Guardian

The unbearable moral inversion of CiF correspondent, David Wearing


The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda’s front organization, claimed credit for the massacre, on Monday night, at the packed Saint Joseph Chaldean church in the heart of the Karrada district, in Baghdad, that killed 52 Iraqi Christians.

Al Qaeda in Iraq also threatened to carry out attacks against Christian churches across the globe.

“Afterwards, various attacks will be launched against them inside and outside this country, in which their lands will be destroyed, their strength will be undermined, and they will be afflicted by the humiliation that God ordained for them,” al Qaeda said.

Chaldean (pronounced KAL-dee-en) Christians are an ancient ethnic minority of Catholics who make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. More than 600,000 of them, half the Chaldean population in Iraq, are thought to have fled the war to neighboring countries over the last several years as Islamic militants have targeted them in viscous campaigns of murder, kidnapping for ransom and forced property expropriations. Chaldean Christians represent about two-thirds of all Iraqi Christians.

Indicative of the Guardian left’s continuing efforts to blame all of the world’s problems on America, the UK (or the West, more broadly), CiF contributor David Wearing tweeted the following in response to the bloody attack in Baghdad on Monday.

David Wearing’s Twitter profile:

First, Wearing is attacking  a straw man.  Nobody with any sense reacted to the Church massacre by asserting that the incident proves Arabs are pathologically inclined to massacre each other.  More importantly, his inference that diverse religious and ethnic groups (including Christians) were living in freedom and harmony in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein is simply breathtaking.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator – even by the standard of other totalitarian regimes – and certainly received the nickname “the Butcher of Baghdad” for a reason.

Here are a few:

The al-Anfal Campaign campaign

The brutal campaign against the Kurdish people in Iraqi Kurdistan was led by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. The campaign takes its name from Surat al-Anfal in the Qur’an, which was used as a code name by the former Iraqi Baathist regime for a series of attacks against  the mostly Kurdish civilian population of rural Northern Iraq, conducted between 1986 and 1989 culminating in 1988. This campaign also targeted Shabaks and Yazidis (both ethnically Kurdish), Chaldean Christians, and Turkoman people, and many villages belonging to these ethnic groups were also destroyed.

The murderous campaigns stretched from the spring of 1987 through the fall of 1988, and displaced at least a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population. Independent sources estimate 100,000 to more than 150,000 deaths and as many as 100,000 widows and an even greater number of orphans.


The campaign has been characterized as genocidal in nature. According to the Iraqi prosecutors, as many as 180,000 people were killed.

Chemical Weapons Against Kurds

As early as April 1987, the Iraqis used chemical weapons to remove Kurds from their villages in northern Iraq during the Anfal campaign. It is estimated that chemical weapons were used on approximately 40 Kurdish villages, with the largest of these attacks occurring on March 16, 1988 against the Kurdish town of Halabja.

 

Aftermath of Iraqi chemical attack on Halabji, March 1988.

 

Beginning on March 16, 1988 Iraqis rained down bombs filled with a deadly mixture of mustard gas and nerve agents on Halabja. Immediate effects of the chemicals included blindness, vomiting, blisters, convulsions, and asphyxiation. Approximately 5,000 women, men, and children died within days of the attacks. Long-term effects included permanent blindness, cancer, and birth defects. An estimated 10,000 lived, but live daily with the disfigurement and sicknesses from the chemical weapons.

Saddam Hussein’s cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid was directly in charge of the chemical attacks against the Kurds, earning him the epithet, “Chemical Ali.”

Shiite Uprising & the Marsh Arabs

At the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, southern Shiites and northern Kurds rebelled against Hussein’s regime. In retaliation, Iraq brutally suppressed the uprising, killing thousands of Shiites in southern Iraq.

As punishment for supporting the Shiite rebellion in 1991, Saddam Hussein’s regime killed thousands of Marsh Arabs, bulldozed their villages, and systematically ruined their way of life. The Marsh Arabs had lived for thousands of years in the marshlands located in southern Iraq until Iraq built a network of canals, dykes, and dams to divert water away from the marshes. The Marsh Arabs were forced to flee the area, their way of life decimated.

Whatever one’s opinion about the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, to argue that there was ethnic harmony before the U.S. led invasion reminds me of those who argued that their was “ethnic harmony” in the former Soviet Union – pointing to the ethnic violence which occurred in the former Soviets states once they were freed from the communist yoke.  Yes, totalitarian regimes have this uncanny ability to keep “ethnic” peace, by massacring and oppressing at will to maintain such “harmony”.

The intentional murder of civilians in Iraq – whether they be Christians or other Muslims – by Al Qaeda, and other Islamic extremists is not an indictment against the U.S. or Britain.  Those who engage in such despicable acts are responsible for their own behavior.  You don’t have to be a cheerleader for the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to celebrate the fact that a nation is now free of a brutal dictator, and now enjoys the fruits of a flawed but true democracy for the first time in its history.

I’d bet if David Wearing were to ask average Iraqis, they’d tell him – despite the chronic violence – they’re still, at the end of the day, grateful to be a free people, and have no interest in returning to the “stability” of tyranny.  One need only look at the  proud faces of Iraqi voters – who’ve been turning out at the poles to vote despite the enormous risk of terrorist violence – to understand  that the universal human desire for freedom trumps the desire for the “safety” of oppression.


15 replies »

  1. ‘More importantly, his inference that diverse religious and ethnic groups (including Christians) were living in freedom and harmony in Iraq before the fall of Saddam Hussein is simply breathtaking.’

    Hold on. Hussein brutally suppressed politically dissent, no doubt.

    But Christian minorities who toed the line, and behaved circumspectly, were protected from Islamist murderers, Sunni and Shia, if nothing else. This sort of massacre did not occur. With the destruction of the Ba’athist state, they lost that protection.

  2. Millions of Iraqi, Abyssinian etc Christian refugees, some of whom made their way to where I live, witness to the fact that the destruction of the Ba’athist state, however objectionable, destroyed their physical security. This is the reality. The ostensibly secular Ba’athist state (ok, en effait a Sunni dominion/tyranny) kept this kind of religious murderousness under relative control.

  3. @Zkharya

    >The ostensibly secular Ba’athist state (ok, en effait a Sunni dominion/tyranny) kept this kind of religious murderousness (sic!) under relative control.

    Perhaps it did so. Same in post-colonial, secular Algeria, before the Islamist opposition unleashed its violent take over campaign (which luckily did not succeed).

    I remember seeing Algerian female athletes competing at the Olympic games clad in shorts and sleeveless shirts.

    see for example:

    Whenever the Islamic countries were ruled by left wing regimes, religion payed a minimal role, conservative/restrictive lifestyles were discouraged so the population enjoyed greater freedoms.
    (the case of Afghanistan between 1978 and 1989 when it was under Soviet influence)

    By contrast, those Islamic countries ruled by conservative, right-wing, intolerant, religious inspired regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, even Qatar/Bahrain/UAE etc. force upon their population tough dressing codes,
    restricting freedoms etc.

    It is easier and less dangerous to be a Christian in say, Syria, Algeria or Khazahstan then in ostensibly pro-Western, pro-religion, pro-US and anti-communist strongholds such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain etc.

    (I don’t know which is the situation of the native Christians or of that of the native Judaic faith in Lybia though and whether they enjoy freedom of worship)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_Libya

    see also this excellent blog:

    http://gleaningsinhebrew.blogspot.com/2010/07/jews-in-africa.html

  4. Zkharya,

    So what you are saying is that Arabs, and Kurds need some sort of an iron grip to keep them under control?

    Are they children?
    Are they insane?
    Are they mentaly challanged?

    If so, will there ever be peace with Israel?

  5. So what you are saying is that Arabs, and Kurds need some sort of an iron grip to keep them under control?

    Muslim Arabs need an iron grip to keep them ‘out’ of control, so that the inclination to freedom is not stifled by religious certainties that carry with them the obligation to violence without inhibition in the name Islam, so as to further its stifling authority. Peace with Israel will always be, because peace with Israel is forbidden, except as a device to regroup and prepare. Were we less inclined to reject religious pieties that threaten us as the excusable ravings of children, and more inclined to their rigorous rejection as uncivilised and cruel, then we might see a decline in the appeal of delusion and the emergence of reason amongst cultures that have so conspicuously rejected it.

  6. epidermoid, Islam and Islamism (provided it’s the “right” sort provides that iron grip, surely.

    I am no psychologist but it seems to me that apart from the lack of education of the majority of these people, they are jammed up because they don’t even know how to question the authorities much less are allowed to do so. This fear of criticising is so in every dictatorship, even “free” Iraq, but it’s made worse whenever the people in charge wheel in sharia or some even more benighted version of it to support what they say.

    Itsik, cognitively-speaking, I suggest they are very like children under the thumb of their very powerful and abusive parents because of what I have argued above.

    If my hypothesis is correct, this would beg the question of how onlookers can put it right, even if they were prepared to do so.

    One way not to put it right is to absolve them of all responsibility for being effective in a better outcome – once that happens there is little motivation to change it as we see throughout the Arab/Muslim world.

  7. I have just noted Wearing’s profile and that he works for UCL which is very good at caving into Islamism – viz its Islamic Society, which has an infamous record of spawning Islamist terrorist sympathisers and some terrorists, and its recent announcement of formal links between it and the UAE (which can be translated as more money in its bank account).

    Little wonder that he toes the party line.

  8. Epidermoid

    Muslim Arabs need an iron grip to keep them ‘out’ of control …

    You’re talking about a few hundred million people, there.

    But hey – they’re all the same, right?

    At least you find religious pieties uncivilised and cruel, so there’s hope yet.

  9. ‘So what you are saying is that Arabs, and Kurds need some sort of an iron grip to keep them under control?’

    No.

    I am saying (I actually, said, had you bothered to read) the Ba’athist regime at least protected obedient Christian minorities from Islamist terror.

    Having said that, my Iraqi Christian friend also told me how Hussein had increasingly Islamized Iraqi society from 1990 on, increasingly taking on the role of defender of the faith.

    Nevertheless, the regime at least protected from this kind of Islamist murderousness.

  10. ‘It is easier and less dangerous to be a Christian in say, Syria, Algeria or Khazahstan then in ostensibly pro-Western, pro-religion, pro-US and anti-communist strongholds such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain etc.’

    Though the reverse is true in post-revolutionary Iran. Syrian intervention in a sense saved Lebanese Christians (and every one else), though (in Christian eyes) its intervention now curtails their freedom, and threatens them with its and Iran’s proxy, Hizbullah. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish protection from Protection.

  11. >Though the reverse is true in post-revolutionary Iran. Syrian intervention in a sense saved Lebanese Christians (and every one else), though (in Christian eyes) its intervention now curtails their freedom, and threatens them with its and Iran’s proxy, Hizbullah. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish protection from Protection.

    Yeah, I forgot/ignored Iran, pehaps because it is difficult to ascribe the ideological stance of its regime to a classical bipolar left/right dichotomy.

    I one incline to believe that a teocratic/intolerant regime such as that of contemporary Iran is a right wing one par excellence.

    What I tried to insinuate in my first posting is this great paradox: propping teocratic states such as Saudia Arabia etc. (where Christianity/Juadaism are explicitely repressed if not outrightly forbidden) for the sake of their being on the “right” side from an ideological perspective while demonizing say, Syria where Christianity and even Judaism (in some quarters of Damascus) are openly accepted, just because they are “socialist”.

    But after all you can’t have the best of both worlds, can you?

  12. >I one incline to believe that a teocratic/intolerant regime such as that of contemporary Iran is a right wing one par excellence.

    Though I do not agree with the superficial coining “Islamo-fascism” I must agree that Iran shows all the symptoms of an extreme right-wing Islamo-fascist/Conservative type of totalitarian ideology which is in power since the overthrowing of the Shah in 1979 (if I remember well).
    So the coining is apt in Iran’s case. But the Iranian exceptionalism for sure gives headaches to any scholar in political science because that form of Islamism is particularly irrational and absurd beacuse of its being very very conservative and reactionary, or so it seems to me from distance, having never visited myself that country to check the reality on the ground.

  13. What is most relevant in response to the loathesome Wearing is, first, that the Chaldeans lived under the dhimma status in Iraq for centuries, as did Christians elsewhere in the Islamic domain, except insofar that many Chaldeans lived in relatively inaccessible mountain areas that the Muslim state could not easily control. The Chaldeans as a group were part of the Assyrian Nestorian Christian community, which broke off and switched its theology to Catholic, joining the RC church as Uniates. Both Assyrians and Chaldeans traditionally spoke Aramaic/Syriac and are not Arabs, as Wearing seems to think [does he owe his position at UCL to his ignorance?]. Most significant is the massacre of thousands of Assyrians perpetrated by the Iraqi army in 1933 shortly after the British mandate ended. King Faisal was in London at the time, being praised by King George V for his “enlightened rule.” See link:
    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/05/before-iraqi-massacre-of-jews.html

    Note in the blog post at the link that the Baghdad mob was calling for the genocide of the Assyrians. This we learn in the words of the Arab nationalist historian, Majid Khadduri, no less:
    “Demonstrations, spontaneous or inspired, were taking place almost daily demanding the elimination of the entire Assyrian community.”

    This genocidal Iraqi Arab attitude toward the Assyrians was in evidence in 1933. But our researcher at UCL doesn’t seem to know about it or, if he does know about it, he hides the truth. Wearing’s gross ignorance indicates the minimal or negative worth of his disquisitions for the Guardian and LeMonde Diplo.

  14. He could have blamed the Jews.

    Look on the bright side. It is after all the Guardian.

    Surprised he didn’t specify “neocons” or “zionists”.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he would be found out having blamed Israel for Lebanese sectarian strife.

  15. let’s not forget that civilization owes something to the Assyrians. In 1941, during the war before Germany attacked the USSR, while the USSR too was pro-Nazi, a coup d’etat brought to power the Rashid Ali Gailani govt which was pro-Nazi. This govt disavowed the treaty with the UK, proclaimed friendship for Nazi Germany, and attacked British bases in Iraq by treaty. The RAF base at Habbaniyah was attacked by the Iraqi army but was defended by Assyrian troops under British command. They held out until reinforcements came to their aid, including Jewish volunteers from Israel [also under Brit command at that time].

    After this, the British were able to defeat the Iraqi army. A pogrom against Jews [the Farhud] was instigated in Baghdad while the British army waited outside the city as the massacre and looting went on. According to the memoirs of a Brit officer, Somerset de Chair, this waiting outside the city in view of the massacre was due to a Foreign Office decision, not army policy. It seems that Anthony Eden wanted to give the Arabs the feeling of full freedom to do what they liked with the Jews. He had just called for setting up a pan-Arab body, which later emerged as the Arab League.

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/05/britain-silent-partner-in-holocaust.html

    http://ziontruth.blogspot.com/2006/06/glamourous-glimpses-of-life-in-baghdad.html

    William Hague encouraged Arab violence against Jews on his recent trip to Israel. Same policy as 69 years ago.