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Another ten years of the ‘long war’, says commander of US troops in Iraq

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2059

The war in Iraq will last over ten years according to the commander of US troops there, General David Petraeus.

The dire warnings on the “long war” come as three more British troops were killed in Iraq, bringing the total to 159 since the invasion in 2003.

Petraeus told the BBC, “I don’t know whether this will be decades, but the average counter insurgency is somewhere around a nine or a ten year endeavour.”

Plans by George Bush to stabilise the occupation with a “surge” of troops are leading to greater instability.

According to a report issued by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) on 5 July, “the number of displaced people in Iraq is increasing at an average of 80,000 to 100,000 a month”.

The IRCS found that since February 2006, “142,260 families – about 1,037,615 individuals – have become internally displaced persons (IDPs)”.

“By the end of June 2007 there were over one million IDPs, of whom 37.5 percent were children under 12, 32.8 percent were women and 29.7 percent were men,” the report said.

The deepening hardship is leading to desperate measures by refugees.

The agency reported that “pregnant women, infants and children are unable to get the required medical care and illegal abortions have become the norm”.

Iraqis who have fled to neighbouring countries also face deepening poverty.

“Without permission to work and with depleted savings, many Iraqis who have fled abroad, accept low paid illegal work. The overall picture is that of a human tragedy unprecedented in Iraq’s history.”

The new figures come as the US announced it will only allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees to settle in the US this year.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government has warned that 140,000 Turkish troops are massing on its northern border.

The Turkish army is threatening to impose an exclusion zone in northern Iraq in its battle with Kurdish rebels of the PKK.


Afghanistan

Over 6.5 million Afghans suffer from chronic food shortages, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned.

According to IRIN News, the United Nations (UN) news agency, “more than half of Afghan children under five do not take adequate nutrition and other recommended edibles on a daily basis, andacute malnutrition affects an estimated 5 to 10 percent of children under five.

The UN said that food shortages are reaching a “critical situation” as over 20 percent of families “do not have access to enough food”.

The dire poverty of ordinary people is in contrast to the $3.5 billion that the US occupation has poured into “high profile” development projects in the capital Kabul such as malls and five star hotels.


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Tue 10 Jul 2007, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2059
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