After nine years of war, the U.S. has finally done the deed and left Iraq, or at least what remains of it. Now that we can say with almost certainty that weapons of mass destruction did not actually exist in Iraq or were being produced there, will the US and its allies apologise? Well, that would be a start. A better start however, would be an apology that comes in the form of reparations.
Iraq would certainly have a strong case to present to the UN if it decided to demand reparations. 740,000 war widows, millions of orphans, the destruction of historic sites, the disruption of Iraqi oil production and its economy, the torture and killings of Iraqi prisoners of war, the journalists killed by U.S. forces, the displaced Iraqis, the Iraqi refugees and illegal American private contractors.
The lack of police and security forces as well as professors and doctors have contributed to a state of lawlessness in Iraq. Reparations are unquestionably needed. The International Coalition For British Reparations suggested that (as calculated by Congressional Appropriations) Britain alone should pay $282 billion, in reparations to Iraq.
In 1994, the UN encouraged Iraq to agree to compensation payments for the invasion of Kuwait. Iraq waged war and occupied Kuwait all in the space of seven months. During the occupation a thousand Kuwaiti civilians were killed and over 300,000 residents fled the country. Then in 2002 Saddam Hussein apologized for the war. In 1990, the U.S, U.N, NATO amongst others rightly condemned the war. The condemnations culminated in the U.S. led mini war against Iraq and its forces based in Kuwait, stopping the war in its tracks.
The U.N. Security Council mandate came up with Resolution 687. It required Iraq to put “five percent of its oil and gas revenues into the reparations fund”, which so far has provided about $33 billion in compensation. It stated that “Iraq…is liable under international law for any direct loss, damage, including environmental damage and the depletion of natural resources, or injury to foreign governments, nationals and corporations as a result of Iraq’s unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait.” There were even six categories a Kuwaiti citizen, affected by the war, could choose from that he/she fit. Depending on the category, each individual could receive up to 100,000 U.S. dollars each.
Several years later, with the invasion of Iraq by a U.S led force, Kuwait had to ask Iraq to continue paying the $19 billion due, in different ways.
According to Iraq’s oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani, Iraq has paid Kuwait the most in reparations by any country in history.
How does this reflect on the U.S. who were once against the Gulf war and smiled with approval as Iraq paid Kuwait for the loss and damage they caused? Iraq did not stay in Kuwait for nearly nine years. Nor did it kill a million Kuwaitis and uproot 2 million from their homes. The U.S. not only tipped the scale of atrocity but is also arrogant enough not to apply the same ‘just’ international rules that applied to Iraq, to itself.
The question is how does the reparation agreement work and who does it really work for? Unless it is applied in the way it claims to be, it becomes a tool used only to serve particular purposes and interests. It rarely serves to provide, maintain and restore peace. Rather it could be used or seen as a threat- if you are unjust to a particular race or people it will cost you, literally
What happens when the Iraqi civilians, who have survived the war, mobilise their anger against those responsible for the destruction of their country? Will their reaction be labelled as terrorism?
Reparations must be demanded. It is after all a small price to pay.
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