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Who really gassed the Kurds in 1988? 3 separate articles are equally damning.

[Go to the original page to read the six referenced documents.]

After all this time, people have adopted a mainstream angle on this event. Because it gets murky, some
may believe the opposite of what the mainstream is attempting to convey.

What happened in Kurdish Halabja?
{rewritten slightly to enhance clarity}

The truth of what happened in Halabja had always been hidden from the public, and many who knew
exactly what happened in this Kurdish village in the second half of March 1988 disputed the western
media coverage of the story. Key Kurdish leaders aided by the CIA and the Israeli Mossad have used a
wide network of public relations companies and media outlets in the west to manipulate and twist the
truth of what happened in Kurdish Halabja in 1988 in favor of the Kurdish political parties. {Really?}

In 1993, a Jewish Kurd [Moti Zaken] established The Kurdish-Israeli Friendship League in Israel; he had
originally immigrated from Zakho, Iraq, and worked closely with the American Zionist lobby.

In 1996, Zaken established the Washington Kurdish Institute, with the financial help and supervision of
the Zionist Mike Amitay; Mike Amitay is the son of Morris Amitay, a long-time legislative assistant in
Congress and lobbyist for the influential American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. A group of Kurdish
figures known for their connection with the Israeli Mossad manage the Washington Kurdish Institute;
they include Najmaldin Karim, Omar Halmat, Birusk Tugan, Osman Baban, Asad Khailany, Kendal Nezan,
Asfandiar Shukri and Mohammad Khoshnaw.

Mike Amitay is an adviser to Frank Gaffneys Center for Security Policy and the former vice-chairman of
the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA); JINSA is a US-based pro-Israeli Likud advocacy
outfit that specializes in connecting US military brass to their counterparts in the Israeli armed forces.
JINSA associates include Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle.

These organizations have championed claims that the Iraqi army bombed Kurdish villages with chemical
agents throughout 1988.

According to a March 11, 1991 Human Rights Watch (HRW) Report, at least 50,000 and possibly as
many as 100,000 people, many of them women and children, were killed out of hand between February
and September 1988, the victims being Iraqi Kurds systematically put to death in large numbers on the
orders of the central government in Baghdad.

It is a fact that key Kurdish leaders aided by the CIA and the Israeli Mossad have used wide network of
public relation companies and media outlets in the west to manipulate and twist the truth of
what happened in Kurdish Halabja in 1988 in favor of the political Kurdish parties.

{This quotation does not appear in the HRW report; the conclusion of the report is at-
variance with the thrust of this claim.}

In light of Iraq's history of using chemical weapons on the Kurds, Middle East Watch
urges the United States to:
demand that outside monitors be allowed to stay in Iraq to make sure it
does not again use chemical gas during the post-war insurrection now
reportedly taking place in the Kurdish provinces.
insist that Iraq's violations of international laws against the Kurds --
including its use of poison gas in 1987 and 1988 -- be included in any war
crimes trials against Iraqi leaders, should they take place.
continue the embargo of Iraq until it dismantles its forced resettlement
program and allows its Kurdish citizens to return to the villages they left
because of the chemical bombings.
demand that outside monitors, such as the International Committee of the
Red Cross, be allowed to assure that any Iraqi Kurds in exile may safely
return to Iraq.

Because of Iraq's treatment of the Kurds and the appalling conditions under which
Kurdish refugees are living in Turkey, Iran, Greece and Pakistan, Middle East Watch also
that the United States and other Western countries give asylum to
significantly greater numbers of Kurdish refugees;
that Greece and Pakistan stop jailing Iraqi Kurds for illegal entry, release
those currently in prison and grant official refugee status to those who have
sought asylum;
that Iran abide by the Convention on Refugees in its treatment of the
Kurdish refugees, including the provisions related to schooling,
employment, travel, residence and the administration of justice.

Other champions of the genocide claim include Jeffrey Goldberg, whose 18,000-word story, The Great
Terror, in the 25 March 2002 issue of The New Yorker forms the basis of the US Department of States
website on alleged Iraqi genocide.

Goldbergs story is long on lurid details; we are told, for instance, that one woman, Hamida Mahmoud,
died while nursing her two-year-old daughter. Goldberg also follows the Human Rights Watch formula
in invoking the Nazis: Saddam Husseins attacks on his own citizens mark the only time since the
Holocaust that poison gas has been used to exterminate women and children.

What Goldberg did not tell his readers about is that he has dual Israeli/American citizenship and served
in the Israeli Defense Forces. Or that he purposefully ignored the War College report, which, of course,
reached quite different conclusions.

The Iraqi army allegedly used chemical weapons in 40 separate attacks on Kurdish targets during a
campaign that HRW labels as genocide.

The most prominent of these purported attacks was the March 1988 chemical assault on the town of
Halabja, in which the number of dead, according to Human Rights Watch exceeds 5000.

It is known that both Iran and Iraq used chemical weapons in their eight-year war from September 1980
to August 1988. Most of Iraqs alleged assaults on the Kurds took place while this war was
raging, although Human Rights Watch claims the attacks extended into September 1988.

Iraq has acknowledged using mustard gas against Iranian troops to overwhelm the human waves
tactic used by Iranians who wanted to benefit from the fact that they outnumbered Iraqis; Iraq
consistently denied using chemical weapons against civilians.

The only verified Kurdish civilian deaths from chemical weapons occurred in the Iraqi village of Halabja,
near the Iran border, where several hundred people died from gas poisoning in mid-March 1988. Iran
overran the village and its small Iraqi garrison on 15 March 1988. The gassing took place on 16 March
and onwards; who is then responsible for the deaths Iran or Iraq and how large was the death
toll, knowing the Iranian army was in Halabja but never reported any deaths by chemicals?

The best evidence to answer this is a 1990 report by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War
College. It concluded that Iran, not Iraq, was the culprit in Halabja.

The Iraqi army allegedly used chemical weapons in 40 separate attacks on Kurdish targets during a
campaign that HRW labels as genocide While the War College report acknowledges that Iraq used
mustard gas during the Halabja hostilities, it notes that mustard gas is an incapacitating, rather than a
killing agent, with a fatality rate of only 2%, so that it could not have killed the hundreds of known
dead, much less the thousands of dead claimed by Human Rights Watch.

According to the War College reconstruction of events, Iran struck first, taking control of the village. The
Iraqis counter-attacked using mustard gas. The Iranians then attacked again, this time using a
blood agent cyanogens chloride or hydrogen cyanide and re-took the town, which Iran then held
for several months.

Having control of the village and its grisly dead, Iran blamed the gas deaths on the Iraqis, and the
allegations of Iraqi genocide took root via a credulous international press and, later, cynical promotion
of the allegations for political purposes by the US State Department and Senate. Stephen Pelletiere, who
was the CIAs senior political analyst on Iraq throughout the Iran-Iraq war, closely studied evidences
of genocide in Halabja has described his groups findings:

The great majority of the victims seen by reporters and other observers who attended
the scene were blue in their extremities. That means that they were killed by a blood
agent, probably either cyanogens chloride or hydrogen cyanide. Iraq never used and
lacked any capacity to produce these chemicals. But the Iranians did deploy them.
Therefore the Iranians killed the Kurds.

Pelletieres report also said that international relief organizations that examined the Kurdish refugees in
Turkey failed to discover any gassing victims.

After 15 years of support to the allegations of HRW, the CIA finally admitted in its report published in
October 2003 that only mustard gas and a nerve agent was used by Iraq.

The CIA now seems to be fully supporting the US Army War College report of April 1990, as a cyanide-
based blood agent that Iraq never had, and not mustard gas or a nerve agent, killed the Kurds who died
at Halabja and which concludes that the Iranians perpetrated that attack as a media war tactic.

Despite the doubt cast by many professionals as well as the CIAs recent report, and after years of public
relations propaganda made for the Kurdish leaderships by the assistance and support of the
Israeli Mossad, the issue of genocide has been marketed to the international community.

In a telephone interview with the Village Voice in 2002, Stephen Pelletiere said: There is to this day the
belief and Im not the only one who holds it that things did not happen in Halabja the way Goldberg
wrote it.

And it is an especially crucial issue right now. We say Saddam is a monster, a maniac who gassed his
own people, and the world should not tolerate him. But why? Because that is the last argument the US
has for going to war with Iraq.

Professor Mohammed al-Obaidi is the spokesman for the Peoples Struggle Movement (Al-Kifah al-
Shabi) in Iraq, and works as a university professor in the UK. He was born and educated in al-Adhamiyah
district in Baghdad. He is writing a book about Halabja.

A War Crime Or An Act of War?
Who really gassed the Kurds?


MECHANICSBURG, Pa. It was no surprise that President Bush, lacking smoking-gun evidence of Iraq's
weapons programs, used his State of the Union address to re-emphasize the moral case for an invasion:
"The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole
villages, leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind or disfigured."

The accusation that Iraq has used chemical weapons against its citizens is a familiar part of the debate.
The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town
of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.

President Bush himself has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to
topple Saddam Hussein. But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with
poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the
Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story.

As the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a
professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that
flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army
investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the
report went into great detail on the Halabja affair.

This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle
between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town,
which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the
misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.

And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency
investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a
need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas. The
agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of
the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent that is, a cyanide-
based gas which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the
battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time.

These facts have long been in the public domain but, extraordinarily, as often as the Halabja affair is
cited, they are rarely mentioned. A much-discussed article in The New Yorker last March did not make
reference to the Defense Intelligence Agency report or consider that Iranian gas might have killed the
Kurds. On the rare occasions the report is brought up, there is usually speculation, with no proof, that it
was skewed out of American political favoritism toward Iraq in its war against Iran.

I am not trying to rehabilitate the character of Saddam Hussein. He has much to answer for in the area
of human rights abuses. But accusing him of gassing his own people at Halabja as an act of genocide is
not correct, because as far as the information we have goes, all of the cases where gas was used
involved battles. These were tragedies of war. There may be justifications for invading Iraq, but Halabja
is not one of them.

In fact, those who really feel that the disaster at Halabja has bearing on today might want to consider a
different question: Why was Iran so keen on taking the town? A closer look may shed light on America's
impetus to invade Iraq. We are constantly reminded that Iraq has perhaps the world's largest
reserves of oil. But in a regional and perhaps even geopolitical sense, it may be more important that Iraq
has the most extensive river system in the Middle East. In addition to the Tigris and Euphrates, there are
the Greater Zab and Lesser Zab rivers in the north of the country. Iraq was covered with irrigation works
by the sixth century A.D., and was a granary for the region.

Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects, the
largest being the Darbandikhan dam in the Kurdish area. And it was this dam the Iranians were aiming to
take control of when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction
of a so-called Peace Pipeline that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the
parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of
Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.

Thus America could alter the destiny of the Middle East in a way that probably could not be challenged
for decades not solely by controlling Iraq's oil, but by controlling its water. Even if America didn't
occupy the country, once Mr. Hussein's Baath Party is driven from power, many lucrative opportunities
would open up for American companies.

All that is needed to get us into war is one clear reason for acting, one that would be generally
persuasive. But efforts to link the Iraqis directly to Osama bin Laden have proved inconclusive.
Assertions that Iraq threatens its neighbors have also failed to create much resolve; in its present
debilitated condition thanks to United Nations sanctions Iraq's conventional forces threaten no

Perhaps the strongest argument left for taking us to war quickly was that Saddam Hussein had
committed human rights atrocities against his people. And the most dramatic case is the accusations
about Halabja.

Before we go to war over Halabja, the administration owes the American people the full facts. And if it
has other examples of Saddam Hussein gassing Kurds, it must show that they were not pro-Iranian
Kurdish guerrillas who died fighting alongside Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Until Washington gives us
proof of Saddam Hussein's supposed atrocities, why are we picking on Iraq on human rights grounds,
particularly when there are so many other repressive regimes Washington supports?

Stephen C. Pelletiere is author of "Iraq and the International Oil System: Why America Went to War in
the Persian Gulf."

CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran

The U.S. knew Hussein was launching some of the worst chemical attacks in history -- and still gave him
a hand.

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus.
But a generation ago, America's military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to
stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq's war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite
imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses.

U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein's
military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of
Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin
prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other
intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq's favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table,
and they ensured that the Reagan administration's long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory
would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years
that the Reagan administration knew about and didn't disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein's government
never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a
military attach in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

"The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn't have to. We already knew," he
told Foreign Policy.

According to recently declassified CIA documents and interviews with former intelligence officials like
Francona, the U.S. had firm evidence of Iraqi chemical attacks beginning in 1983. At the time, Iran was
publicly alleging that illegal chemical attacks were carried out on its forces, and was building a case to
present to the United Nations. But it lacked the evidence implicating Iraq, much of which was contained
in top secret reports and memoranda sent to the most senior intelligence officials in the U.S.
government. The CIA declined to comment for this story.

In contrast to today's wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged
chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three
decades ago to Hussein's widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people.
The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the
tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and
condemnation would be muted.

In the documents, the CIA said that Iran might not discover persuasive evidence of the weapons' use --
even though the agency possessed it. Also, the agency noted that the Soviet Union had previously used
chemical agents in Afghanistan and suffered few repercussions.

It has been previously reported that the United States provided tactical intelligence to Iraq at the same
time that officials suspected Hussein would use chemical weapons. But the CIA documents, which sat
almost entirely unnoticed in a trove of declassified material at the National Archives in College Park,
Md., combined with exclusive interviews with former intelligence officials, reveal new details about the
depth of the United States' knowledge of how and when Iraq employed the deadly agents. They show
that senior U.S. officials were being regularly informed about the scale of the nerve gas attacks. They are
tantamount to an official American admission of complicity in some of the most gruesome chemical
weapons attacks ever launched.

Top CIA officials, including the Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey, a close friend of
President Ronald Reagan, were told about the location of Iraqi chemical weapons assembly plants; that
Iraq was desperately trying to make enough mustard agent to keep up with frontline demand from its
forces; that Iraq was about to buy equipment from Italy to help speed up production of chemical-packed
artillery rounds and bombs; and that Iraq could also use nerve agents on Iranian troops and possibly

Officials were also warned that Iran might launch retaliatory attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle
East, including terrorist strikes, if it believed the United States was complicit in Iraq's chemical warfare

"As Iraqi attacks continue and intensify the chances increase that Iranian forces will acquire a shell
containing mustard agent with Iraqi markings," the CIA reported in a top secret document in November
1983. "Tehran would take such evidence to the U.N. and charge U.S. complicity in violating international

At the time, the military attach's office was following Iraqi preparations for the offensive using satellite
reconnaissance imagery, Francona told Foreign Policy. According to a former CIA official, the images
showed Iraqi movements of chemical materials to artillery batteries opposite Iranian positions prior to
each offensive.

Francona, an experienced Middle East hand and Arabic linguist who served in the National Security
Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency, said he first became aware of Iraq's use of chemical
weapons against Iran in 1984, while serving as air attach in Amman, Jordan. The information he saw
clearly showed that the Iraqis had used Tabun nerve agent (also known as "GA") against Iranian forces in
southern Iraq.

The declassified CIA documents show that Casey and other top officials were repeatedly informed about
Iraq's chemical attacks and its plans for launching more. "If the Iraqis produce or acquire large new
supplies of mustard agent, they almost certainly would use it against Iranian troops and towns near the
border," the CIA said in a top secret document.

But it was the express policy of Reagan to ensure an Iraqi victory in the war, whatever the cost.

The CIA noted in one document that the use of nerve agent "could have a significant impact on Iran's
human wave tactics, forcing Iran to give up that strategy." Those tactics, which involved Iranian forces
swarming against conventionally armed Iraqi positions, had proved decisive in some battles. In March
1984, the CIA reported that Iraq had "begun using nerve agents on the Al Basrah front and likely will be
able to employ it in militarily significant quantities by late this fall."

The use of chemical weapons in war is banned under the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which states that
parties "will exert every effort to induce other States to accede to the" agreement. Iraq never ratified
the protocol; the United States did in 1975. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the
production and use of such arms, wasn't passed until 1997, years after the incidents in question.

The initial wave of Iraqi attacks, in 1983, used mustard agent. While generally not fatal, mustard causes
severe blistering of the skin and mucus membranes, which can lead to potentially fatal infections, and
can cause blindness and upper respiratory disease, while increasing the risk of cancer. The United States
wasn't yet providing battlefield intelligence to Iraq when mustard was used. But it also did nothing to
assist Iran in its attempts to bring proof of illegal Iraqi chemical attacks to light. Nor did the
administration inform the United Nations. The CIA determined that Iran had the capability to bomb the
weapons assembly facilities, if only it could find them. The CIA believed it knew the locations.

Hard evidence of the Iraqi chemical attacks came to light in 1984. But that did little to deter Hussein
from using the lethal agents, including in strikes against his own people. For as much as the CIA knew
about Hussein's use of chemical weapons, officials resisted providing Iraq with intelligence throughout
much of the war. The Defense Department had proposed an intelligence-sharing program with the Iraqis
in 1986. But according to Francona, it was nixed because the CIA and the State Department viewed
Saddam Hussein as "anathema" and his officials as "thugs."

The situation changed in 1987. CIA reconnaissance satellites picked up clear indications that the Iranians
were concentrating large numbers of troops and equipment east of the city of Basrah, according to
Francona, who was then serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency. What concerned DIA analysts the
most was that the satellite imagery showed that the Iranians had discovered a gaping hole in the Iraqi
lines southeast of Basrah. The seam had opened up at the junction between the Iraqi III Corps, deployed
east of the city, and the Iraqi VII Corps, which was deployed to the southeast of the city in and around
the hotly contested Fao Peninsula.

The satellites detected Iranian engineering and bridging units being secretly moved to deployment areas
opposite the gap in the Iraqi lines, indicating that this was going to be where the main force of the
annual Iranian spring offensive was going to fall, Francona said.

In late 1987, the DIA analysts in Francona's shop in Washington wrote a Top Secret Codeword report
partially entitled "At The Gates of Basrah," warning that the Iranian 1988 spring offensive was going to
be bigger than all previous spring offensives, and this offensive stood a very good chance of breaking
through the Iraqi lines and capturing Basrah. The report warned that if Basrah fell, the Iraqi military
would collapse and Iran would win the war.

President Reagan read the report and, according to Francona, wrote a note in the margin addressed to
Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci: "An Iranian victory is unacceptable."

Subsequently, a decision was made at the top level of the U.S. government (almost certainly requiring
the approval of the National Security Council and the CIA). The DIA was authorized to give the Iraqi
intelligence services as much detailed information as was available about the deployments and
movements of all Iranian combat units. That included satellite imagery and perhaps some sanitized
electronic intelligence.

There was a particular focus on the area east of the city of Basrah where the DIA was convinced the next
big Iranian offensive would come. The agency also provided data on the locations of key Iranian logistics
facilities, and the strength and capabilities of the Iranian air force and air defense system. Francona
described much of the information as "targeting packages" suitable for use by the Iraqi air force to
destroy these targets.

The sarin attacks then followed.

The nerve agent causes dizziness, respiratory distress, and muscle convulsions, and can lead to death.
Analysts could not precisely determine the Iranian casualty figures because they lacked access to Iranian
officials and documents. But the agency gauged the number of dead as somewhere between
"hundreds" and "thousands" in each of the four cases where chemical weapons were used prior to a
military offensive. According to the CIA, two-thirds of all chemical weapons ever used by Iraq during its
war with Iran were fired or dropped in the last 18 months of the war.

By 1988, U.S. intelligence was flowing freely to Hussein's military. That March, Iraq launched a nerve gas
attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja in northern Iraq.

A month later, the Iraqis used aerial bombs and artillery shells filled with sarin against Iranian troop
concentrations on the Fao Peninsula southeast of Basrah, helping the Iraqi forces win a major victory
and recapture the entire peninsula. The success of the Fao Peninsula offensive also prevented the
Iranians from launching their much-anticipated offensive to capture Basrah. According to Francona,
Washington was very pleased with the result because the Iranians never got a chance to launch their

The level of insight into Iraq's chemical weapons program stands in marked contrast to the flawed
assessments, provided by the CIA and other intelligence agencies about Iraq's program prior to the
United States' invasion in 2003. Back then, American intelligence had better access to the region and
could send officials out to assess the damage.

Francona visited the Fao Peninsula shortly after it had been captured by the Iraqis. He found the
battlefield littered with hundreds of used injectors once filled with atropine, the drug commonly used to
treat sarin's lethal effects. Francona scooped up a few of the injectors and brought them back to
Baghdad -- proof that the Iraqis had used sarin on the Fao Peninsula.

In the ensuing months, Francona reported, the Iraqis used sarin in massive quantities three more times
in conjunction with massed artillery fire and smoke to disguise the use of nerve agents. Each offensive
was hugely successful, in large part because of the increasingly sophisticated use of mass quantities of
nerve agents. The last of these attacks, called the Blessed Ramadan Offensive, was launched by the
Iraqis in April 1988 and involved the largest use of sarin nerve agent employed by the Iraqis to date. For
a quarter-century, no chemical attack came close to the scale of Saddam's unconventional assaults.
Until, perhaps, the strikes last week outside of Damascus.