SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
Eric S. Margolis
Of course, we Americans know Iraq has chemical weapons. We have the delivery receipts to prove it”, goes a media witticism from the 1990’s. The joke turned out to be the truth. While covering Iraq in 1990, I discovered the United States and Britain had been secretly building a germ weapons arsenal for Iraq to use against Iran in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War. This while both Bushes and Britain’s Tony Blair were fulminating with breathtaking hypocrisy against the alleged dangers of Iraq’s supposed WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) that never existed. Last week the widely read New York Times ran a multi-page exposé entitled “Abandoned Chemical Weapons and Secret Casualties in Iraq.”
The NY Times played a key role in driving the US into two wars against Iraq. America’s leading newspaper is finally facing part of the ugly truth over Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The pretext used by the US to bomb then invade Iraq. Iraq had no nuclear weapons, as the US falsely claimed. But it did have an arsenal of chemical and biological weapons – delivered by the Western powers. All were battlefield arms, not strategic, weapons.
According to the New York Times, 17 US servicemen and seven Iraqis were injured by mustard and nerve gas after they dug up buried caches of Iraq’s 1980’s chemical weapons. Their plight was kept secret by the Pentagon; the soldiers were refused adequate medical care in order to cover up this sordid story. But what I uncovered in Baghdad was far worse. I found two British scientists who had been employed at Iraq’s top-secret Salman Pak chemical and bio-warfare laboratory near Baghdad.
The Britishers confided to me they were part of a large technical team secretly organised and “seconded” to Iraq in the mid-1980’s by the British government and the MI6 Secret Intelligence Service. Their goal was to develop and “weaponise” anthrax, plague, botulism and other pathogens for use as tactical germ weapons. The US and Saudi Arabia feared Iran’s Islamic revolution would sweep the Mideast. So Washington and its allies convinced Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, to invade Iran and overthrow its new government. Arms and money flowed to Iraq from the US, Britain and the Saudis.
After three years of WWI-style warfare, Iraq found its outnumbered troops could not stop Iranian human-wave attacks. Iran was slowly winning its bloody war against Iraq. So the US and Britain supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical and biological weapons to break the waves of attacking Iranians. Chemical warfare manufacturing equipment – disguised as insecticide plants — came from Germany, France and Holland. The feedstock for the germ weapons came from a US laboratory in Maryland.
Over 500,000 soldiers and civilians died in the eight-year conflict. In the Anglo-American view, chemical and biological weapons were fine – so long as used to kill Muslim Iranians. Used against Westerners, they would be denounced as “terrorism.” In 2013, US President Barack Obama would threaten Syria with war over unfounded claims that Damascus planned to use chemical weapons on US-backed insurgents.
My dispatches from Baghdad in 1990 were the first to reveal the US-British plan to use bio-warfare weapons like anthrax and plague on the Iranians. The US media never reported this story any more that Washington’s backing for old ally Saddam Hussein. Few Americans know anything about their nation’s support for Saddam or the secret biological weapons story. Or that the deadliest bio-warfare weapon used in the region was the destruction by the US airpower of Iraq’s water and sewage systems, a crime that led to the deaths, according to UN officials, of over 500,000 Iraqis, mostly children, from contaminated water. Iraq is still poisoned by depleted uranium munitions fired by US forces.
The Western powers prevented Iraq from importing chlorine to purify filthy, pest-ridden water, claiming the chlorine could be used in chemical weapons! This from the same nations that were covertly supplying Iraq with germs and poison gas for use against Iran. Why are these events of a quarter century ago relevant today? Because the current horrible mess in Iraq and Syria is a direct result of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. ISIS is a manufactured monster that could have crawled out of the germ warfare plant at Salman Pak.