On Sunday 8 October heavy fighting is reported between US and Iraqi forces and insurgents in Diwaniyah. A policeman and his 8-year-old son are shot and killed as they walk through a market in Samara, while hundreds of policemen appear to have been poisoned. Late on Sunday reports come in that 11 policemen have so far died, while up to 700 are seriously ill, bleeding from their ears and noses, after breaking their fast on Sunday evening.

Is this situation desperate? This is clearly a disastrous result. Saddam Hussein was the easiest target to eliminate; allies are now fighting so many. Rowan Scarborough, writing for the Washington Times, mentions some of them: Al-Qaida in Iraq, suicide bombers, Shiite militias, and at least 4 Sunni groups -Ansar al Sunna, Islamic Army in Iraq, Mujahedeen Army in Iraq, Iraq National Islamic Resistance (World Peace Herald 7 October).

Yes, it is a desperate situation when the human cost is so high and rising daily, and when all the allies can boast of is the creation of a police state. Iraqis are paying a very high price for our humanity. A price they should not have been expected to pay.