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Saddam gassed his people? Nope, Iran did!

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posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 08:28 AM
A War Crime or an Act of War?

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion: "The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured."

The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush himself has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein.

But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent that is, a cyanide-based gas which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article in The New Yorker last March did not make reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the Kurds. On the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its war against Iran.

I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja is not one of them.

In fact, those who really feel that the disaster at Halabja has bearing on today might want to consider a different question: Why was Iran so keen on taking the town? A closer look may shed light on America's impetus to invade Iraq.

We are constantly reminded that Iraq has perhaps the world's largest reserves of oil. But in a regional and perhaps even geopolitical sense, it may be more important that Iraq has the most extensive river system in the Middle East. In addition to the Tigris and Euphrates, there are the Greater Zab and Lesser Zab rivers in the north of the country. Iraq was covered with irrigation works by the sixth century A.D., and was a granary for the region.

Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects, the largest being the Darbandikhan dam in the Kurdish area. And it was this dam the Iranians were aiming to take control of when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.

Thus America could alter the destiny of the Middle East in a way that probably could not be challenged for decades not solely by controlling Iraq's oil, but by controlling its water. Even if America didn't occupy the country, once Mr. Hussein's Baath Party is driven from power, many lucrative opportunities would open up for American companies.

So there you have it:

A) Iran, also using CBW's, is much more likely to have killed those Kurds in 1988

B) The 'Moral' argument for invading Iraq is made moot

C) Water, which will be what this centuries wars are going to be fought over, is the underlying control card being sought in the Iraq move.

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 09:01 AM
Once again just a some rambling without any proof just inuendo. I don't think I've ever seen Saddam deny that he gassed the Kurds.
Most of the sites that I have seen have had eyewitness reports describing the effects of mustard gas not blood agents which produce no blistering.

[Edited on 31-1-2003 by mad scientist]

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 09:39 AM
to the contrary, I think the source is a very solid one. The guy was the CIA's Senior Analyst during the Iraq/Iran war as well as being a Professor at the Army War College both teaching and charged with designing scenarios of engagement versus Iraq prior to the 1991 conflict.
I don't buy your assertion that Saddam has to prove a negative; it's a lose-lose scenario.
But I've always felt that using the canard of 'he gassed his own people' to be totaly without merit anyway; there is no moral high ground we can take on this issue so far, especially that very weak one. The Reagan Administration through point man Donald Rumsfeld supplied the CBW's to Iraq, those Kurds weren't 'his people' but enemy combatants fighting with Iran, and Iran was heavily using CBW's as well.

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 10:18 AM
Interesting and controversial story link About Time; although, it conflicts with a documentary that I watched about Iraqs retaliation against Kurdish villages after the U.S. backed away, left them hanging and vulnerable to Saddams forces.

The documentary included footage made by an Iraqi soldier using a personal video recorder. It showed clouds of gas hanging over valley of Kurdish villages, before the Iraqi troops went into those villages to inspect the damage. The Iraqi soldier clearly stated that the gas was used by Iraqi forces against the Kurds in retaliation for their intent to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The documentary also showed men, women and children all dead as a result of the gas attack.

Why do you think that Iraqi soldier would share that video footage and make those claims, if it were not true?

May I submit further information and story links?

Kurdistan Observer: August 12, 2002

In making his case to remove Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush has no more appreciative audience than Iraq's Kurds. Having been on the receiving end of Saddam's chemical arsenal, the Kurds want the Iraqi dictator gone as much as the American president does. Yet, as U.S. officials meet with Kurdish leaders this weekend, they encounter a potent ally whose cooperation cannot be taken for granted.

The Iraqi Kurds have good reason to want Saddam gone. In 1983 his forces rounded up hundreds of Barzani's male relatives, who have not been seen since. Nothing, however, rivaled the scale of the campaign that Saddam initiated in 1987 against the Kurds. In three years the Iraqi regime systematically destroyed every village in Kurdistan, more than 4,000 altogether. Hundreds were attacked with mustard gas and nerve agents. Altogether upward of 100,000 Kurds, and possibly as many as 180,000, died from gas, forced deportation and mass execution between 1987 and 1990.

Precisely because of the brutality of Saddam's vengeance, neither Talabani nor Barzani wants to jeopardize the de facto armistice that exists between the Kurdish enclave and the rest of Iraq unless there are assurances of U.S. seriousness and protection.

Story link -

IRAQ's CRIME of GENOCIDE: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds

The Iraqi counterattack began midmorning on 16 March with conventional air strikes and artillery shelling from the town of Sayed Sadeq. Most families in Halabja had built primitive air-raid shelters near their homes. Some crowded into these, others into the government shelters, following the standard air-raid drills they had been taught since the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. The first wave of air strikes appears to have included the use of napalm or phosphorus. "It was different from the other bombs," according to one witness. "There was a huge sound, a huge flame, and it had very destructive ability. If you touched one part of your body that had been burned, your hand burned also. It caused things to catch fire." The raids continued unabated for several hours. "It was not just one raid, so you could stop and breathe before another raid started. It was just continuous planes, coming and coming. Six planes would finish and another six would come."

Those outside in the streets could see clearly that these were Iraqi, not Iranian aircraft, since they flew low enough for their markings to be legible. In the afternoon, at about 3:00, those who remained in the shelters became aware of an unusual smell. Like the villagers in the Balisan Valley the previous spring, they compared it most often to sweet apples, or to perfume, or cucumbers, although one man says that it smelled "very bad, like snake poison." No one needed to be told what the smell was.

The attack appeared to be concentrated in the northern sector of the city, well away from its military bases, although by now these had been abandoned. In the shelters there was immediate panic and claustrophobia. Some tried to plug the cracks around the entrance with damp towels, or pressed wet cloths to their faces, or set fires. In the end they had no alternative but to emerge into the streets. It was growing dark, and there were no streetlights; the power had been blocked out the day before by artillery fire. In the dim light, the people of Halabja saw nightmarish scenes. Dead bodies both human and animal littered the streets, huddled in doorways, slumped over the steering wheels of their cars. Survivors stumbled around, laughing hysterically, before collapsing. Iranian soldiers flitted through the darkened streets, dressed in protective clothing, their faces concealed by gas masks. Those who fled could barely see and felt a sensation "like needles in the eyes." Their urine was streaked with blood.

"The loss of Halabja is a regrettable thing," remarked Foreign Minister and Revolutionary Command Council member Tariq Aziz, adding, "Members of Jalal al-Talabani's group are in the area, and these traitors collaborate with the Iranian enemy." As the news of Halabja spread throughout Iraq, those who asked were told by Ba'athist officials that Iran had been responsible. A Kurdish student of English at Mosul University recalled his shock and disbelief at the news; he and his fellow Kurds were convinced that Iraqi government forces had carried out the attack but dared not protest for fear of arrest.

In the days following the mass gassing, the Iranian government, well aware of the implications, ferried in journalists from Teheran, including foreigners. Their photographs, mainly of women, children, and elderly people huddled inertly in the streets or lying on their backs with mouths agape, circulated widely, demonstrating eloquently that the great mass of the dead had been Kurdish civilian non-combatants. Yet the numbers have remained elusive, with most reports continuing to cite Kurdish or Iranian estimates of at least 4,000 and as many as 7,000. The true figure was certainly in excess of 3,200, which was the total number of individual names collected in the course of systematic interviews with survivors.

Story link -

Former Iraqi army chief charged over chemical attacks on Kurds

Danish authorities have charged a former head of the Iraqi armed forces, Nizar al-Khazraji, with war crimes for chemical weapon attacks on Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, police said Tuesday. Iraqi forces also launched a number of chemical attacks in Kurdish areas in 1987/88. Amnesty International estimated that some 5,000 people died as a result of the chemical gas attack on the town of Halabja in March 1988. During 1988, some 55,000 Kurds fled to Turkey and a similar number to Iran. Although Kurds were the primary targets of these abuses, other groups living in the predominantly Kurdish north, including Assyrian Christians, Turcomans and Arabs, were also victims.

Story link -

Kurdish villages surrounded by landmines: story link -

Food for thought,

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 10:20 AM
So, Iran came in and murdered 3.5 thousand Kurds? There is no proof of Iran gassing it's people, there is proof of Iraq doing it. If you still don't belive that Iraq gassed it's own people I'll buy you a plain ticket to Iraq so you can ask people around.

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 10:49 AM
Deep - good stuff, I'll read it all through. I still have that nagging question: if it's an expanded 'plate' of things that Saddam is guilty of, why is the US government only citing the one? Saddam is a tyrant prick, no doubt, so why not bring files of evidence out for public consumption that would seal his fate in the courts of public opinion?

Jedi - Can I switch that ticket to Puerto Rico?
It's been a while since I got smashed at the Bacardi distillery!

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 11:24 AM
About Time, I can not second guess the U.S. Intelligence communities choices for witholding proof positive of what Saddam actually has or all that he may have done in the past.

I can only assume that in order to protect the sources of information regarding Saddam's WMD programs and terrorism support, that the U.S. is slow to reveal what exact information they have because it would compromise their sources.

I believe that Saddam's closest supporters know that they would more than likely not escape death or prison this time and may well be co-operating with CIA operatives within Iraq to relay intelligence information to the U.S. - to save their own skins. Saddam Hussein has certainly proven that he is not above murdering anyone whom he becomes paranoid of, or believes in a threat to his remaining in power.

Time will tell whether or not the U.S. has concrete proof of Saddam's secret development of WMD. I seriously doubt that the U.S. would build up such a massive militry presence, unless there was strong evidence that Saddam is a clear and present danger to world peace and U.S. security.

This drama is being played out on national TV and will run it's course - only time will tell.

All the Best,

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 01:54 PM
Bout Time just spends his time looking for conspiracy after conspiracy on the internet while the rest of sane society ignore the babbling liars. It's quite sad that Bout Time then comes here and links these babbling liars as proof of this and that....

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 02:15 PM

Originally posted by MT69
Bout Time just spends his time looking for conspiracy after conspiracy on the internet while the rest of sane society ignore the babbling liars. It's quite sad that Bout Time then comes here and links these babbling liars as proof of this and that....

Boy,What IS the beef? Again, you want to flame me, do so off board; adults are dicussing things here, ok?

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 03:17 PM
No, you're just linking internet BS lies/conspiracies here acting as if you're in the "know" about things.

It's amazing that the media that loves any dirt to go against Bush's plans with Saddam never mentions the BS that you seem to find every day. Maybe you need to take Dan Rather's job...

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 04:56 PM
IT might be because you're off of your medication, but you are failing to realize that the person you are slamming - STEPHEN C. PELLETIERE - was:

a) A Reagan era CIA Senior Analyst
b) Worked for Bush Sr.'s Pentagon
c) Had a security clearence you'll never have in working for Republican administrations as a Middle East expert with a speciality on Iraq

And this means is that he is a " babbling liar"? He certainly ain't a EEEVIL LIBAARULLL!
Here's a $1, buy a clue junior.

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 05:02 PM
A few months ago, a thread was posted here in which was the eyewitness account of a litle girl's experience in that horror. The helicoptors she described were Iraqi.

As a matter of fact, this is the first time I've ever heard anyone doubting the attack to have been Iraqi.

I see no reason to believe this individual, but I do see purpose for this disinformation.

It appears that history revisionism is still very much alive and strong.

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 05:12 PM
The between the lines reading is all we're left with, sadly.
Remeber the stories of the Republican guard raiding Kuwaiti hospitals and killing babies?

posted on Jan, 31 2003 @ 05:42 PM
I'm afraid I missed that, Bout Time. Was that some emotion-stirring propaganda, or did they actually do that?

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