Iraq rejects US probe, but CAN they launch their own?
Investigations over incidents like Ishaqi and Haditha mark the beginning of the end of this occupation.
Iraq's PM is in the unenviable position of having to bow down before a military superpower bent on controlling his nation's oil, and satisfy an increasingly and justifiably indignant Iraqi population, enraged at the senseless and brutal killing of its people.
Iraq vowed on Saturday to press on with its own probe into the deaths of civilians in a U.S. raid on the town of Ishaqi, rejecting the U.S. military's exoneration of its forces.What was the US thinking when it released what is essentially a rubber-stamp approval of the previous report?
Adnan al-Kazimi, an aide to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said the government would also demand an apology from the United States and compensation for the victims in several cases, including the alleged massacre in the town of Haditha last year.
"We have from more than one source that the Ishaqi killings were carried out under questionable circumstances. More than one child was killed. This report was not fair for the Iraqi people and the children who were killed," he told Reuters.
The U.S. military had issued a statement about Ishaqi saying allegations that U.S. troops "executed a family ... and then hid the alleged crimes by directing an air strike, are absolutely false".But, neither the previous report nor the latest approval could persuade Iraqis.
It said troops had been fired on as they raided a house to arrest an al Qaeda suspect. They returned fire and called in air support, which destroyed the building, killing one militant and resulting in "up to nine collateral deaths". [!!!]
The military had previously said one guerrilla, two women and a child were killed in the March 15 raid in Ishaqi, 60 miles (100 km) north of Baghdad.
It has repeatedly pledged to punish any soldier found guilty of atrocities in Iraq, but the decision to clear the troops in Ishaqi fuelled deep mistrust among ordinary Iraqis three years after the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.If the victim's hands were bound, then there is NO WAY that the US account is true. The Bush administration and Iraq's PM are up sh*t's creek without a paddle.
Police in Ishaqi say five children, four women and two men were shot in the head, and that the bodies, with HANDS BOUND, were dumped in one room before the house was blown up.
Maliki, who took office two weeks ago at the helm of a U.S- backed national unity government, is battling a widespread public perception that U.S. troops can shoot and kill with impunity and Iraqi leaders are too weak to do anything about it.The question is, what are Iraqis going to do with it?
"Ishaqi is just another reason why we shouldn't trust the Americans," said Abdullah Hussein, an engineer in Baghdad.
"FIRST they lied about the weapons of mass destruction, THEN there was the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and NOW it's clear to the world they were guilty in Haditha," he told Reuters.
A tribal leader in Ishaqi said it was clear that U.S. forces were above the law in Iraq.
"We expect the American soldiers to commit any crime to control this country," added Sarhan Jasim, 55.
Human Rights Minister Wijdan Michael said her ministry would send a fact-finding commission to Ishaqi in the next few days.* * *White House spokesman Tony Snow said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General George Casey, met Maliki in Baghdad on Friday and promised to give him all the evidence and materials from the Haditha probe.
At the start of the occupation, the Bush administration made it a point to ensure immunity for coalition forces from Iraq prosecution.
The Bush administration has decided to take the unusual step of bestowing on its own troops and personnel immunity from prosecution by Iraqi courts for killing Iraqis or destroying local property after the occupation ends and political power is transferred to an interim Iraqi government, U.S. officials said.It's unclear whether, under current law, the Iraqi government has authority to hold US troops accountable. Even if they do, it would be difficult - if not impossible - under the circumstances for them to assert that authority.* * *
Order 17 gives all foreign personnel in the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority immunity from "local criminal, civil and administrative jurisdiction and from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their parent states."
Nevertheless, given the widespread dissatisfaction with US "probes" into civilian deaths by US troops AND the region's history vis-a-vis US military immunity, it would be equally difficult for Iraq's government to refrain from asserting its sovereign authority.
Clearly, the issue of immunity for US troops is a fireball that threatens to set the entire region aflame.
The issue of immunity for U.S. troops is among the most contentious in the Islamic world, where it has galvanized public opinion against the United States in the past.
A similar grant of immunity to U.S. troops in Iran during the Johnson administration in the 1960s led to the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who used the issue to charge that the shah had sold out the Iranian people.
"Our honor has been trampled underfoot; the dignity of Iran has been destroyed," Khomeini said in a famous 1964 speech that led to his detention and then expulsion from Iran. The measure "reduced the Iranian people to a level lower than that of an American dog."
Ironically, Khomeini went into exile in Iraq, where he spent 12 years in Najaf -- the Shiite holy city that is now home to Sistani and his followers and where Iraqis still remember the flap that led the shah to deport a cleric who later led Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
In the statement about Ishaqi, Major General William Caldwell, the U.S. military spokesman, said the investigation showed that the ground commander "operated in accordance with the rules of engagement governing our combat forces in Iraq."I'd say that's a pretty astute assessment coming from a simple Iraqi.
[BUT] One man in the town, 40-year-old Obeid Kamil, said on Friday that U.S. soldiers had a "licence to kill" Iraqi civilians.
"Their action is always to open fire and kill people, which is proof that they are afraid," he said.
These incidents are the beginning of the end of this occupation.