[Marxism] Facts show US killed 40 at wedding party, but occupiers hang tough

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat May 22 00:06:30 MDT 2004


Subject: Facts show US killed 40 at wedding party, but occupiers hang
tough

Following are several items from a selection  made by Prof. Mark Jensen
and Fred Moreau of United for Peace of Pierce County (Seattle,
Washington area). Among the new information is the fact that one of
Iraq's leading singers and members of his band were killed at the party.

The last item, from the Tehran Times, is an excellent summary of the
facts and their significance.

The US military has decided to take a hard line that these were
insurgents.  What, after all, are "innocent" Iraqis doing on the Iraqi
side of its borders?  What are people with jewelry doing at a wedding
party?  Where do rural Iraqis get off having jewelry? And so on.

As this is going on,  the line is subtly hardening up on the torture --
the only way to go as evidence pours out showing this is a universal
practice of the occupation.  As one of the lawyers for the defendants
proclaimed, "I have no problem with it" since it supposedly saved
American lives.

This also means that the attitude, "Sure, we're an occupation.  That's
what you people deserve for not appreciating what we have done for you"
will have to be still more inculcated in the troops.  And more and more
Iraqi individuals, families, clans, villages, neighborhoods, and cities
will have no choice but to swear revenge.

It will take a still more powerful, more nationwide, and more united
upsurge than this one to break the will of the invaders, and to show
them beyond doubt that the will of the Iraqi nation will not be broken.

And that is coming.
Fred Feldman


1. NEWS & COMMENTARY:  The Marines crash a wedding party

[Fred Moreau spent the afternoon reading about the wedding party the
Marines crashed in western Iraq, and about the Marine general who
commands those forces.  It's the stuff of tragedy, ready-made for some
modern Euripides.  –Mark]

1. THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED
By Fred Moreau

** "I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men." **

United for Peace of Pierce County
May 21, 2004

http://www.ufppc.org/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=607&Itemid=2

Lying on the ground at Mukaradeeb, in western Iraq, are the shattered
remains two tabla drums, a violin, a flute, two organs, and a
tambourine.  But Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis never got to hear their
music.

The name of Maj. Gen. Mattis was in all the world's papers
on Friday.

It appeared that Mattis's Marines had attacked and decimated
an Iraqi wedding party in the western desert instead of the
way station for foreign fighters that they were hoping to destroy, with
between 40 and 50 civilians, most of them women and children, dying in
the incident.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

Only one of the wedding musicians survived the attack.[3,4]

The place it happened is unlikely to be remembered by Americans, most of
whom are unlikely even to see its name -- Mukaradeeb, Makr al Dib, or
Mogr el-Deeb, depending on which account you read.[2, 5, 1]

But they some of them may remember the attitude of Maj. Gen. Jim Mattis:
unrepentent.

"How many people go to the middle of the desert ... to hold
a wedding 80 miles (130km) from the nearest civilisation?" Apparently
the general has never heard of Las Vegas.

"These were more than two dozen military-age males," he went on, digging
in deeper, like a good Marine.  "Let's not be naive."

When reporters asked him about footage on Arabic television
of a child's body being lowered into a grave, he replied:
"I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in
wars.  I don't have to apologise for the conduct of my
men."[2]

To the world press, Maj. Gen. Mattis's remarks exemplified
the callous disregard for Iraqi lives that has turned Iraqis against
Americans.

Here's how the *Tehran Times* described what he said:  "The arrogance
and contempt of the US military toward ordinary Iraqis was summed up in
the remarks of Major General James Mattis, commander of the US 1st
Marine Division, whose troops were involved in the attack.  'Ten miles
from the Syrian border and 80 miles from [the] nearest city and a
wedding party?  Don’t be naïve.  Plus they had 30 males of military age
with them,' he said.  The comments unwittingly reveal more than Mattis
perhaps intended:  that any gathering of Iraqis, particularly if it
involves men of military age, is considered suspect and thus a
legitimate target for the overwhelming use of force.  He provided no
explanation of the TV footage of dead women and children, declaring
dismissively:  'I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in
wars.  I don’t have to apologise for the conduct of my men.' "[7]

Maj. Gen. Mattis joined the Marines just out of high school, and an
admiring classmate posted pictures of what he looked like back then.[11]
Jim Mattis, class of '68 at Columbia HS in Richland, WA, was the team
manager of junior varsity and varsity basketball teams.  He didn't play,
because he's only "average-sized," as the Tri-City Herald (Kennewick,
Richland, and Pasco, WA) put it in an admiring article on Dec. 29, 2001.

The article gives a few insights into the private life of a hardbitten
Marine.  His elder brother, Tom, reported how he read a book about the
life of Marines entitled *Follow Me*. "My brother and I lived in that
book.  When it came time to enter military service, there was no
question where we would go."  (His brother also became a Marine, and now
lives in Salem, Oregon.)

The *Tri-City Herald* reported:  "Jim Mattis chose the
Marines for a life partner.  He isn't married and other than keeping
close to his extended family, has no one else in his confidence.  A
feature article published in the *San Diego Union Tribune* described him
as a voracious reader of military books who reportedly doesn't own a
television, a true nomadic warrior one author recently tabbed 'The
Desert Fox.' "

Too bad this "true nomadic warrior" wasn't aware of how real nomads live
these days.

The Associated Press reported:  "But members of the Bou
Fahad tribe say they consider the border area part of their territory
and follow their goats, sheep and cattle there to graze.  They leave
spacious homes in Ramadi and roam the desert, as far as 250 miles to the
west, in the springtime. Smuggling livestock into Syria is also part of
a herdsman's life -- although no one in the tribe admitted to that."[1]

Nevertheless, the military felt that the very presence of
these Iraqis in that place at that time was sufficient
"cause" to attack.  Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said:  "We had significant
intelligence which caused us to conduct a military operation into the
middle of the desert, 85 kilometers south of Husaybah, al Qaim, and 25
kilometers inside from the Syrian border.  Relatively barren area.  We
had a group of people there, not Bedouin.  They were -- would appear to
have been town dwellers.  You saw 4x4s, jewelry.  This is one of those
routes that we have watched for a long period of time as a place where
foreign fighters and smugglers come into this country.

"We have consistently talked inside this forum about the foreign fighter
flow.  This was clearly, in our -- the intelligence that we had
suggested that this was a foreign fighter "rat line," as we call them,
one of the way stations.  We conducted military operations down there
last night.  The ground force that swept through the objective found a
significant amount of material and intelligence which validated that
attack.  And we are satisfied at this point that the intelligence that
led us there was validated by what we found on the ground, and it was
not that there was a wedding party going on."[9]

Translation:  tough.  They were in the wrong place at the
wrong time.  Screw the local customs.

They call it "winning hearts and minds."

At this point, things are going so badly that it seems clear the
military made a decision that they had enough scandals on their hands.
This one, they'd just tough it out.

Americans reading their press could take comfort in the idea that there
would be an investigation.  They didn't bother to mention what only the
Tehran Times* pointed out:  that the promised investigation won't amount
to anything:  "In the wake of an outpouring of anger in Iraq and the
Middle East over the latest atrocity, General Klimmitt announced an
inquiry.  'Because of the interest shown by the media, we’re going to
have an investigation.  Some of the allegations that have been made
would cause us to go back and look at this,' he said.  In other words,
the real concern of the US military is the publicity, not the deaths of
the Iraqi men, women and children.  If there had been no reaction, the
Pentagon simply would have buried the matter.

"The worthlessness of such an inquiry is highlighted by a similar
incident in Afghanistan in July 2002 when US gunships strafed a wedding
party in the Afghan village of Kakarak, leaving 48 people dead, mainly
women and children, and more than 100 injured.  After a two-month
investigation, the US Central Command issued an 'unclassified executive
summary' that ignored all the Afghan eyewitness accounts, answered none
of the obvious questions, provided no evidence for its assertions and
completely exonerated the US military."[7]

Meanwhile, lying on the ground at Mukaradeeb are the remains
of two tabla drums, a violin, a flute, two organs, and a tambourine.[4]

As for Maj. Gen. Mattis, it was announced on May 6 that
George W. Bush has nominated him to be promoted to
lieutenant general.[10]

It's unlikely that the Mukaradeeb incident will interfere
with his promotion.

Let's not be naïve.

2.

U.S. INSISTS AIR STRIKE HIT INSURGENTS, NOT REVELERS
By Liz Sly

Chicago Tribune
May 21, 2004

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0405210318may21,1,369
0660.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

BAGHDAD -- The U.S. military insisted Thursday that an air strike in
which at least 40 people died had targeted a base housing foreign
fighters and not a wedding party, but as more funerals were held for
those who died in the attack, few Iraqis were convinced.

Among those killed was one of Iraq's best-known musicians, Hussein
al-Ali, who died along with his brother Mohammed and several members of
his band.  They apparently had been hired to perform at the wedding.
Al-Ali was buried Thursday in Baghdad.

"Iraqis have lost faith in the Americans, and this only confirms the
view that the Americans can't be believed," said Sadoun al Dulame, a
political analyst who advises the U.S. occupation authorities.  "The
military tells us there were foreign fighters there, but the TV shows us
children and women and villagers burying their dead."

But Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, a U.S. spokesman, said the military remains
convinced that the target, a remote desert location 16 miles from the
Syrian border, was legitimate.

"It's important to understand that this operation was not something that
just fell out of the sky," he said at a news media briefing.  "We had
significant intelligence which caused us to conduct a military operation
into the middle of the desert."

TWO DIFFERENT STORIES

"You saw 4x4s [vehicles], jewelry" at the site, he said.
"This is one of those routes that we have watched for a long period of
time as a place where foreign fighters and smugglers come into this
country."

The attack took place at 3 a.m., shortly after ground forces
in the area had come under fire, Kimmitt said, "which is
kind of an odd time to be having a wedding."

The soldiers who swept the area after the attack found "a significant
amount of material and intelligence" to support the military's
suspicions, including money, passports and weapons, he said.

But according to the victims' relatives, the circumstances Kimmitt
described could just as easily have applied to a wedding attended by
out-of-town visitors.  The village, Makr al Dib, was a cluster of
scattered homes deep in the desert, and visitors would have used SUVs to
travel to the remote site.  Jewelry is a traditional gift to Iraqi
brides.

In Ramadi, the nearest major town, members of the Shaukat family
gathered for a wake for two relatives hired to photograph the wedding.

Abdul Rahman Shaukat, 42, said his brother Yasser, 35, who owned the
town's biggest photography studio, and a nephew, Ammar Mushraf, 22, were
pulled from the rubble of one of two houses destroyed in the air strike.

Shaukat said survivors told him that all the guests were
asleep when the helicopter gunships struck.  There had been
no traditional celebratory gunfire at the wedding, as
reported in earlier news accounts, he said.  Shaukat said
U.S. planes began circling the area about 11 p.m., prompting the party
to call off the celebrations and go to bed.

Two tents had been erected outside the houses to accommodate the guests,
he said.  Because the sexes are segregated at traditional Iraqi
weddings, the tents would have been used only by male visitors, and
there was speculation that the Americans may have mistaken the two tents
of men for a terrorist base.

"But I would ask the Americans a question:  If these were mujahedeen,
why did they have musicians playing, and why were there women and
children there?" said Ammar Yassin, another relative.  "It's nonsense."

Kimmitt said the U.S. troops who searched the site found no evidence to
support claims that children were among the dead.

But Madhi Nawaf, a survivor of the attack, told The
Associated Press on Thursday that two of his grandsons, ages
1 and 2, were among the victims, along with several other children.

"Mothers died with their children in their arms," he said.
"One of them was my daughter. I found her a few steps from
the house, her 2-year-old son Raad in her arms. Her
1-year-old son, Raed, was lying nearby, missing his head."

BODIES TAKEN TO HOSPITAL

According Radio Sawa, a U.S.-funded Iraqi radio station, the head of the
hospital in the border town of Husaybah said the bodies of 17 men, 11
women and 14 children younger than age 12 were brought to the facility
after the attack.  It was not clear whether they represented all the
victims, but the U.S. military does not dispute that at least 40 people
died.

The Shaukat family said it is true that residents in the
border area were smugglers, explaining the passports and
cash.

In other developments:

- The U.S. military said it was withdrawing troops from the center of
the holy Shiite Muslim city of Karbala, a site of major fighting for the
past 1 1/2 weeks.  Plans called for leaving the area of the Mukhaiyam
mosque for a military base 5 miles east of the city center.

- President Bush made a rare visit to Capitol Hill,
appealing to congressional Republicans to stick with him on Iraq.  Bush
delivered a lengthy outline of his approach on Iraq and "talked about
time to take the training wheels off," said Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio).
"The Iraqi people have been in training and now it's time for them to
take the bike and go forward."

- Insurgents in Baghdad killed a U.S. soldier and injured
three more in a grenade attack.

--An Iraqi news assistant for the Chicago Tribune in Ramadi contributed
to this report, along with Tribune news services.



3.

US MILITARY STRAFES IRAQI WEDDING PARTY, KILLING AT LEAST 40

By Peter Symonds

Tehran Times
May 22, 2004

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=5/22/2004&Cat=4&Num=006

In another example of callous indifference for Iraqi lives,
the US military strafed the small village of Mukaradeeb in
the early hours of Wednesday morning, killing at least 40
men, women and children who were part of a local wedding
party.  Official US denials, which eyewitnesses and local officials have
rejected as fabrications, have further fuelled anti-American anger in
Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

The US attack, which involved Special Forces troops backed
by helicopter gunships and warplanes, took place at around 2.45am.  The
hamlet is a collection of less than a dozen houses in a remote area of
western Iraq just 10 kilometres from the Syrian border.  Iraqi
eyewitnesses confirm the fact that a wedding had been underway, with a
band hired from Baghdad providing the music. An article in the
*Scotsman*
reported:  “People who said they were guests said the
wedding party was in full swing -- with dinner just finished and the
band playing tribal Arab music -- when US fighters roared overhead and
US vehicles started shining their highbeams.  Worried, the hosts ended
the party, men stayed in the wedding tent and women and children went
into the house nearby, the witnesses said.  About five hours later, the
first shell hit the tent.  Panicked, women and children ran out of the
house, they said.”  The village was devastated.  In television footage
shown on the Al Arabiya channel, one eyewitness described the scene:
“We were in Mukaradeeb.  At 3am they rained the air with bombs.  One
after another the bombs were falling.  Three houses with the guests were
hit.  They fired as if there were an armoured brigade inside, not a
wedding party.”  One of the guests, Madhi Nawaf, a shepherd, explained
in the *Scotsman* article that his daughter and her children were among
the dead. “Mothers died with their children in their arms.  One of them
was my daughter.  I found her a few steps from the house, her
two-year-old son Raad in her arm.  Her one-year-old son, Ra’ed, was
lying nearby, his head missing.  Where were the foreign fighters they
claim were hiding there?  Everything they said is a lie.”  Among the
dead were members of the band, including a popular singer, Hussein Ali.
Basim Shehab, an organ player, was at the funeral for the band members
in Baghdad yesterday.  He said he had been sleeping in one of the tents
when the bombing began.  The attack “was like Hell,” he said.
“Everything was on fire.”

US military spokesmen have insisted that there were no
children among the casualties.  However, Lieutenant Colonel Ziyad
al-Jbouri, deputy police chief for Ramadi, told Associated Press (AP)
that the dead numbered between 42 and 45, and included 15 children and
10 women.  Dr Salah al-Ani, who works at the hospital in Ramadi, put the
death toll at 45.  An AP report explained:  “Associated Press Television
News footage from the area near the Syrian border showed a truck
containing bloodied bodies, many wrapped in blankets, piled one atop the
other.  Several were children, one of whom was decapitated.  The body of
a girl who appeared to be less than five years of age lay in a white
sheet, her legs riddled with wounds and her dress soaked in blood.”

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, US military spokesmen
continue to deny that US forces hit a wedding party.  Brigadier General
Mark Kimmitt claimed that the target had been “a suspected foreign
fighter safe house” and that US troops were fired upon first.  The only
evidence offered by the Pentagon is that troops found a quantity of
small arms, Iraqi and Syrian money, foreign passports and a satcom
radio.

Even taken on face value, the American version of events confirms a
reckless lack of concern for Iraqi civilians in launching an
indiscriminate air assault in the middle of the night on what was
“suspected” to be a safe house.  It is far more likely, however, that
the US statements amount to nothing more than another crude concoction
of lies.  US ground forces have not produced the bodies of any “foreign
fighters.”  None of the objects seized in the village prove the dead
were fighters.  At most, they indicate that villagers may have been
involved in petty smuggling -- a practice that is rife in the border
area.

There are conflicting press reports over whether the wedding party
engaged in the common custom of shooting off weapons in celebration.  In
an article in the British-based *Independent*, Sheikh Nasrallah Miklif,
head of the Bani Fahd tribe, of which most of the dead were members,
vigorously denied that there had been any firing.  While he was not in
the village at the time, he had spoken extensively to the survivors.  He
said the air strikes had begun without warning and were followed up by
US troops who arrived in armoured vehicles.

“If they killed foreign fighters, why don’t they show us the bodies?  If
they suspected foreign fighters were here, why didn’t they come to
arrest them, instead of using this huge force?”  Sheikh Mikfil asked
angrily.  The arrogance and contempt of the US military toward ordinary
Iraqis was summed up in the remarks of Major General James Mattis,
commander of the US 1st Marine Division, whose troops were involved in
the attack.  “Ten miles from the Syrian border and 80 miles from [the]
nearest city and a wedding party? Don’t be naïve.  Plus they had 30
males of military age with them,” he said.  The comments unwittingly
reveal more than Mattis perhaps intended:  that any gathering of Iraqis,
particularly if it involves men of military age, is considered suspect
and thus a legitimate target for the overwhelming use of force.  He
provided no explanation of the TV footage of dead women and children,
declaring
dismissively:  “I have not seen the pictures but bad things happen in
wars.  I don’t have to apologise for the conduct of my men.”

The US military claims that it was seeking to prevent the infiltration
of arms and “foreign fighters” into Iraq.  All the evidence, however,
points to the fact that the vast majority of fighters joining the armed
resistance against the US occupation are young Iraqis who have
widespread local support.  Apart from terrorising the Iraqi population,
the purpose of such military operations may be connected to current US
efforts to pressurise and menace the Syrian government.  Just last week,
Washington imposed a battery of new punitive measures on Syria.

In the wake of an outpouring of anger in Iraq and the Middle East over
the latest atrocity, General Klimmitt announced an inquiry.  “Because of
the interest shown by the media, we’re going to have an investigation.
Some of the allegations that have been made would cause us to go back
and look at this,” he said.  In other words, the real concern of the US
military is the publicity, not the deaths of the Iraqi men, women and
children.  If there had been no reaction, the Pentagon simply would have
buried the matter.

The worthlessness of such an inquiry is highlighted by a similar
incident in Afghanistan in July 2002 when US gunships strafed a wedding
party in the Afghan village of Kakarak, leaving 48 people dead, mainly
women and children, and more than 100 injured.  After a two-month
investigation, the US Central Command issued an “unclassified executive
summary” that ignored all the Afghan eyewitness accounts, answered none
of the obvious questions, provided no evidence for its assertions and
completely exonerated the US military.







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