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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 Red Poppies for them

by Lily Hamourtziadou

12 Nov 2006

Those journalists who supported the war have 'a new flag to fly', writes Robert Fisk (The Independent, Saturday 11 November 2006); 'the Iraqis don't deserve us.' After the Republican defeat in the mid-term elections and subsequent resignation of Donald Rumsfeld, US Defence Secretary, get-out excuses are being prepared. The 'poor', 'unfortunate', 'oppressed' Iraqis that badly needed our help to create a democratic country, are now 'greedy' and 'violent' extremists, who don't deserve democracy.

David Brooks, writing for the New York Times, blames the Iraqi catastrophe on 'the same old Iraqi demons: greed, blood lust and a mind-boggling unwillingness to compromise, even in the face of self-immolation.' It is not the fault of the Anericans that they cannot restore order, nor will it be their fault when the time comes to 'effectively end Iraq', by handing authority down to the clan, tribe or sect, 'the only communities which are viable.'

Ralph Peters, writing for the USA Today, supported the war, as it gave Iraqis 'a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy.' Yet those rotten, ungrateful, undeserving Iraqis 'preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption.' 'It's their tragedy, not ours' he concludes. On the contrary, it may even be beneficial for us in the end, as Iraq will have 'consumed terrorists' and the US will still be 'the greatest power on earth.'

These views are echoed by Thomas Friedman, writing for the New York Times, who sees two options left in Iraq: the 'tolerable' and the 'awful'. The 'tolerable' involves the splitting of Iraq into loose federal units, while the 'awful' option is the quitting of Iraq by a fixed date 'because Iraqis prove too angry and atomised to reach any deal.' Indeed, 'when people are that intent on killing each other there's not much we can do.' The US can either 'shrink' its presence in Iraq, if Iraqis will 'step up', or leave 'if they won't'.

There were no red poppies for those vicious and backward Iraqis who fell victim to this war this week. Not one of the 550 civilians who was killed was worthy of a red poppy.

There was a promising start to the week when only 11 deaths were reported on Monday 6 November. It almost gave false hope that the violence was about to decrease. It was not to be, as the violence increased during the week, culminating in the 'Poppy Day Massacre' on Sunday.

On Tuesday 7 November over 60 die, 21 of whom are killed by a suicide bomber in a cafe. The dead include a 13-year-old boy, killed with his father.

On Wednesday the death toll is around 120, 38 of them unidentified bodies buried in Baghdad. Donald Rumsfeld resigns and the Iraqi Parliament votes to extend the country's State of Emergency for another month.

At least another 70 die on Thursday 9 November, a day when a former diplomat reveals that 'we' knew of the chaos an invasion would create in Iraq. The disclosure was made by Carne Ross, who told the Foreign Affairs Committee that the US government was repeatedly warned by British diplomats that Iraq would fall apart if Hussein was toppled. But from mid-2002 instructions were received to change that view to fall in with the Bush administration.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq releases an audiotape on Friday 10 November asserting that it is winning the Iraq war faster than expected, and claiming that it had mobilised 12,000 fighters who had 'vowed to die for God's sake.' A man identifying himself as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer urges the US to stay in Iraq so they could kill more of them. 'We haven't had enough of your blood yet,' he says. Meanwhile, around 60 civilians die in Iraq, 14 of them members of the same family. In an extraordinarily honest statement, Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admits 'you are not going to do away with terrorism.'

Over 70 are killed on Saturday 11 November, a figure that seems quite high, until we come to Sunday.

The 'Red Poppy Massacre' the press called it. The incident they were referring to was the killing of 4 British soldiers near Basra on Sunday 12 November. Yet a much larger massacre took place in Iraq on Sunday, with 159 reported civilian deaths. Among those killed, 3 children blown up when a bomb exploded outside a primary school. Another 35 (though a later report puts that at 42) young men were blown up as they waited to enlist in the police force.

But there were no red poppies for those worthless Iraqis, those Iraqis who endured years of dictatorship by a dictator who was supported by the US, who endured years of sanctions by the UN, who were invaded by our armies, who are being murdered in shocking numbers for more than 3 years. They don't deserve them, it seems, simply because they are not us.