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We're gonna smoke 'em out': The butchering of Iraq
Posted: Saturday, February 15, 2003

By Firas Al-Atraqchi,

Iraq, and whoever "happens" to be there, is about to be annihilated.

At Mayport Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. President George Bush told hundreds of naval personnel on the eve of war that rules of war would not apply to terrorists. "On 9-11, the terrorists brought the war to us -- now, we are taking it to them." He called "terrorists" (who else could he be referring to but the Iraqis with whom the U.S. is about to go to war?) "cold-blooded thugs" and "outlaws."

This marks a frightening turn of events in light of recent statements made this week. Earlier, the U.S. public was told that Saddam is using his own citizens as human shields. Pentagon reports claimed that the Iraqi army was hiding within the Iraqi citizenry. The Pentagon also showed satellite images of what it claimed were missile launchers "parked" outside mosques.

Last month, Iraq "experts" Frank Gaffney and Richard Perle said that the chemical and biological weapons in Iraq's possession were hidden in private homes of Iraqi citizens, in hospitals, universities and mosques.

All these locations have effectively been made fair game.

The above statements, coupled with the fact that the U.S. has refused to sign on to the International Crimes Court holding military personnel accountable for war crimes, spells doom for innocent Iraqi civilians.

Events in Afghanistan indicate that the U.S. armed forces will inflict mass casualties on the civilian population of Iraq. An apparently errant bombing which killed 17 civilians in Afghanistan two days ago has been all but ignored by the U.S. media and Pentagon briefings. Message: "oops, we killed some ragheads, now move along."

According to the New York Times, "An aide to the governor of Helmand Province, where the fighting was going on, said villagers had reported to the authorities that 17 civilians, including women and children, had been killed. 'The people came crying, saying their relatives had died or were missing,' the aide, Haji Muhammad Wali, said by telephone from Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah, Reuters reported."

On July 1st, a U.S. bombing run hit a wedding party in the Uruzugan province in Afghanistan. Forty civilians, including women and children, were killed. U.S. forces claimed they were being fired upon. Afghan local officials claimed they were firing their guns in the air, as is custom during weddings in parts of Asia and the Middle East. An investigation into the matter has been deemed inconclusive amid Afghan allegations that U.S. investigators hid and confiscated vital evidence.

Calls for an investigation into the alleged execution of 1000 Arab Taliban fighters in Afghanistan have also gone unheeded. According to the BBC on August 25, "The head of the United States military central command, General Tommy Franks, says he does not know if accounts of atrocities committed by U.S. allies in Afghanistan are true or not. Afghan commanders of the Northern Alliance are alleged to have killed more than 1,000 Taleban (sic) prisoners during fighting in northern Afghanistan in November."

This does not bode well for Iraq.

The statements that the Iraqi army is hiding within the civilian population indicate that the U.S. administration is expecting mass civilian casualties and exonerates the U.S. administration (in advance of a breakout of hostilities) because it places the blame for these casualties on the Iraqi army chiefs and Saddam himself.

The U.S. administration is effectively warning the U.S. public that "look, we told you before we went in that Saddam was hiding his weapons and army in civilian areas."

Bush concluded his naval base speech by saying, "we're gonna smoke 'em out."

[Firas Al-Atraqchi, B.Sc (Physics), M.A. (Journalism and Communications), is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry.]

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