GEORGE BUSH has demanded another $25 billion to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The White House promised that the $87.5 billion approved last November would last for at least a year. So far, the “war on terror” has cost the US $160 billion. The UN Human Development Report for 2003 says that all its minimum goals could be met if $100 billion was spent on aid to poorer countries.
Its goals are the alleviation of hunger, basic education, the eradication of deaths from preventable diseases and safe water and sanitation for everyone. Governments in the richest countries on earth are making the poor pay for the “war on terror”. Christian Aid reports that programmes aimed at alleviating poverty have been scrapped as donor countries adopt a “with us or against us” mentality which sees aid as a political weapon.
Aid is given not according to need but according to how useful a country is prepared to be in the war on terror. Aid budgets are being diverted towards military training and intelligence gathering.
“NEW BASRA, New Life, New Iraq”. That is what the sign says outside the Iraqi city that Blair boasts British troops “liberated”. But people’s lives are not better a year since the end of the war. The majority of the town’s 1.2 million inhabitants still suffer from sewage running onto the streets. Clean water is a rarity that is sometimes only available for a few hours late at night.
Basra residents are forced to queue up in the searing heat to get through checkpoints. Around 70 percent of the food in the south of Iraq is still imported. “Nothing has changed since the war ended,” says Kabeela Tabela, who lives in a shack. “It smells and we are all always ill. When will they clean all this up?”
KHADOM ABED Jabar, a 24 year old cement worker, left his home in Factory Street in Kufa in Iraq on Thursday of last week for an operation on his appendix. After he was gone US troops fired a shell that crashed through the roof of Khadom’s house. “We heard explosions, then a huge one which shook the whole street,” said neighbour Ahmed Nazar. “The house was just a pile of rubble. There was dust everywhere and women and children screaming and crying.”
Khadom’s brother, wife and their one year old daughter were killed. So was his older brother and his two sons.
Khadom has been asking in hospital why none of his family have been to see him. His friends feel he is too sick to be told the horrific news.
DON’T MISS the chance to make the Bush family very clear what we feel about the war in Iraq. George Bush Sr is coming to London next Tuesday, 18 May. He will be the main guest at a $1,000 a ticket dinner party, hosted by Republicans Abroad. He wants to raise money to get his son back into the White House in November’s elections. The Stop the War Coalition has called a mass picket of the event.
THE DETERMINED anti-war campaigner Brian Haw, who has camped outside parliament in protest, was arrested last week. Brian originally began his protest in June 2001 over the damaging effect of sanctions on Iraq and added placards with pictures of the children killed during the US and British war last year.
Police arrested him last week claiming he assaulted a police officer and failed to leave a security cordon area. He will appear in court on 18 May. Brian’s peaceful protest was an embarrassment to pro-war MPs, who have been dogged by an anti-war movement that won’t go away.
Marxism 2004 is shaping up to be an unmissable event for campaigners and activists. It takes place between the 9 and 16 July in central London. More and more exciting speakers are heading for Marxism 2004, a week-long socialist festival of debate and discussion.
Leading figures in the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements from as far afield as India and Brazil will be coming. Joining them will be Martyn Waites, author of a highly acclaimed novel about the 1984-5 miners’ strike, Born Under Punches (see page 11). Martyn will be joining a panel discussion on the miners’ strike as well as reading from his book. Also just confirmed for Marxism 2004 is Jeremy Corbyn MP, who will be giving an eyewitness report from Colombia.
They join Tony Benn, George Galloway, Lindsey German and many other speakers. These include Terry Eagleton who will be reading from his play on Oscar Wilde. Philip Knightley will be speaking on his book about spies, The Second Oldest Profession. Tariq Ali will be speaking on imperialism and its discontents, and Ghada Karmi will speak on Palestine.
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