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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 Occupier

by Lily Hamourtziadou

27 Apr 2008

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened ‘open war,’ against the American ‘occupiers,’ according to a letter read by a top aide during Friday prayers.

’When we threatened to declare an open war until the liberation, we meant war against the occupier,’ al-Sadr said in his letter. ‘There is no war between us and our Iraqi brothers -- no matter what their nationality, race or sect.’

He encouraged not only his Mehdi Army militia to fight U.S. troops, but also every Iraqi, including the nation's security forces which are in league with U.S. troops, in order to end the US occupation of Iraq.

‘I direct my speech to all government security forces and others, and all the religious and political forces, if this open war is between us and the occupier, you should not interfere in the favour of the occupier,’ the letter said. ‘We want to liberate you and your lands from the occupiers, so our government would be a full sovereign government.’

Meanwhile the occupier has been busy building its biggest embassy yet. The ‘mammoth’ development of 104 acres and 21 buildings, the largest US embassy in the world, has been viewed by many Iraqis as a symbol of the occupation. ‘We see the size of this embassy and we think we will be part of the American plan for our country and our region for many, many years,’ says Anouar, a Baghdad graduate student (The Christian Science Monitor, April 24 2008).

It is ‘too much of a symbol,’ adds Abdul Jabbar Ahmed, vice dean for political sciences at Baghdad university. ‘It sends the message to the Iraqis: be careful, we removed Saddam Hussein and we can remove what has come after him anytime we want.’

After all that has gone wrong, all the opposition, back home and abroad, after all the blood spilt, the refugees, the devastation, the terrorism… after all the material and moral damage done, why would the Americans build their largest embassy in Baghdad? For what purpose? To remind us/them of what exactly? Of their power? Their ruthlessness? Their lack of remorse? Their superiority? Their triumph? Their victory over the poor, the weak and the defenceless?

Over 250 civilians were killed last week, 4 of them children. 40 were killed by the occupier –they were but a few that US forces killed last week, they were the ones not fighting them. Of the ‘combatant’ kind they have killed hundreds this month alone. They call them ‘criminals.’ They call them ‘cowards’ for ‘hiding among civilians’ when they kill them together with their families.

They always kill those ‘criminals’ in ‘self-defence.’ Of course, it makes sense that an army would attack and occupy another country, far away, and kill its citizens in self defence.

‘We have the right to protect ourselves,’ say the US generals. Clearly. The soldiers have the right to protect themselves as they are bombing, attacking, humiliating, bringing a whole country to its knees.

As for the Iraqis, it seems they have no right to protect themselves. Instead, they are expected to rely on the ‘protection’ of their occupiers. I wonder who this still makes sense to.