Fallujah: Where the War Persists

Unmentioned in the news reports and official acclaim about the supposed end to the U.S. war in Iraq was the ongoing suffering in Fallujah as a result of American crimes committed there in 2004. Al Jazeera recently released two reports on this of note (linked below).

As is known to anyone who pays attention, incidents of birth defects and cancer are off the charts in Fallujah and the doctors and scientists who’ve studied it point to the use of deadly weapons chemicals like depleted uranium and white phosphorous as the cause. The health problems faced by newborns and children in Fallujah include congenital heart disease, bone abnormalities like thanatophoric dysplasia, and physical deformities like “cleft palates, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.”

Just how common are these defects? In July 2010, British scientists “released a study that showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks.”

As of December 21, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.

…Dr Alani visited Japan recently, where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between 1-2 per cent. Alani’s log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the affected areas of Japan.

Antiwar.com columnist Kelley B. Vlahos wrote a brilliant piece in April 2011 in The American Conservative cataloguing the scientific support behind the conclusion that this ongoing suffering in Fallujah is caused by the U.S. weapons used in America’s siege of the city in 2004.

Another piece at Al Jazeera reports on the other sorts of damage still apparent from the war. First of all, “doctors at Fallujah General Hospital told Al Jazeera in 2004 that 736 Iraqis had been killed,” 60 percent of whom were women, children, and elderly. By the end of the siege, well over 1,000 Iraqi victims died in the Fallujah General Hospital. The victims that never made it to the hospital surely number far higher than that. At least 300,000 residents had been displaced, 70 percent of the buildings and homes were destroyed, “along with at least 100 mosques, 6,000 shops, and nine government offices.” Reconstruction efforts have failed miserably and much of the city remains in shambles. “Everything here is bad,” one resident told Al Jazeera. “No water, no electricity, no good health care. We have between 75 and 80 per cent unemployment. Widows have no rights, no compensation.”

Not a single American politician or major media outlet that I know of has expressed one particle of concern over this. It is absent from the rhetoric, but more importantly, no blame has dared been placed on the shoulders of those who were responsible for it. As I wrote last week, the real legacy of the Iraq war is not the lies that got us into it, it was not even the civilian casualties. It is impunity for crimes against humanity.

But not everyone thinks this issue is closed and shut. “Resistance fighters” are still present in Iraq and, as one told Al Jazeera, “We learned not to trust the words and promises of the Americans. They say they left, but have over 10,000 people at their embassy. This means they have not left our country.” He added: ‘’No one should be disillusioned that the resistance has ended or defeated. They say there are leaving … we doubt that … but if the Americans don’t leave we will continue fighting them.”