Iraq: Déjà-vu 2013

The USA and its allies will be fought as occupying powers.

By Jochen Mitschka.

In my last podcast on the 3rd of January about the murder of Soleimani and a number of other people by the US, I had already stated that this attack will be the beginning of the end of US influence in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. Soleimani’s wish to die a martyr’s death has been fulfilled, and with it his goal of persuading the United States to abandon the occupation of Syria and Iraq has been achieved more quickly than he could ever have achieved alive. But there is another point that will become crucial in the future. After it had become clear that Soleimani was by no means on the way to organizing „terrorist attacks“ that had to be prevented (1), even US President Trump admitted that it would have made no difference (2). Soleimani had committed so many „crimes“ that he deserved to die anyway. In other words, the US has set the precedent of allowing other military leaders to be murdered in revenge. Something that not even Israel officially admitted, in the well over 3,000 murders committed by the Mossad. Trump’s statement, therefore, is an admission of murder. Once again: the USA has officially admitted to carry out murders worldwide at their discretion.

State authorized murder

To speak of murder, you need a specific motive. Revenge is one of those motives. This is why the killing of at least 8 people fulfills the crime of multiple murder, which in a world without fist law would be punished with life imprisonment and subsequent preventive detention.

James Risen sums it up in The Intercept:

„The United States has an assassination ban. The ban was put in place following disclosures by the Church Committee in the 1970s, which revealed that the CIA had secretly attempted to kill a series of foreign leaders, most notably Cuba’s Fidel Castro. At the time of the Senate committee’s investigation, no one in the American government or media publicly defended assassination as a tool of a modern nation-state. It was simply not the accepted practice of a democracy that wanted to serve as a role model for the world.“ (4)

The time is obviously over. Once again, the US government reserves the right to kill anyone it deems worth killing.

However, the reintroduction of state killings is by no means an invention of Trump. Rather, the Clinton administration had started the killings again in 1998. Risen also writes in his article that for the past two decades, both Republican and Democratic Party presidents have been quietly working to use the new technologies of the NSA and drones and missiles to seek and kill „enemies“ around the world. But to circumvent the above-mentioned ban from the 1970s, the presidents could have relied on judges who supported legalizing the murders in secrecy (5). For further details, please refer to the excellent article in the Intercept.

In brief: Trump refers to a law that gave the president the right to use military force against „terrorists“ after the attacks of September 11, 2001. And since the USA had declared the Revolutionary Guards of Iran a terrorist organization, he found a legal loophole (6) that protects him from prosecution, at least in the USA. But as the author correctly states in the Intercept: In response, the US forces of the USA were also declared a terrorist organization by Iran. Which now in return makes the killing of US soldiers, even outside of a conflict and without immediate threat, also exempt from punishment in Iran. While the former is considered „legitimate killing“ in Western media, such killings would then be called „terrorist acts“. Which makes it clear how important it is to understand from which perspective things are described.

International Law

As if it were not enough for Trump to openly and clearly declare that he is free to order assassinations anywhere in the world at will, government officials (and Trump) have officially refused to comply with the Iraqi government’s and parliament’s request to leave Iraq. Not only are they refusing, but they are now threatening to impose severe sanctions, such as the blocking of accounts for the country’s oil sales, which is vital for Iraq. In addition, Trump threatened that he could use the account of the Iraqi central bank at the Federal Bank of New York with a balance of 35 billion dollars for „compensation“ (7) if the USA were forced to leave the country. Anyone who still has an account at a US bank or even in the USA under these conditions can no longer be helped.

But the Iraqi government does not seem to be intimidated by such threats either. Elijah J. Magnier, a journalist with very good connections in the highest circles of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, who obviously sympathises with the resistance, explains on 13 January in his blog what he heard from „well-informed circles“ around the Iraqi president.

the US is unwilling to listen to reason, to the Iraqi government or the parliament. It has the intention of bringing war upon itself and transforming Iraq into a battlefield, by refusing to respect the law and withdraw its forces. The US will be faced with strong and legitimate popular armed resistance, even if some Iraqis (in Kurdistan) will break the law and will accept the US presence in their region, (…)“ (8)

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Iraq, Mathew Tueller, had explained to Iraqi officials and Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi, who formally demanded the withdrawal of US troops, what sanctions would then be imposed on the country, as Magnier reports. Which in turn generated the anger of groups determined to fight the occupation. These include Muqtada al-Sadr, whose freedom fighters for the Iraqis but terrorists for the U.S., had already once inflicted so many casualties on U.S. troops that they were forced to leave the country. In a letter to Trump, he wrote:

Are you threatening a nation with hunger (sanctions) you son of the casinos? Are you threatening a nation with a blockade, you son of gambling halls? Are you threatening a nation with punishment, you son of the night clubs? Do you think Saudi money will benefit you? Do you think the traitors will benefit you? Do you think your war arsenal will bring you benefit? Do you think your spies will inform you? No, (I vow) by the lord of the dancing women. Your house is weaker than a spiderweb. Your weapons are weaker than a mosquito prick. Your voice and tweets are worse than the sound of a donkey…“ etc (9)

And therefore it is credible when Magnier states in his article that Iraqi groups fighting against al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq visited the newly appointed Iranian chief general of the IRGC-Quds-Brigade Ismail Qaani, who replaces Sardar Qassem Soleimani. Magnier writes that these groups have asked for military and financial support in the fight against the new „occupying forces“. The Iranian general had replied that he wanted to help implement the decision of the parliament, the government and the people in the fight against the US occupying forces. Magnier said that Qaani can be expected to visit Iraq soon, as more than 100 Iranian advisors at the Baghdad Security and Command Centre are working with Syrian and Russian colleagues to fight ISIS. It should be added that this intelligence centre is operated to the exclusion of the USA. Allegedly at the express request of the Iraqis. Again and again, Iraqi politicians from the province had claimed that the USA would secretly provide assistance to ISIS. (10)

Let us summarize the most important points with which Trump is blackmailing Iraq: There’s the account in the US that Iraq uses to manage its oil revenues. If this were to be blocked, it would certainly be the beginning of the collapse of the Iraqi currency and the Iraqi financial system. Then there is the implicit threat to confiscate Iraq’s national gold reserves, which are stored at the Federal Reserve in New York. Both together would certainly bring the country to total financial and economic collapse.

It is abundantly clear how the USA is violating the spirit and text of the agreement under which it is stationed in Iraq. As Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi explained, they are using Iraq’s land and airspace without asking Baghdad for permission, contrary to the written agreement. US troops allowed Israel to assassinate Iraqi commanders and attack Iraqi warehouses – as the US ambassador to Iraq informed Mr Abdel Mahdi.

„By killing Iraqi and Iranian commanders at Baghdad’s airport, US forces are causing the termination of the agreement by non-respect, in accordance with its articles 2 and 3. The US government is further violating Iraq’s sovereignty by ignoring the Iraqi parliament’s resolution and refusing to schedule the withdrawal of all forces. Not only this: President Trump has openly threatened to break the Iraqi economy by disregarding the UN and international law, thereby imposing his “law of the jungle”.“ (11)

President Trump called on Iraq to pay him „billions of dollars“ for the expansion of military bases. Again, according to Magnier, the US deliberately ignored Article 5 of the agreement, which states that „Iraq owns all buildings, non-relocatable structures, and assemblies connected to the soil that exist on agreed facilities and areas, including those that are used, constructed, altered, or improved by the United States Forces.“. After its withdrawal, the US will return to the Iraqi government all facilities free of all debts and financial burdens, as it would have been agreed … Furthermore, the US would have committed itself to bear the costs of the construction, alterations or improvements of the agreed facilities and areas intended for their exclusive use.

Article 24 of the Stationing Agreement also states that „The United States recognizes the sovereign right of the Government of Iraq to request the departure of the United States Forces from Iraq at any time“. Trump ignores this treaty obligation and instead says, „The Iraqis will pay if they want us out.“

This brings Iraq back to the situation in 2003, when George W. Bush declared the country occupied. At that time the resistance started, so now it will start again. Even if the members of parliament should give in under the massive blackmail and cancel the demand for the withdrawal of the troops. And the fact that foreign troops, who are in the country as a result of blackmail, are seen by many people as occupying troops, seems understandable, their attacks on these troops may not be legal, but they are legitimate.

Germany

I was socialized in high school in the 1960s by writing essays on the Basic Law and the UN’s renunciation of violence. And then a defender of US policy explained that international law was a customary law that would develop. According to this, everything the USA would do would be covered by the „right of self-defence“.

The reference to „customary law“ is correct in principle, but this „customary law“ would have to be accepted by the UN General Assembly. What had been tried, for example, in the case of „R2P“, i.e. „Responsibility to Protect“ or in German „Schutzverantwortung“. This term should serve as a reason to wage war against states in order to protect their inhabitants. But no matter how hard NATO tried, the reference to R2P cannot be used as a reason for war without the explicit consent of the UN Security Council. The fact that NATO’s war of aggression against Yugoslavia without a UN Security Council decision has not yet been sanctioned under this pretext does not mean that any power can automatically refer to it arbitrarily. Nor does it mean that the relevant politicians and military personnel cannot be called to account at a later date. This also applies to the arbitrary acts of the USA in Iraq and Syria, the destruction of Libya and Afghanistan, and the support for these acts by German politicians and soldiers.

Just as 90-year-old Nazi criminals are still being dragged to court today, it is quite possible that in 40 or 50 years‘ time proceedings will still be brought against the protagonists of this current policy of „robust interventions“ or „precautionary killings“. For just as the balance of power will change in the coming decades, so will immunities based solely on military and economic power. Every politician, soldier but also propagandist of the US policy of fist law should be aware of this.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mark-esper-secretary-of-defense-iranian-threat-specific-evidence-didnt-see-face-the-nation-2020-01-13/
  2. https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/477966-trump-says-it-doesnt-matter-if-soleimani-posed-an-imminent-threat
  3. https://theintercept.com/2020/01/03/qassim-suleimani-assassination-trump-administration-war/
  4. https://theintercept.com/2020/01/09/donald-trump-iran-suleimani-murder/
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/07/world/middleeast/iran-soleimani-assassination.html
  6. https://theintercept.com/2020/01/09/republican-reporters-want-democrats-stop-saying-qassim-suleimani-assassinated/
  7. https://youtu.be/oEeDJsmvKxs
  8. https://ejmagnier.com/2020/01/13/iraq-is-the-next-battleground/
  9. https://twitter.com/Imamofpeace/status/1214392500485378049
  10. Dazu gibt es ganze Kapitel in „Dirty War on Syria“ von Tim Anderson. Und nach 2016 hatte sich die Situation durchaus nicht verändert. 
  11. https://ejmagnier.com/2020/01/13/iraq-is-the-next-battleground/

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