A couple of months ago I went to see a talk by Haifa Zangana at a University in Glasgow. She is an Iraqi-born novelist who was a prisoner of Saddams regime - so you might think she would be one of the few Iraqis who welcome the occupation. You'd be wrong.
Without any commentary, and just giving links where appropiate I would like to tell you some of the things she said. Some you will have heard of, some you probably haven't.
- 82% of Iraqis are anti-occupation according to a UK Ministry of Defence poll (also, Forty-five per cent of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province)
- Many of the political parties now operating in Iraq were formed outside Iraq in exile. They came over with the troops
- The handover of sovereignty was 'completely nominal'. In Iraq itself only a few media people knew about it (watch a BBC report here)
- Once up and running many of the parties began to divide into sectarian and ethnic parties. Many of them are there to represent US policy in Iraq
- Coalition groups in the new government took 3 MONTHS to decide ministries
- The former Minister for Culture was an ex-policeman
- Paul Bremer allegedly left Iraq with $9.9 billion (I assume she didn't mean him personally- see the quote and the links at the end)
- The US built 4 new prisons. 2 of these are in the British controlled areas
- There is a 'Brain drain' going on in Iraq as those who can leave do so to escape the violence
- Women are now not safe if they go out without being accompanied by a male relative. This was not the case before the occupation
- Despite the argument given that the Iraqi government is now sovereign the occupying troops are still not subject to Iraqi law
- Women are often arrested as hostages until male relatives turn themselves in and confess (and whether they are guilty or not). She said that ALL sides in the conflict do this
- A woman was arrested as a daughter of Al-Zarqawi. She was actually the daughter of the leader of an anti-occupation party
- Collective punishment is often used
- Mosques are providing basic services such as such as electricity
- She was on the BBC and every time she used the word "resistance" she was cut off
- The opening lines of the new Iraqi constitution "glorify the clerics in Iraq to detriment of everything else. Most Iraqis don't read by this part." She added that they don't read by that part bacause they feel the new constitution is "like something out of the dark ages"
- Most evenings on the pro-invasion Iraqi TV station there is an hour of confessions broadcast. People confessing to working with the insurgency. Many of them appear to have been beaten
There is an excellent documentary for free download about where some of the money went over the last couple of years. It's called "Beneath Iraq and a Hard Place" and follows on from the excellent "Between Iraq and a Hard Place" and "Beyond Iraq and a Hard Place."
I quote a small section...
"In one incident on the 12th April 2004, 3 'Black Hawk' helicopters, hired by the coalition authority, flew to Erbil in Northern Iraq to deliver over $1.5 billion in cash to a local courier. The main problem though,apart from the weight nearly bringing the choppers down, was that Bremer's people hadn't checked out the courier. Meanwhile at the authorities headquarters in Baghdad, cash was stuffed into plastic bags and delivered around the capital in pick-up trucks. A slush fund of $600 million in cash was kept in Bremer's office. The G.I. responsible for some $200 million dollars kept the key to the safe in his bike bag, which he left on his desk during his lunch breaks."