Nov 11, 2013
In July, 1,057 civilians were reported to have been killed in Iraq, making it the deadliest month for Iraqis in five years. The official death toll so far this year is greater than 5,700, much higher than last year’s 3,200.
Commentators say that this rise in violence in Iraq is a spill-over of the civil war in neighboring Syria. They say Islamist fighters, who are Sunni, are crossing the border into Iraq and fighting against Iraq’s Shiite regime.
That may be true – but it’s also true that Iraq’s own civil war has never stopped.
A recent study, based on interviews of Iraqi households and published by University of Washington researchers, found that nearly half a million people were killed in the Iraq war between 2003 and 2011.
Many of these deaths were caused directly by the bullets and bombs of U.S. occupation forces. The rest of these killings either came from sectarian militias, or were the result of the chaos created by the war – both of which were, in turn, direct results of the U.S. occupation. After overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the U.S. set up the new political system in Iraq, dividing the country along ethnic and religious lines, and propping up the various sectarian leaders who attack people from the “enemy” sect.
Besides killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the U.S. war on Iraq also destroyed the country’s infrastructure, disrupted its economy and vastly impoverished its people – making life miserable for millions of Iraqis. This war has been a real catastrophe for the people of Iraq, and it still continues.
But the Iraq War is not over for us here in the U.S. either. Despite the claims of U.S. officials to the contrary, the U.S. occupation actually continues – it’s just that soldiers are now called “contractors,” and the headquarters they are directed from is now called the “U.S. Embassy.”