There is concern that the investigation – the fifth of its kind since 2003 – will be another whitewash. Critics argue that the British government will try to prevent the truth from coming out, fearing the serious political and legal repercussions that might follow.
Anti-war campaigners also cite the remit and composition of the inquiry team as pointers for a probable cover-up. Four knights and a baroness investigating a war crime to learn lessons for the future!
Prior to his appearance before the inquiry, Tony Blair admitted unexpectedly that he would have gone to war regardless of whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or not. His decision to do this comes from an awareness that public pressure for full exposure of the facts will be relentless and lasting. He probably also suspects that some disloyal mandarin or politician is lurking around with incriminating evidence, ready to spill the beans.
This is a strong indication that popular pressure is bearing fruit and that it will be unacceptable to hide the lies and deceptions which accompanied preparations for the war. There is an overwhelming determination by peace and justice campaigners to expose the truth and bring those responsible for this war crime to justice.
The war and occupation of Iraq have so far led to the deaths of 179 British soldiers and more than 4,370 US troops.
But they have had a much more devastating impact on the people of Iraq and their land and waters. More than 1 million people were killed, millions were widowed and orphaned and 4 million refugees have been created internally and in neighbouring countries. The war has wrought environmental disaster and deformity of the newly-born, land and water has been contaminated and basic infrastructure and services have been destroyed.
Yet the inquiry will not visit the scene of the crime or hear from Iraqi witnesses on the impact of this war on their lives. Under most justice systems, victims of a crime or their relatives are given the chance to state their grievances.
If Iraqi witnesses and experts were called they would also tell the inquiry about the political system built by the occupation. This system, despite “elections”, is still under the control of occupation forces and warlords with conflicting sectarian and ethnic interests fighting for a share of the crumbs while the country is being destroyed by the occupation, corruption and terrorism.
Parliament, the presidential council, judiciary, army, police, security agencies and civil service are all divided on sectarian and ethnic lines and in conflict with each other.
Religious diversity and ethnic differences have been used to create division and internal conflict to prolong the hated occupation. Such occupation-engineered schemes include the constitution and various laws and legislation.
On the economic front, the second round of “auctioning” Iraq’s major oil fields to multinational oil companies is moving apace, without parliamentary approval. The legislative council has repeatedly failed to pass the oil and gas law.
The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions described these illegal acts as being against the national interest. What is needed is a “national policy of investment and redevelopment rather than the policy of open doors to the multinationals”, it said.
As the inquiry goes on, the occupation and bloodbath also continue. In one week alone last month, two major terrorist atrocities took place in Baghdad, killing hundreds and wounding thousands in what came to be known as Bloody Tuesday. This latest crime against innocent civilians is the fourth of its kind in as many months.
There is a widespread conviction in Iraq that these terrorist atrocities are the work of the occupation and its policies. Iraqis point out that terrorism did not exist in Iraq before the war and that the occupation was and is in command of Iraq’s security apparatus.
Creating a weak and fragmented country is the occupation’s response to the Iraqi people’s opposition to it.
The war and occupation have caused immense suffering and destruction for the people of Iraq and their country. They are demanding justice. The first step must be to bring those responsible for this war of aggression and war crimes to justice.
For more details and analysis on the Chilcot inquiry go to the Stop the War Coalition website.
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