BAGHDAD - Killings, crime, lack of medical
care, the collapse of education - the list goes
on. But with the occupation by US-led forces now
into its fifth year, and a supposedly democratic
government in place, no one knows whom to hold
accountable for all that is going wrong.
It is the occupation forces, particularly
the United States and Britain, that must be held
accountable, many Iraqis say.
"It is good
of these people to discuss accountability for
most important thing to account for is Iraqi
blood," said Numan Ahmed, a human-rights activist
from the Adhamiya neighborhood in Baghdad.
The British medical journal Lancet has
reported that by last July, 655,000 people had
died as "a consequence of the war". It has
reported that the risk of death among civilians is
now 58 times as high as before the US-led invasion
in March 2003.
"By now a million Iraqis
have been killed for no reason, and many millions
disabled or badly injured just because of some
thieves in Baghdad and Washington," Ahmed said.
"We are prepared to reveal the documents to
condemn them even if takes us a lifetime."
But Iraqis have no means to take action
against the occupiers.
The US has not
accepted the jurisdiction of the International
Criminal Court (ICC), which has the power to
investigate complaints of genocide. The United
States took the view that the court could conduct
"politically motivated investigations and
prosecutions of US military and political
officials and personnel".
US opposition to
the ICC is in stark contrast to the strong support
for the court by most of America's closest allies.
With no doors of justice open to them,
many Iraqis are taking to unlawful ways to hit
back at occupation forces and government targets.
"The only way to do it is at gunpoint,"
said Ali Aziz, 32, from Ramadi, 100 kilometers
west of Baghdad. "They invaded us at gunpoint, and
we find it ridiculous to talk about any other way
of getting back what belongs to us."
said he had lost several friends in attacks by US
soldiers. "The whole world is dealing with this in
a hypocritical way, and there is only us to claim
our rights the way we find proper."
Human-rights group al-Raya filed a case in
a court in Fallujah against US forces in 2004,
after a massive military crackdown. About
three-quarters of all buildings in the city were
destroyed or heavily damaged during the US assault
But US-backed Iraqi
security forces have targeted the rights group.
"The secretary general for the organization has
now been arrested by Fallujah police for reasons
that we are not aware of, and the organization is
not functioning anymore," said a senior member of
the group, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"It is not the right time to talk about
accountability when daily killings by US and Iraqi
soldiers are still ongoing. God knows if it will
ever be possible."
A case for
accountability could well be made. A judge from
the United States wrote at the time of the trial
of Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg, Germany, in
1946: "To initiate a war of aggression is not only
an international crime; it is the supreme
international crime differing only from other war
crimes in that it contains within itself the
accumulated evil of the whole."
invasion of Iraq was judged by then-United Nations
secretary general Kofi Annan on September 16,
2004, as "an illegal act that contravened the UN
The lack of accountability
appears now to be leading to greater support for
armed resistance against occupation forces.
"What accountability are you talking
about, sir?" said Abu Jassim of Fallujah, who lost
four members of his family when a US bomb
destroyed his home during the first US offensive
against the city in April 2004. "Americans are
criminals, and the whole world is covering up for
their crimes." They will be held accountable, he
said, by Allah and by "the heroes of the Iraqi
Iraqis are also angry over
destruction of their civilian infrastructure, for
which no one has been held responsible.
"The US crime of deliberately crushing
Iraqi infrastructure must be looked at as a crime
against humanity," said chief engineer Jalal
Abdulla at Baghdad's Ministry of Electricity.
"They did not have to do this to support their
military effort, but they did it just to cause
hundreds of thousands of deaths for no reason but
Others vent their frustration
against what they see as an impotent United
Nations. "The UN should be the place for asking
those Americans why they committed so many crimes
in Iraq," said Baghdad resident Malik Hammad.
Ali al-Fadhily, the IPS
correspondent in Baghdad, works in close
collaboration with Dahr Jamail, a US-based
specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively
in the region.