The Iraqi Brain Suction

Imad Khadduri

March 30, 2008


This March marks the fifth anniversary of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq - an occupation that stands morally defeated and yet continues to rain violence down on the Iraqi people. It continues with horrific brutality: the Pentagon acknowledges that it increased six fold air strikes in 2007. The number of Iraqis detained under US authority doubled in the last year. According to the Iraqi Association of Detainees and Prisoners, there are more than 400,000 Iraqis imprisoned and detained across 36 US and Iraqi detention centres, including thousands of women and children. According to data from the US Congress, the monthly cost of the war in Iraq stands at $12 billion.


In order to dominate Iraq, the occupation had dismantled key Iraqi institutions and subjected the Iraqi society to extreme violence and impoverishment, instigating ethnic and sectarian strife by promoting its own Salvador-type death squads, 200,000 mercenaries and local mafia-like bands operating under the patronage of the same religious political parties who are supported by the occupation or aided by regimes neighbouring Iraq. These policies have resulted in:


        A documented list of at least 345 teachers and professors from universities across Iraq, representing all academic disciplines, have been killed in a systematic campaign of assassinations. The Iraqi Interior Ministry has recently announced that it has detained more than 6000 suspects charged with the assassination of academics and scientists (in Arabic), 600 of whom have been sentenced to death, with one suspect alone who has admitted to killing 60 of the above. Yet, the Iraqi Interior Ministry provides no explanation on the affiliations of these prisoners nor of their instigators and who is behind them.


        It is estimated that 2,000 Iraqi doctors have been killed and half of the 34,000 doctors registered in 2003 have left the country. Of Iraqs 180 large hospitals, 90 per cent lack essential resources. Under the control of Moqtada Al-Sadr, the Ministry of Health has plummeted into corruption, while hospitals have been transformed into secret detention centres where torture and murder are endemic at the hands of death squads.


        The Iraqi Interior Ministry has admitted that more than 9000 civil servants (in Arabic), including high ranking staff in the prime ministers office (in Arabic), have provided purchased fake university degrees.


        More than 800,000 schoolchildren (22 per cent) have stopped attending primary school and only half of those who complete primary school continue their education. More than 220,000 refugee Iraqi children in neighbouring countries are denied their right to education.


        All public services have collapsed. Already in 2006, 40 per cent of skilled Iraqi personnel had left the country.


The decline of the academic autonomy of the Iraqi universities started since the early eighties under the former dictatorial regime when the autonomy of Baghdad University and other universities fell under the administrative strangling constraints of the Ministry of Higher Education. The brain drain, during the eighties and nineties, of many qualified faculty members was a direct result of the intrusion of the security and intelligence services in university campuses and the intimidation of Baath dominated student unions and entrenched Baathist faculty members. That slow and steady brain drain has tragically turned into a brain suction after the occupation of Iraq, as the above statistics demonstrate.


The US propaganda about rebuilding the country is a bitter lie. The international community is silent about corruption in all fields and at all levels (Iraq is now the third worst country in the world in terms of corruption), the multiplication of local mafias, and the targeted assassination and/or disappearance of Iraqs technically skilled population.


The problem in Iraq, we're now constantly told by the neoconservatives and affiliated think tanks, was a lack of preparation, or the wrong kind of planning, or mistakes in implementation and management. The problem is presented as not the illegal invasion and occupation of a sovereign Arab oil state on a tide of official deceit, but in the way that it was carried out.

What should legitimately and persistently be considered is what does the U.S. owe Iraq for over a million dead and ten times that number wounded or otherwise devastated in five years of Bush's unrelenting bloodletting? And for the 5,000,000 people who have been uprooted and displaced from their homes, half of them forced to flee their homeland, 65% of them women and children, 80% of the children less than 12 years of age?

In addition to over one million dead, and an estimated 4 million Iraqis wounded, the US occupation of Iraq has created the largest and fastest growing global refugee crisis in post-World War II memory, inclusive of the Palestinian exodus and the genocide in Rwanda. At least 2.8 million Iraqis have been internally displaced - 2,000 per day - while 2.2 million more are refugees in neighbouring countries, particularly in Syria and Jordan, representing a burden on host state resources that inevitably generate tension. That is a total of 10 million Iraqis out of a population of about 27 millions. The term Corporate Genocide aptly describes this human tragedy.


The causes of the exodus of the Iraqi population are overlapping:

        Massive military operations of the occupation;

        The systematic destruction of infrastructure;

        The deterioration of basic living conditions due to the destruction of the state;

        Rampant corruption and the strengthening of local mafias;

        and sectarian violence instigated from 2005 by the security services, militias and death squads linked to forces comprising the collaborating religious parties in the Iraqi government with the tacit consent of the occupation.


The presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq is another direct consequence of the occupation, encouraging civil strife and social regression and is denounced by the Iraqi anti-occupation movement. Indiscriminate attacks by Al-Qaeda, singled out by the media but minor in the context of the violence plaguing Iraq as a whole, have as a target the Iraqi people themselves and are used as justification for prolonging the occupation and the war.


The US has taken advantage of the sectarian violence it instigated in order to destroy the social basis of resistance to the occupation and inevitably results in annihilating the secular and skilled sectors of the Iraqi population those capable of managing a sovereign, unified, inclusive and democratic Iraq. The US continues to justify its presence in Iraq on the pretext of avoiding civil war and combating terrorism.


The destruction of established institutions, coupled with the widespread impoverishment and social disintegration, have fuelled the expansion of backward and sectarian forces, which have resorted to terror in order to control and fragment the country. Meanwhile, new laws passed under the occupation have resulted in the potential breaking of the juridical unity of Iraq, the discarding of the concept of citizenship, and the fostering of legislation under a religious and sectarian umbrella.


The partition of Iraq emerges as the strategic goal of the extreme violence to which the country has been and remains subjected to under this occupation.


The persistent doggedness of the Iraqi Resistance, as in other wars of liberation, such as in Vietnam and Algeria, remain the sole legitimate and patriotic aspiration for the Iraqi people.