Iraq. Testimony of the new bishop of Baghdad

Source: FSSPX News


The new auxilary bishop of Baghdad, Mgr. Andraos Abouna, describes the sanctions imposed on Iraq as a “weapon of mass destruction.” In an interview given to the American weekly, the National Catholic Reporter, he stated that the UN sanctions, intensified under American pressure, had already caused a million deaths.

“Politicians have their own interests, often for economic reasons,” he lamented. During the Allied bombardment of Baghdad at the time of the first Gulf War, the Chaldean priest was in the Iraqi capital, not far from the civilian shelter taken as a target by American airmen. The destruction of the PC d’al-Amiriya shelter near to his parish church, on 13th February 1991, cost the lives of nearly 800 civilians, the majority of whom were women and children. Fr. Andreos Abouna, who has studied and worked in America as a priest, notably in San Francisco and Detroit, still does not understand why the Americans struck an air raid shelter which was visible to everyone.

The Catholic Archbishop of Bassorah (in southern Iraq), Mgr. Gabriel Kassab, also sounds a cry of alarm and describes the situation of the Iraqi people.

“When a woman gives birth here, she does not look first to see if her baby is a boy or a girl, but to see if it is equipped with two hands, two feet and two ears, or if it has a physical handicap.” Iraq has experienced a total of eight years of conflict with Iran, over two periods, then the 6 weeks of war in the Gulf in 1991. “In fact, this war did not last 42 days, it is still going on. Every day, especially during the last two months, American and British planes fly over our territory, and sometimes drop bombs which kill. What is more, there are the sanctions, which represent another kind of war, and they kill too, even if the resulting deaths take more time,” said Mgr. Kassab.

He described the effects of the hostilities as “appalling.” There are after effects due to the type of weapons used. “Miscarriages are extremely common, especially in the seventh month. The last few years have seen six times more cases of leukaemia than previously and many children in Bassorah die from this illness. People suffer new illnesses which doctors can not even identify.”

The people also have to face such problems as lack of drinking water, power cuts, shortage of medication and hospital equipment – operations are performed without anasthetic – housing shortage, unemployment, abandonment of schools. “Many children and young people leave school in order to start work, just to enable their family to survive.”

For his part, Mgr. Mikhael Al Jamil, representing the Church of syro-antioch, affirms that: “It is not terrorism which is at the origin of this crisis, neither is it a question of knowing if Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction. It is enough to know that numerous other countries have them. These are just excuses to divide Iraq and thus more easily exploit the oil and all the riches of the Gulf. If Iraq had been a poor country, it would have had less problems. There is also the Israeli factor behind the desire of Washington to target Iraq. Israel is a country which is afraid of peace and its consequences. The people who govern Israel think they would not be able to live in peace surrounded by Arab countries, because there is the issue of Palestine. They support the US in their objective to enfeeble the Arab countries militarily, but also economically.”