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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

No cause for concern

by Lily Hamourtziadou

5 Nov 2006

On Tuesday 31 October the British Parliament, or more accurately the British government, voted against having an inquiry into the Iraq war, a highly controversial, illegal and dangerous foreign war. One that is essentially still going on. 'Britain's debate on the Iraq war is taking place in the media' writes Simon Jenkins in the Guardian (Wednesday 1 November). 'It should be in parliament', he continues, as 'parliament's mission is to "legislate, deliberate and scrutinise". Since it no longer legislates independent of government, and its debates are worse attended than a pub game of Trivial Pursuit, it is left with scrutiny. Of that there is none. The Commons has become little more than an electoral college for the prime minister.' Harsh words, but this is a harsh reality. And the reality is that over 2,300 civilians were killed in Iraq during October 2006.

Yet we are urged not to worry too much about it. The White House on Wednesday 1 November dismissed a leaked military chart that shows Iraq sliding towards 'chaos' as an outdated snapshot of sectarian violence at the height of Ramadan that has since dropped sharply. 'That was a snapshot taken at the height of the Ramadan violence,' said Tony Snow, the White House spokesman. Since the end of Ramadan, it has been relatively quiet, as incidents of violence have dropped by 23 percent, claims Tony Snow. This is an insult to the families of the 640 civilians that died between 23 October (the end of Ramadan) and 1 November.

During the past week nearly 700 civilians were killed in Iraq.

On Monday 30 October over 90 are killed, 33 of them in one incident, when a bomb explodes in a market in Sadr City. The dead are labourers looking for work, a woman selling tea and her 3 children. By now Sadr City is on its 6th day of security alert, closure, and tight control of the US army. Essam Al-Rawi, senior member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, is killed along with his bodyguard, and two young girls are killed -one in Kirkuk and one near Basra, the latter allegedly shot by British troops. Altogether 5 bombs explode in Baghdad.

On Tueday 31 October 3 Iraqis are killed when a US patrol opens fire on their car as it approaches. A bomber kills 23 at a wedding party, half of them young children. Gunmen abduct 42 civilians on a bus, while in Britain it is revealed by the Ministry of Defence that the invasion of Iraq and continuing military presence there has cost more than £4bn so far.

Around 60 dead and tortured bodies are found around the country on Wednesday 1 November, and a dozen more the following day. A judge is killed along with his son in Baquba on Thursday 2 November, and another professor is shot dead with his wife and son. During Wednesday and Thursday there are over 130 reported killings.

The figures for Friday 3 November are truly shocking. A total of 303 deaths are reported. They include 176 unclaimed and unidentified bodies received and buried in Karbala, 87 bodies found in Baghdad, 13 bodies found in Kut and 2 in Karmah. In other bad news, 25 or so people are killed, among them a singer, a preacher, a reporter, a taxi driver, a fuel station employee, 2 shepherd boys and 3 members of a family.

On Saturday 4 November 4 children are killed along with their father when gunmen open fire on their car. A man on a motorcycle is shot dead by US soldiers, and 72 people are reported killed altogether.

Sunday 5 November is a big day for Iraq. Saddam Hussein is found guilty of crimes against humanity and is sentenced to death. His crime: ordering the killing of 148 civilians, 'suspected terrorists' or 'insurgents' in 1982, after a failed assassination attempt. This is no longer shocking news. 'Our' forces kill civilians they suspect of being terrorists or insurgents daily now. The previous day alone, Saturday, 'our' soldiers killed 53 of them.

But this should not worry us, none of it. We should not worry, inquire, investigate; we should not accuse, blame anyone other than Saddam Hussein, the easy target, the easy villain. We should let our government decide for us who is right and who is wrong, who is good and who is bad. Whose lives are worth preserving and whose are not.