Revolutionary Worker #993, February 7, 1999
It was Monday morning, January 25, and 6-year-old Marwa Ali was home in the al-Jumhuriya neighborhood in the city of Basra in southern Iraq. Suddenly, there was an incredible noise--and it seemed like the world was collapsing in on Marwa. Her sister, Zeinab, later said, "It began with a big bang. I could see my house coming down on us. There was dust all over."
Marwa and Zeinab's house was not destroyed by an earthquake or broken gas lines. The damage was caused by missiles, filled with 2,000 pounds of explosives, fired from U.S. war planes. The bombing killed 11 people in al-Jumhuriya and injured dozens. Marwa ended up in the hospital with multiple injuries to her scalp and legs. Zeinab suffered cuts and bruises. Several homes were completely destroyed, and others were damaged. Many of the men in the neighborhood were already at work when the bombs hit. Most of those killed and injured were children, women and the elderly.
The U.S. spokesmen claimed the bombing of al-Jumhuriya was an "accident" and shed a few crocodile tears for the victims--and then they blamed Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government for "provoking" the missile attack! Basra is located in the area of southern Iraq that has been declared a "no flight" zone by the U.S. and its ally Britain. These zones are patrolled by U.S. and British war planes with orders to fire their missiles at any act of self-defense by the Iraqi forces. There is a similar zone in northern Iraq. These "no flight" zones cover two-thirds of Iraq's territory.
The attempt by the U.S. to justify the latest murder from the air in Iraq is outrageous and shameful--and it's another example of imperialist logic. The U.S.--the world's top dog superpower with a huge arsenal of high-tech weapons of mass destruction--claims to be "threatened" when Iraqi ground troops in the "no flight" zones simply turn on their air-defense radar. The U.S. rulers accuse the Iraqi government of "aggression"--but claim for themselves the right to reach halfway around the world to bully and stomp on a small country. The U.S. said that the "no flight" zones were set up to "protect" the people in those areas from Saddam Hussein. But the people in those areas now must live through the continuous threat of death raining down from the skies.
The ragged lies and justifications from the White House and the Pentagon can't cover up the ugly reality. The U.S. policy-makers care nothing about the ordinary people of Iraq. They are motivated by a drive to protect the U.S. strategic position in this region, which is the oil jugular of the world. And in order to maintain this position, the U.S. rulers feel they must pound Iraq into total submission and extinguish any assertion of national sovereignty from this oppressed country.
Clinton and the U.S. ruling class say their target is Saddam Hussein, not the people of Iraq. But in their drive to overthrow Hussein and bring a more obedient regime to power, the U.S. imperialists have not hesitated in causing great suffering for the Iraqi people.
The sustained bombing campaign in the 1991 Gulf war killed hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq. Among the victims were hundreds of people in the Amariyah neighborhood of Baghdad--killed when two U.S. "smart" bombs scored a direct hit on the civilian air-raid shelter where they were sleeping.
For eight years, the U.S. has used its military force to enforce an economic sanction on Iraq--leading to more than a million and a half more Iraqi deaths. United Nations organizations report that about 5,000 children are dying in Iraq every month from malnutrition and diseases because of the shortage of food, medicine and other vital materials caused by the sanction.
In December 1998, the U.S. and British forces fired over 400 cruise missiles into Iraq--the largest military action against Iraq since 1991. The U.S. and Britain said they were aiming at military sites. But among the so-called "collateral damage" of the bombing were: several hospitals and health clinics in Baghdad, a large storehouse filled with rice in Tikrit, and ten schools in Basra. One missile destroyed the main water system in Baghdad's Karrada neighborhood, cutting off water supplies to 300,000 people.
The U.S. is now preparing the groundwork for more attacks on Iraq. According to recent media reports, U.S. intelligence officials are claiming that Abu Nidal is now in Baghdad under the protection of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. government alleges that Abu Nidal heads an organization that has carried out various attacks against U.S. interests around the world. Last year, the U.S. launched cruise missiles at Afghanistan and Sudan in the name of punishing Osama bin-Laden, who is also accused of actions against the U.S. (In Sudan, the missiles destroyed a desperately needed medicine factory.) Will Abu Nidal now become an excuse for a new round of U.S. missiles?
And the Clinton administration gave a green light for U.S. war planes in the "no flight" zones to take even more aggressive actions. The U.S. pilots don't have to limit themselves to specific artillery batteries and anti-aircraft missiles that are targeting them--the troops now have authorization to attack any part of the Iraqi air-defense system that they consider a "threat."
The U.S. imperialists have carried out massive war crimes in Iraq. And they may be getting ready to commit more mass murder and other cold-blooded crimes against the Iraqi people.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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