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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.

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Healing the wounds of the past
  18 Jan 2009

Happy New Year
  11 Jan 2009

The sad numbers
  31 Dec 2008

Immunity
  21 Dec 2008

The farewell kiss
  14 Dec 2008

Regrets –he’s had a few…
  7 Dec 2008

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The Week in Iraq

Interests

by Lily Hamourtziadou

26 Oct 2008

As the Iraqi cabinet delays a decision on the security agreement that would give immunity to US troops in Iraq and keep them there for at least another 3 years, and opposition to it is coming from many sides, those remaining firm in their support for the draft agreement are, not surprisingly, the Kurds.

The president of the Kurdistan region, Mas'ud Barzani, believes that the agreement in its final present form is ‘an appropriate document’ and ‘we, as Kurds, approve it’. On this issue, KDP Political Bureau Secretary Fadhil Mirani, who participated in Mrs Muntaha Ramhi's Panorama programme [discussing this issue], said:

‘The agreement comprises 31 articles, it is not possible that all the articles would be in the interests of Iraq; or that all of them would be in the interests of the US’. (Khabat, Arbil, in Sorani Kurdish 26 Oct 08)

Pardon? It is not possible that all the articles would be in the interest of Iraq? This whole war and occupation has supposedly been in the interest and for the benefit of the Iraqis! The same with this agreement –it is supposed to be SOLELY in the interest of Iraq. And indeed, this must be the case. As Iraq has been destroyed from its very foundations, as thousands have been killed, as millions have fled their homes, now at least something has to be done for the Iraqis, and ONLY for them.

The Kurdish position is clear:

‘The spokesman for the Kurdistan Alliance bloc has warned against a possible coup in Iraq if the security agreement with the United States is not signed. The website of the Kurdistan Region Presidency quoted Firyad Rawanduzi as saying that one of the possibilities the Iraqis might face if the security agreement with the United States is not signed is a military coup in the country and a possible return of the rule of militias and armed groups.’ (Al-Sharqiyah TV, Dubai, in Arabic 0700 gmt 25 Oct 08)

This concern over the future of Iraq, a future without Americans, is echoed by Fadhil Mirani, when he asks: ‘if the US withdraws in case no extension is granted, or under international pressure, then what will happen to Iraq and the Iraqi government?’ (Khabat, 26 Oct 08)

Questions over the future of Iraq and its government cannot be answered before we are able to at least answer this question: who exactly rules Iraq at the moment? Is it the ‘elected’ Iraqi government, elected under the occupation and sustained by the support of a foreign army? The government that allows a foreign army to torture, imprison and murder its civilians by the thousands? Or is it the US that is ruling Iraq? Either way, it is not looking too good for those Iraqis.

And before we worry about what may happen to Iraq should US forces leave, let’s take a look at what the presence of US forces has cost the Iraqis so far:

-an invasion that killed thousands
-an occupation that continues over 5 years later
-the birth and flourishing of terrorism
-daily raids
-the detention of tens of thousands of civilians, usually without charge
-the creation of some 4million homeless, displaced refugees
-the creation of a US-friendly government that betrays its people daily
-the return of religion and fanaticism in a country that had been almost secular
and
-the intolerance and persecution of minorities.

The American presence in their country has cost the Iraqis dearly. To suggest that its absence will be costly to Iraq overlooks all of the above and ascribes an almost ‘protective’ role to what has actually been a force of death and destruction of Iraqi society.

Sadly, the question of what will happen to Iraq should the US army withdraw is only academic. The US did not enter Iraq to leave it, but to stay. For as long as it is in its own interest.

145 civilians were killed in Iraq last week. US forces killed 7 of them.