|Filed October 11, 2002 By Jeremy Scahill
BAGHDAD—After meeting with senior Iraqi officials
earlier this week, British Member of Parliament George
Galloway is predicting severe consequences for any army that invades
or attempts to occupy Iraq. Galloway's warnings come as Iraqi television
is being inundated with scenes of militias and army preparing for
war. In daily broadcasts, slow-motion footage of soldiers training
is intercut with images of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Nationalist
music plays constantly in the background.
"No one in the United States should be under any illusion that
this will be some kind of picnic," Galloway told Iraqjournal.org shortly
after meeting with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad. "The idea of
250,000 or more Americans patrolling the streets of an Arab country,
for years to come, is unthinkable to anyone who knows this region
Galloway believes the costs will be high for an invasion, with both
professional soldiers and Iraqi civilians fighting American ground
forces "street by street, house by house."
"The army will be in the cities," Galloway said. "They're not
going to stand out in the desert waiting to be bombed. So to hit the
army you're going to have to hit the people. You're going to have
to destroy the cities in a kind of Dresden-like bombardment. That
will kill tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. And then the
invaders come, and they'll be fought by the survivors of the bombardment."
The mood in Baghdad is grim. In homes and businesses, ordinary Iraqis
express anger towards the US government for twelve years of sanctions
and frequent bombings. War plans being publicly made in the US are
seen as a way to control Iraq's oil reserves, the second largest in
the world. This popular anger could manifest in violent resistance
to a US ground invasion.
"You know, the Iraqi youth are not less than the Palestinian
youth, who are facing the Israeli occupation forces every day," Galloway
said. "There's only one and a half million of them [Palestinian youth],
and they don't have weapons by and large. There's twenty three million
Iraqis, and they all have weapons. And ultimately they'll have their
bodies as weapons, just like in Palestine. The Saddam militia, which
is several million strong, are the suicide bombers of tomorrow against
the occupation forces."
Despite the accusations and rhetoric emanating from the White House
and 10 Downing Street, Galloway says he does not believe Iraq possesses
weapons of mass destruction. He calls the more than fifty page report
British Prime Minister Tony Blair holds as proof of Iraq's threat
"unsubstantiated allegations." Galloway is pushing for the immediate
return of weapons inspectors to Iraq.
"I heard the British prime minister say live on television that
so far as he knew, Iraq was the only country that had used weapons
of mass destruction," he said. "Now, this is either a blatant lie
or a very poor comment on the value of an expensive Oxford education,
because it clearly forgets that the first people to use chemical weapons
in the Middle East were the British."
In 1922 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill oversaw the use of
chemical weapons to kill Iraqi Kurds. Galloway sees the West as continuing
to use weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqi people.
"Britain and America used weapons of mass destruction in the
form of depleted uranium in the war in 1991," Galloway said. "The
results are plainly visible in Basra and the hospitals today in deformed
children, in a cancer epidemic, in all sorts of congenital diseases.
And of course as I've said, you know, to be a weapon of mass destruction
it doesn't have to explode with a bang. The embargo that we have maintained
has killed more people than all the weapons of mass destruction in
But despite the devastated economy and humanitarian crisis sanctions
have brought, Galloway feels Iraqis are ready and willing to fight.
"There are going to be enormous casualties" Galloway said. "Not only
Iraqi, but American too."
Scahill is an independent journalist, who reports for the nationally
syndicated Radio and TV show Democracy Now! He is currently based
in Baghdad, Iraq, where he and filmmaker Jacquie
Soohen are coordinating Iraqjournal.org,
the only website providing regular independent reporting from the
ground in Baghdad.
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