20 de ani de la începutul operațiunii militare americane în Irak (Din briefing-ul Reprezentantului Oficial al Ministerului Afacerilor Externe al Federației Ruse, Maria Zaharova, 16 martie 2023) 20 years since the start of the US military operation in Iraq The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and later the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) spent a total of 12 years looking for biological, chemical and other types of weapons o…f mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq. The White House claimed that there were hidden stocks of such weapons there. Baghdad denied it. In February 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a speech before the UN Security Council, accused the Iraqi leaders of producing weapons of mass destruction. He presented a test tube with a white powder as “evidence,” which, according to his allegations, was the bacillus anthracis agent found in Iraq. On March 20, 2003, the United States and its allies launched an armed invasion of Iraq, which was done in violation of international law under the pretext of the need to destroy those weapons. What happened to Iraq, its legitimate president, and the people of that country? The head of state, Saddam Hussein, was toppled and later executed, while the country was plunged into a years-long internal military and political conflict, from which it has not been able to fully recover to this day. But it was not a natural internal conflict, which can arise for a number of reasons in any country or a national state. No. It was a conflict that, first, took place during the occupation of the territory in question by the United States and other countries of the anti-Iraq coalition, and, second, it was directly fomented by the Western countries without any reasonable justification. As a result, they found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So, let us go back to Baghdad’s original tenet: there were no weapons [of mass destruction] in the country. The leaders of the countries involved in the invasion attempted to justify their criminal actions by claiming that they had been given inaccurate information by their own intelligence services. I would like to remind you that the Western participants in the anti-Iraq coalition – the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and many others – had no common border with Iraq. It will be recalled that Ukraine also sent representatives of its armed forces to Iraq (although few people would bring it up today). We would like to remind the Bankova Street administration, who are making noises in defence of international law, that the Kiev regime had trampled this international law underfoot by sending its military (not doctors, nurses, or humanitarian missions, but soldiers) to the territory of Iraq to fight Iraqis on their soil. What was the fate of international law there? What I will tell you now may seem incredible to some people. I have mentioned this repeatedly; let me reiterate it once again: the notorious sniper, Nadezhda Savchenko, was one of those whom the Kiev regime sent to fight Iraqis on their soil. It is hard to believe, isn’t it? You may remember how the West hailed her as a superstar, a pacifist, a person born to defend human rights, Ukraine, the regime, and so on. The very same Nadezhda Savchenko, who directed artillery strikes and was later sentenced in this country for killing Russian journalists – also participated in hostilities in Iraq. According to Western sources (I would like to stress that indeed those were Western sources), the invasion and the subsequent occupation of Iraq resulted in anywhere between 100,000 and 205,000 violent civilian deaths, with indirect civilian losses amounting to about 650,000. This data was provided by official agencies. But the figures are even higher when the number of victims among the civilian population is calculated by various NGOs. First, these organisations state that the civilian losses have not been calculated at all and that nobody has ever intended to calculate them. Second, they say that the actual figure is likely to exceed one million. I would like to stress this once again: it is important to understand that we are not talking about the Iraqi military, or members of the regular armed forces, or mercenaries, or security service agents. Nothing of the kind. They were peaceful civilians, who died as a result of the US Iraqi campaign. These military operations also resulted in the destruction of that country’s basic infrastructure, a disastrous decline in the national health system, and a surge in crime. This has led to a profound, protracted socioeconomic crisis. The number of Iraqi refugees (in Syria and Jordan) and that of internally displaced persons has reached 1.5 million and 2 million, respectively. At the same time, Washington consistently disregarded the International Committee of the Red Cross’ reports about cruel treatment of Iraqi prisoners and investigations conducted by Western NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, which implicated US service personnel in Iraq in systematic killings, torture and rapes of civilians. The Americans tried to hush up absolutely everything. They hushed up scandals caused by media leaks about torture at the Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca prisons, including the Iraq War Logs published by WikiLeaks. But the truth surfaced all the same. Years later, this was what the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who posted the relevant content on his website, paid for, falling victim to US lawlessness. Washington also cynically covered up crimes committed by the personnel of US private military companies. In December 2020, US President Donald Trump pardoned four employees of Blackwater, a notorious private military company, despite condemnation by the UN Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries. The four individuals were found guilty of killing 14 civilians on Nisour Square in Baghdad in 2007. Apart from completely demolishing Iraqi statehood and the country’s military, economic and social foundations, the aggression against Iraq irreparably damaged its cultural and historical legacy. Should I also mention the environment? I don’t think I will this time. After US forces seized Baghdad on April 9, 2003, rampant looting and robberies swept the city. The National Museum and other cultural sites in the capital were also hit hard. These crimes later spread to major Iraqi archaeological sites. US television channels savoured the situation. Numerous incidents involving US military personnel smuggling out ancient artefacts have been documented. As I am sure you understand, everything that had been plundered and smuggled out at that time is now part of private Western collections. Is anyone in the West conducting an inventory of what has been plundered and smuggled out from Iraq? Of course, not. These artefacts will remain in the West forever, just like those smuggled out by the British and other Westerners from Greece and Egypt. Egyptian and Greek museums and state agencies have been demanding, requesting, pleading and begging for a long time that the West return their cultural legacy. However, the answer they get is always the same: it isn’t yours anymore. The British also plundered the Acropolis, paying for some artefacts and grabbing others for free. Notably, British diplomats took advantage of their diplomatic immunity to smuggle various items out of Greece, and now they are on display at the famous British Museum. US service personnel smuggled ancient artefacts out of Iraq. A large number of artefacts was smuggled out during the entire period of occupation – plane loads of items, using special aircraft. Officers and soldiers of the coalition openly plundered them while they served in the armed forces, at the request of specialised agencies and private US collectors. According to the management of the National Museum alone, 15,000 exhibits are reported missing. Not more than 6,000 have been returned to date. However, we realise that this is just a small share that has been estimated and calculated. The scale of plunder is so huge that it will be impossible to establish how many artefacts have been destroyed, plundered and stolen. Consequently, the Americans have failed to fulfil their promise to establish the so-called prosperity in Iraq. However, they destroyed a way of life that had evolved over centuries, and undermined the fragile inter-denominational balance. The country turned into a hotbed of regional instability for many years, giving rise to ISIS, a notorious terrorist organisation which is banned in Russia. https://mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1858321/?lang=en
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