Oct 8, 2007
In Iraq, over four million people have been forced from their homes, about one-sixth of the entire population of that country, and the number is still growing. This estimate comes from U.N. sources on refugees. It is the largest displacement of people in the Middle East ever. About half of them have fled to nearby countries – Syria and Jordan in particular. The other half have moved from one neighborhood or region to another within the country, sometimes more than once.
Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee during U.S. military sweeps and bombings of their neighborhoods. One of the most well-known examples came in November 2004, when nearly the entire population of Fallujah, more than 200,000 people, fled from U.S. attacks on their city. But three times this many people have been forced out of their homes in smaller, less publicized, U.S. or joint U.S.-Iraqi army attacks. Even more people have been forced to flee by Shi’a, Sunni and Kurdish militias establishing areas of domination and control, effectively dividing up the country into parts.
Sunni’s and Shi’as are both being terrorized, tortured and murdered by the militias of the other side, trying to drive them out and establish their own domination over more areas.
It’s ethnic cleansing pure and simple – accepted, approved, and in some cases openly carried out by U.S. military forces themselves. U.S.-imposed curfews, Iraqi electricity cutoffs, and U.S. and Iraqi army blockades are encircling people in particular neighborhoods. The U.S. military has built walls, creating “no man’s land” in the middle of Baghdad, dividing Sunni and Shi’a areas.
For centuries before the U.S. attacks on Iraq, members of Iraq’s main religious groups worked and lived together in many areas, most importantly in the huge Baghdad region where much of the population was concentrated. Under Saddam Hussein, whom the U.S. supported for many years, Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’as were played off against each other. Nonetheless, large urban parts of Iraq remained a secular society. Despite Saddam’s use of religious differences to divide and conquer the population, before the 2003 U.S. invasion began, it’s estimated that one-third of all marriages were still mixed marriages.
Thousands of Iraqis died under Saddam Hussein. Tens of thousands were forced out of certain villages and towns.
But what happened under Saddam looks like child’s play today. Hundreds of thousands are dying now. And millions of Iraqis are being turned into refugees even within their own country.
The only thing the U.S. can do for Iraq is to get out! Immediately.