US weapons won’t solve Iraq’s security issue, will only increase civilian deaths
October was the bloodiest month in Iraq in five years. Data from
the country's authorities puts the death toll at over 1,000
people. Ninety percent of those were civilian casualties.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has arrived in Washington to request US hardware to tackle Al-Qaeda in the country. Iraq is asking for Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, and air-defense systems.
But Guardian contributor and former prisoner of Saddam Hussein's regime, Haifa Zangana, believes the many factions in the country’s government don’t care about the safety of citizens. Instead, he believes they are only interested in fighting each other for power.
RT:You must have been greatly relieved back in 2003 when the intervention began and US forces effectively won your freedom?
Haifa Zangana: No, no. I mean, we understood from the beginning – many Iraqis did, including myself – that this isn’t really liberation as it’s being claimed. This is an invasion. And there’s a difference between opposing Saddam [Hussein]’s regime and the occupying of your own country.
RT: Ten years on, what is your assessment of the
security situation right now?
HZ: It’s absolutely terrible because it’s affecting daily life from morning until night. And every single hour of the day, people are unsafe to do anything. Whoever goes out, they don’t know whether they [will] come back safely or not. There is distrust of the regime and terrorist attacks - mostly targeting innocent people rather than other forces. So it’s a huge decline in the security. And the feeling of unsafety is driving people mad on the human level.
RT:Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked the US for help. Could that mean a second intervention?
HZ: He’s asking to be supplied by more advanced technology in order to, he says, fight Al-Qaeda. But what he’s not mentioning is that it’s not just Al-Qaeda that is active in Iraq. Terrorist acts are part and parcel of the regime itself. There are about six other organizations or militia - they are attached to the political process and the regime itself – that are acting in a very violent way against Iraqi civilians. There’s the al-Mahdi Army militia. There’s the Badr Brigade. I can go on and on and continue counting many others. So asking for extra weapons is in fact adding to the crimes of the US since the occupation of 2003 that was committed against the Iraqi people.
Until now, the weapons available for the regime - the Maliki regime - have been used in a big way against the civilians themselves when they are demonstrating and when they are in vigils. We saw that clearly in April in Hawijah, north of Baghdad, where a vigil camp was attacked by security forces. Fifty-one people were killed. They were demonstrators. And many others - like three times that figure - were wounded. And as we know, because of the lack of health service in Iraq, many of the wounded will usually end up dead.
RT:Why can't the government cope on its own?
HZ: The government doesn’t represent the people. The government is quite busy with squabbling among the alliance – it’s a form of alliance or some political parties. Most of them have got militias and they are very busy fighting each other. This inter-fighting is causing a lot of the horrendous violence against civilians. It’s not the lack of weapons, it’s the trust of the people. It’s the real intention and the work of the regime itself and the many political parties there in order to ensure the security of the people. The only safeguard for any government in the world to reduce terrorism – whatever that is – is to build up the trust with their own people. And the Maliki regime with all its militia has failed tremendously in that aspect.