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No one cares when civilians are obliterated in Mosul

Iraqi civilians who fled from clashes between Iraqi Army and Daesh, queue up for food aid at the refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, as the operation to retake Iraq's Mosul from Daesh terrorists continues in Mosul, Iraq on March 19, 2017 [Yunus Keleş / Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi civilians who fled from clashes between Iraqi Army and Daesh, queue up for food aid at the refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, as the operation to retake Iraq's Mosul from Daesh terrorists continues in Mosul, Iraq on March 19, 2017 [Yunus Keleş / Anadolu Agency]

In all the tragedy of the London terrorist attack last Wednesday, you may have missed that an even bigger tragedy unfolded in Iraq where hundreds of civilians were wiped out, completely without fanfare, and with barely an utterance in the media. These hundreds of souls were lost, likely to be swiftly forgotten even by the few of us who did notice, and as the world focuses on how valuable lives are in the West compared to those elsewhere.

Nothing new here

In a series of airstrikes on Thursday, likely by the US-led coalition, 237 Iraqi civilians were simply, ruthlessly and quietly (from a media perspective, anyway) blotted out of existence as if they were annoying insects. Still trapped under the rubble, children were screaming and crying for help, but who would hear them?

Their families had been obliterated, and the Iraqi government forces – who were supposed to be helping them and saving them from Daesh tyranny – are likely the ones who gave the Americans the coordinates to attack, simply because they were too afraid to act as the heroes they claim to be, and engage Daesh in close-quarters combat in order to spare civilian lives.

As a result of the callous attitude held by many regarding Iraqis, and the seeming lack of sanctity that their lives possess in the eyes of many, war-weary observers sick of hearing about Iraq and its seemingly unending wars, countless civilians have died.

In western Mosul alone, and since 19 February, 4,000 civilians have been killed. That is a horrific number, and the fact that no one is talking about it or screaming out in outrage says a lot about Western interests and how they intertwine with the media.

For example, and though they could not do anything about it, the West was against Russia's intervention in Aleppo and the resulting mass murder and rape of the civilian population there rightly caused international outrage.

Not so for Iraq, where the entire world seems to agree that Mosul needs to be annihilated and wiped off the face of the planet simply because Daesh are there in numbers not exceeding 5,000 men as opposed to almost two million civilians.

Even in the way it was reported, there are clear signs of "geographical superiority". When the Iraqi Kurdish news site Rudaw broke the story, barely anyone paid much mind to it. Journalist Hevidar Ahmed's report from inside Mosul itself was hardly acknowledged until journalists like the Guardian's Martin Chulov came onto the scene to give it a Western seal of approval as a story.

Suddenly, the United Nations became interested, and today Lisa Grande, the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, released a statement saying, "We are stunned by this terrible loss of life."

Well, Lisa, I'm stunned it took you this long to comment, and I'm sickened by the fact that it will change nothing and no one will ultimately do anything to recognise the ongoing Iraqi tragedy that was started by the West.

Will the US be held to account?

The scope of the attack is almost as bad as another attack that hardly anyone remembers today where hundreds more Iraqi civilians were senselessly murdered by bunker-busting bombs from the life and liberty loving West. In February 1991, the US Air Force used two laser-guided smart bombs to bomb the Amiriyah bomb shelter in Baghdad to oblivion, killing at the very least 408 civilians.

The thing is, the United States government was not even upset about it. Following the attack and the Gulf War that it was a part of, Human Rights Watch reported that the US Department of Defense knew that the bomb shelter was used by civilians throughout the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War that ended in 1988. It therefore stands to reason that it would be used by civilians again just a few years later during another war, and there is no way that the Americans could not have known.

To the world, Iraqi deaths are just numbers that people, at best, think, "Oh, how sad that that is still going on in that awful place." In comparison, we not only know the name of the culprit of the London attack but also all his victims, and this is not a bad thing.

But why the double standards? Why will no one ever be held to account for the millions of Iraqi lives lost or irreversibly destroyed by almost two decades of Western aggression against the Iraqi people? If people are tired of seeing Iraq in the news, then I am tired of hearing how everything that happened to the Iraqi people was all Saddam Hussein's fault.

No, it was not. Saddam made a series of terrible miscalculations and poor decisions, and he ruled Iraq brutally. But nothing he did can ever justify the US Air Force flying over Iraq at will and murdering civilians en masse. Iraq has become an American abattoir where the US goes to unleash some of its bloodlust periodically before standing up at the UN and telling us all what a great country it is, bloodied hands hiding behind its back.

To make matters worse, American airpower is also providing air support to sectarian Shia jihadists who are celebrating at the sight of all of Iraq's Sunni cities being reduced to rubble. Weren't Uncle Sam and the Iranian mullahs supposed to be enemies? From the perspective of the Iraqis they are both mercilessly slaughtering, it certainly does not seem that way.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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