Moving Forward After the Liberation of Mosul
This post is a response to: "Battle of Mosul: what comes next?"
I agree with a lot of what Catherine Shakdam, director at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies in London, says in her interview with PressTV News:
If the US had had its way, Daesh would be in control of Baghdad. 1
Like I’ve stated in previous posts, the US government and its allies have no interest in defeating Daesh because they like being able to use Daesh to paint all Muslims as terrorists.
Daesh was the last attempt to maintain the Middle East under the thumb of Western nations and corporatism. Clearly it hasn’t worked. Terrorism is not working...It’s over. The experiment has failed. It’s not going to work anymore. 
Daesh is not actually an Islamic school of thought. Daesh and Wahhabism have nothing to do with Islam. 
It just tells you that the US is desperately trying to portray again this idea that Wahhabism and Daesh militants somehow represent a segment of the Muslim population…They were proven wrong. 
The reality is that those Muslims, whether it’s Sunni or Shia,…do not want Daesh militants to come into their home, into their community, into their country. 
Additionally, Western states like engaging in phoney war with Daesh to give them an excuse to intervene in the Middle East.2
Regardless of what Western capitalists have been trying to say, this victory is an Iraqi victory…It’s their blood that has been spilled; and it’s because of their efforts and their sacrifice. We have to remember that thousands [of civilians] have died; millions have been displaced. 
Both Russia and the US-led coalition are responsible for targeting civilians, though both obviously deny the allegation.3 Civilians are not being killed by mistake; the evidence is very clear.
Kafaa al-Mustapha and two of her relatives were on their way to work in the Raqqa countryside when their car was hit by an alleged coalition airstrike last month. All three of the women, along with up to 20 other agricultural workers, were reportedly killed. They are among more than 700 estimated civilian victims of airstrikes by the US-led international coalition fighting so-called Islamic State in the last three months in and around Raqqa.
The attack that killed Kafaa was just one of 160 reported “coalition casualty” events Airwars, which archives the war against IS, tracked in Iraq and Syria during May 2017. According to our estimates, last month was second only to March as the deadliest for civilians since coalition airstrikes began in August 2014.
We have seen an unprecedented and sustained rise in reported civilian deaths since January, when the campaigns to liberate Raqqa and Mosul began to escalate. Airwars is not alone in noting this trend: UN investigators have cited a “staggering” loss of civilian life from coalition airstrikes in Raqqa, and there is now serious concern for the estimated 100,000 people still trapped in Mosul’s Old City.4
Within the last three months I’ve watched the growth of arguably the most shocking trend of all: the frequent killing of entire families in likely coalition airstrikes. At least 57 women died in Iraq and Syria during May alone in such actions – a record for any month – along with a minimum of 52 children.
In a typically harrowing event, multiple local sources reported that Iraqi forces rescued a baby from a house in west Mosul’s Zanjili neighbourhood on 11 June. He had survived the shelling, but the rest of his family perished. One source, describing the event on Twitter, blamed “US planes” for the strike, however others didn’t say who was responsible. 
In Syria, however – where thanks to our excellent researchers I am sometimes able to list up to 50 individual sources for any given incident – there is generally less doubt as to who is responsible for the killings. During May, we assessed 59 percent of all incidents we monitored in Syria as likely to have been carried out by the US-led coalition. Reviewing these incidents day after day, I can’t help but feel that coalition protections for civilians are woefully inadequate. 
The coalition is aiming for the civilians. The evidence is unequivocal.
More alarming still are accounts of civilians being killed as they attempt to flee the carnage – often at the urging of the coalition and its allies. On 5 June, in one of several such events recently tracked by Airwars, up to 21 civilians are said to have died when the coalition allegedly struck boats ferrying people to safety across the Euphrates River. 
The spike in casualties we’ve seen in Raqqa, however, is even more troubling. To some extent, given how densely populated parts of Mosul city are, it was expected that civilian death tolls would be high. But the villages and towns that surround Raqqa governorate’s capital hold comparably fewer civilians – and yet numerous and large-scale casualty events have become the norm since March.
In Raqqa, there appears to be little correlation between what is being destroyed and civilian fatalities. In a recent study, I discovered that the number of targets bombed in Raqqa decreased by 39 percent from February to March. Consequently, we expected to see civilian deaths decrease – instead they rose more than fivefold to an all-time high of at least 275 civilians likely killed in the area. 
The only way bombing could have decreased while civilian casualties increased is if civilians were the targets. Western imperialists often highlight the high precision of Western weaponry when trying to justify Western military aggression. The high precision weaponry is supposed to minimize collateral damage. However, if Western militaries are directly aiming for civilians, that high precision weaponry is far more lethal to innocent people.
Hopkins, a web producer at Airwars, continues to tiptoe around the obvious truth:
In short, more civilians are dying in Raqqa even when fewer targets are hit – reinforcing what Airwars has believed for some time: that the high increase in deaths from coalition actions is most likely related to changes in the rules of engagement – or to offensive procedures on the battlefield – exposing civilians to greater risk. 
Additionally, Hopkins calls for the coalition to exercise more restraint in their bombing to spare civilian lives when civilians are the target.
With the Mosul battle in its final terrible days, and the Raqqa campaign now moving into the city itself, it is imperative that the coalition and its ground allies exercise more restraint in their bombing – and urgently improve safeguards to reduce the very high death count. 
What needs to happen is Western states need to pull out of the Middle East altogether. Like Catherine Shakdam stated, Western states have purely nefarious, imperialist intentions. Western states are not intervening in the Middle East to help people.
When it comes to the role that the US has to play moving forward, if it was up to me, I would say none because I don’t think they have any role to play…Whenever the US or other Western capitalists get involved,…we’re talking about a form of nefarious and very insidious imperialism. 
Noam Chomsky says that if people are interested in supporting democracy abroad, the right approach would be to support grassroots democratic movements within other countries. For example, if Westerners had wanted democracy for the Vietnamese, the proper approach would have been to support the grassroots democratic movement that was taking place in rural South Vietnam — the movement quashed by the US.5 Noam Chomsky states that Western states don’t even want democracy for the Western public. Thus, there is no way intervention by Western states abroad could bring about democracy. If anybody has an example of Western intervention creating genuine democracy, I’d like to see it.6
- 1. Shakdam, Catherine. “Iraq declares end of Daesh ‘caliphate’ after capture of Mosul mosque.” PressTV News Videos, 30 Jun. 2017, https://youtu.be/UyE1HqM5HnM, Accessed 1 Jul. 2017.
- 2. ”By not addressing the roots of homegrown terrorism, more innocent lives will be put in jeopardy.” http://en.minguo.info/blogs/panoramics/by_not_addressing_the_roots_of_ho....
- 3. ”Liberation or obliteration? A look at the price paid to recapture Mosul.” RT, 30 Jun. 2017, youtu.be/yK3ILW7RvpE. Accessed 1 Jul. 2017.
- 4. Hopkins, Alex. "Disturbing civilian death trends in Iraq-Syria air war: A researcher’s view." IRIN: The inside story on emergencies, 20 Jun. 2017, https://www.irinnews.org/opinion/2017/06/20/disturbing-civilian-death-tr.... Accessed 1 Jul. 2017.
- 5. Chomsky, Noam. "Invasion Newspeak: U.S. & USSR." FAIR, Dec. 1989, https://chomsky.info/198912__/. Accessed 1 Jul. 2017.
- 6. "Democracy and Decision-Making." http://en.minguo.info/book/panoramics/democracy_and_decision_making.