Iraq Theater

UK entry into Iraq war not justified: report

The findings of the seven-year inquiry, led by Sir John Chilcot, into Britain's role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq were delivered on July 6 in the form of a scathing verdict against former prime minister Tony Blair and his administration, stating that the war was based on "flawed intelligence and assessments" and had been launched before "peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted." Tthe Chilcot Inquiry concluded that the "judgements about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction—WMD—were presented with a certainty that was not justified... There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein. Additionally, "[t]he planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam Hussein were wholly inadequate."

Demand war crimes trial for ISIS leaders

Human Rights Watch has called on the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to prosecute ISIS fighters for war crimes against the Yazidi minority. "Yezidi victims of human rights abuses have a right to justice, not just government declarations with no consequences," said Skye Wheeler of HRW's women's rights division. Several ISIS fighters are now in custody following recent territory gains by both the Iraqi central government and Kurdish regional authorities. But HRW says so far no authorities in Iraq are investigating or prosecuting ISIS members for war crimes or crimes against humanity. (ARA News, June 23)

Fears for Fallujah 'disappeared'

Shi'ite militiamen who fought alongside the Iraqi army in the battle for Fallujah are believed to have seized some 900 civilian men and boys and killed nearly 50. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said the civilians were detained June 1 during the battle to oust ISIS from the Sunni-majority city. They were among some 8,000 who fled the outlying village of Saqlawiyah as troops moved in on the city. Fighters from Kataaib Hezbollah, one of several Shi'ite militias involved in the siege, reportedly tortured many detainees. Al-Hussein also warned Iraq could see a return to full scale sectarian violence after the July 3 Baghdad attack. (BBC NewsThe Independent, July 5)

ICC will not prosecute Blair for war crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will not prosecute Tony Blair for war crimes related to the 2003 Iraq invasion, according to The Telegraph. The ICC reportedly said July 2 that the decision "by the UK to go to war in Iraq falls outside the Court's jurisdiction." The ICC also said that it will be analyzing the "Chilcot Report" for evidence of war crimes committed by British forces. Named after Iraq Inquiry Committee chair Sir John Chilcot, the report will not attempt to answer whether the invasion was legal. The report, seven years in the making, will be published on this week.

Entire population of Fallujah displaced

Iraqi and coalition air-strikes are carrying out air-strikes on convoys of ISIS vehicles fleeing Fallujah, as the city has finally fallen after a five-week siege. Hundreds of vehicles have reportedly been destroyed. (Rudaw, June 30) Hundreds of Iraqi soldiers were killed and more than 3,000 wounded in the battle Fallujah, which was taken by ISIS almost exactly two years ago. (MEE, July 1) Iraqi forces are said to be "screening" some 20,000 people—mostly young men and boys—detained while trying to flee the city. (MEE, June 25) Aid workers say the displacement of almost the entire city—between 60,000 and over 80,000 people depending on who is counting—has been disorganised, at best. "The entire humanitarian community has failed Iraq—from donors, to governments, to the implementing agencies on the ground," Karl Schembri of the Norwegian Refugee Council told IRIN news service. "Fallujah has exposed all of our shortcomings with massive consequences for the tens of thousands of civilians displaced." He added: "When Mosul happens, God help us." (IRIN, June 28)

UN rights chief: civilians fleeing Fallujah face abuse

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein on June 7 urged the Iraqi government to "take immediate measures to ensure that" those fleeing the ISIS-held city of Fallujah are "treated in strict accordance with international human rights and international humanitarian laws." Zeid cited "credible reports" that fleeing residents have suffered physical abuse at the hands of "armed groups operating in support of the Iraqi security forces." These groups have reportedly been separating migrants by gender, detaining men for "security checks," which largely amount to physical abuse for the sake of forced confessions. Zeid ended his remarks stating that while the Iraqi government has a legitimate interests in making vetting migrants to ensure that they do not impose security risks, such vetting should take place through the appropriate laws and in a "transparent manner."

Syria: Kurdish feminist leads anti-ISIS offensive

Rojda Felat, a Kurdish revolutionary feminist, is leading the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces' offensive on Raqqa, capital of the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate. A three-year veteran of the struggle against ISIS, she is serving as commander of 15,000 Kurdish and Arab fighters, backed by US special forces and warplanes, under the banner of the SDF. "My main goal is liberating the Kurdish woman and the Syrian woman in general from the ties and control of traditional society, as well as liberating the entirety of Syria from terrorism and tyranny," she told the London Times

Baghdad: three killed in Green Zone protests

Security forces opened fire on protesters storming Baghdad's Green Zone on May 20, killing three and wounding some 20. A journalist covering the protest was also killed. Thousands of demonstrators had gathered in the capital's Tahrir Square before several hundred tried to enter the fortified Green Zone, which houses government institutions and foreign consulates. Security forces responded to the breach by opening fire on the protesters, using tear-gas and live rounds. Protesters had reportedly entered the prime minister's office before they were forced to retreat. The incident marked the second time in recent weeks that protesters mobilized by Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr succeeded in breaching the Green Zone, demanding reform and an end to corruption. After this new breach, Sadr issued a statement to his followers, saying: "I respect your choice and your peaceful spontaneous revolt. Curse the government that kills its children in cold blood." (Rudaw, Rudaw, Rudaw, May 20)