Last night in Sydney was windy, rainy and cold, but an anti-war event featuring Cindy Sheehan and Dr Salam Ismael made one forget the wintry conditions outside (media coverage of the visit is here, here, here and here.)
Around 500 people gathered to hear two impassioned speakers discuss the monumentally disastrous Iraq invasion and occupation and offer a way forward. The Iraq war has never been more unpopular and delusions have never been greater. Working towards, and advocating, “Coalition” defeat has been achieved. The next step is finding a prosperous Iraqi future without Western interference.
Dr Salam Ismael was equally impressive. His group, Doctors for Iraq Society, work around the country assisting average Iraqis receive medical care as well as documenting US war crimes. Dr Ismael gave a shocking presentation about the ever-worsening living conditions of Iraqis and the effects of the US-occupation on health and life-expectancy (more info on this here.) He said that life was better for many Iraqis before the invasion, though he certainly wasn’t a supporter of Saddam Hussein. He reminded the audience that Westerners are not being told the real picture of life under US occupation, the daily torture, bombings and kidnappings.
His group documented the use of napalm by the US in Fallujah in late 2004, but nobody believed them. Why? “Because we are Iraqi and coloured, and who would believe an Iraqi?” It wasn’t until an Italian film emerged in 2005 that the world started to take seriously allegations made by Dr Ismael nearly one year earlier. Ismael was one of the first independent observers to enter Fallujah after the US destruction.
Both Sheehan and Ismael demanded the complete withdrawal of “Coalition” troops from Iraq. They were both asked whether the security situation would worsen and Ismael responded: “how could it be any worse than now? Iraqis should sort out our own country.”
Time has already proved the immorality of the invasion, and the devastating effect on millions of Iraqis. The superpower has been unable to stabilise a relatively small country, and one has to wonder if they ever really intended to. Sheehan and Ismael gave us two very different perspectives on the war, and the urgent necessity to continue pressure on the US, British and Australian governments.