“And so, six years after the toppling of the dictator, a few hundred thousand Iraqis killed, a brutal insurgency, trillions of dollars wasted and five thousand dead US soldiers, the country was being rebuilt on the same model of a concentration of unaccountable power, shadowy intelligence services and corruption.”
At last it is done. A full book (his first) by the remarkable Iraqi journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, published on the 20th anniversary of the catastrophic & criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003 by coalition forces.
I have been attentively following the man’s work since he started publishing in the Guardian Newspaper as a war reporter during the 2003 invasion.
It is never short of incredible & I read literally everything he does.
Over the last decade or so, he has continued to supply exceptional, highly-humanist reporting on & in rare & often forgotten forefronts of Middle Eastern conflict zones.
The standard of his articles & investigation is one thing, but also the very fact that a reporter with such expertise in the area is covering these harrowing & continuing conflicts in careful detail.
Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan & Libya have been pretty much forgotten, or quietly confined to an extremely guilty crawlspace in some desolate & unvisited quarter of the news/global media’s attention span.
Considering “The West’s” involvement, precipitation & engineering in the oblivion & obliteration of these disastrous & superfluous military fiascos – perhaps the uncanny silence, lack of reporting & poor memory are all simply serving a greater evil?
This exclusion & aggressive limitation & curbing of public information certainly plays into the interests of the genocidal arms traders & weapons manufacturers, insane rogue-client-states & extremist ideological elements.
It is truly shameful how little reporting & attention is active & in circulation in the international media on these conflicts, Yemen & Iraq especially.
I can only imagine that blood money & petrodollars secure this sickening silence.
“But that whole debate was flawed from the start: why were the only options for us as a nation and a people the choice between foreign invasion and a noxious regime led by a brutal dictator? Not that anyone cared what we thought. We were all merely potential collateral damage in a war between the dictator and American neocons adamant that the world should be shaped in there image.”
Over the last four-years or so, as the quiet conspiracy of intra-media suppression & concealment has normalised, Ghaith’s published articles only manage about two a year.
A specific event, or the obligatory once-over for the managed decline in coverage will cue one of his pieces, often delivered in a special report.
They are never anything but incredible, but they are also incredibly disturbing reading.
It is almost incalculable just how much misery & extremity has been created & is being sustained by these unsettled & utterly unnecessary wars & regional destabilizations.
“The threats of the American secretary of state, George Schultz, of pushing us back to the Stone Age, seemed to have been fulfilled.”
As for his new book, well, it is really just about as amazing as it gets.
I would not have expected anything less from the man, but it really is an exceedingly powerful landmark that will endure as a classic of the territory.
He may well also have written the best book on Iraq’s “military fallout” & the many subsequent ramifications – & I have read a lot of them.
“– because a nation can’t be bombed, humiliated and sanctioned, then bombed again, and then told to become democracy. No amount of planning could have truned an illegal occupation into a liberation.”
It isn’t just Iraq though, or even the Middle East.
In terms of war reporting, with a very vociferous commitment to the civilian toll & experience, Ghaith has also struck the realms of a classic.
It sits confidently among standout accounts & books such as Sebastian Smith’s Allah’s Mountains-The Battle for Chechnya, Dexter Filken’s – The Forever War-Dispatches From the War on Terror, James Hider’s – The Spider’s of Allah – Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War, Abdul Salam Zaeef’s – My Life With The Taliban, Oliver Bullough’s – Let Our Fame Be Great – Journeys Among the Defiant People of the Caucasus, & the omnibus Syria Speaks – Art and Culture From the Frontline.
“fortunes were made corruption was institutionalised.”
For Iraq specifically – Dahr Jamail’s brilliant & highly revealing 2007 book Beyond the Green Zone – Dispatches of an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq & James Verini’s They Will Have To Die Now – Mosul and the Fall of the Caliphate (2019) are two other major investigations that explore some of the lesser exposed inner details of the shocking collateral incurred by this besieged country.
But again – this book, & it’s timescale & range – are simply unmatched in my experience.
The more popular terrain of Thomas E. Ricks – Fiasco & the excellent Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran are all accommodated for.
Ghaith has a quality, like many Middle Eastern writers & journalists, of reporting & writing in a very matter-of-fact, non-academic & also very human style.
Emotionally, it is highly tangible, & the language can include both colloquial & poetic flavours, which makes it infinitely more rewarding to read, but still hyper informative.
“The 2003 American invasion of Iraq catalysed the explosion of jihadi-Salfism in Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East.”
Ghait also spends a lot of time with Iraqi special forces & militia soldiers fighting against an embedded ISIS in Mosul & beyond. The conditions, endurance & “sacrifice” are some of the most braying & extreme imaginable. It is horrific.
I remember the graphic account of U.S. Iraq war veteran SSG David Bellavia in his 2007 book House To House – An Epic Memoir of War. But his experience pales in comparison to the extended cannon fodder madness that the poorly equipped Iraqis are subjected to, seemingly without end or relief (aside death, which comes non-stop).
It is insane.
“When we started this war we would be devastated when we heard the death of a comrade. Now we eat lunch and someone comes and says so-and-so was killed, oh peace be upon his soul, and we continue eating.”
The book is also laced with his in-field sketches (some of his photography became some of the most iconic images of the invasion & it’s aftermath, but none are included here).
“The wealth generated by the civil wars in Syria – and later in Iraq – would transform the jihadis from a band of impoverished warriors striving to raise the flag of jihad and create a pure “ummah” in rugged mountains and parched deserts into a wealthy mafia-like global conglomerate.”
There is eventually of course a lot on Islamic State, particularly their takeover & “management” of Mosul.
Never ever, ever, ever forget that Islamic State formed in an American detention centre (so under US military supervision) for terrorists in Iraq, camp Bucca, years after the 2003 invasion.
Al Qaida itself, a Saudi Arabian operation & ideology (Wahhabism – unique to Saudi Arabia but spread through Saudi sponsored violence/dogma) – had no presence in Iraq until after the invasion of 2003.
15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers where Saudi Arabian nationals (zero were Iraqi).
Camp Bucca was named after Ronald Bucca, a NY fire marshal who died in the emergency services response to 9/11.
“The city state (Islamic State subsidiary in the Caliphate) was a hybrid of ruthless capitalist free market and a totalitarian regime, garnished with behaviour, social mores and manners of speech that belonged in seventh-century Arabia.
‘The brilliance of Islamic State lay in its ability to bring together a world of contradictions, all for achieving the main goal: controlling the society and making money. Side issues were not important.’”
On March 20, 2017, under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) 1,500 injured survivors and 850 family members of 9/11 victims filed a lawsuit against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia claiming that the Suadis “knowingly provided material support and resources to the al Qaeda terrorist organization and facilitating the September 11th Attacks“. Saudi Arabia is currently being sued for billions of dollars by the families of roughly 2,500 of those killed, and by more than 20,000 people who suffered injuries, businesses and various insurers in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The US & Britain still provide Saudi Arabia with massive quantities of weapons, arms & military equipment.
Israel also supplies Saudi Arabia with the world’s most advanced military grade spy ware & cyber weapons, chiefly from the vile & criminal NSO Group.
The illegal invasion of 2003 was sold on Saddam Hussein having “weapons of mass destruction”.
Absolutely no such WMD or materials were ever found, detected or recovered.
Dr. David Kelly, an esteemed & respected UN weapons inspector from the UK, died in exceptionally suspicious circumstances in the run up to the war whilst voicing his doubts about any WMD program or capacity. There is an official seal on the case/results of Dr. Kelly’s immensely controversial death that will not be lifted for over 70 years, as put in place by the corrupt Lord Hutton.
Rupert Murdoch, Tony Blair, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Bremmer, Donald Rumsfeld (now deceased), Bill Kristol, Eric Prince & Alistair Campbell & other culprits of this slaughter are all high & dry.
So the West – along with there close friends in The Kingdom – invented, introduced & installed Islamic State & al Qaeda in Iraq & unto region & the world.
Islamic State is a 100% US-Saudi-UK production.
If grave wrongs/atrocities of scale committed are not resolved – things will only get worse.
Wrong will build on wrong.
New negativity becomes normalised – bad actors are emboldened & greater evils are consolidated as an inevitable escalation of malevolent wrongdoing.
The world has worsened so much since 9/11, the subsequent “war on terror” &/or “forever/long war”, invasion of Afghanistan & invasion of Iraq.
Not just in those regions but the world at large.
The total carnage, atrocity, disaster, folly, ruination that has followed, delivering nothing but more insecurity, suffering, instability, bloodshed, squander, terror & havoc have paved the way for the current extremity & meltdown we have in “global stability”.
Iraq alone was one of the most fantastical crimes of the last century, just a monument to wickedness & insanity sold on the lowest of lies & the harshest of insincerity.
Being tricked, conned & defrauded into some abomination is one thing, but to not hold the blatant culprits responsible afterwards – & even to allow them to prosper – as the horror & harm unleashed continues to engulf, is an evocation to apocalyptic currents.
You just cannot allow such extremity to go unpunished, unresolved & justice denied.
Not on this scale. Not with these implications.
Iraq is a pillar to why the world is burning & why the crisis has become so acute.
As a reminder, a re-evaluation & a warning – this masterpiece of journalism & scribe is one of the most definitive, up-to-date & luminous compendiums to this deliberate atrocity & giant historical wound/crime across the world’s conscience.
Meanwhile – Saudi Arabian government officials have been called to “testify” in the US over there “support” for the 9/11 hijackers as part of the ongoing JASTA litigation.
Saudi Arabia has been the engine of violent international ultra-salafist Wahhabi religious fundamentalism – from Islamic State, to Boko Haram, to Al Shabab, to Abu Sayyaf, to al Qaeda to Lashkar-e -Taiba & just about every other Islamic terrorist group.
America & Britain continue to assist & arm Saudi Arabia.
Under Trump, Saudi Arabia secured nuclear materials – forgoing conventional legal protocols – for the development of nuclear weapons capabilities & is advancing these plans with the help of Russian & Chinese nuclear companies.
This is the world we live in.
“Before separating the two communities, we need wars and demographic cleansing,” – “We need sectarian stories to agitate the people, stories and mythologies and tragedies of how the Shia were forced to leave their lands, of how the Sunnis were killed. You need to build enough hatred until you and I can’t live together any more – then the division becomes fact.” – Hadi-al Amiri
Mass murderer Murdoch.
We must again return to the “outrider” who did more than any other man alive to instigate the invasion of Iraq – Rupert Murdoch.
The arch architect of invasion, who’s corrupt power cult & media empire went into override during the aggressive forcing & fabrication of this atrocity & united – secretly & in public – the most ardent psychopaths in their heinous commitment to wage an illegal war.
Not surprisingly, you don’t hear enough about Rupert’s unique influence & obsession behind this criminal calamity.
A strong strangle-hold is kept on the ocean of guilt & abundant evidence.
The chapter The Road to Baghdad featured within David McKnight’s absolutely seismic 2013 book Murdoch’s Politics-How One Man’s Thirst for Power Shapes our World probably does the best & most incriminating public investigation (because Murdoch’s shadow work will be even greater than the filth on the surface) into how this bastard finagled, corrupted & coerced such utter insanity.
The shocking sectarian conflict & brutal civil war in Iraq that occurred after the invasion between Shia & Sunni is fastidiously covered in A Stranger in Your Own City.
The US now also teeters on the brink of “civil war” – once again thanks to Murdoch’s rabid media menace & miasma via the grotesque poison of Fox News.
Sunni & Shia – Democrat & Republican.
Division is key.
Rupert Murdoch’s unique social terrorism & degenerative armageddon fetish keeps driving the world closer to inferno (let’s also add Brexit & climate change denial/extinction advocacy along with his fervent support of Israel & Zionism).
The recent $787.5m Dominion law suit defeat for Murdoch & Fox in the US for the dirt receptacle’s most recent tidal-wave of lies should be repeated – with more serious consequences – to the lies amassed & weaponized in the run-up to the criminal Iraq invasion.
It would not actually be hard.
Don’t let the man die without facing justice.
Survival depends on learning from mistakes & actively correcting them.
These people cannot go unpunished & the immunity cannot be allowed to continue.
“This war will be good for us, it will help us win in the next elections.” – Iraqi MP
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Hutchinson Heinemann/Penguin, 2023, 454 pages