Archive for June, 2006

Oil Union Bank Account Frozen

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

More good news from Iraq - the General Union of Oil Employees has had its bank accounts frozen by the Iraqi government.

The union has been leading the fight against plans to transfer large parts of Iraq’s oil wealth to foreign corporations under Production Sharing Agreements, organising an anti-privatisation conference last year and planning another one this year, so I suppose it’s been asking for it.

No word as yet on why.

Attack on Ramadi

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Below the attention of the British press, something nasty is happening in Ramadi. Dahr Jamail reported on Monday that a major Coalition assault on Ramadi is beginning:

the US military has been assaulting the city for months with tactics like cutting water, electricity and medical aid, imposing curfews, and attacking by means of snipers and random air strikes. This time, Iraqis there are right to fear the worst - an all out attack on the city, similar to what was done to nearby Fallujah.

It looks as though he’s right. The US military have given the kind of semi-denial which all but confirms something is happening. According to a Pentagon spokesman discussions of large-scle offensive “may be somewhere off the mark” - but when George Bush himself has spoken of an offensive in Ramadi, “off the mark” likely means little more that that there will be more focus on putting Iraqi rather than American troops in the front line. The Americans, with 1500 troops recently brought from Kuwait to Anbar, will simply be “helping them do that with our own military forces and our forces that operate as embedded trainers and in other ways”.

However it is spun, this offensive has already dramatically harmed Ramadi, and we can only expect the news to get worse. It’s probably best to ignore the claim that some 300,000 Ramadi residents have fled their homes this past week - but the more credible figure of 10,000 is bad enough. And we’re seeing use of the same tactics which were widely condemned when they were used in Fallujah, Tal Afar and elsewhere.

The city is now virtually cut off, with Al-Jazeera reporting that the roads are blocked, and .”a giant wall of sand has been piled up around the perimiter”

As we have documented in previous campaigns water and electricity supplies have been cut off, possibly as part of an illegal US tactic of denying essential amenities to besieged cities. One report talks of “outages in the water, electricity and phone networks”. Dahr Jamail has been told that “Ramadi has been deprived of water, electricity, telephones and all services for about two months now”, and former governer of Anbar province has said that:

“The situation is catastrophic. No services, no electricity, no water”

So, all in all it seems we’re going back through the same mistakes and crimes seen in a half-dozen previous cases.

[edited to reduce the refugee count to something more plausible]