MPPM evokes two decades of destruction in the Middle East
Last March marked 20 years since the invasion of Iraq by the US, UK and their allies, in a war of aggression that violated all the norms of International Law. The month of March - which proved particularly tragic for the peoples of the Middle East - also marked 12 years since the beginning of the NATO bombing of Libya and the intervention in Syria by the Western powers and their regional allies,. It was also in the month of March that, in 2015, the foreign military aggression against Yemen began.
The war against Iraq had as its pretext lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The brutal bombing raids on Baghdad that began on 19 March 2003 were ostensibly part of the "Shock and Awe" war strategy theorised by US military strategists since the 1990s. Iraq was militarily occupied - an occupation that, in various forms, persists to this day, with the presence of some 2,500 US troops, not to mention mercenaries, despite the Iraqi parliament's demand for their withdrawal.
Iraq had already been devastated by the Iran-Iraq war, the 1991 Gulf War and a decade of brutal and deadly UN sanctions that led to the resignation of Denis Halliday and Kurt von Sponeck, two senior UN officials, in protest at the criminal effects of the sanctions on the civilian population, especially children. Over the past 30 years, millions of Iraqis have been killed or injured and millions more have become displaced or become refugees. Iraq's economy and society have been shattered.
Occupied Iraq has become synonymous with war and death, but also with torture in US prisons like Abu Graibe. The Baghdad Museum was looted on the day of the occupation of the city by US troops, and with their connivance. Depleted uranium weapons were used, whose terrible effects include the explosion of birth defects in subsequent generations, as is widely documented today.
In an attempt to crush the Iraqi resistance, the occupying troops razed entire towns such as Fallujah. A previously secular country was divided along confessional and other lines, following the old strategy of divide and rule; internal conflicts were instigated and fuelled by the occupying forces.
The martyrdom of Iraq is a stain on the image of an international community which, after years of deadly sanctions, sought to legitimise the illegal occupation through UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (May 2003). The then Prime Minister of Portugal, Durão Barroso, tied our country to the lies and crimes of the invasion by hosting the summit in Lajes with Bush, Blair and Aznar. He was rewarded the following year with his election as President of the European Commission.
The month of March also marked the anniversaries of other wars that devastated the Middle East.
It was on 19 March 2011 that NATO bombing began on Libya, in a war of aggression backed by fundamentalist terrorist groups that led to a fragmentation of the country and disruption of its sovereignty. And, as in Iraq, it was lies that justified yet another war. A report from the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledged in September 2016 that it was not true that the Libyan government had bombed or massacred civilian populations, the pretext under which NATO aggression was launched.
The aggression on Libya destroyed the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa (UNDP reports). Today, Libya is a fragmented country at permanent war, subject to the manoeuvres of the Western powers, which seek to prevent that country from being sovereign in the management of its enormous energy resources.
The same month, March 2011, saw the militarisation of the protests in Syria by the Western powers and their regional allies. This arming and external funding, with "hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons" was channelled to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, as then Vice-President Biden publicly acknowledged in October 2014 in a meeting with students at Harvard University.
Again, the Western powers brought war, death, destruction, fragmentation, chaos, which remain to this day. Much of Syria, notably the oil-rich part of the country, remains under occupation by US troops, in violation of its sovereignty. Former President Trump has made the purpose of this presence clear by publicly declaring: "we are keeping the oil".
Under occupation also remain a part of the north of the country, by Turkey, and the Syrian Golan Heights, conquered by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in 1981, with recognition of the annexation by the US during the Trump Presidency, in violation of all UN resolutions on the issue. That recognition was upheld by current President Biden. In addition to this occupation, Israel has launched frequent air strikes on various regions of the country, including Damascus, not shying away from doing so even after the recent earthquake that hit the north of the country.
It was also in March, in 2015, that began the foreign military aggression against Yemen by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with the political and military support of the US, UK and other powers, also expressed in a blockade that has hit the humanitarian aid. The war in Yemen, largely silenced and ignored in the media, has been an enormous human catastrophe, with hundreds of thousands of deaths and dramatic effects on food and health.
These and other wars, such as the occupation of Afghanistan, or the invasion of Lebanon in 2006, and Israel's repeated wars against the besieged Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, have turned the Middle East into a devastated and destroyed region. Among those directly responsible for this situation are the former colonial powers, which have always had a bad relationship with the sovereignty won by the peoples of the region during the 20th century.
The material authors of those wars of aggression, the USA and other NATO powers, are today shocked by wars elsewhere. But it is impossible to hide their complete arbitrariness in the use of force in international relations, as well as their direct responsibility for the systematic attack on international legality and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries of the Middle East. This arbitrariness is also evidenced by its behaviour in the face of the tragedy of the Palestinian people, whose inalienable rights continue to be ignored after decades of promises that have never been kept and are always violated. It was also this arbitrary use of force that paved the way for the real risk of a catastrophe of major proportions, which Humanity is now facing.
In recalling these events of the last decades, the MPPM emphasizes once again that, just as there can be no peace in the Middle East without the recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, there can be no peace in the world without peace in the Middle East. It is urgent to put an end to the path of war, of violation of the sovereignty and rights of peoples, of colonial and imperial conceptions in the relations between powers and the countries of the region.
4 April 2023
The National Directorate of MPPM