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Al-Fallujah: The Continuous Toxic Legacy of War and Birth Defects



Newborn baby with birth defects in Al-Fallujah

When asked about unjust tragedies in the world, a lot of things come to mind, but only one resounds. A stolen maternity of a mother who’s just had a baby she had hoped would be a healthy one; instead, her precious child is defected, deformed, and beyond saving.  In 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq and had over 500 military bases and 170,000 troops active there at the height of the invasion. Al-Fallujah, an Iraqi city, was inhumanely bombed with white phosphorus and depleted uranium, which resulted in amounting cases of congenital birth defects (CBD). To this day, Al-Fallujah witnesses babies born with polydactyly, macrocephaly, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, encephalocele, micrognathia, skeletal dysplasia cleft lips\palate, cyclopia dysmorphic features, malformation and more. Cases are steadily documented online.

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On November 1st, 2009, Dr. Samira Allani, a pediatric specialist at the Fallujah General Hospital, and her team conducted a study there. The investigation lasted for eleven months, all congenital anomaly birth referrals were recorded. During the study period, 291 congenital anomaly cases were registered at birth at the study’s clinic. The total number of births registered in the hospital during that time period was 6049. The team registered 113 heart and circulatory system cases, 72 nervous system cases, 40 digestive system cases, 9 genitourinary cases, 6 ear, face, and neck cases, 7 respiratory cases, and 30 Down syndrome cases among the congenital anomalies.

In 2010, Dr. Allani added cases of abdominal wall defects to her horrific findings. She reported three abnormal cases of gastroschisis –a birth defect of the abdominal wall where the baby’s intestines are found outside of the baby’s body, exiting through a hole beside the belly button– and that two out of the three newborn babies have succumbed to their demise shortly after delivery.

In an interview with Dahr Jamail, an American journalist who reported extensively from Iraq during the 2003 American invasion and wrote about the crisis of congenital malformations of newborns, stated, “–From 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II.” It is noteworthy to mention that according to experts, the alpha radiation from the dust of depleted uranium is twenty times more dangerous than gamma radiation from nuclear weapons.

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Jamail further stated, “So, Dr. Samira Allani actually visited with doctors in Japan, comparing statistics, and found that the amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings. These types of birth defects, she said—there are types of congenital malformations that she said they don’t even have medical terms for, that some of the things they’re seeing, they’ve never seen before. They’re not in any of the books or any of the scientific literature that they have access to.”

Most importantly perhaps, Jamail noted that Dr. Allani stated that, “It’s common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, baby’s being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye—really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects. And it is ongoing.

Despite the copious studies reporting the worryingly increasing rates of congenital birth defects in Iraq and condemning the toxic crimes of the U.S., and after a long-awaited report co-funded by the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MoH), the WHO failed humanity once it covered up for the USA and reported that “no clear evidence to suggest an unusually high rate of congenital birth defects in Iraq”.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist, conducted many studies on the radioactive footprint of the U.S. military presence in Iraq and its connection to congenital birth defects, and stated that, “The closer that you live to a U.S. military base in Iraq, the more likely you are to suffer serious congenital deformities and birth defects.”

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Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani also condemned the anonymity surrounding the report; no authors or responsible offices were identified by the report. Additionally, she pointed out that the reversal and alteration of the results was appalling.

And it perhaps came as a surprise to no one that Dr. Keith Baverstock, the lead author of a WHO report linking the US and UK use of depleted uranium in Iraq to long-term health risks, later revealed that his report was ‘deliberately suppressed’.

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The Iraqi government seems to avoid political strife by accepting WHO’s report and concluding the investigation as closed. And any attempts taken to investigate the matter seem to be shut down or met with consequences; Nazem al-Hadidi, the Director of Media at the Al-Fallujah Educational Hospital was removed from his position and moved to another city after accepting an interview with Al-Menassa, a local media platform that aimed to investigate the congenital birth defects cases there.

Almost two decades after the U.S. invasion and the lethal bombing on Al-Fallujah, couples still hesitate to step into parenthood for the prevalent fear of having malformed and disfigured children that won’t live long enough to let out their first cry. The families sit in the waiting area of the maternity hospital not only praying for a successful delivery, but also for the delivery of a non-defected baby.

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Among the pleading fathers is Aboud Salam, a Fallujah resident whose immediate family has witnessed previous cases of congenital birth defects. In an emotional outburst, he stated that people fear having children and said, “It’s not life, my brother. It’s a horror film, we amused ourselves with the idea of having children. We no longer want children anymore. My wife kept on taking pregnancy preventative pills so that the tragedy would not happen again. But in the end, we cannot go on like this. I was dreaming of the day our family would be complete with a child. Boy or girl does not matter… what is important is health and wellness”. Absolutely no parent should feel like this.

The weakest and most wronged victims of these crimes are the children born with defects, the least the world can do for them is hold the U.S. accountable for its war crimes– financially, politically, and medically.


Who Is Muqtada Al-Sadr And What Is Happening In Iraq?

Following the announcement by the Shi’ite cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr that he would “leave politics”, clashes broke out in Baghdad. At least 15 people have been killed.



Iraq Unrest

Following the announcement by the influential Shi’ite cleric and political leader Moqtada al-Sadr that he would “leave politics”, clashes broke out in Baghdad on Monday. The clashes between Iraqi forces and the protestors left 15 people dead and hundreds injured. Apparently, the fighting trading gun fires, broke out between the supporters of al-Sadr and his Iran-backed opponents. The clashes took place in Baghdad’s Green Zone which houses the parliament, government offices, and international embassies. The authorities have already imposed a state-wide curfew. The unrest comes along months of political unrest over failed attempts to create a government in Iraq.

As Iraq battles to recover from decades of war, internal turmoil, and entrenched corruption, the middle eastern country is devolving into yet another cycle of violence. This was the worst incident of violence in Iraq in years. This violence has led to increasing worries about the possibility of civil war in Iraq. 

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Who is Muqtada Al-Sadr?

The 48-year-old Iraqi political leader Muqtada al-Sadr was born in 1974 to a very devout family of Shia clerics. His father Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr was the grand ayatollah of Shias. In 1990, after the first gulf war when the US-led allied forces liberated, Kuwait Saddam Hussain lost. However, Hussain survived and continued to stay in power. A big Shiite rebellion followed in Iraq in 1999. It was al-Sadr’s father Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr who led this Shiite rebellion against the regime of Saddam Hussain. Although it was never proved, al-Sadr’s father was widely blamed for it. Nonetheless, Muqtada al-Sadr rose to prominence after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein government. 

After his father’s assasination in 1999, he had a legacy to carry forward and so he aspired to become a religious cleric. 

However, before he could do that, he raised the “Mahdi Army”, a private militia that became one of the most powerful Shiite militias at one point. In 2008 he also led the “Battle of Basra: against the Iraqi forces. However, he lost that battle and went to Iran to become an ayatollah. After returning from Iran his popularity increased even more. 

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Muqtada Al-Sadr’s past and the US

Seeking political reform, Al-Sadr’s supporters had stormed the Green Zone and broke into the nation’s Parliament building in a similar fashion in 2016.  The US has always claimed to be concerned about Iranian hegemony in the country since Iran’s influence may sour the Shia-Sunni relations. This can lead to the alienation of the Sunni minority in Iraq.  Although al-Sadr appears to be the US’s only choice for the position of power in Iraq at the moment, he was formerly the US’ top adversary following the overthrow of Saddam. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez was quoted by The Guardian in 2004 as saying, “The aim of US soldiers is to kill or capture Muqtada al-Sadr.” Following the US invasion in 2003, the Sadrist and the allied militia (Mahdi army) began a resistance against the invading forces. The militias under al-Sadr go by the name  “peace companies” now.

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Muqtada al-Sadr styles himself as an Iraqi Nationalist Leader

Muqtada al-Sadr is known to speak about the rights of minorities. He believes that all Iraqis are one and there should be no discrimination based on sects or religions. He has spoken for the rights of not just Sunni Muslims but also Yazidis, Kurds, and Christians. In 2021 he even ordered the creation of a special committee to verify information and complaints regarding cases of illegally dispossessing Christians of their properties in various regions of the Muslim country.

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Ongoing Politics

After his supporters took over the parliament in July, al-Sadr issued a post on Twitter . He informed them that their message and demands had reached the concerned people. He urged them to “return safely to your homes.” Then, with the assistance of security personnel, the protesters started to leave the Parliament building. 

“I apologize to the Iraqi people, the only ones affected by the events,” al-Sadr said in a televised speech.

He has even said he will go “on a fast” if peace is not restored. 

In comparison to his political rivals, he has a significant position in Iraq thanks to his ability to mobilize and even control a great number of his supporters. “Sadr has demonstrated that he can mobilize and demobilize with a word,” said Iraqi analyst Fanar Haddad. “He can click his fingers and threaten the entire edifice. Then, he can click his fingers and save the entire edifice.”

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The Contemporary Iraqi Context 

Iraq is one of the five largest oil reserves in the world. That makes it an important country in world politics. Now it has been in political uncertainty for about a year. What political analysts saw as a successful political experiment in the elections of October last year in Iraq has revealed some of the worst outcomes of democratic systems. This happens when elections don’t end up with a conclusive majority winner. The Iraqi parliament has been unable to come together to form a government. 

“This [the violence] was certainly the possible beginning or spark of a Shia-Shia civil war,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraqi political analyst at the Century Foundation.

“The violence may have subsided for now, but retributions are to be expected. This violence is indicative of the bitter divisions and deadlock in Iraqi politics. It may be ratcheted down for now, but without a proper solution it will appear again in the future,” he added.

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India’s Gulf Trade and Ties: How Hindutva Hatred is Harming India’s Economy?



India's Guld Trade and Ties

Mr. Narendra Modi has worked tooth and nail to strengthen India’s Gulf trade and ties, in his six years as prime minister. And for the most part, India’s initiatives have been reciprocated well by their regional counterparts.

However, over the past weeks, the world has witnessed immense outrage in the Arab world against India over the derogatory comment about Prophet by high-ranking BJP spokespersons. 

So, is India’s Hindutva movement jeopardizing its economic relationships with the Gulf countries?

India’s Gulf Trade and Ties Explained

India has maintained good economic and diplomatic ties with the Gulf nations. PM Narendra Modi especially has prioritized India’s relationship with the Arab countries.

In fact, PM Modi’s first international visit in 2022 was to Kuwait and the UAE. So India’s financial stakes in the region are high, and this is why:

Import and Export: Strong Trade Ties

India shares strong economic trade ties with the Arab nations, particularly those in the Gulf Council Corporation (GCC).

According to the Indian Ministry of Commerce, India’s export to the GCC countries rose by almost 58% in 2021-22; accounting for an estimated USD 44 billion. This made up about 10.5% of India’s total export in the same financial year.

On the other hand, with a total import of USD 110.73 billion from the Gulf countries, India recorded an import increase of 85.8% from 2020-21. This accounts for 18% of the total Indian imports in 2021-22.

Indian Living and Working in Gulf Countries

Around 13.46 million Indians are living abroad, or 32 million if you add persons of Indian descent who are citizens of another nation; according to figures released by the Ministry of External Affairs in 2020.

More than half of the 13.46 million NRIs live in the Gulf countries, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait hosting the largest numbers of Indians—roughly 3.42 million, 2.6 million, and 1.03 million, respectively. In contrast, there were 7,45,775 and 7,79,351 Indians in Qatar and Oman.

Furthermore, 50% of India’s total personal remittances sent by NRIs come from Indian working in the Gulf nation. Of these, Qatar (6.5%), Oman (3%), Kuwait (5.5%), and Saudi Arabia (11.6%) are the most significant contributors.

Oil Supply

India purchased 212.2 million tonnes of crude oil from 42 different nations in 2021–22; according to the PPAC (Petroleum Planning & Analysis Cell) report of the Union Ministry.

However, the Gulf nations provided most of the oil that India imported during this time; with Iraq being the top supplier, contributing 22% of India’s oil imports.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates came after Iraq. And, now Kuwait is also emerging as one of the principal oil exporters to India.

“The GCC has emerged as a major trading partner of India. It has vast potential as India’s investment partner in the future. The GCC’s substantial oil and gas reserves are of utmost importance for India’s energy needs.”

The Indian embassy in Riyadh, the GCC, consisting of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and Bahrain

However, the growing extremism and hate speech against the Muslim community is jeopardizing India’s trade and ties with not only the Arab nation but also defenders of human rights everywhere. Furthermore, the statement made by Nupur Sharma and Jindal when India is pursuing a free trade pact with the GCC is mounting enormous challenges for the government.

India Facing Sharp Backlash by Gulf Countries

India and Gulf nations share an intimately intertwined relationship on both the cultural and economic fronts. Especially the GCC countries, which include the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, have gained immense prominence in the Indian economy.

However, over the last weeks; three Gulf countries, including Kuwait, Iran, and Qatar have criticized India over the ongoing Islamophobic discourse. At the same time, countries like Oman and Saudi Arabia have also condemned the extremist remarks very strongly.

The Qatari government was the first to issue a very strong statement; saying it is expecting a public apology and condemnation of such remarks by the Indian government. Criticizing the comment, the statement read; “Allowing such Islamophobic remarks to continue without punishment constitutes a grave danger to the protection of human rights.

And the ongoing condemnation and outrage are threatening India’s carefully cultivated relationships with the GCC that are both economically and strategically vital. In the past weeks, superstores in the Gulf nations were removing Indian products from their shelves. The hashtags, boycott of Indian Products, and anti-India tweets also trended on Twitter in many Arab countries for several hours.

The Raising Hindu Extremism in Secular India

The Indian constitution’s 42nd amendment made the country formally “secular” in 1976, but while PM Narendra Modi has been in office, Hindu nationalism has grown at an alarming rate.

Attacks on Muslims and Christians are frequent, and significant news outlets frequently present insulting and intolerable viewpoints regarding minorities.

To win over right-wing organizations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a potent right-wing Hindu nationalist paramilitary outfit, Modi first championed Hindutva ideology.

His party renounced the socialist and secular policies adopted by his predecessors and embraced Hindu supremacism, branding it a “New India.

Hindu Nationalism
Hindu Nationalism

But despite initial triumphs, Modi’s economic reforms slowed growth, contrary to predictions. Promises to create jobs did not come to pass, and the BJP’s demonetization plan handed him the death blow in terms of support.

And now, the growing Hindutva movement is jeopardizing India’s economic relationship with trusted allies like the GCC.

High Stakes on India’s Gulf Trade and Ties

Since the Modi government, the economic ties between India and the Arab state have improved significantly. And in the bid to gain an edge over China, New Delhi has strengthened its position in the Gulf via commerce.

But, despite what spin many may claim, India has had difficulty integrating its minorities internationally. And, the backlash from the Arab world, in particular, has forced the government to rethink.

India’s domestic politics can no longer be delinked from its international image and economic and diplomatic ties with other countries when so much is at stake.

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