HT Image
HT Image

Baghdad is the world's forgotten place

Britain and the US have both arrogantly turned their backs on Iraq after irreversibly altering its fate.
By John Pilger, The Guardian
UPDATED ON MAY 29, 2013 11:06 PM IST

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert’s fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr teaching hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. “Before the Gulf war,” he said, “we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long after. That’s almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can’t be eaten.”

Along the corridor, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroblastoma. “Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years,” she said. “Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same.”

Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf war were the cause. Although the link with cancer is always difficult to prove absolutely, the Iraqi doctors argue that “the epidemic speaks for itself”. British oncologist Karol Sikora, chief of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme in the 1990s, wrote in the British Medical Journal: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Iraq sanctions committee].” He told me, “We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organisation that likes to get involved in politics.”

Iraq is no longer news. Last week, the killing of 57 Iraqis in one day was a non-event compared with the murder of a British soldier in London. Yet the two atrocities are connected. Their emblem might be a lavish new movie of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Two of the main characters, as Fitzgerald wrote, “smashed up things and creatures and retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness … and let other people clean up the mess”.

The “mess” left by George Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq is a sectarian war, the bombs of 7/7 and now a man waving a bloody meat cleaver in Woolwich. Bush has retreated back into his Mickey Mouse “presidential library and museum” and Tony Blair into his jackdaw travels and his money.

Their “mess” is a crime of epic proportions, wrote Hans Von Sponeck, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and senior UN humanitarian official in Iraq, referring to the Iraqi ministry of social affairs’ estimate of 4.5 million children who have lost one or both parents. “This means a horrific 14% of Iraq’s population are orphans,” he wrote. “An estimated one million families are headed by women, most of them widows”. Domestic violence and child abuse are rightly urgent issues in Britain; in Iraq the catastrophe ignited by Britain has brought violence and abuse into millions of homes.

In her book Dispatches from the Dark Side, Gareth Peirce, Britain’s greatest human rights lawyer, applies the rule of law to Blair, his propagandist Alastair Campbell and his colluding cabinet. For Blair, she wrote, “human beings presumed to hold [Islamist] views, were to be disabled by any means possible, and permanently … in Blair’s language a ‘virus’ to be ‘eliminated’ and requiring ‘a myriad of interventions [sic] deep into the affairs of other nations.’ The very concept of war was mutated to ‘our values versus theirs’.” And yet, says Peirce, “the threads of emails, internal government communiques, reveal no dissent”. For British foreign secretary Jack Straw, sending innocent British citizens to Guantánamo was “the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objective”.

These crimes, their iniquity on a par with Woolwich, await prosecution. But who will demand it? In the kabuki theatre of Westminster politics, the faraway violence of “our values” is of no interest. Do the rest of us also turn our backs?

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Representational image. (Bloomberg)
Representational image. (Bloomberg)

Reserves exhausted early, Chhattisgarh coal mine seeks larger forest area

By Jayashree Nandi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:14 AM IST
The production capacity of the Hasdeo Arand mine was enhanced from 10 MTPA to 15 MTPA as per directions of the Ministry of Coal and as per a revised environmental clearance dated August 10 2018
Close
A man holds the flags of India and the US. India posted the biggest increase among origin countries for immigrants opting to become US citizens.(REUTERS)
A man holds the flags of India and the US. India posted the biggest increase among origin countries for immigrants opting to become US citizens.(REUTERS)

Condemn infiltration across LoC, support dialogue between India, Pakistan: US

ANI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:10 AM IST
The US had earlier welcomed the steps taken by India to return the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J-K) to full economic and political normalcy.
Close
India reported 17,407 new covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours.bloomberg(MINT_PRINT)
India reported 17,407 new covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours.bloomberg(MINT_PRINT)

India's Covid-19 infection tally over 11.17 million with 16,838 fresh cases

Written by Prashasti Singh
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:16 AM IST
The total recoveries crossed 1.08 million, and the country's active caseload was at 176,319 on Friday, the health ministry said.
Close
A teacher welcomes students at a school in Gorakhpur in March.(PTI)
A teacher welcomes students at a school in Gorakhpur in March.(PTI)

Washim, Karnal, Dharamsala: What recent cluster outbreaks of Covid-19 mean

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 10:00 AM IST
Social gathering, flouting social distancing norms in a shared space re the common links among all the recent cluster outbreaks.
Close
Following the incident, tension has increased in the area while police are monitoring the situation.
Following the incident, tension has increased in the area while police are monitoring the situation.

Indian national killed in police firing at India-Nepal border; one missing

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Shivani, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:55 AM IST
  • According to HT's sister publication, Hindustan LIVE, Govinda Singh had gone to the border with two others -- Pappu Singh and Gurmeet Singh, while returning from a market. They got into an argument with the Nepal police which led to the clash and the subsequent firing.
Close
BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarna tweeted this slamming Congress for using Taiwan photos.
BJP minister Himanta Biswa Sarna tweeted this slamming Congress for using Taiwan photos.

'Congress can't even': BJP minister says Cong passed off Taiwan pics as Assam's

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:08 AM IST
This is an insult of Assam and tea garden workers, the minister said. The Congress reportedly dismissed the claims. The said Facebook posts have been deleted.
Close
Representational image.
Representational image.

Give allowance till son gets his first degree, not just till he's 18: SC

UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:09 AM IST
The bench ordered the man to pay for his son’s education till March 31, 2027, to ensure he has the necessary financial support to complete his graduation
Close
IMD scientists have also forecast the continuation of a spike in temperature in the coming days.(Rahul Raut/HT photo)
IMD scientists have also forecast the continuation of a spike in temperature in the coming days.(Rahul Raut/HT photo)

News updates from HT: Delhi's temperature could reach 35°C by Monday

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:58 AM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar speaks to media after the 11th round of meeting with the representatives of the agitating farmers' unions at Vigyan Bhavan on Friday. (ANI Photo)
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar speaks to media after the 11th round of meeting with the representatives of the agitating farmers' unions at Vigyan Bhavan on Friday. (ANI Photo)

Narendra Singh Tomar says 'revolutionary' laws will enhance farmers' income

Written by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:39 AM IST
Despite many failed rounds of talk between the two sides, the minister has on several occasions repeated his offer of talking to the protesting farmers to end the impasse.
Close
The government has now started the world's largest Covid-19 vaccination programme.(REUTERS)
The government has now started the world's largest Covid-19 vaccination programme.(REUTERS)

Reliance to bear full costs of employees, family members vaccination

ANI, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:37 AM IST
In the mail, the non-executive director of Reliance Industries said cherishing the health and happiness of our family is what it means to be part of a family--the Reliance family.
Close
Representational image. (HT Photo)
Representational image. (HT Photo)

Rain and thunderstorm warning for many parts of NW India from March 6

By HT Correspondent | Edited by Zara Khan
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:12 AM IST
A fresh western disturbance is very likely to affect the western Himalayan region from the night of March 5 and adjoining plains of northwest India from the night of March 6
Close
US President Joe Biden.(Bloomberg)
US President Joe Biden.(Bloomberg)

'Indian-Americans taking over US,' says President Joe Biden in NASA meet

PTI, Washington
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:59 AM IST
In less than 50 days of his presidency, Biden has appointed at least 55 Indian-Americans to key leadership positions in his administration ranging from his speech writer to the NASA, to almost every wing of the government.
Close
A healthcare worker fills the syringe while vaccinating in Delhi hospital.
A healthcare worker fills the syringe while vaccinating in Delhi hospital.

LIVE: India's Covid-19 tally over 11.17 million after 16,838 fresh cases

By hindustantimes.com, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:31 AM IST
Calls for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19 grew as a group of scientists called for a probe to consider all hypotheses and nail down whether the virus came from an animal.
The district bordering Myanmar has been under instruction to report crossing over of Myanmarese nationals.(AP file photo for representation purposee)
The district bordering Myanmar has been under instruction to report crossing over of Myanmarese nationals.(AP file photo for representation purposee)

Verifying reports of 3 Myanmarese cops crossing over to India, says Mizoram

By Utpal Parashar | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Guwahati
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:43 AM IST
  • A Reuters report quoting unnamed officials stated that at least 19 Myanmarese policemen have crossed over to the Indian side through border areas in Serchip and Champhai districts
Close
The shop was closed owing to a dip in the business during lockdown, it has been claimed.
The shop was closed owing to a dip in the business during lockdown, it has been claimed.

Raj Thackeray party takes credit of closing Karachi Bakery; not true, say others

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 07:25 AM IST
As Mumbai's only Karachi Bakery shuts shop, MNS leader Haji Saif Shaikh said credit goes to party's November legal notice to the bakery for using Karachi in the name.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP