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US commits serious crimes of violating human rights in the Middle East and beyond

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-08-09 15:52

US commits serious crimes of violating human rights in the Middle East and beyond

The China Society for Human Rights Studies

August 2022

The United States has committed a series of crimes that seriously violate international law, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, arbitrary detention, abuse of torture, torture of prisoners, and indiscriminate unilateral sanctions in the Middle East and surrounding areas, constituting systematic violations of human rights with lasting and far-reaching harm.

The US crimes have not only led to frequent and repeated wars in the Middle East and other places, plunging them into the quagmire of conflicts and security dilemmas and seriously undermining local people's rights to life, health, personal dignity, freedom of religious belief, survival and development.

1. Launching wars, massacring civilians, and damaging the right to life and survival

American historian Paul Atwood, in his book titled War and Empire: The American Way of Life that came out in 2010, pointed out that "war is the American way of life." Since the founding of the United States, there were less than 20 years in which it has not participated in a war, making it a veritable "war empire."

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been involved in almost all major conflicts and wars in the Middle East and surrounding regions, which have become the area hardest hit by the external wars launched by the United States.

Statistics from the US Smithsonian Institution Magazine has shown that since 2001, wars and military operations launched by the United States in the name of "anti-terrorism" covered "about 40% of the countries on the planet."

The United States not only rallied its allies to launch the Gulf War (1990-1991), the Afghanistan War (2001-2021), the Iraq War (2003-2011), and so on, but also was deeply involved in the Libyan War and the Syrian War, creating a humanitarian disaster rarely seen throughout the world. The warmongering United States has caused direct, serious and lasting damage to local people's right to life and survival.

First, wantonly waging wars in violation of international law. The Afghanistan War and the Iraq War are the two largest wars launched by the United States in the Middle East and surrounding regions, spelling dreadful disasters to the lives and living condition of the people of the two countries.

The Brown University's Costs of War Project pointed out that more than 174,000 people died directly in the war in Afghanistan, of whom more than 47,000 were civilians.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the nearly 20-year war in Afghanistan forced 2.6 million Afghans to flee abroad and displaced 3.5 million others.

In 2003, the United States bypassed the United Nations and violated the basic international law principle of the prohibition of the use of force to launch the Iraq War with excuses fabricated out of thin air, constituting aggression against Iraq.

According to Statista, a global statistical database, from 2003 to 2021, about 209,000 Iraqi civilians died in wars and violent conflicts, and about 9.2 million Iraqis became refugees or were forced to leave their homeland. The United States launched wars in the Middle East and other places, seriously undermining the right to life and survival of the people in the region.

Second, trampling on international law and killing innocent civilians indiscriminately. In order to achieve its own military goals, the United States disregards the lives of civilians in other countries.

Firstly, the United States has repeatedly and indiscriminately attacked civilians in the Middle East and other places.

On Aug 12, 2005, a US armored patrol vehicle shot at people coming out of a mosque in the suburban town of Ramadi, Iraq, killing 15 Iraqis, including eight children, and injuring 17 others.

On Nov 21 of the same year, the US troops stationed in Iraq opened fire on a civilian vehicle in northern Baghdad, killing a family of five, including three children. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry accused the US military of launching indiscriminate attacks in Syria, causing civilian casualties and showing a reckless disregard for consequences, which constituted war crimes.

A United Nations report released in September 2019 noted that many of the airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition in places like Syria "did not take the necessary precautions to distinguish between military targets and civilians."

Secondly, the United States has widely used air strikes to carry out so-called "anti-terrorism" operations, which often killed civilians "by mistake," injured innocent people, and arbitrarily deprived them of the right to life.

The New York Times reported that based on an investigation of classified Pentagon documents, frequent US airstrikes in Syria caused a large number of civilian casualties due to "serious intelligence deficiencies" and "mistargeting," which the Pentagon usually chooses to cover up or not to penalize.

In 2017, the US military launched what it called "the most precise airstrike" on the Syrian city of Raqqa. The RAND Corporation, a US think tank, pointed out in a released report that the US military operation resulted in 38 incidents inflicting civilian casualties, killing 178 civilians and wounding dozens of others. Some human rights groups have estimated the number of civilian casualties could be as high as 1,600.

On March 18, 2019, US drones killed at least 64 civilian women and children as they searched for "extremist groups" in the town of Baghouz on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

In February 2022, the US military launched a raid in Syria's Idlib province, killing at least 13 people, including six children and three women.

On Aug 29, 2021, a drone attack by the US military in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, killed 10 local civilians, including seven children.

Thirdly, US military contractors killed civilians for no reason.

The United States is given to using military contractors to exercise hegemonic repression in the Middle East, and they often escape accountability for their illegal and criminal acts there.

In 2007, employees of the American Blackwater Company carried out a massacre in Nisour Square in Baghdad, killing 14 civilians, including two children, and injuring at least 17 others.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump even pardoned Blackwater employees who committed war crimes in Iraq.

The United Nations Human Rights Council's Working Group on Mercenaries said in a statement that this act by the US government has breached international humanitarian law and human rights and was an affront to justice and the victims and their families, calling on all States parties to the Geneva Conventions to jointly condemn it. The US military troops' wanton massacre of civilians abroad undoubtedly constitutes a crime against humanity.

Third, indirect participation in wars resulted in a large number of civilian casualties.

The United States has extensively cultivated proxies in the Middle East and other places, and sold weapons in large quantities, causing large-scale humanitarian disasters.

The United States has been deeply involved in the war in Syria and the domestic conflict in Libya by fostering multiple proxies, causing the local wars and conflicts to drag on till today and the situation to become increasingly complex, which makes political reconciliation and social stability a faraway prospect.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, former chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, said that the persistent civil unrest has led to the death of many Libyans, "and the United States does not care about the consequences of military operations and wars."

According to data released by the United Nations, US military intervention has claimed at least 350,000 lives in Syria, displaced more than 12 million people, and left 14 million civilians in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The Syrian refugee issue has been called by the United Nations "the biggest refugee crisis of our time."

While Afghanistan and Iraq were still mired in wars, the US government, which recklessly launched the wars, repeatedly decided to pull out its forces, with total disregard for the most basic humanitarianism, perpetuating the conflicts in those countries and further worsening their chaotic situation.

By destroying the original state apparatus of Iraq by force, the United States has weakened the Iraqi government's ability of control and provided space and conditions for terrorism to expand.

In 2011, the United States irresponsibly withdrew its troops from Iraq. Extremist groups such as "the Islamic State" took advantage of the situation and grew increasingly powerful. The ensuing frequent violent terrorist attacks become the biggest challenge threatening the security of Iraq and the region.

In August 2021, the United States also irresponsibly withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, and again turned a blind eye to the safety of the lives of the Afghan people during the withdrawal, resulting in many shocking casualties.

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