Iraqi Undercurrents
March 20, 2003
by Stuart Udall

The town of Halabja, in north-eastern Iraq, has been mentioned many times in support of action against Saddam Hussein. In Halabja on March 16, 1988, Iraqi forces allegedly attacked and killed around 5000 Kurdish civilians. But persistent rumours of Iranian involvement cast doubt over this story.

March 17, 2003, the deadline set by the US for Iraqi co-operation, just happened to coincide with the anniversary of Halabja. Politicians, journalists and private citizens the world over could not help but be gripped as the images of the dead and wounded at Halabja played once more over their TV screens.

Yet these images, whilst moving, do not prove that Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons in an act of genocide against civilians. They simply prove that gas was used in Halabja. Yet meanwhile, decisions are being made, and guns are being fired, upon the basis of those images, and upon what might very well be lies being told about them.

It was stated in the paper "Iraqi Power and U.S. Security in the Middle East", published in February 1990 by the US Army War College, that the gas that killed the Kurds in Halabja was cyanide-based, this being determined from blue tinges on the skin of the extremities of the victims. The paper went on to state that Iraq did not, at the time, have the technological capability to produce or use cyanide-based weapons. Therefore, the paper concludes, Iraq could not have killed the Kurds in Halabja - indeed, it concludes "it was the Iranians' gas that killed the Kurds".

Iraq has not denied or hidden its use of mustard-based weapons (which causes blisters, not blue tinges). Indeed, Western nations were happy to ignore (and some would suggest, supply) Iraq's use of chemicals against the Iranians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, since at the time the West wished for regime change in Iran.

The US experts speculated that what happened in Halabja was more along the lines of the following:

  1. During the period leading up to the large number of gas-related civilian deaths on March 16, 1988, Iraqi forces controlled the town.
  2. A simultaneous attack by Kurdish forces and Iranian forces on the town caused the Iraqi forces to flee.
  3. Iraqi forces retook the town with the use of mustard gas, Iranian forces fighting them with cyanide-based gases.

During the fighting, gases were used by both Iranian and Iraqi forces, and the town's inhabitants were caught in the crossfire. Speculation has since been made that Iran then caused it to appear that Iraq had deliberately gassed civilians, this being propaganda indended to damage Iraq's international standing. Propaganda to be expected from a warring regime, particularly one on the losing side. Yet despite the evidence pointing to Iranian gas, this Iranian propaganda is now being presented as the truth.

Perhaps nobody will ever know who did it, and whether they did it on purpose. But the substantial question mark over the facts surrounding Halabja should at a minimum, cause people to think very carefully before they base judgements upon them.

Iraq is also accused of the ethnic cleansing of up to 180,000 Kurdish civilians after the end of the Iran-Iraq war, in the so-called Anfal campaign in 1988. Yet, no bodies have ever been found. Reports by Kurdish refugees were so different in their nature that the War College experts concluded that "no known chemical or combination of chemicals" could have caused the symptoms reported.

Yet, the then US Secretary of State, George Shultz, called for and obtained days later a resolution from the US Senate condemning Saddam Hussein and Iraq, for these events that apparently didn't happen.

It should be clear by now that "War with Iraq" is not simply a matter of putting a nasty regime out of business. Western powers actively supported that same regime when it was fighting the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. Then in an abrupt about-face, propaganda and unsubstantiated gossip began to form the basis of Western foreign policy. Now, with the 13-year-old work of the War College authors widely disseminated, Western assertions of Iraqi guilt in Halabja and genocide in Northern Iraq can only be called lies.

Other, deeper forces are at work. This article has not mentioned oil, nor has it mentioned Israel, or Osama Bin Laden. Nor has it mentioned the utility to politicians of overseas conflict to provide a diversion for domestic problems, and as a heart-starter for flagging economies. The suspicious election results in the US leading to the presidency of George W. Bush have not been touched upon. A 10,000-page report handed to the US by Iraq contained the names of over 100 Western companies doing business with the "evil regime" - yet those names were censored by the US Government before the report was made public. Then there's the Bush/Bin Laden business deals, and the Bush/Nazi financing arrangement. All still to come.. and finally, nothing has noted the possibility that Saddam Hussein is but the latest of an unending series of anti-theses rolled out by the Hegellian elite, purely for the purpose of keeping the masses occupied. Any, some, or all of these factors are probably contorting events in ways which may never be fully understood.