The world is about to witness more “justice” in Iraq. It will be summary execution, ordered by a U.S. convened Court, under United States and United Kingdom jurisdiction and responsibility, as occupying forces. Another trial, another lynch mob, this time of Iraq’s former Deputy Prime Minster and Foreign Minister, Tareq Aziz, which began on 29th April and will resume on 20th May.
He stands trial with Ali Hassan al-Majid, already sentenced to death for the campaign against the Kurds in the late eighties (whatever about the shocking harshness of the retribution, many had ceded to Iran, against their own country, during the US driven, eight year Iran-Iraq war, a treasonable offence in any language) and Saddam Hussein’s half-brother, Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan, former Interior Minister Sabbawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, Mizban Khudier Hadi, former Revolutionary Command Council Member, Saddam Hussein’s former secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud, former Finance Minister Ahmed Hussein Khudier and the former Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq, Essam Rasheed Khuwaish.
The Central Bank has been appropriated by JP Morgan Chase, to which former Prime Minister, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, QC., is now, ironically, an “advisor”.
As the clock ticks towards a trial for Blair for lying the country – indeed the world, since so many of the false facts came from Whitehall – into an illegal war, high crimes and misdemeanours and crimes against humanity, some enterprising politician should ask a Parliamentary Question as to when the JP Morgan Chase deal was hatched and what some cynics suggest was (heaven forbid) part of Blair’s pay off package. Before or after the invasion?
The stitch ups and “nice little earners” in high places, when it comes to Iraq are a coincidental litany. Iraq’s currency is now printed in Britain, by De La Rue, a company where Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK Ambassador to the United Nations (1998-2003) in the run up to the invasion, sits on the Board. When Greenstock left the UN, he served as the British Government’s Special Representative to Iraq, working with US “Viceroy” Paul Bremer, until March 2004. He was elected to the De La Rue Board exactly a year later – and is also a Special Advisor to British Petroleum (BP).
In the days before the March 2003 Iraq invasion: “… a team of BP engineers in Kuwait taught combat troops from the 516 Specialist Team, Royal Engineers, how to run southern Iraq’s oil fields. In mid-July BP took possession of its reward — one of the first tankers of oil from Southern Iraq, having won 25% of the initial sale of 8 million barrels of the existing stockpiles of Iraqi oil.”( ‘To the Victors go the Spoils of War’, Corpwatch 8th August 2003.)
Under Bremer’s watch, a full tally of Iraq’s moneys, the billions of missing dollars and accountability for contracts is still elusive, but it certainly set a bench mark for near unparalleled, unfettered corruption, in a country where, prior to the invasion, it was severely punished and a word was a bond, a concept alien to the occupiers at every level.
The encyclopaedia of those in high places who benefited from the Iraq invasion stretches throughout the corridors of power, on both sides of the Atlantic, far beyond the likes of Blair, Greenstock, Bush and his cronies (even UN Secretary Kofi Annan’s son Kojo had several fingers in the embargo’s “oil for food” pie, as a swathe of Iraqis struggled for survival, a sideline of which Kofi was adamant he was entirely unaware.)
The horror of the spectacle of the lynching of Saddam Hussein and his colleagues after a “trial” equalling the justice meted out by Idi Amin or Pol Pot, will be a stain of bloody enormity haunting American and British history and that of George W. Bush and Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, QC., and their families, throughout succeeding generations. The aim of these kangaroo courts is to silence, for all time, those who know the full extent of the illegalities, political plots, lies, duplicities and latterly the massiveness of the invasion, grand theft and carve ups of Iraq.
Those to be subject to this travesty of justice have between them the most detailed, devastating knowledge of the years of the West’s recent (with Israel’s) political duplicities: especially of President Bush Snr., Clinton and baby Bush. Further, the former Finance Minister and Governor of the Central Bank will have most minute knowledge of Iraq’s assets at the time of the invasion. Freed, it would take them little time to calculate the shortfall. But just as the Iraqi government’s 11,800 page accounting of the weapons of mass destruction they did not have, delivered to the United Nations and liberated from it by Members of the US delegation, in December 2002, their voices will not – cannot, be heard. Their evidence must be – literally – coldly, murderously, buried – and dubbed “a trial”.
Tareq Aziz’s lawyer, Badie Aref, has called the charges against his client – the Ace of Spades on the ludicrous US playing cards; the Pentagon cannot be out done for juvenility – “a farce”. Aziz has been held for five years, without charge and is in frail health. Aref and his team cannot get to Baghdad from Jordan in fear of their lives in Iraq and refused guarantee of safety by the Americans.(Three of Saddam Hussein’s defence lawyers were murdered, as were Court officials involved with the trial.)
The fix is surely in, with the appointed Judge, Halabja-born Raouf Rasheed Abdel Rahman, who sentenced Saddam Hussein to death. He allegedly fled to London with his family, requesting asylum, two weeks before the execution. (Times Online 16th March 2007.) “He fears for his life and the lives of family members”, Nasser al-Badri of Al Jazeera TV said at the time.
Since then, the trail to the Judge’s place of residence has gone cold, but a safe bet is that he has been spirited in from outside Iraq. His life expectancy would be nil as a resident there. Britain, of course, has long been a haven for dodgy defectors, including convicted embezzler Ahmed Chalabi (his actions on a scale that destabilised the entire Jordanian economy) and Iraq National Accord’s Iyad Allawi, his organisation alleged to be behind Baghdad car bombings in the late 1990’s.
In context it is worth remembering that in December 2002, Britain hosted to the “Iraq Opposition Open London Conference”, where five hundred and twenty six delegates openly planned their place in the carve up and subservient puppet administration after the illegal overthrow of Iraq’s legitimate government. As the New York Times (14th December 2002) reported: “A would-be king, a fugitive financier, warriors and Islamic clerics, idealistic nationalists and jaded generals, spies and, rumor has it, a potential assassin or two, have gathered in London this weekend to draw the political blueprint for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq — and to prove to a skeptical world that the splintered Iraqi diaspora can stand united.”
“… before the Iraqi Opposition Open London Conference had even begun, bickering broke out among the disparate participants” with “…blackmailing and manipulating the process to shove their plan down everybody’s throat …” Conference representatives of the US State and Defences Departments should surely have instantly recognised the gathering for the den of corruption and thieves it was, but perhaps they were blinded by simply feeling at home. As for Britain’s hosting of this terrorist summit, nothing seemingly has changed since Bossuet (1627-1704) despaired: “L’Angleterre, ah! La perfide Angleterre.”
The slenderest glimmer of the hope of anything resembling a fair trial disappears, with recollection of the Conference and its now representative American and British backed quislings in Iraq. Further, that Iraq’s puppet “Prime Minister”, Nuri al-Maliki, is a key member of the Dawa Party, the Shia political group, with strong connections to Iran, which led a decades long insurgency against Saddam Hussein’s secular government. In 1980, members of the Dawa Party tried to assassinate Aziz with a grenade, as he visited Baghdad University. He survived, but several people were killed. The attack was amongst the causes for the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam Hussein, of course, was hanged (read lynched) for the execution of Dawa Party members (who had a lengthy trial) in 1982, who had also attempted to assassinate him.
America and Britain seemingly have few scruples about allying themselves with terrorists, so long as they can deliver the oil wells. Saddam Hussein’s government, of course, nationalised the oil, using it for massive development of the country’s education, health and infrastructure. In 2000, when Iraq switched oil sales from the US dollar, her fate was sealed. Not to forget either the Bush family’s mega business relations with the Bin Ladens and the CIA’s with the Taliban. (Incidentally, Iran too switched out of oil sales in US dollars, this week and coincidentally, surely, another US war was announced to be steaming towards the Gulf.)
Tareq Aziz – who has been held in “a room reserved for dogs”, just two metres by one, charges his lawyer – as his co-defendents and Saddam Hussein and his, puts Britain and America’s leaders to shame. They did not flee in the face of conflict (remember George W. Bush’s lengthy disappearance after just a few tragic in flight incidents?) Saddam Hussein went out to speak to people in Baghdad, on the eve of war. The West sneered at the Minister of Information, briefing in public both foreign journalists and Iraqis until the country-wide, Dresdenian firebombing of “shock and awe” started. In contrast, under “liberation”, foreign politicians and America’s little President, scuttle in by fortified helicopters the few miles from an airport, to a fortified zone, guarded by fortified thugs, until they scuttle off out again.
The reasons Tareq Aziz agreed to give himself up to the Americans in April 2003, after several days of negotiation, is uncertain, although stories abound. However, for many years prior to the invasion, considerable pressure was exerted on high profile Iraqis to defect, tell the world what America wanted it to hear to justify an invasion, to be rewarded with asylum and a considerable financial package. Tareq Aziz who would have been the ultimate prize, travelled outside Iraq and met with high ranking American and British officials. He always returned to Iraq.
In December 2002, Aziz called the arms inspection a “hoax” and war “inevitable”. What (the US) wanted, he averred, was not alone “regime change” in Iraq but rather “region change”. He summed up the reasons for war against Iraq tersely: “oil and Israel”.
I interviewed him in 1999. Even then, all Iraq knew it was not if, but when, they would be invaded. In an unexpected non-sequitur, he suddenly said: “Madam Felicity, when I was ten years old, I was handing out leaflets, putting them through doors on the streets of Baghdad, to stop the British getting hold of Iraq’s oil. I am not about to give up on Iraq now.” A patriot and nationalist, through and through. At Saddam Hussein’s trial he refused to give evidence against him, certainly knowing it was his last chance of possible clemency and said: “I had the honour to work with the former regime and with the hero Saddam Hussein. He is the hero behind the unity of Iraq and its sovereignty. This is an honour to me.”
Perhaps, with his perfect English (he studied English Literature at the Baghdad School of Fine Arts) his wealth of diplomatic experience with the West (with meetings ranging from Ronald Reagan in the White House, in 1984 to the Pope in the Vatican, in February 2003) and the commonality of his Christian faith, he thought he could attempt to resolve the nightmare in which Iraq was mired and halt its decimation, persuade the world that there were no weapons of mass destruction.
Certainly, days after his surrender: “President Bush expressed unshakable confidence about finding banned weapons in Iraq and complained that Tareq Aziz is not cooperating with U.S. forces who have him in custody. Bush said the Deputy Prime Minister, the most visible face of the former Iraqi government other than Saddam, ‘still doesn’t know how to tell the truth’.” Aziz was clearly doing his upmost to tell them what the world now knows, that Iraq had no WMDs. It also now knows that, shamefully, it is American and British governmental officialdom at the highest level who do not: “know how to tell the truth”. That truth too is why, short of a miracle, Aziz and those who are being tried with him, will not be allowed a voice and will be for ever silenced.
Latest to weigh in cheering this shocking judicial shame is MP Ann Clwyd, close friend of and co-founder with Ahmed Chalabi of the CIA-funded INDICT, launched in the British Houses of Parliament in the late 90’s, to bring Saddam to trial. Ms Clwyd, who has long had close links to Kurdistan, has been jokingly referred to by many who know the region, as “Mrs Talabani”. After the invasion, she became Tony Blair’s “Human Rights Envoy” for Iraq. With over a million deaths, four million displaced, a million widows, torture rampant, secret prisons, barbarous honour killings, quite a brief. Until now, her silence has been deafening. (See excellent overview: http://www.uruknet.info?p=43583 )
Ironically, when I interviewed Tareq Aziz, he asked if Ms Clwyd and her colleague, the equally rabidly anti-Iraq parliamentarian Baroness Emma Nicholson, had any idea of the plight of the Iraqi people under the embargo. He then asked if I would convey a personal message from him to them. “Please, tell them they will be welcome at any time of their choosing, to visit Iraq. They need not give an advance itinerary, they can bring the BBC with them, if they wish, but just ask them to see for themselves … if they come and still feel as they do, if they leave and still hate us, so be it, but please ask them to come and see.” An average of seventy two thousand children a year, the UN estimated, were dying of “embargo-related causes”. Politics, “journalistic impartiality”, were irrelevant. My letters, of course, went unanswered. Ms Clwyd subsequently wrote an article about Tareq Aziz in captivity entitled “Blood on his Hands”. Ironies truly abound.
There are many who have consistently called for justice for Tareq Aziz and his co-defendants, including: distinguished former UN Assistant Secretary-Generals and UN Co-ordinators in Iraq, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck; former Father of the House of Commons, Tam Dalyell; MP George Galloway and the well supported Rennes based Amities Franco-Irakiens* (France-Iraq friendship.) Hussein al-Alak, Chair of the UK Iraq Solidarity Campaign, whose own background is Iraqi Shia, says the Campaign regards the “trial”: “as nothing less than another sectarian lynching”. Iraq Solidarity, whose affiliates range across nations and include Jewish Members and a Catholic priest, also stands with Baghdad’s Cardinal Emmanel Delli, who has ceaselessly called for Aziz’s release.
A poignant, lone fight has been fought by Lavinia Jowett of Salisbury in South West England, where a well informed and an internationally outward looking peace organisation flourishes. In March last year, Ms Jowett wrote to Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells, pointing out the shame of indicting the “lawful Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq … in ill health, having suffered several heart attacks … who spoke out for the people, particularly the children, of his country …”
Ms Jowett offered a guarantee of: “shelter and sponsorship” to Mr Aziz: “who should be given safe harbour … rather than a distasteful deal with the Iraqi Judge who gave his name to the death sentence of his country’s lawful President.”
Four months later, Howell’s Iraq Policy Unit responded that: “Tareq Aziz is being held as a criminal detainee … accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide …” At the time, Mr. Aziz had in fact, been charged with nothing. Ms Jowett’s offer of sanctuary was ignored. Kim Howells is a former Chairman of Labour Friends of Israel.
As I finish this, Boris Johnson, the man who believes both the Qu’ran and Islam should be done away with, has been voted Mayor of London. Shortly after the invasion, he trespassed in Tareq Aziz’s family home and even helped himself to “a fine red leather cigar case”. A trespasser and mini looter as London Mayor fits Whitehall’s image with perfection.
Lynching, of course, is synonymous with Charles Lynch of Virginia (1736-1796) and was particularly associated with the more lawless of the USA. Seemingly little has changed, apart from its importation by America to Iraq.
* Amites Franco – Iraqiennes: Contact : Secretary General, Gilles Munier. [email protected] Web: http://www.libertarek.blogspot.com
Iraq Solidarity Campaign http://www.iraqsolidaritycampaign.blogspot.com
Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary, “Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq”. and author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of “Baghdad” in the “Great Cities” series, for World Almanac Books (2006.)