Pillage Of Iraq
By Ghali Hassan
07 July, 2004
they were people who knew what they wanted. They had passed by the gypsum
copy of the Black Obelisk. This means that they must have been specialists.
They did not touch those copies." Dr. Dony George, Head of the
invasion and occupation of Iraq is an orchestrated and premeditated
armed robbery. The widespread looting of the nation of Iraq, following
the collapse of the Ba'athist regime, was not merely an incidental by-product
of the US military conquest of Iraq. It was deliberately encouraged
and fostered by the Bush administration and the Pentagon for definite
political and economic gains. Iraq is to be mainstreamed into the economy
of the global pillage.
Pillage of Iraq's
The invading forces
fuelled the looting of Iraq's cultural heritage, and the concomitant
destruction of ancient towns and cities have served Western propaganda
and stereotypes against the Iraqi people very well. The veteran Middle
East correspondent Robert Fisk who witnessed the pillage himself wrote
in The Independent of April 14, 2003, "[a]fter days of arson and
pillage, here's a short but revealing scorecard. US troops have sat
back and allowed mobs to wreck and then burn the Ministry of Planning,
the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Irrigation, the Ministry
of Trade, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information. They did nothing
to prevent looters from destroying priceless treasures of Iraq's history
in the Baghdad
Archaeological Museum and in the museum in the northern city of Mosul,
or from looting three hospitals".
Robert Fisk observed
a pattern in US response to looting, "[t]he Americans have, though,
put hundreds of troops inside two Iraqi ministries that remain untouched-and
untouchable-because tanks and armoured personnel carriers and Humvees
have been placed inside and outside both institutions. And which ministries
proved to be so important for the Americans? Why, the Ministry of Interior,
of course-with its vast wealth of intelligence information on Iraq-and
the Ministry of Oil. The archives and files of Iraq's most valuable
asset-its oilfields and, even more important, its massive reserves-are
safe and sound, sealed off from the mobs and looters, and safe to be
shared, as Washington almost certainly intends, with American oil companies."
The Americans had no concerns for the looting, and US troops had an
order not to take action against the looting. "The pervasive and
systematic lawlessness underpinning the occupation of Iraq is no accident.
The neoconservatives in Washington understand that the rule of law stands
as an obstacle to unleashing the full force of the U.S. war machine",
writes Roger Norman of the Centre for Economic and Social Rights in
New York America's Criminal Occupation of Iraq.
Dr. Eleanor Robson
of the British School of Archaeology wrote in The Guardian of London
on June, 18, 2003, "[t]wo months ago, I compared the demolition
of Iraq's cultural heritage with the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258
[the age of barbarism], and the 5th-century destruction of the library
of Alexandria. On reflection, that wasn't a bad assessment of the present
state of Iraq's cultural infrastructure. Millions of books have been
burned, thousands of manuscripts and archaeological artefacts stolen
or destroyed, ancient cities ransacked, universities trashed".
Dr. Robson continued, "[o]utside the Iraq Museum, the picture is
equally grim. At Baghdad University, classrooms, laboratories and offices
have been vandalised, and equipment and furniture stolen or destroyed.
Student libraries have been emptied. Nabil al-Tikriti of the University
of Chicago reported in May that the Ministry of Endowments and Religious
Affairs lost 600-700 manuscripts in a malicious fire and more than 1,000
were stolen. The House of Wisdom and the Iraqi Academy of Sciences were
also looted. The National Library was burned to the ground and most
of its 12 million books are assumed to have been incinerated".
and looting of artefacts, has led to the loss of hundreds of tablets,
a method developed by the Sumerians of leaving one's signature on clay
several of which have not even been translated yet. This is a huge loss
for humanity, one only surpassed by the loss of the lives and well being
of the Iraqi people. This plundering of Iraq's cultural heritage is
part of an illegal trade in antiquities thought to be as lucrative as
drug trafficking. "Not since the Nazis systematically stripped
the museums of Europe has such a crime been committed?" writes
Ann Talbot in www.wsws.org
This outright pillage
of the Iraqi nation by the US is forbidden under the Geneva conventions
of 1949 and The Hague conventions of 1907. It is clear that there was
nothing accidental about the looting. Rather it was the result of a
long planned project to plunder the artistic and historical treasures
that are held in the museums of Iraq. Iraqi law regards all archaeological
artefacts as state property and bans their export. By allowing the National
Museum in Baghdad and other places of Iraq's cultural heritage to be
looted, the US authorities have shown great ignorance and disregard
for the real importance of Iraq to human history.
Pillage of Iraq's
the occupation of Iraq, the US worked to lift the 13-years long genocidal
sanctions that killed more that two million Iraqis a third of them were
children under the age of five, and destroyed the fabric of the Iraqi
civil society. The reason for this sudden change of heart was the US
control of the UN Oil-for-food program, which was benefiting from oil
In May 2003, the
UN resolution 1483 allows all revenues from Iraqi oil and gas exports
to be deposited into the "Development Fund for Iraq". The
fund also took over about one billion from the Oil-for-Food program
and a similar amount in all frozen Iraqi assets. Those funds were given
to the control of the US occupying authority "to be used in a transparent
manner to meet the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people" and
they were to be audited by the International Advisory and Monitoring
Board (IAMB), which the UN set up for this purpose.
According to various
estimate, the amount collected in the fund reached $20 billion as of
June 26 2004. Auditing the fund has been a nightmare for the IAMB, because
of lack of cooperation by the occupying authority, and the secrecy of
awarding contracts to US corporations without competitive bidding.
A new report published
by Christian Aid, a charity organisation in the UK, showed that the
Bush administration failed to account for what it has done with some
$20 billion of Iraqi oil revenues, which should have been spent on relief
and reconstruction. Anthea Lawson of Christian Aid told Amy Goodman
of DemocracyNow.org on 01 July 2004; "the Iraqi oil is being sold
by the US without metering, which makes assessing Iraq's oil revenues
extremely difficult because its oil production is not being metered".
This means only the Bush Administration knows how much money is being
earned from the sale of Iraqi oil.
Menzies Campbell, the British Liberal Democrats foreign affairs spokesman,
demanded that an investigation into the way the US-led administration
in Baghdad handled Iraq's oil revenues from which another $3.7 billion
is missing. The oil of Iraq is the property of wealth of Iraqi
people, and should not be stolen by the US.
Recently, the UN
Security Council passed a resolution recognizing the US occupation of
Iraq. Never had the UN in its history endorsed the occupation of a nation
and the attack on the resistance fighting such occupation. In its new
resolution on Iraq, the UN authorizes US-led troops to remain at Iraq's
request, and gives them leeway to take "all necessary measures"
in fighting the resistance movements that are fighting the occupation.
Once again, the UN proved to be the facilitator of US imperialism throughout
However, the Security
Council recognition of the US and Britain occupation authority provides
no legal cover. In May 2003, the UN passed a resolution requiring the
occupying powers to "comply fully with their obligations under
international law including in particular the Geneva conventions of
1949 and the Hague Treaty regulations of 1907". Furthermore, The
US army's Law of Land Warfare states " the occupant does not have
the right of sale or unqualified use of [non-military] property".
Therefore, the US-imposed "economic reforms" and edicts on
the Iraqi Nation contradict Iraq's constitution and they are in breach
of international law.
According to The
Hague and Geneva conventions, and the International Bill of Human Rights,
the occupier gains no sovereign rights and is prohibited from manipulating
the nation's future, plundering its resources, and repressing its people.
AS Naomi Klein has
written, "bombing something does not give you the right to cell
it". Yet this is precisely what the Bush Administration is doing.
The US military invasion of Iraq has put US companies (multinational
corporations) such as Bechtel and Halliburton in positions to completely
own all of Iraq's industries and businesses. The destruction of Iraq
is played as "reconstruction" in Western media and by Western
elites. It's only $366 million of the $18.6 billion Congress "allocated
for reconstruction" of Iraq has been spent, according to the Washington
A recent report
released by the General Accounting Office on 28 June 2004 reveals "Iraq
is worse off than before the war began last year". The war against
the people of Iraq was rigged and unnecessary war. The war brought no
"democracy" and no "freedom" to the Iraqi people.
The Anglo-American crypto-fascists presence is sowing the seeds of civil
war in Iraq. Thousands of innocent Iraqis have been slaughtered as a
result of Bush and Blair violent "messianic" war. Why?
The US is still
the occupying power in Iraq. The "transfer of sovereignty"
to few dozens of Iraqi expatriates, two third of them are foreign citizens,
"of course, another lie and most Iraqis know it", says Tariq
Ali. The American Embassy in Baghdad, the largest in the world and situated
in Saddam's Palace against the will of the Iraqi people, is the maker
of key decisions. Ambassador John D. Negroponte is the new Proconsul
in Iraq supported by more than 160,000 occupying forces. The whole charade
of "transfer of sovereignty" is merely an Arab façade.
The new Iraqi "Prime
minister" Mr. Iyad Allawi has full responsibility over garbage
collection and assassination of Iraqi dissidents (see who
is Allawi?). Recent Iraqi opinion poll conducted in Iraq reveals
that 92 percent of Iraqis opposed to the US occupation of their nation,
and want the occupation to end. Mr. Iyad Allawi has almost 5 percent
supports, just below the president, with a 7 percent approval rating.
The Iraqi sovereignty is vested in the Iraqi people. This new Iraqi
"sovereignty" is a fake sovereignty. Same donkey, different
saddle, as the Iraqi saying goes. The US administration appointed the
Iraqi Interim Government, pliant enough to ratify these illegal laws
and make the occupation of Iraq permanent to serve as the guardian of
The trial of Saddam
Hussein is a farce, "illegal and unjust". The real criminals
are using this theatre to cover-up their own crimes against the Iraqi
people. Those who are picked by the Americans, "in the words of
a now common Iraqi saying, 'came on the backs of American tanks'. As
one Iraqi observed: 'If they give Saddam a fair trial, they will all
end up with him in the dock - Kissinger, Reagan, Thatcher, Blair, the
two Bushes, [Rumsfeld] and Allawi'", writes Sami Ramadani in The
Guardian of London. An Iraqi businesswoman told Robert Fisk: "This
is a childish play, written by children for children. We have real needs
and they want us to go and watch a play". The trial of Saddam is
a circus, which will keep the people distracted from the real issues
of occupation. It is used by the US to bully and intimidate not only
the Arab people, but also the rest of the developing world. It makes
the world looks like powerful mafia gangs run it.
The Attack on Iraq
is an attack on the history of humanity by a new form of barbarism.
The world will be safer only if this form of barbarism opposed and remained
isolated. For Iraqis, the only path to full sovereignty is the immediate
end of the US occupation and colonisation of Iraq, and returns the wealth
of the nation to the Iraqi people.
Ghali Hassan lives
in Perth, Western Australia. He can be contacted on: