US troops and defence officials attend a flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad to mark the end of operations in Iraq. Photograph: Ali Al-Saadi/AFP/Getty Images
There was a war, now there isn't.
Yesterday, as the US formally declared at an official ceremony in Baghdad that its most controversial war had ended, the American Army had to draft in extra troops to fill seats after Iraqi dignitaries failed to attend.
Reflecting the uneasy relationship Washington has with Baghdad, almost no Iraqi VIPs showed up at the End of Mission ceremony...... front-row seats marked for President Talibani and Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, among other VIPs, had to be filled with extra US troops........The ceremony yesterday underlined that America is being kicked out of a country where it has been engaged in one of its longest ever wars.
The United States is also expected to bring in up to 17,000 staff and security contractors to work in and protect its Baghdad embassy, the largest in the world, leading some Iraqi politicians to label it a military camp in disguise.
When I think of what my country has done to Iraq since our invasion in 2003, nothing stands out for me as much as the indiscriminate killing of civilians otherwise known as collateral damage. One famous example of these killings that came to the attention of the American public is known as Haditha, for the Iraqi city where the slaughter took place on November 19, 2005 carried out by Marines of Kilo Company. The following article published yesterday by the NYT give us a glimpse into the horrors inflicted on the people of Iraq, as revealed by interrogations of American soldiers that took place during the US military's 2006 investigation of the Haditha massacre.
Ishaqi children massacre
“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”
The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.
Great sorrow, great, great sorrow shrouds my apology to you Iraq. I hope one day your wounds heal and you can forgive us. However, I do not know if I can ever forgive my country for the atrocity of this war against your people in the cradle of civilization. For all the brave Iraqis who gave their lives for freedom, rest in peace. For all the innocent lives wasted in vain, rest in peace.
Beloved Iraq, I am sorry.
(Photos of the Haditha slaughter have not been made public. The photo accompanying this article is from another massacre, carried out execution style in the town of Ishaqi).