Point-blank: War crimes against Arabs

Mohamed Salmawy
Wednesday 9 Aug 2023

A US official told reporters that President Joe Biden had instructed his administration to share evidence the US has assembled to implicate Russia in war crimes in Ukraine with the International Criminal Court (ICC).


The official would not disclose anything specific, claiming that this was in keeping with the court’s practice of treating requests for cooperation in a confidential manner. 

Biden had previously stated that there needs to be accountability for all perpetrators and enablers of war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine. In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on the charge of forcibly deporting children from Ukraine.

Biden had chosen his words carefully. Accountability was not for all war criminals, just for those who commit atrocities in Ukraine. If he had made it any broader, it would apply to many others, including former US presidents. Consider just one case.

In the first 42 days of the war against Iraq in 1991, US forces dropped 88,000 tons of bombs and missiles on the country, or the equivalent of seven bombs of the size the US dropped on Hiroshima.

It also unleashed some 6,000 depleted uranium shells. The main recipient of all this destructive power was civilian targets, everything to do with sustaining human life and activity: power generation plants, power grids, water purification plants, telephone exchanges, food processing factories, irrigation facilities, livestock farms, public transportation garages, train stations, bridges and highways, oil wells and refineries, petrol stations, petrochemical factories, sewerage treatment plants, textile factories, universities, colleges, hospitals, clinics, mosques, museums, antiquity sites, shopping centres, etc.

More than 20,000 homes were destroyed, not to mention the Amiriya shelter in which hundreds of civilians, mostly women, children and elderly, were killed by two US “smart bombs.”

As for the war crimes committed daily against the Palestinians by the US’ protégé, Israel, they are too many to mention here. Surely, we should follow the lead of the US president and help the ICC investigate the countless war crimes committed against the Arabs by this power or that. Or does the fact that the victims are Arab disqualify them from being war crimes?

* A version of this article appears in print in the 10 August, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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