Fatih Abdulsalam

Terror is Making a Comeback in Iraq

In a few hours last week three families were liquidated inside their homes. This is no coincidence. Things rarely happen in Iraq by chance.

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What Iraq and Gaza Have in Common

The war in Gaza reminds me of the war in Iraq. When President George W. Bush invaded Iraq, the whole world watched as his marauding troops, using state-of-the art weaponry tore the country to pieces.

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What Iraqis Want From Obama

And finally we have the man who many in the U.S. and the world at large wanted to see replacing George W. Bush.

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be officially inaugurated as U.S President. Bush as a person and a picture will no longer be in the Oval Office but his deeds and legacy will fill the room's air, shelves and even the drawers of Obama's desk.

And certainly, wherever Obama turns in the White House the specter of Iraq and the untold suffering of its people and the heavy price in blood and resources the U.S. has had to pay will be haunting him.

Obama has promised to end the devastating and reckless war Bush had started in Iraq. But one thing he will have to remember: starting a war is always easy; ending it is the most difficult thing to do.

I do not think any Iraqi would feel sorry for Bush, the man who ruined their country, turned millions of its people into refugees, turned hundreds thousands of its children into orphans and divided the country into ethnic and sectarian lines with wounds which some say are impossible to heal.

If Obama thinks that he is not responsible for addressing the calamities Bush brought on the Iraqi people, he is wrong. Morally and ethically, his administration is responsible for the orphans, the refugees, the chaos and insecurity which Bush will bequeath him.

Iraqis hope that instead of bombs, warplanes, heavy artillery, daily raids and invasions, killings and destroying of houses, villages and cities, Obama will try to rebuild.

Even if the troops are withdrawn, and that is the wish of many in the country, Iraqis hope Obama will commit his administration to correcting Bush's blunders. Instead of killing fathers and turning their children into orphans, Iraqis hope Obama will build factories, bridges, roads, schools and hospitals to put unemployed Iraqi parents to work.

Iraqis hope Obama will commit resources that will take care of the army of Iraqi orphans, send in relief and aid to the impoverished Iraqis instead of shipping sophisticated warplanes and helicopter gunships with the ability to drop precision bombs weighing hundreds of kilograms of explosives.

Iraqis would like to see Obama exerting real pressure on the government and Iraqi political and ethnic factions for a real compromise and not coddle them as Bush has been doing so that they would sign a hugely unpopular security agreement.

Iraqis hope Obama will work with all Iraqis groups and stand at the same distance from all of them and favor only those who are loyal to their own country and support them to lead.

Iraqis hope Obama will extend a real helping hand to the millions of Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries and elsewhere, first by helping them making ends meet and, second, encouraging them and supporting them to return to a safe Iraq.

Iraqis' wish list is long and they do not expect Obama to have it all fulfilled. Their few expectations emanate from the same principles of democracy and human rights that helped an African American win the presidential elections in the U.S.A., the world's mightiest power.

At Least Saddam Protected the Rights of Religious Minorities

Iraqi legislators have revoked a paragraph in the constitution that gave a set of seats for Iraqi minorities in provincial councils.

The reason they cited was that there was no "authentic count" of the number of these minorities in the country.

But this is a baseless excuse and pretext to violate the rights of Iraqi Christians, Shebeks, Sabeans and Yazidis. There must have been other reasons which prompted the parliament to take a decision that has alienated an important and crucial component of the Iraqi society.

Iraqi minorities thought they would be treated much better than under former leader Saddam Hussein, whose regime the U.S. toppled in 2003.
But they now find themselves in far worse conditions. At least Saddam Hussein respected their religious rights and their way of worship. His regime is credited with the building of scores of churches and places of worship for all Iraqi minorities.

Today, these minorities have been worst hit by U.S. occupation and the surge in violence it caused.

To say the government lacks credible counts of Iraqi minorities is a big lie. Such counts could have easily been obtained from their religious leaders.

Moreover, conducting such a count is not that difficult given the fact that the remaining numbers of these minorities now predominantly live in northern Iraq.

For the U.S. and its puppet government everything in Iraq now either falls under the category of minority or majority.And who is a minority or majority depends on which sect, religion or ethnic group you belong to.

If your are a Shiite you see Shiite majority across the country. If you are a Kurd you see Kurdish majority even in traditional Arab heartland, and so on and so forth.

There are no credible counts in Iraq for almost everything. No one knows for sure who the majority is and who the minority is.

This applies to Arabs and Kurds. It applies to Shiites and Sunnis.

But only the weakest and powerless in the society have to pay for the lack of authentic counts.

Iraqi minorities, who thought they would be better off under a U.S.-protected government, suddenly find themselves without protection.

How Many More Iraqis Can You Throw Behind Bars Without Trial?

Reports that U.S. and Iraqi government jails hold nearly 100,000 prisoners, most of them languishing there without trial and proof of wrong doing, are appalling.

Most arrests in Iraq whether by U.S. or Iraqi troops are arbitrary, carried out with little or no evidence.

The U.S. was most vociferous in its condemnation of the former regime for its arbitrary and summary arrests and inhuman conditions of its prisons.

But for many Iraqis this so-called 'beacon of democracy' has even surpassed Saddam Hussein in human rights violations.

U.S. troops can do almost everything with impunity in Iraq. They have the right to seize any one in the country merely on suspicion of 'terror' which no authority in the world can define what it really means.

And to provide enough room for its Iraqi suspects, the U.S. has built numerous prisons in the country -- perhaps its only post-war reconstruction feat.

These arrests and the fact that tens of thousands of prisoners are held without trial provide clear evidence of the shallowness of U.S. claims of democracy and human rights.

Most of the 100,000 Iraqis held in U.S. and Iraqi prisons were picked up during military operations or raids on cities, towns, villages and neighborhoods.

Most of them have not been tried and do not know why they have been jailed.

The prisons are overcrowded and filthy and according to some sources unfit even for animals.

In democratic and civilized countries like the U.S. no one is jailed unless tried and found guilty.

In U.S.-occupied Iraq every Iraqi is a suspect and can be taken to prison without trial or proof for as long as the troops deem necessary.

And if an Iraqi prisoner is released after months or years of imprisonment because U.S. or Iraqi authorities eventually found he or she was innocent, there is no one to blame or no body to resort to for compensation.

The only thing that will partly cleanse U.S. sins and those of its lackeys in Iraq is to order an immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners since the jailers cannot produce enough evidence to persuade Iraqi courts to sentence them.

These suspects are innocent and their incarceration is a massive violation of their human rights.