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Iraq inquiry needs to look into the legacy of two Gulf wars home


  • The Guardian, Friday 17 April 2009

Your harrowing account of the effects of the second Gulf war in 2003 on our soldiers exposed the government’s tactics of delaying any report from an inquiry until after the next election (The legacy, 14 April). But there was no mention of the first Gulf war, 1990-91, which after 18 years and repeated government and Ministry of Defence procrastination and prevarication has slipped from media and public consciousness.

This is regrettable since on 24 April, at a meeting in the House of Lords – which the MoD chose not to attend – American researchers presented their second major research report, the Binns report, costing some $300m, which makes clear that some 28%-32% of troops deployed in this war are now ill with a complex chronic multi-system illness for which two causally associated agents have been identified: the use of pyridostigmine bromide in nerve-agent protection sets, and overexposure to organophosphate pesticides. Other possible causes have not been ruled out. There has been a doubling of the incidence of motor neurone disease and brain cancer.

The report also makes clear that Gulf war syndrome is not psychiatric or stress-related, nor a result of post-traumatic stress disorder – both excuses/explanations paraded by the MoD and successive UK governments. Our own “treatments and applications” and not enemy actions are responsible for their condition. The most toxic war in western military history has had the greatest proportion of casualties of any war, but is now almost forgotten and their families abandoned. Any inquiry into the Gulf wars must include the first Gulf war as well as the 2003 Iraq war for justice to be done.
Professor Malcolm Hooper
President, National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association, and chief scientific adviser to UK Gulf war veterans

Iraq did not lose an opportunity to capitalise on high oil prices in 2008 as your reporters claim (Basra’s failed oil bonanza, 16 April). Except for the contentious initialisation of a Shell gas deal, the people have so far marshalled enough opposition to ward off multinational oil vultures’ attempts to stake out 25-year rights to Iraq’s resources on the back of shock and awe.

Your reporters derive some of their wisdom from one Andy Bearpark, who was private secretary to Thatcher, then “diplomat” in charge of the “reconstruction” of Iraq in 2003, and now director general of the British Association of Private Security Companies. The convergence of gunboat diplomacy, neoliberal debris, mercenaries acting under the mantra of “security companies”, and voracious resource-hungry multinationals is the last blend to benefit Iraq.

Iraq’s reconstruction will get under way in earnest when the mercenaries and the American troops follow the British out.
Kamil Mahdi Sami Ramadani

GUARDIAN ONLINE WEBPAGE and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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