‘It’s Madness’.

If the scale of the unimaginable  tragedy the British have wrought in Basra was not of the historical enormity which it is and for which the UK will never be forgotten and likely, never forgiven, world wide (only second to the Americans, of whose accountability for unspeakable atrocities, words temporarily fail) with Prime Minister Gordon Brown again trying to dress up defeat as victory, as the British ‘left’ the city last week,  it would be laughable. The British actually slunk off from their illegally inhabited palace in central Basra in September, to cower in a base well outside the town, spent, redundant and now with the loss of one hundred and seventy four tragically wasted lives, for UK government lies.

Ironically, Iraqi women were photographed throwing sweets at the Iraq forces on December 16th’s Sunday ‘handover’ of the Iraqi city to Iraqis. The sweets and flowers promised by  the CIA backed, convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraq National Accord’s Iyad Allawi to the invaders, transpired, absolutely predictably, to be rocket propelled and hand grenades, improvised explosive devices and ambush by varied imaginative booby traps and weaponry.

Gordon Brown, of course, again announced a troop draw down on 8th October this year, after they had (also predictably) lost Basra and  already left. There is something about ‘October surprises’ that herald disasters.

An early spectacular British defeat was the Charge of the Light Brigade on 25th October 1854, an ill conceived maneuver at Balaclava in Russia during the Crimean war, with the losses leading the Russians to speculate that the troops must have been drunk to have contemplated such a move. It was a black day for Commanders and politicians too, the ‘Basra’ of the Eastern front, an adventure of which French Marshall Pierre Bosquet commented: ‘C’est de la folie’ (‘it’s madness’.)

In context, should anyone doubt the absolute disregard of  parliamentary ‘democracies’ for the lives of their own citizens, yet alone other humanities, expendable for oil, gas pipelines, minerals, metals, gemstones,  one only has to consider yet another October stunt. On the weekend of  October 18-19, 1980, a former and future CIA head, met with Iranian officials in Paris. In an act of treason (US private citizens negotiating with a foreign government without official authorization) with calculated, cold, callous ruthlessness,  the pair cut a deal with Ayatollah Khomeini’s clerics, to ensure that the fifty two American hostages held in Tehran, stayed hostage until after the upcoming election between President Jimmy Carter and Republican challenger Ronald Reagan. The Americans in question were George Herbert Walker Bush, the former CIA Director and William Casey, the future one.

‘The Republicans were terrified of an October Surprise–a move by the Carter government to free the hostages before the vote. So  Bush (who became) Reagan’s vice-presidential candidate–and Casey were dispatched to Paris to offer the Iranians a covert deal to keep the Americans in chains until Reagan was safely in office. The proposed payoff? A newly-elected Reagan-Bush administration would supply Khomeini’s military with a secret supply of American weapons.’ ( See: ‘Speak Memory’, Chris Floyd, Counterpunch, 9th September 2002.)

Another cynically manipulated October occurrence was Iraq’s 2002 referendum, where Saddam, predictably, garnered little short of 100% of the votes, in his favor. The American and British administrations notched it up as another reason for regime change, these people needed liberation from questionable vote manipulation. No one should know better about alleged vote fixing than the Bush administration, from dimpled chads, to excluded likely Democrat voters, to accusations of eminently adjustable vote counting machines. In post-invasion Iraq they turned it in to a murderous art form, with death threats, ration coupons confiscation and no potentially murderous or otherwise, manipulation barred, to get their puppet ‘government’ voted in.

So what October surprises have the British left for the people of Basra? The ancient, battered, but still heart-wrenchingly beautiful (B.C., – Before ‘Crusade’) ‘Venice of the Middle East’? They have left rubble where homes and historic buildings nurtured and were nurtured , by successive generations. They have left broken doors, windows and walls, kicked down or blown in on raids on families sleeping in their beds. They have left broken hearts and lives.

The have left fundamentalist  militias they either brought in with them, or against whom they failed to control the borders (and then blamed the Iraqis.) They have confined women to their homes at best and to death, often by beheading, for even wearing makeup, at worst. Britain’s finest have returned secular women to the equivalent of the burkha they were so keen to free them of in Afghanistan (nonsense of course, it was about strategic interests and a gas pipeline.) 

They have taken a town, where the worst harassment a woman walking alone, through streets, by the canals, or the beauty of the Shatt Al Arab would suffer, was small, bare foot boys, selling dates, citrus fruits, sweets, who stuck like glue until they had beguilingly somehow persuaded you to buy the whole lot (then they would be back with more.) The embargo’s children, providing for their families, instead of aiming to be top of the class. Britain and America’s victims. 

‘I came to rid Basra of its enemies, and I now formally hand Basra back to its friends,’ Britain’s Major General Graham Binns said, before signing documents giving Iraqi forces operational control of the province, which holds most of Iraq’s proven petroleum reserves. Before Britain’s invasion , Basra had few ‘enemies’, just the sort of policing issues found in any city. He has handed it, in fact, also to police and security forces riddled with Basra’s enemies. The British being unable to speak the language, culturally clueless, know not from where their recruits have come -or if they are even Iraqis at all. They have ‘handed back’ their rubble and mass graves, in a city bleeding from lack of essential services, its children seeping away from malnutrition and lethal diseases resultant from the killer water supply the British army has left them with.

Seldom has: ‘We gave them a wasteland and called it peace’, been more appropriate.

No better example of British depthless floundering , was fellow speaker, Muwaffaq Al Rubaie, Iraq’s ‘government security advisor’. ‘The security of Basra is one of our main responsibilities. I address, directly, the governor, the general commander of the security forces in Basra, the provincial council and the people of Basra. Will you agree with militias? Will you engage in corruption? Will you go easy on terrorism?’ Asked Rubaie. Thus under the nose of and with General Binns, was speaking the man many respected Iraqi and Middle East experts allege is actually Karim Shaboori, an Iranian, who came in with the invaders and changed his name and acquired himself an Iraqi passport to which he has, allegedly, no entitlement. If correct, stones and glasshouses, again come to mind.

So unphased by the lynching of Iraq’s legitimate President and the horrifying scenes around his body,  Rubaie/Shaboori responded: ‘This is the tradition of the Iraqis – when they do something they dance around the body and they express their feelings’ – a ‘ tradition’ no Iraqi seems to be aware of. Does General Binns know that Iraqis joke that the dominant language in the ‘Iraqi Ministries’ in the Green Zone is Farsi (and indeed say many Iraqis, in their Embassies abroad , along with  Kurdish, not Arabic.)

The British stole even the myths and legends from Basra. They took the city known to children world wide, as from where Sinbad left for his magical journeys and named a killing spree on the population (dressed in press briefings as a ‘security crackdown’) as: ‘Operation Sinbad’. They are now illegally inhabiting the airport, of which the city was so proud, when they had rebuilt it, opening again in 2000. Hope returned. The British and Americans of course, bombed it, but damage was repaired within days, to be bombed, repaired again … Having subsequently destroyed homes, history, lives, ‘our boys’ are now again doubles ‘restructuring’ the airport. 

What else has Britain’s illegal invasion and occupation contributed to? A snapshot : 2.4 million internally displaced; 2.2 million fled (UNHCR) 1.1 million  dead  (Just Foreign Policy) 3 million wounded  (‘a conservative estimate’) 4 million in need of emergency aid  (ICRC) 5 million orphans (Iraqi ‘government’ figures.) As the tireless Dahr Jamail writes: ‘Iraq’s population at the time of the US invasion in March 2003 was roughly 27 million and today it is approximately 23 million. Elementary arithmetic indicates that currently over half the population of Iraq are either refugees, in need of emergency aid, wounded, or dead.’ Is this genocide, a holocaust, deliberate de-population, or will the usual suspects just mess around with semantics? ‘What we have done in Iraq, are tears in the fabric of history’, comments Hussein Al Alak of the  (UK) Iraq Solidarity Campaign.

Basra’s dead have been hard to enumerate (but then the British, historically, were always better at keeping the lid on atrocities for a while. Not ‘Perfidious Albion’ for nothing.) However, Iraq ‘government’ figures, in a rare glimpse, revealed  in May 2006, that the previous month, under British Army watch, one person had died violently every hour. The killing after April 2006, certainly did not miraculously stop. How many have the British disappeared, how many are still in British custody, how many have died in British custody – and how many, in the ‘hardback’, have been handed over to those who will drill their heads and chuck them in to the garbage? Figures are, to say the least, elusive.

There have been a number of kidnappings (including ones the West noticed, like Margaret Hassan and Ken Bigley. Iraqi ones, shamefully, rarely are, in their uncountable numbers) where the request has been to release Iraqi women prisoners (usually held by the occupiers as a bargaining chip for men in the family – totally illegally.) The word was that, as the US denied they held any women , they had in fact transferred them to British custody in Basra. Still, as yet, impossible to prove or disprove. When I heard the story denied by Anthony Charles Lyndon Blair QC., however, I thought again of MP George Galloway, who recounted, as a little boy in Glasgow, running home to tell his Father excitedly: ‘Dad, Dad, my teacher says “the sun will never set on the British Empire”. ‘

‘Aye, son’, said his father : ‘That’s because God would never trust the British in the dark’.

Meanwhile, Ann Clywd MP (who for years has been dubbed ‘Mrs. Talabani’ by many) Blair’s formerly silent ‘human rights’ advisor on Iraq, said this week that she was ‘right to support the war’ to rid the country of brutality. Is she psychologically challenged., or just delusional.? However, as founder of the CIA funded INDICT (launched in the House of Parliament) and a close friend of  the embezzler Ahmed Chalabi, who fed  fairy tales of non-existent weapons of mass destruction  to the British government, the words culpability and duplicity come to mind regarding Ms Clywd. 

As  George Orwell (real name : Eric Arthur Blair) spins in his grave, the other Blair is reinvented as ‘Middle East Peace Envoy’ and reiterates he has no regrets. He knows ‘it was the right thing to do,’ and ‘I’d do the same thing again’. The terminal patients that are Gaza and Iraq,  the threats to the rest of the region, the misery and torment heaped on the region’s humanity, have taken second place to his finding time to appear in a Christmas video with Barney, George Bush’s dog, once described as the only sane being in the White House. It shouldn’t happen to a dog. And sorry for the pun, but is – as many have speculated for a long while – Blair truly ‘barking’? 

The joys of Eid Al Adha escaped Basra and Gaza. The Chaldean Bishop of Basra has ‘cancelled’ Christmas, as has happened throughout Iraq (with the Eids) for many years now. How can we celebrate amid such death, destruction, deprivation, misery, fear and poverty? he asked
In a BBC Panorama programme, aired on 17th December, the night before Eid Al Ahda, presenter Jane Corbyn asked a woman in Basra, who had returned to Iraq after thirty years, after the fall of Saddam Hussein : ‘What have the British left you?’

‘Nothing’, she replied : ‘Just misery.’

And in a December surprise, three days before Christmas and little over a week to the anniversary of  the lynching of  Iraq’s legitimate President, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, QC., has announced his conversion to Catholicism. He was received into the Church by the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O-Connor. Having  morally bankrupted the Palace of Westminster, he has now done the same to its Cathedral. Hope they have enough cleaning staff to wipe the blood from his hands off the church furniture after his visits. As former Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray  remarked: ‘Perhaps the Catholic church has a dearth of mass murderers in their congregation.’  It is all ‘madness’. 

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Articles by: Felicity Arbuthnot

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