Socialist Worker

US troops gun down protesters in Iraq

by Judy Cox
Issue No. 1850

GEORGE BUSH may say the war is over, but the killing in Iraq is still going on. A 14 year old Iraq boy was seen laughing and joking on Monday of last week with a British soldier. Minutes later the boy was shot dead. The US and British soldiers' practice of killing unarmed civilians is fuelling widespread and growing fury.

US soldiers killed 13 Iraqi civilians, including children, on Monday of last week. The troops had occupied a local school in Fallujah. They opened fire when Iraqis demonstrated to ask for the school back. Two days later troops in Fallujah again opened fire, killing a further two people protesting against the earlier killings.

Both times the US troops claimed they were fired on first. Eyewitnesses say this is a lie. No US soldiers were injured. No bullet holes were found in the buildings they were stationed in.

Iraqis living opposite the school were gunned down in their doorways. Their homes are riddled with bullets. Even the head of security in Fallujah's new administration is outraged, saying, 'After this massacre, we don't believe the Americans came to free us, but to occupy and take our wealth and kill us.'

Now the town is plastered with banners saying 'Go from our country', 'If you refuse we will kill you', 'You are here for petrol, not for freedom'. The brutality of US troops was highlighted when a marine admitted committing a war crime in Iraq.

Gus Covarrubias told a paper in Las Vegas he executed an Iraqi, who had surrendered, by shooting him in the back of the head.

THERE IS no sign of the democracy that the US promised its war would bring. US and British forces hosted meetings with the Iraqi exiles favoured by the Pentagon to run Iraq.

Organisations with wide support but disliked by the US regime have been carved out. Al Dawa, an Islamic party suppressed by Saddam Hussein, warned, 'The coming government will fall because it doesn't have the support of Iraqis.' One group of people, however, is guaranteed positions of power. They are the 120 or so Iraqi exiles personally chosen by Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary, to run government departments.

In a further sign of things to come a row has broken out over elections in the city of Mosul. More than 200 delegates appointed by the US are set to elect a council. But that council will include officials who served under Saddam.

Some delegates walked out in protest at being divided along ethnic lines But the US is making sure one aspect of its occupation runs smoothly - the oil supplies.

The US is going to spend an estimated $4 billion in the next three years restoring production. Retired Shell oil executive Phillip Carroll is chair of a board overseeing Iraq's oil industry. Shell is one of the companies seeking to get lucrative rebuilding contracts.

But some Iraqi experts won't cooperate for fear of being seen as US stooges. One said, 'It may turn out some years from now that you are merely seen as a puppet of the US. If Iraq really does become free that may not be good.' Fadhil Chalabi is cousin to Ahmed Chalabi, the US puppet hoping to run Iraq. He is pro-US and is keen to privatise Iraq's oil. But even Fadhil won't touch the US administration.

THE US has not put the same money and effort into solving the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. The war and occupation have put thousands of Iraqi children's lives in danger from death and disease, the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, warned last week.

This followed a condemnation of US forces' failures issued by eight aid agencies, including Save the Children and Christian Aid. They said the 'acute situation was worsening' and warned of a 'yawning administrative vacuum'.

Problems included lack of aid, degraded water systems and unexploded bombs. Already newly armed militia are forcing people to flee and offering 'protection' for hospitals,' the statement said. Most of Baghdad's 33 hospitals are still closed because of power cuts and medicine shortages.

'Unfortunately we can expect many more young children to die rapidly,' said George Hatin, chief officer for UNICEF in Baghdad, last week.

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Sat 10 May 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1850
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