Germany and Genocide - Again
The overwhelming majority of technical expertise, know-how, and design information of the Iraqi dictator's chemical weapons plants came from German companies. The nerve and mustard gas was produced in German-built factories in Samarra and Fallujah. The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel refused to accept responsibility for the actions of German companies.
Halabja, Iraq – Just a few days ago, the Kurds in northern Iraq and I stood to commemorate the 25th anniversary of one of the most barbaric war crimes since WWII: Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons to commit mass murder of his own citizens.
Within months of the March 16 attack, after a fact-finding team dispatched to interview refugees along the Turkey-Iraq border pieced together eye-witness accounts to reconstruct an accurate account of the events, the United States Senate determined that the chemical attack against the city of Halabja by the Iraqi Air Force was a "genocide."
The Halabja chemical weapons attack killed between 3,000 to 5,000 civilians, according to eyewitness accounts. It came midway in a two-year long campaign with the explicit goal of eradicating the Kurds from northern Iraq; Saddam Hussein and his henchmen called the slaughter "Anfal," a Koranic term meaning "spoils of war."
Some 4,000 Kurdish villages were bulldozed, bombed, or otherwise destroyed by the Iraqis during the "Anfal," along with 106 Assyrian Christian villages that were targeted because their inhabitants were believed to have supported the Kurdish rebellion against Saddam.
Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdish Regional Government, told a conference in Erbil last week that of the 182,000 Kurds who disappeared during the "Anfal," researchers and families have so far only been able to discover the remains of 3,000 persons. The others, Barzani said, are still believed to be "lying in the deserts of Southern Iraq."
"The people of Kurdistan," he said, "need to be compensated, especially by many of the companies and the countries that helped the regime of Saddam Hussein to build these chemical weapons."
Just three years after the Halabja attack, I identified more than 400 Western and Third World companies that had delivered equipment, built factories, or otherwise contributed to Saddam Hussein's vast WMD infrastructure, and published many of the names of these companies in The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq in 1992.
While companies worldwide eagerly profited from building Saddam's war machine, the overwhelming majority of the technical expertise, know-how, and design information for the Iraqi dictator's chemical weapons plants came from German companies. Yet, with a few notable exceptions, none of these companies or individuals has paid any price for their role in the Kurdish genocide.
Post-World War II German governments have paid reparations to Israel for the genocide of the Jews carried out by Nazi Germany. And in 1992, the German government again chose to acknowledge guilt toward the state of Israel when it offered to provide free of charge two Dolphin-class diesel-powered submarines, worth around $650 million, to compensate Israel for Iraqi attacks using SCUD missiles that had been modified and improved by German companies.
A similar arrangement with the Kurds may be brewing today. In February, the German Minister of Transport, Building and Urban Development led a delegation of German businessmen to the Kurdish areas of Iraq to seek expanded commercial ties. According to Kurdish officials, he said that Germany had "missed an opportunity" to make amends to the Kurds for German involvement in Saddam's chemical weapons programs by not taking part in the 2003 war to liberate Iraq.
Further, last week, on March 14th, just as the Kurdish government was holding a conference in Erbil to commemorate the genocide, the German parliament held a special session in Berlin to discuss the massacre. All parties in the parliament, including the ruling Christian Democrats, called on the German government to negotiate a broad reparations agreement directly with the Kurdish Regional Government that would bypass "any third parties," including representatives of the victims. But the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel promptly rejected the resolution and refused to assume responsibility for the actions of German companies.
The horror of the Halabja attack was first revealed to the world by Iranian photographer Ahmed Nateghi, who had been embedded with an Iranian Revolutionary Guards unit fighting on the front lines with Iraq.
Several days before the chemical weapons strike, the Iranians had "liberated" the Kurdish town near the border, and had paraded through the city streets in uniform, accompanied by Iraqi civilians.
When Nateghi and a few colleagues prepared to enter Halabja on a victory tour on the afternoon of March 16, as they approached the city, they noticed aircraft dropping bombs, and further along, they came across abandoned houses and dead animals; then corpses: men and women slumped over children, whose bodies they had apparently been trying to protect, seemingly struck down by some monstrous event that sucked the life out of them.
A few days later, the Iranian regime brought in photographers and TV crews from around the world to document the murders. Because of these photographs, the world now knows what happened at Halajba.
The nerve and mustard gas used by Saddam's Air Force in Halabja was produced in German-built factories in Samarra and Fallujah. It was delivered for the most part in Spanish-made bombs, from Russian, French, and Swiss-built aircraft.
Gavi Mairone, a human rights lawyer working with the Global Justice Group -- and more than a thousand survivors and relatives of thousands more victims of the Halabja and other chemical weapons attacks -- announced on March 14th in Erbil a strategy to get justice for the victims and their families.
"The victims want to return hatred and death with compassion," he said. "They want to give the companies involved in building Saddam's chemical weapons factories an opportunity to make amends at a truth, reconciliation, and reparations conference on October 1-3 in the Hague. If they decline, we are prepared to file lawsuits against 20 companies, nine in Germany, two French, two Dutch, two Spanish, 1 Indian, 1 Japanese, and 1 American."
Mairone's firm, MM-Law of Chicago, has been working on the case for three years and has assembled more than 10,000 documents. Most of the companies have been identified in declassified documents from the U.S. and Iraqi governments.
Adalat Omar, 43, a Kurdish researcher who has spent much of the past 13 years documenting the genocide of the Kurds, used the official Iraqi government census. "I compared the list of villages in Kurdish areas from 1977, to 1987 and then to 1997, and found more than 4,000 villages that were erased from the map during the genocide."
Omar also found the orders, signed by Saddam Hussein as early as 1983, to use "special weapons" against the Kurds. Many of Omar's documents were used in the trial of Saddam Hussein by the High Iraqi Court that ultimately sentenced him to death in 2006.
"We want to make sure that the companies who profited from building chemical weapons in Iraq are never able to do this again," said Mairone. "We're looking for an end to impunity."
Kenneth Timmerman is a New York Times best-selling author, a former Congressional candidate, and president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran. His books and articles are available at kentimmerman.com. He is also working as a consultant to MM-Law in Chicago in the Halabja case.
Reader comments on this item
|It is payback time [34 words]||SAZ||Mar 26, 2013 12:16|
|But Mr. Timmerman [23 words]||Gee||Mar 25, 2013 14:33|
Comment on this item
by Alan M. Dershowitz
by Pierre Rehov
For terrorists, the death of innocent children is irrelevant. In a society that promotes martyrdom as the ultimate sign of success, the death of innocent children can sometimes even be seen as a public relations blessing.
In every action, intent is paramount. There should never be a moral equivalence painted between the deliberate killing of civilians, and a retaliation that tragically leads to casualties among civilians.
There is, however, one small difference: in the Middle East, reporters are threatened, except in Israel. Their choice becomes a simple one: promote the Palestinian point of view or stop working in the West Bank. Keep the eye of the camera dirty or lose your job. This show should not go on.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Since 1948, the Arab countries and government have been paying mostly lip service to the Palestinians.
"They have money and oil, but don't care about the Palestinians, even though we are Arabs and Muslims like them. What a Saudi or Qatari sheikh spends in one night in London, Paris or Las Vegas could solve the problem of tens of thousands of Palestinians." — Palestinian human rights activist.
"Some Arabs were hoping that Israel would rid them of Hamas." — Ashraf Salameh, Gaza City.
"Some of the Arab regimes are interested in getting rid of the resistance in order to remove the burden of the Palestinian cause, which threatens the stability of their regimes." — Mustafa al-Sawwaf, Palestinian political analyst.
"Most Arabs are busy these days with bloody battles waged by their leaders, who are struggling to survive. These battles are raging in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian Authority." — Mohammed al-Musafer, columnist.
"The Arab leaders don't know what they want from the Gaza Strip. They don't even know what they want from Israel." — Yusef Rizka, Hamas official.
by Soeren Kern
European elites, who take pride in viewing the EU as a "postmodern" superpower, have long argued that military hard-power is illegitimate in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Europe, Russia (along with China and Iran) has not embraced the EU's fantastical soft-power worldview, in which "climate change" is now said to pose the greatest threat to European security.
For its part, the European Commission, the EU's administrative branch, which never misses an opportunity to boycott institutions in Israel, has issued only a standard statement on the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine, which reads: "The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."
The EU has made only half-hearted attempts to develop alternatives to its dependency on Russian oil and gas.
by Shoshana Bryen
Proportionality in international law is not about equality of death or civilian suffering, or even about [equality of] firepower. Proportionality weighs the necessity of a military action against suffering that the action might cause to enemy civilians in the vicinity.
"Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable does not constitute a war crime.... even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality)." — Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.
"The greater the military advantage anticipated, the larger the amount of collateral damage -- often civilian casualties -- which will be "justified" and "necessary." — Dr. Françoise Hampton, University of Essex, UK.