(The title is borrowed from Booman’s unforgettable essay last night.)
Fallajuh, Dahr Jamail says, “which was the symbol of the resistance in Iraq to the U.S. occupation and throughout the Middle East at that point, is now 70% estimated to be bombed to the ground, no water, no electricity.”
Seventy percent of the city gone. And all of it, says the famed journalist and blogger, to “capture the phantom Zarqawi and to bring security and stability for the elections.” From Jamail’s article — “This Is Our Guernica” — published in The Guardian:
Below, from his live interview today with Amy Goodman, Jamail on the use of chemical weapons, cluster bombs, fleshettes, types of napalm in Fallujah — on “Guantanamo Airport” — and more : : :
Jamail on the the use of chemical weapons in Fallujah:
DAHR JAMAIL: Many of the refugees I interviewed throughout November, just after the beginning of the siege, and then people who had been coming out of the city even into December, continued to report the use of chemical weapons in Fallujah, but really, one of the most important sources I have for this is an Iraqi doctor that I interviewed on the outskirts of Fallujah, and he said that he had worked as a medic during the Iran-Iraq War, he had treated Iraqi soldiers who had been hit with Iranian chemical weapons, so he knew what these types of injuries look like. And he said that he had treated people from Fallujah with the same types of injuries, as well as another Iraqi man that I had interviewed who went into the city, brought in by U.S. soldiers to help bury bodies, and that he had seen many bodies that he believed to have been hit by chemical weapons.
AMY GOODMAN: On March 3, Dr. Khalid ash-Shaykhli of the Iraqi Health Ministry held a news conference accusing the U.S. of using internationally banned chemical weapons, including nerve gas, during the assault. Do you have any more information on that?
DAHR JAMAIL: That report, actually, yes, I have read that and am aware of that. And it’s just further confirmation of the fact that the — another, related to that what the doctor said that I had interviewed was that he was willing to go in and try to dig up some of these bodies that they were forced to bury by the U.S. military there in Fallujah, because he said that he is 100% certain that these types of weapons had been used, and he, among so many other people inside the city, are pleading for an international investigation of the types of these — of what illegal weapons were used there, because they are absolutely certain they were chemical weapons, cluster bombs, fleshettes, types of napalm and various other weapons, as well.
More from Jamail on the situation in Fallujah:
AMY GOODMAN: Who is doing the retina scans, the fingerprinting?
DAHR JAMAIL: The U.S. military is doing all of this.
AMY GOODMAN: And how many people are kept out of Fallujah now? How many people actually live there? How many were there to begin with?
DAHR JAMAIL: The latest estimate is of a city of 350,000 people, that 50,000 now have returned back inside the city.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s happened? Where have the others gone?
DAHR JAMAIL: They are still in refugee camps. There are refugee camps all around the outskirts of Fallujah, throughout many areas of Baghdad, even parts of Iraq south of the capital city. They are living in, of course, horrible conditions. There’s running water at some of these refugee camps, none at others. No electricity. They are depending primarily on other Iraqis for aid, which is a very difficult situation, because now we have an estimated 65% unemployment in Iraq. Basic infrastructure remains in shambles. And this is a community then that is trying to support over 300,000 refugees at this point.
Jamail’s observations about life for Iraqis:
DAHR JAMAIL: Well, the situation in Iraq is devastating. It’s difficult to be there and see it day in and day out where there’s no security whatsoever.
There’s complete lawlessness in the capital city and most other cities. The situation in the hospitals is an ongoing health care crisis. They’re lacking medicines and basic supplies and things they need.
Then we have the refugee situation where people are all over the city, hundreds of families in various places, trying to survive. It’s really quite — it’s the ongoing refugee situation we have that — over 300,000 there.
We have rampant fuel crisis going on where people are waiting one, sometimes two days, to fill the tanks of their cars.
We have the military responding to the security situation by closing various streets in Baghdad. At least 100 streets are now closed in the capital city to try to bring some sort of order to the situation.
Gas lines stretching sometimes between six and ten miles. People waiting between one and two days to fill the tanks of their cars. Gasoline is being rationed. Even plates one day, odd the next. People are allowed seven-and-a-half gallons when they fill their tanks.
Electricity in the better parts of Baghdad is about eight hours. In most places, including up in the north in the Kurdistan region, we have three hours or less of electricity per day and infrastructure is in worse shape in all of the main areas than it was prior to the invasion.
Jamail’s view on how the war is viewed here versus in Iraq:
DAHR JAMAIL: Well, watching the corporate media back here, I see the disparity between that and what’s actually happening on the ground continue to grow. If we look at corporate media, we’re led to believe that after the January 30 elections, things are better in Iraq. We have a democracy there. Yes, it’s — there’s still a little chaos, but things are getting better, but that is not the facts at all when we look at just the numbers. We have still an average of over a soldier a day dying, ten times that number wounded, infrastructure in shambles, and things continue to get worse. At least a car bomb a day in Baghdad and insecurity throughout most of the rest of the country.
What Jamail knows about prisoner abuse:
DAHR JAMAIL: Well, everyone in Iraq already knew that this sort of treatment was happening, from almost the beginning of the occupation and not just in Abu Ghraib, but in military detention facilities throughout the country. These reports had been coming in for months. People were very well aware of the fact that there was sexual abuse, physical violence, death, rape, this sort of a thing happening from the beginning. But when those photos came out, this confirmation and having it broadcast to the world just confirmed all of these beliefs by Iraqis, and it really demolished what credibility may have been left at that point for the occupation forces. That credibility was shattered with these photographs. And I want to be real clear that this situation is ongoing. It’s not stopped. Just because the corporate media decided to show these photos and really talk about this story for a while, then they decide that, well, there’s a few soldiers that are held responsible. Let’s try the bad apples, and this is going to put the lid back on the situation. But that has not changed the fact that the number of prisoners in Iraq is increasing. It has increased dramatically in the last few months. And the type of treatment going on in the prisons is exactly the same as it was when those photos were released.
AMY GOODMAN: And where are the prisoners held, when you talk about the other detention facilities?
DAHR JAMAIL: At so many of the military detention — military bases, there are detention facilities. For example, at Baghdad Airport, there’s a large detention facility there. Iraqis in Baghdad call it Guantanamo Airport. Many other military installations such as one up near Tikrit, I know specifically that has a good sized detention facility. But they’re really spread all around Iraq, even in many parts in the south.
Full interview at Democracy Now!: Listen, watch, or read the transcript.