International TV interview with Issam Shukri on Iraq
October 2004

Maryam Namazie: I want to talk with you about the USA’s horrendous attacks against the people of Fallujah and Mosul. Huge areas have been levelled to the ground. So many civilians have been killed; there is no water and electricity in the area for survivors. We have seen the flight of so many from the area. What’s the latest update?

Issam Shukri: Actually regarding Fallujah, the USA’s atrocity has left so many dead. The estimation of the US army of around 1200 so-called insurgence being killed is doubtful, because I doubt all their numbers. 12 years ago, when they started to report on the sanctions that left 1.5 million people dead, they did the same thing. Clearly, now too civilian casualties are much higher than this. The recent news from Fallujah says that the US army has taken full control of the city and left it in ruins and shambles. So many people have died in bomb attacks on their homes in a massacre. This is not strange for the US army which has committed these sorts of crimes in the past; the US army is infamous for using brutal force. Ironically, they are talking about trials for some soldiers who have executed wounded prisoners. The situation in Iraq – as I have phoned some of my relatives and comrades – is really harsh. Specifically, they were talking about the whole atmosphere in Baghdad was like that of a war zone; people are scared and the life in the city has practically halted because of the fighting and skirmishes between the US and political Islam. People are reporting fighting on a street to street basis and I have got a friend who has told me about how he can see the thunder of bombings in the night sky of Baghdad. This is happening right now in Baghdad after almost 2 years of the occupation of Iraq and the dark scenario which we had talked about, predicted, and warned the people that this would be the fate of Iraq under the US occupation. It is unfortunately unfolding before our eyes. People are living under these circumstances. Electricity in Fallujah is cut off; in Baghdad it is rationed on a 3 hour basis; food is scarce and people are scared because of the war going on there.

Maryam Namazie: I just read a report in the Washington post about the fact that malnutrition in Iraq has doubled for children under 5 since the US invaded Iraq 20 months ago. That is an outrage when you think about what the economic sanctions had already done to the children of Iraq. We have heard frightening statistics before. The fact that it has doubled now shows how brutal the US occupation is, how it is affecting everybody in Iraq, namely children.

Issam Shukri: There is no doubt that things are deteriorating in Iraq. Hospital for instance, I hear there isn’t enough equipment, not enough electricity to perform operations, not enough anaesthetics, and supplies. We are talking about millions of people who do not have enough means to be hospitalized or get medication that use to be, under the previous government, of good standards. This is not in praise of the old fascist regime but a reality that has to be stated. When the Americans talk about prosperity for the Iraqi people, their freedom, these things are not mentioned. Hospitals were functioning; the fee for getting into a hospital was symbolic. People have access to doctors, even though they were inflicted by heavy sanctions. Now with the opening of the market economy under the US occupation in Iraq and the huge chaos they have created by bringing in all these Islamic gangs and brutal killers and professional mercenaries, the poor, the Iraqi working class, women are all suffering there.

Maryam Namazie: You mentioned how this war is affecting civilians most. Nowadays, wars, including this occupation, seem to target civilians rather than armed personal and military forces. When we talk about the numbers killed during this war, in just the past 20 months or so. Yet the US says it is following the laws of conflict and holding itself to a high standard of accountability.

Issam Shukri: Well you know this is not a war; it is a slaughter of unarmed civilians. First of all I want to expose this. The US army has filled our ears with talk that it wants to make people believe in their system and “democracy”. The soldier who executed a wounded prisoner; if there was no camera there as there isn’t in hundreds of cases, no one sees what actually takes place. There are so many such killings happened that we’ve never seen in Falluja, Baghdad, Basra, and so on. It is outrageous that they talk of trying the soldier who executed the wounded prisoner. They are trying to clean up the US’ face. The US is committing a crime; this is nothing but genocide against the Iraqi people. This has to be clear and we have to expose that. The fact is that America have bombed civilians, bombed their home, their children. They have killed hundreds and probably thousands of people in Fallujah and it goes beyond the incident of killing one wounded person, however, the USA is committing far more crimes in Iraq than the ones shown. Every minute Iraqis are witnessing either the humiliation of human beings, the wounding of a mother or a child or even the killing of a civilian that we don’t know about. CBS and CNN are not reporting on those.

Maryam Namazie: It is really a bitter irony – a tragedy – that all this is killing is being done in the name of holding elections in January so that people in Iraq could have a democracy! What’re your comments on that?

Issam Shukri: These elections are part in parcel of the dark scenario the US is maintaining in Iraq, i.e. the destruction of Iraqi society and its civilisation. Secondly, it is creating a vacuum for political power, which is being filled it up with Islamic gangs and backward movements like nationalists of all shapes and sizes; this is a scenario that the US wants to maintain. It’s not that the US doesn’t want these people around. The US wants to maintain Iraq as a backwards country that reproduces Islamic values, political Islam and that’s why they are talking about the probability of an Islamic government.

The people of Iraq know are not so much into politics right now, rather than just mere physical existence of day to day life. They know that these elections are forced, and will only legitimatize the existing forces, the forces that oppress the Iraqi people. They are either pro-American or pro Islam/political Islam and all these fractions are against the wishes and aspirations of the Iraqi people.

Maryam Namazie: What are the options then?

Issam Shukri: The options again are for these dark forces, this dark scenario to be swept away from Iraqi society. These forces have to be driven out of society to where they belong. These forces do not represent the Iraqi society’s will; they do not address their need for a secular government, a socialist government that would represent the Iraqi masses who wish to live in happiness, equality and freedom. What I’m saying is that these dark forces have to be fought. I think that the Left has a great deal of work to do and I think the US has to be pushed out of Iraq in order for this plan to take place

The above is an International TV ( interview dated October 2004.

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