Christopher Lee

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Iraq: Infant Mortality Up. Killing Up. Why Do The Victors Over Saddam Hussein Look The Other Way?

4 May 2013

Why  don’t many of the UN Security permanent five want to talk about the latest and damning report from Iraq.  They really should read it carefully as it comes from the  United Nation’s own mission in Baghdad.  

Could be of course that it’s a weekend and they want to get away.  That’s good reason to dump anything with an official stamp on the cover.  But given the casualty rate news from that other US led killing ground, Afghanistan these past few days, maybe word from the already forgotten war, Iraq, makes uncomfortable reading. 

The report says that in just last month 712 people were killed in Iraq.  And 595 of them were civilians.  The report says the deaths were caused by “acts of terrorism and of violence” last month, April.

Let’s be sympathetic towards the highly paid and treated diplomats at UN head office – they don’t want to stir trouble. Read the report and even the most look-the-other-way diplomat has to ask questions. The detail is too obvious. Mark that UN figure: 712 people killed.  That’s not an approximate number is it? It’s precise.  They must know something. But the dips don’t want to upset the Iraqi delegation.  But they should, even must, because the Iraqi government is trying to ignore the UN figures.  They say they are not true. The Iraqis are saying it wasn’t 712 killed, it was only 245 killed in April. Oh so the UN got it wrong did it?  No way.  

The UN team has checked out hospitals, mortuary numbers, families and officials and individual reports. In Baghdad alone, the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) say that 211 Iraqis perished and 486 were wounded.  Again, very precise figures.  

During the past two weeks alone more than 200 have been killed and a lot of them have been going down in the provinces of Diyala, Salahuddin, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Anbar.  On one day last week, 29 April, at the very least 18 were in southern Iraq, the Shia dominated provinces.

The social and political tensions are obvious in Iraq itself. The Shia-dominated government of prime minister Nouri Maliki is predictably accused by the Sunnis of cutting them out of any benefits of government reforms – such as they are. The Shias were once kept down by the Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein.  The reverse situation now holds. Conflict is and always was inevitable once the Americans pulled out in December 2011.

The British simply ran away – or that’s the way its seen by many in the south.  They handed over responsibility to the militia.  So much for bringing peace and democracy to the Iraqis.  The UN report shows that the consistent rate of killing is greater than it was when Saddam was there.  Another report not talked about at the UN Headquarters says that child mortality is worse than before the US-led intervention in 2003.

Another UN agency says the Millenium Development Goals, the benchmark of post-war benefits, have not been met in key areas, including infant mortality and how many children are being educated.  It makes the obvious point that Iraq is going to need more than ever an educated middle class to run the country.  That is not happening.  Iraq, once the most developed state in the Arab world now has 84 deaths per thousand live births.  Infant mortality is about 32 per cent of those 1000 live births.  Maliki insists that Iraqis are better off than they were under Saddam.  

Maliki’s is a selective judgement that has no relationship to the majority of people working on a simple principle: is my family better cared for and safer.  The answer in too many places is that those families are worse off than they were prior to 2003.

The lesson for the people writing out the notices to quit in Afghanistan are again obvious. Internecine warfare appears with just a year to go before ISAF withdrawal to be inevitable.  The Afghan National Army needs a US led afterguard to  easy them through a transition period of at least five years.  That was not done in Iraq so the Shia-Sunni conflict took off on day one of so-called independent administration.  

Secondly, the US-led coalition failed miserably to provide the template for political stability as well as the military structure to preserve that civilian institution of government and a recognizable operational council of the three principle interests, Shia’s seeking revenge, Sunnis seeking to bring down that which replaced its authority and Kurds with the very real opportunities of quasi-autonomous control of the richest part of the re-emerging economy, the oil business.

No wonder UN delegations know that many of their governments, especially the closest supporters of the legally questionable war of 2003, have marked the documents For Your Attention and sent them home in their diplomatic bags.

The truth is hard to chew on. Almost every government that took part in the Iraq War now wants nothing to do with the consequences and the reality of the aftermath: the Iraqi people lost the war; the allies simply got out.  The same result looks very much on the cards for Afghanistan. So why should permanent representatives in New York want to be reminded that Iraq was a failure and Afghanistan is heading that way?  Mind you, it does explain the never-again factor in President Obama’s assertion that he isn’t about to put boots on the ground in Syria.

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