The Reign of Terror has begun

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Fear among the Iraqi people must be enormous at this moment. Terror is at their doorsteps; terror from an America ready for war, ready to punish them for the sins of a president they never elected.

Some 200,000 U.S. troops, equipped with the most expensive killing machines money can buy, are already in the region and the inexorable process of mobilization continues. As so many signs now confirm, the issue is no longer whether war will be launched, but when. And Iraqis wonder what horrors will ensue once George W. Bush issues his decision.

How many tons of bombs will rain down on Iraq this time? In the last war against Iraq Americans flew 110,000 aerial sorties, one every thirty seconds, and dropped 88,000 tons of explosives — equivalent to seven Hiroshimas.

With deadly laser-guided bombs the first wave will go straight to presidential places, bridges, communication posts, electrical generating stations, and water treatment plants. The second will target TV stations, and any official buildings not destroyed in the first wave. And so the reign of terror will continue.

Iraqis have no defense against the American attack: no intelligence, no secure communication lines, or air power; and little ammunition, or working defense weapons to speak of. Thanks to more than a decade of punishing sanctions, they have no food reserves, clean water, or medical supplies with which to maintain any effective resistance. And not one competent military analyst remains under the illusion that even Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard could stand for long against  American fire-power.

The impending American invasion of Iraq is a classic example of the kind of power inequity that enables a superpower to invade the territory and integrity of a smaller, weaker nation, killing and wounding thousands of innocent civilians; destroying and occupying its infrastructure; then installing its own military rule with no fear of reprisal whatsoever.

What kind of debased morality has inspired George W. Bush to order young Americans — mostly Blacks, Hispanics, and others from America’s poorest families –to march into Baghdad? What gargantuan arrogance has convinced him that he can intimidate, bribe or threaten any nation, including Canada, who dares to challenge his mad march to war at any cost?

America will not kill everyone in Iraq, but enough will die through intentional and collateral damage that survivors will be haunted by terror for the rest of their lives.

As recently as last month, two separate reports were issued about the grim  humanitarian situation in Iraq, both based on work done by on-site research teams. In combination with a current UN report on the likely humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people in a post-conflict situation, these reports paint an alarming picture of the impact of an American-led invasion on an already debilitated society.

The UN estimates that today, some 60 per cent of the Iraqi population — or 16 million people — are “highly dependent” on a monthly food aid package, without which “they have no other means… to provide for other essential requirements.”

With major bridges destroyed by bombing, and road transportation seriously affected, food distribution under war conditions will quickly dwindle. The UN report estimates that the nutritional status of some 3 million people throughout the country “will be dire” and warns they “will require therapeutic feeding.”  The same report also estimates that war will create some 900,000 Iraqi refugees “requiring assistance,” adding that this number “may in fact be higher.” Direct and indirect casualties resulting from conflict are estimated at 500,000.

Until recently, various UN agencies mandated to alleviate humanitarian problems in the aftermath of military confrontations, have been strangely silent about the expected impact of an Iraq war. The fact that they are now breaking that silence ominously suggests that war is imminent.

According to the UN high commissioner for refugees, the number expected to flee from Iraq when the fighting begins is estimated at between 500,000 and 600,000. Half of them will be Shi’ites from southern Iraq, seeking shelter in Iran. Many others would be Kurds from northern Iraq, fleeing to Turkey, while Sunnis would head for Syria and Jordan. As with the last war, Saudi Arabia is expected to reject Iraqi refugees within its borders, but may assist in financing their relocation elsewhere.

On the domestic front, in a desperate attempt to link Iraq with Al-Qaeda, the American administration raised its national terrorism alert status from “elevated risk” to “high risk,” in response to “specific intelligence” suggesting an increased probability of attack. Enough fear has been built up in the American public that a recent pepper spray incident in a crowded night club was mistaken for a chemical attack. Hysteria took over, with fatal results.

American peace crusader Ramsey Clark has warned, ” Until we recognize that all human beings are equal in every way to our children and to ourselves, [America] will see no wrong in using violence to control and destroy those we believe to be inferior. ” I doubt that George W. Bush understands an iota of what Clark is talking about.

May God save America and the world from the likes of America’s president. The real reign of terror against Iraq has already begun.

Prof. Mohamed Elmasry is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo and national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.

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