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The families of dozens of U.S. troops killed or injured during the war in Iraq filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against several U.S. and European pharmaceutical and medical supply companies, alleging that the corporations knowingly financed the anti-American militia Mahdi Army through bribes and kickbacks to officials at a government ministry controlled by the group.
In the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s health care spending surged, and the Health Ministry’s budget ballooned from $16 million during Saddam Hussein’s final year in power to about $1 billion in 2004.
Western companies looking to break into the Iraq market were willing to pay kickbacks — billed as “commissions” or “free goods” — that amounted to as much as 20% of the value of a contract to ministry officials, the lawsuit alleges.
Another way the defendants allegedly made the illegal payments was by including language in the contracts promising after-sales support and other services related to the product they sold and funded those services by giving money to their local agents.
"In reality, such services were illusory and functioned merely to create a slush fund the local agents could use to pass on 'commissions to corrupt (ministry) officials,'" the lawsuit alleges.
The plaintiffs charge that through the transactions the companies aided and abetted the militants, violating the U.S. anti-terrorism act.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys said the alleged bribery scheme was a continuation of how some of the companies and their affiliates named in the suit conducted business during the final years of Saddam’s rule.
Hundreds of multinational companies are alleged to have funneled more than $1.7 billion into Saddam’s regime, skirting sanctions by abusing the U.N. Oil-for-Food program that was designed to soften the impact on the Iraqi people by allowing the supervised sale of some Iraqi oil for food, medicine and other necessities.
“We believe that the evidence will show that when Jaysh al-Mahdi seized the Iraqi Health Ministry, the defendants continued paying the same bribes they provided under Saddam — except in far greater amounts," said Ryan Sparacino, one of the attorneys representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Sadr's distinguished family background, and his fiery anti-occupation rhetoric and calls for the implementation of Islamic law, caused him to emerge as the leader of this portion of Iraqi Shiite society. In June 2003, after being rejected from a spot on the Iraqi Governing Council, he had created a militia known as the Mahdi Army, whose mission he said was to help keep order and cleanse Iraq of “evil.”
On April 4, the Mahdi Army was directed to begin launching attacks on coalition targets and to seize control from the nascent U.S-trained Iraqi security forces. The Mahdi Army, which by then numbered from 3,000 to 10,000 men, organized quickly escalating violent riots and then a coordinated assault, surprising coalition and Iraqi forces and seizing control of Najaf, Kufa, al-Kut, and parts of Baghdad and southern cities like Nasiriyah, Amarah, and Basra. A widespread collapse of the Iraqi security forces ensued, with most deserting or defecting to the rebels rather than fighting. Soon, combat was erupting in many urban centers of southern and central portions of Iraq as U.S. forces attempted to maintain control and prepared for a counteroffensive.
Over the next three months, over 1,500 Mahdi Army militiamen, several hundred civilians, and dozens of coalition soldiers were killed as the U.S. gradually took back the southern cities.
On February 22, 2006, suspected Sunni rebels, dressed as Iraqi police commandos, stormed the Al Askari Mosque in Samarra - a mosque particularly holy to the Shi'a majority and the location where several imams are buried. Although there were no casualties in the attack, the bombing leveled the mosque and caused unprecedented anger amongst the Shi'a majority, prompting death squads, largely from the Mahdi Army, to roam the streets of Baghdad and other major cities, attacking Sunni mosques, killing Sunni civilians and murdering Sunni clerics. The Sunni insurgents and populace soon organized into their own defensive units and death squads and began further revenge killings, causing a spiral of violence that threatened to take the country into a full blown civil war.
Violence throughout the spring was largely dominated by inter-Iraqi fighting, leaving the U.S.-led coalition forces unsure of their next move as death squads engaged in tit-for-tat revenge killings. U.S. commanders were forced to admit that this level of violence was unprecedented in the three years of American occupation and reconstruction, although both political and military leaders in the United States and Iraq continued to insist that the country was not on the verge of civil war. The Interior Ministry, the ministry responsible for internal policing and headed by a Shi'a party (the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq), was suspected of utilizing entire police squads for sectarian killings and torture. Sunni communities grew fearful of approaching Iraqi police commandos, and some that had stayed out of the insurgency and the revenge killings formed militias to defend themselves against what they viewed as Shi'a aggression and encroachment. Often, these militias would open fire on police or army units that were not accompanied by American or otherwise coalition soldiers.
a Jordanian jihadist who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan. He became known after going to Iraq and being responsible for a series of bombings, beheadings, and attacks during the Iraq War, reportedly "turning an insurgency against US troops" in Iraq "into a Shia-Sunni civil war". He was sometimes known as "Shaykh of the slaughterers".
Following the US withdrawal from Iraq, al-Sadr continued to be an influential figure in Iraqi politics, associated with the Al-Ahrar bloc, whose Shi'a factions are still at war with not only the government but also the Sunni factions. However, whereas during the war al-Sadr was known for advocating violence, in 2012 he began to present himself as a proponent of moderation and tolerance and called for peace. In February 2014 al-Sadr announced that he was withdrawing from politics and dissolving the party structure to protect his family's reputation.
However, later in 2014 he called for the formation of "Peace Companies", often mistranslated "Peace Brigades", to protect Shia shrines from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In June, these Peace Companies marched in Sadr City. In addition to guarding shrines, the Peace Companies participated in offensive operations such as the recapture of Jurf Al Nasr in October 2014. They suspended their activities temporarily in February 2015, but were active in the Second Battle of Tikrit in March.
The Second Battle of Tikrit was a battle in which the Iraqi forces recaptured the city of Tikrit (the provincial capital of the Saladin Governorate) from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Iraqi forces consisted of the Government's Security Forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces (the bulk of the ground forces, consisted of Shia militiamen and also some Sunni tribesmen), receiving assistance from Iran's Quds Force officers on the ground, and American, British, and French air forces.
The Iraqi armed forces are not the only component of the allied army to be suspected of abuses. The Shi'ite paramilitary groups (trained and supported by Iran) have also been accused of playing a part in the human rights violations uncovered recently.
This is the case, despite the fact that a significant faction within the allied forces are Sunni tribesman who fought alongside the ISF & paramilitaries against ISIL. A prominent Iraqi Sunni preacher, Abdul Jabbar, has been quoted as saying "We ask that actions follow words to punish those who are attacking houses in Tikrit... we are sorry about those acting in revenge that might ignite tribal anger and add to our sectarian problems."
On 26 February 2016, Sadr led a million man demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square to protest corruption in Iraq and the government's failure to deliver on reforms. "Abadi must carry out grassroots reform," Sadr said in front of the protesters. "Raise your voice and shout so the corrupt get scared of you," he encouraged the people. On the 18th of March, Sadr's followers began a sit-in outside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified district in Baghdad housing government offices and embassies. He called the Green Zone "a bastion of support for corruption".
On 27 March, he himself walked into the Green Zone to begin a sit-in, urging followers to stay outside and remain peaceful. The Iraqi Army general in charge of security at the Green Zone kissed Sadr's hand as he allowed him to enter. He met with Abadi on 26 December to discuss the reform project he proposed during protests early in the year. Following the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack in Syria on 4 April 2017, Sadr called for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down
One has a designated prayer room. Another frisks patrons at the entrance, requiring them to check their pistols, like coats in a fancy restaurant. They are good places to escape the desert heat, and in a conservative Islamic culture, they are one of the few places where young couples openly flirt or women smoke cigarettes in public.
American-style malls, fixtures in most of Iraq’s wealthy Persian Gulf neighbors, have come late to war-torn Baghdad, but Iraqis are taking to them now like Valley Girls, as a consumer society fueled by the country’s booming oil profits begins to flourish here.
The total value of Iraq oil reserves at an average profit of $75 per barrel over next 100 years is 360 billion x $75 =
$27 trillion or $900,000 per capita, making every Iraqi a millionaire. These calculations do not include natural gas revenue, lately about equal to oil revenue.Moreover, most of Iraq has not been explored for gas or oil.