Iraq - Western plague and cholera

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
4 December 2007

Now that it has handed over control of central Basra to the Iraqi authorities and withdrawn its troops to the town's airport, Brown's government proudly claims that its objectives are close to being achieved, thus allowing soldiers to start returning home in April. However, more and more commentators are saying that the relative improvement in Basra's security situation is primarily due to the troop withdrawal itself, ending what amounted a constant provocation against the population, and that it only conceals the iron rule of the Islamist militias, directly, or through the Iraqi police and army.

Meanwhile an ominous development is taking place in Baghdad, which speaks volumes about the catastrophic effect of the war and occupation for the population.

Over the past 3 weeks, over 100 cases of cholera have been recorded in Baghdad. This is not the first time a cholera epidemic has threatened in Iraq. In August, over 4,500 cases were officially recorded in the north, around the city of Kirkuk and there have been more cases since, in 9 other provinces. But due to the very high concentration of population in the capital, an epidemic there would have even more terrible consequences than anywhere else.

Indeed cholera is a potentially deadly disease, due to bacteria spread by contaminated water. It is usually the result of sewage and other sources of bacterial pollution leaking into drinking water pipes and wells. It could easily be avoided if the population had access to clean water and working sewage systems. But after the bombing of the 2 Iraq wars and 12 years of blockade, only 20-30% of the Iraqi population has such access.

Of course, it would have been possible for the western troops to do something about this. After all, wasn't it Blair who said that the West's primary objective in Iraq was reconstruction? So where did the billions of reconstruction money allotted to US and British companies go? Apparently not into rebuilding the sewage plants destroyed by western bombs, nor into mending water pipes and sewage mains. Instead, most of this money seems to have been used to pay for the construction of military facilities and to fill the coffers of private security firms whose armed mercenaries are now widely used as unaccountable auxiliaries for the US and British armies.

So now, in addition to the plague of the western occupation, the Iraqi population is having to face cholera as well. And the likes of Blair and Bush have yet more blood on their hands.