The Occupation of Iraq and its Implications

Sheikh Mohammed Bashar Al-Faidhi, spokesperson for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq.
April 25, 2009 in En: About Iraq

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Bissmillah Al Rahman Al Raheem.

On the 19th March 2003, the United States Administration with President George W. Bush at its head, began its illegitimate war on Iraq, without any United Nations authorization, thus violating international law and all known rules for war mentioned and dealt with in The Treaty of The Hague.

The war on Iraq was illegitimate in every sense of the word and its proportions.

According to international law, there are three conditions for waging war, and these are:

First:  The appropriate political environment for war.
Second:  The legitimacy of international law.
Third:  Ability.

The third condition only was available to the Americans, i.e. “Ability”, so they went to war alone and without the will of the international community.

This took place on the bases of allegations and claims, which were discovered to be lies, with no bases whatsoever, to the extent that the Americans were forced to admit that they were false, in the end and that the information was flawed.

The tragicomedy which causes one to cry and laugh at the same time is that America led this cruel and unjust war claiming that it is bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi People.

Please allow me now to outline for you the fruits of the freedom and democracy which America brought to our country, by describing the general state of affairs in Iraq, in numbers.  We have used up to date reports of internationally recognized organizations, so that no one could accuse us of exaggeration, recognizing the fact that the real situation on the ground is even more bitter according to our estimation.

I start with the following phrases which describe the general situation in Iraq:

The Massacre and Despair, the Humanitarian situation in Iraq is catastrophic, Law and Order and Economic Recovery have become far fetched achievements, and The Health and Educational Systems are on the point of collapse, the state of Human Rights is still catastrophic; a Humanitarian Crisis which is not alleviating, and Conditions in Iraq are the most dangerous in the world.

These phrases are not the imagination of a novelist, or a poet; they are phrases which appear in two reports published in 2008, one of which is the International Committee Of The Red Cross report and the other is the Amnesty International report.

We will now run through the figures of the situation in Iraq in numbers and I will state directly the source of my information after each item to enable you to check and verify the information for yourselves.

We start with the activity the Americans most excel at and that is killing:

More than 1.2 million civilian Iraqis have been killed over the past five years of occupation.  (ORB in a report published in March 2008.)

More than 5,500 scientists, philosophers, professors, academics as well as Atomic Physicists, Physics and Chemistry scientists have been kidnapped, killed and imprisoned (ICRC report on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Occupation, published on 24th March, 2008).

50% the total of Baghdad’s residents lost at least one member of their family during this period, according to a public opinion poll carried out by important European Television Networks, amongst whose number are ABC and BBC, published in March 2008.

The number of university professors and qualified persons killed in 2005, 2006 and 2007:  224 university professors; 21 Court Justices; 95 lawyers; 179 journalists; 2334 women (Hamza Kamil, The Official Spokesman, The Ministry of Human Rights, The Iraqi Government in a statement in 2008).

Detention and Torture:

We had 26,000 in detention and we now have 23,500, 525 minors under 18 years; 18 women.  (Douglas Stone, Commander of all American prisons in Iraq, interview on CNN on 5thMay, 2008).

Iraq possesses the largest number of prisons in the world.  36 prisons in addition to Abu Ghraib which is considered to be the most merciful in spite of its scandals, and there are 400,000 detainees in these prisons.  (Statement by lawyer, Ms. Sahar Al Yssiri, Representative of the Iraqi Prisoners’ Union during a discussion whilst attending a conference organized by The International Committee in Opposition to Incarceration with the assistance of The Free University of Brussels).

Torture takes place in 100% of cases in these prisons and as follows:

  1. All detainees were exposed to at least one type of torture or more.
  2. None of the detainees were presented to court and very few were questioned.
  3. 87% of detainees are ignorant of the reason for their detention.
  4. Detention periods extended from 3months to 4 years.
  5. 81% of detainees were never visited by their families or relatives.
    (Information obtained from answers to questions put to released detainees and published on its website on 9.5.2006, by The Committee for Prisoners and Detainees which is part of The Continuity and Observation Society).

More than 513 minor detainees unde 18 years held by American Forces.  (Report by the American Watch Committee for Human Rights, published in May, 2008.)


2,770,000 displaced internally and approximately 3 million migrating abroad, with approximately 20,000 Iraqi doctors, a number which represents a third of the total of Iraq’s doctors.  (Amnesty International in its report published 29.4.2008.)

One fifth of Iraqis have become refugees inside their own country as well as outside it since the entry of the American Army into the country in March 2003 which is the highest in the world and which amounts to 5 million internally displaced as well as refugees.  (The International Office of Migration (IOM) in its published report in 2008.)

90% of Iraqi refugees in Syria do not plan to return to their country, and only 4% said that they wish to return to Iraq; 6% said they do not know.  (Study prepared by the UNHCR-UN in April, 2008.)

Women and Children:

“At present, there are 4.5 million orphans as a result of the Occupation most of whom are without refuge”.  (The British Agency for Polling 2008.)

5 million orphans and 3 million widows.  A dangerous product of the Occupation is the transformation of Iraq into a country of widows and orphans.  (ICRC report 2008.)

There are 300,000 widows in Baghdad, The Capital, alone, in addition to 4 million more in other parts of Iraq.  (Report published by the Iraqi Society for Women’s Rights in 2008.)

28% of Iraqis children suffer from malnutrition, 10% suffer from chronic disease, whilst 30% of women in cities and 40% of women in the countryside give birth without any health services.  (International Doctors’ Society in a statement on the 5th anniversary of the starting of the war on 21.3.2008.)

More than 70% of Iraqi girls and women have become outside the school and college loop.  (The latest Ministry of Education Statistics.)

5 million children are orphans in the country and 500,000 live on the Streets.

More than one million children have gone to work in various types of jobs.  (Statistics produced by The Ministry of Planning and Development Co- Operation in 2008.)

Corruption, Services, and Infrastructure:

More than 4 Iraqis in every 10 live under the poverty line at a time when The health and educational systems in the country are on the point of collapse.  (Amnesty International report, entitled “The Massacre and Despair” on the 17th March, 2008.)

90% of 180 hospitals throughout the country suffer seriously from a lack of human resources, and the health institutions suffer from a lack of equipment and trained staff.  (International Doctors Society Report 21.3.2008.)

66,000 phantom jobs have been exposed in the ministries of Interior and Defense 50,000 of which were in the Ministry of Interior which cost the Treasury US Dollars, 5 billion, annually.  (Ammar Tou’ma, Member of The Security and Defense Committee, The Iraqi Parliament in a press interview May 2008.)

30% of member of The Iraqi Security Forces are missing and continue to receive their salaries“.  (Official American report prepared by The American Inspector General responsible for supervising Reconstruction in Iraq (Stewart Bowen) in April 2008.)

Iraq stands at the foremost of the most corrupt countries in the world.  (According to CPI 2008.)

Amongst 180 countries in the world, Iraq occupies third place as the most corrupt in the world after Somalia and Mianmar.  (According to the latest statistics of the International Transparency Organization which is responsible for monitoring corruption in the world, Berlin, 2008.)

Iraq holds first place amongst Failed States.  (American Foreign Affairs Committee, 2007.)

This is only part of the truth and not the whole truth, for time does not allow me to mention all the numbers, but I will mention a statement made by activist, Nairn in Open Democracy Now on the 11th January, 2008,  (“the numbers game in Iraq will never end, however what it do quite firmly express is a human reality which will continue to speak about itself quite independently, and quite far from scientific discussion, is that a great number of lives are dying in Iraq for no reason whatsoever.“)

The Second Part: The Iraqi Resistance and The Challenges

One of the most difficult elements facing the Anglo – American Occupation was the appearance of the Iraqi Patriotic Resistance in all its forms and states, which resulted in its imbalance as well as the upset of all its plans.  This Resistance grew so fast, resulting in a phenomenon called “the spirit of the popular resistance” which varies in its types and states.  The Iraqi Army’s arms and ammunition and a great part of its members were the material base for this resistance.  What was of special interest was the fact that a great many of the religious leadership, in all its varieties and differences, some of whom were with the Occupation whilst others were against it, took over the void in leadership and administration in the country.  Those who were pro Occupation asked for calm from the people and asked them to give the Occupation a chance for it may have come for the good of the country, whilst those who were against, led and encouraged the spirit of resistance so the various plans were intertwined and methods were varied.  Of those who practiced the latter was The Association of Moslem Scholars, of which, it honours me to say, I am a member as well as its Official Spokesman.

The early realization of a great many of Iraqi patriots, of the danger of the Occupation in particular, as well as the consequences of the series of reactions of the Iraqi People to the mistakes committed by the Occupation, are the beginning of the Iraqi Resistance to the Occupation, for it is a natural start to every resistance which has appeared across the ages, thus from a scientific point of view, this was the first start of The Iraqi Resistance.

In general, most national and patriotic resistance movements across modern history, moves in three consecutive stages:

The First Stage:

The Reaction Stage.

The Iraqi resistance in all its types, entered the first stage, at a very early date, (when compared to the Palestinian Resistance, which took 15 years after the establishment of the Zionist Entity in Palestine in 1948).

It then grew very quickly in Baghdad and its environs especially in Anbar Province, and thence in Sallaheldeen Province, Diyala, Nineva, Babil and some other areas.

The Second Stage:

The Crystallization of Resistance Groupings.

Here, normally main resistance organizations appear as well as others which are secondary.

It is possible to state that the Iraqi Resistance is living through this stage.  In the middle of this stage, the resistance usually gets international sympathy and regional backing.

The Third Stage:

Appearance on the ground and control of specific areas as well as the appearance of a clear political leadership according to a publicly announced strategy, with ability to negotiate with the power of occupation.

And this is what the Resistance aspires to, but there are challenges which deter it from attaining this stage.

Permit me to say:

The basic challenge from which the other challenges grow, is:

The absence of international sympathy and regional support:

The Iraqi Resistance is unique in the history of humanity in that it is the first resistance which grows in the shadow of a world ruled by a unipower, and unluckily its enemy is this one power.

Across the ages the world was controlled by multi powers, and when a country is in conflict with one power, it always finds an ally or a supporter amongst the other powers.

Let’s take the Vietnamese Resistance as an example; when it arrived at the second stage, it gained international sympathy, as well as support from a world power at the time (The Soviet Union) as well as regional support from a big power (China), and from 47 countries in the Communist Block as well as from the Non Alligned Countries, as well as its neighbouring countries, at a time when one finds that the Iraqi Resistance lacks all the aforementioned, since the world power that controls the world as well as most international organizations including the United Nations, is the main enemy of the Resistance, and it is the cause for its lack of support from the rest of the world, as well as the region and especially, Iraq’s neighbours.

This situation has necessarily led to the Resistance existing in numerous groupings unattached and unconnected with one basic organization and as well as not under one unified command, so that it remains militarily active and far from the occupier’s reach.

This resulted in the lack of development of the Iraqi Nationalist Resistance and its elevation to the third stage, which is so necessary for it to enable it to make good use of all the sacrifices it made to achieve political gains which later and gradually lead to the achievement of its targets of liberation and independence.

For this reason The Resistance will have to work underground for a long time to come and suffer a great deal of sacrifices until the arrival of the appropriate moment which would qualify it to attain this stage.

Secondary Challenges Branching Out of the Primary and Main Challenge:

The Distortion of the Iraqi Resistance:

The Occupation power owns a very powerful publicity machine, and there are reports which point to the fact that it controls most of the world’s media.

At the beginning, the occupying enemy attempted to cover up the Resistance’s activities through its publicity machine, for it only broadcast pictures which only reflected and confirmed that the situation in Iraq was normal and that security was established throughout the country; the Occupation used to follow any media outlet which attempted to investigate the existence of a resistance in Iraq, and it is the Occupation, as you know, that is responsible for the killing of the Al Jaeera correspondent, Tariq Ayoub, as well as of Al Arabiya’s two correspondents, Ali Abdul Azeez and Ali Al Khateeb, as well as others.

When the activities of the Iraqi Resistance grew, and it became impossible to impose a blackout, it started spreading rumours and marketing the idea that this was not an Iraqi Resistance, but the activities of Al Qaeda.

The aim was know, since if it were to be admitted that The Iraqi Resistance existed, it would not able to justify its confrontation to it because The United Nations Charter confirms the right of resistance to all occupied nations, however, were it to alledge that these activities were Al Qaeda’s, it would get world backing that it is terrorism, since this organization is internationally classified as terrorist, and there is an international alliance to fight it.

Regrettably the problem lies in the fact that the people who speak about our country have never visited it whatsoever, and only receive information from sources that depend on American sources.

There is no one amongst you, tonight, for example, who has seen the real war in Iraq?  So you are forced to follow up this case via media outlets which are ignorant of the truth, or dependent on prejudiced media.

Now, I have to revert once again, to the aid of numbers.

There are approximately 100,000 genuine resistance fighters for freedom, and they do not kill civilians; they only fight the American Occupation, and there are only a very few Al Qaeda fighters.

Daily, there is an average of 100 operations on the part of the American Occupation Army, made up of air raid attacks, arms fire, mortar attacks, arrests, invasions of areas, and killing.  There is also a daily average of 100 Iraqi Resistance operations.

Usually, the Americans remain silent about the real number of The Iraqi Resistance operations, however, in a an extraordinary statement, the commander of the 18th Regiment in the American Occupation Army, General Lloyd Austin and for the first time, on the 30th March, 2009, said:  “that since the arrival of the regiment in January, 2008, the road to success was very long, for there were more than 700 resistance operations taking place per week.

This Resistance fights against the Americans and never against civilian people, and has no connection whatsoever with Al Qaeda.

But, allow me to ask you what do you see on television?

You do not see the 100 operations which the resistance undertakes and you do not see the 100 operations that the American Forces undertake against the Iraqi People!  You see one or two or three of savage suicide bombings, some of which are claimed by Al Qaeda and some of which are carried out by intelligence organizations belonging to neighbouring countries for their own private ends.

The question that is raised here is:

Why do you only see these pictures on television?

And the answer is that the American Administration needs these savage operations which are carried out by those people to justify the war on Iraq to the Western World generally, and this means that you do not see the truth.

As for Al Qaeda, I would like to clarify to you that I do not deny its existence in Iraq, but I warn you about two points:

The First:  that the Americans allowed Al Qaeda to enter Iraqi territory after the Occupation for known reasons.
The Second:  They do not form a percentage viz a viz The Iraqi Resistance, and as the James Baker report mentioned, Al Qaeda fighters are just a bit more than 1000, and so said the American Army, and it is a percentage about which it is not worth stating that Al Qaeda is fighting the Americans and not the Iraqi People.

The Third Challenge:

Spreading the false fact that there is a necessity for the presence of American troops because Iraqi Society is divided sectarianally as well as ethnically and that should these troops leave Iraq, a civil war would take place between the people, particularly since the resistance is Sunni and will fight the other sects and ethnicities, should the field be clear for it.

This is another game intended to convince the world that America’s presence is for the good of the Iraqi People.

Here, allow me to affirm two important facts:

First:  Iraq, throughout its long history has never know sectarian or ethnic divisions with the exception of the American Occupation era, for this is a country of civilization, and its sons have coexisted peacefully, Sunnis and Shia’a, Arabs and Kurds and Turkomans, Moslems and Christians, and Iraqi sociologists have stated that the percentage of intermarriage amongst all the different sects and ethnicities and religions has reached to 25%, as well as it being a country whose people have mutually respected one another.

Allow me to give you an example, we have a sect in Iraq called The Yazidis, that is said to worship the Devil, while members of this sect say that they do not worship the Devil, but do not detract from it in order to avoid its evil, whatever the truth may be.  Do you know what our Moslem Fathers used to instruct us?
They used to say that if we were to meet a Yazidi on the way, that we were not to speak badly of the Devil in front of him, because it would upset him, and that we should respect his feelings.

You have the right to ask about who stands behind the bombings of the Sunni and Shia’a houses of worship, or those of our Christian brethren, and who forcibly displaces the other.  I assure you that the Iraqi Resistance does nothing of the kind.  Several parties commit these shameful criminal acts, amongst whose number is the Occupation, itself, in order to convince the world that an undercurrent of sectarian and ethnic violent antagonism exists which requires its presence; also there are interested regional parties that play this tune for their own ends, and there are the Occupation’s agents and aides who are made up of the influential political forces in Iraq, some of which are strict groupings which do not represent a large area in arena, as I have already mentioned.

It has been proved universally that the latest campaign behind the displacement of our Christian brethren, their murder and the bombing of their homes, was carried out by some of the Kurdish parties, with the view of achieving some political advantages, to our saddest regret.

Second:  The allegation that the Resistance in Iraq is Sunni only, is a false allegation and we do not describe it as such, but we state that it is an Iraqi Resistance; in which the Sunna may form the bulk, but there are Shia’a who resist, Turkomans who resist, and I would not be giving any secrets away, if I were to say that there are Christian brethren who resist, also.

Perhaps you will say “but there was a big ethnic cleansing campaign against the Sunna whose victims were in the thousands, doesn’t that prove the existence of a civil war; and I say:  No, because we should ask who was waging this war;

Is it the ordinary Shia’a; No, not at all.  The people who were playing this role are the militias which belong to the ruling Shi’i Parties, in order to achieve political aims and not sectarian.  This was happening with the knowledge of the Occupation while it looked the other way and we possess many documents which confirm this bitter fact.

The Iraqi People still continue to be committed to the unity of their territory and to the integrity of its social fabric, after the attainment of its liberation.

Allow me to prove this point for you by recounting a real story, authenticated and documented by sound and vision, which confirms this truth, which will be shown to you  on screen by video after the end of the lecture, about American crimes in Iraq.

On the 26th August, last year, a football match took place in The People’s Stadium in the capital, Baghdad, between two Iraqi clubs, the Zawra’a and Erbil Clubs; the latter being from the Kurdish areas in the North of Iraq.

For the first time since the Occupation, 50,000 football fans attended this match.  Here, the Americans felt that they were the benefactors because it was they who provided the security for those large numbers of people to attend, so they entered the football ground, soldiers as well as officers, and started saluting the crowd, and here what happened next never had crossed their minds, for on the spur of the moment, quite spontaneously and without previous planning the crowds’ hands started throwing empty water bottles and other stuff at the Americans and they started shouting and roaring angry slogans against them, a sight which looked like a Sunami.

Amongst the shouted slogans were:
Damn America!  Damn America!
Out Bush!  Out!
We, Iraqis are brothers, Sunna and Shia’a together and This country we will not sell to the Americans.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
This is Iraq, and this is the general state of affairs in it and these are the challenges which face the Iraqi Resistance.

Doesn’t Iraq deserve attention and interest from the civilized European World?
We believe that the Europeans should have a different attitude from that of America, for you are, as far as our world is concerned, our neighbours; you are on the other side of the Mediterranean and consequently what effects us, will effect you because of this proximity, today or tomorrow, sooner or later.

You stood against the war, and this has been confirmed by experience; we now expect you to play a positive political part in support of the just Iraqi Cause.

The European silence about what is being committed against the Iraqi People on the part of the American Occupation Forces greatly worries us and makes us feel as if America is fighting us on behalf of Europe, and for this reason Europe is silent.  I do not mean that this is true, but this is what this silence over the crimes against humanity committed against Iraq and the Iraqi People, which have never been witnessed in modern history before, means.

The time has come for the European World to proclaim its innocence from this American War which will be a stigma on all who committed it, or supported  it either secretly or publicly.

It is high time for the European World to extend help and assistance to the Iraqi People to achieve their freedom and independence.

The Iraqis are in need of those who would help them achieve their aim of liberation, today.

Our Vision for the Solution and the Nature of European Support:

After this display of the facts, the question returns “what is the solution, and how do we get out of this impasse”.

We believe, and with us all the political forces in opposition to the Occupation, that also include the majority of the Resistance groupings, that the solution lies in the following stages:

First:  The departure of the American Occupation Forces as well as its allied military forces, from Iraq, on a scheduled timetable which should be internationally guaranteed.  Because the Occupation is the root of the problem in Iraq, and I am not claiming that the problems will have ended once it has withdrawn, but any problem we will face after its withdrawal will be easier, and the Iraqis would be able to overcome it.

It may be said that the new American President has already put a schedule for withdrawal and that this problem is on its way of being solved, however, the truth is that Mr. Obama’s performance, to date, is not reassuring.

The present American President, Barack Obama, during his election campaign, promised to withdraw his country’s troops from Iraq, immediately after his election, over a period of not longer than 16 months, and we were hoping that he would keep to this promise to his people before others, because it is this promise that led to his smashing victory over his Republican opponent.  However, after his inauguration he replaced the immediate withdrawal with a scheduled withdrawal, and he replaced the 16 months with nearly 3 years, according to the conditions stated in SOFA which was imposed by the former president, and war criminal, Bush, The Son, on his allies and his agents in Baghdad, without any guarantees for the actual achievement of this withdrawal; and without any alterations to the mode of responsibilities for the Military and Security Occupation Forces in Iraq and their terms of engagement, for they are still killing, arresting and ravaging Iraq’s soil with corruption and death, exactly as they were doing in Bush’s era or even worse.

Second:  Revocation of the Political Process and its consequences, including the so called Constitution, and the pursuit of those politicians who are implicated in the murder of the Iraqi People as well as its displacement and of the robbery and pillage of Iraq’s wealth.

Third:  Reliance on the political forces opposing the Occupation and its political process to establish a temporary government to prepare for general elections and for the writing of a national constitution far from the predominance of the Occupation and the pressure of the political parties.

These forces possess and enjoy the confidence all the Iraqi People, today, because their hands have not been smeared and soiled with the blood of the innocent, neither were they involved in the robbery of the people’s money and wealth, and nor did they conspire with the Occupier against their country.

Fourth:  The construction of a professional national army without any political party, sectarian and ethnic allegiances, positioned equidistantly with all the Iraqi parties, and it is possible to ask the assistance of members of the former Iraqi Army, in order to accomplish this step at an appropriate speed for this stage.

As far as Europe is concerned, were it to wish to contribute positively to the Iraqi cause, in step with its contemporary history in backing liberation movements and its protection of human rights, we believe that it can support us with the following axes:

First:  Affirmation of the contents of the Brussels Tribunal Statement on the 30th March, 2009 which states the following:

  1. By its geopolitical position and its rich resources, the stability of Iraq is not only in the interest of its people, but also of its neighbours and the world.
  2. The US project of division in and of Iraq has failed. In number, by culture and by interest, the Iraqi people overwhelmingly reject the US occupation. By terror it created the largest refugee crisis in the world today, displacing a fifth of the population.
  3. The sectarian political process of the occupation created chaos, a failed state characterized by the complete collapse of all public services, and systematic violations of all aspects of human rights, including the right to life. It cannot be reformed.
  4. The humanitarian tragedy particularly affects women and children, exposed to all forms of violence and exploitation.
  5. The occupation intentionally forced the Iraqi educated and professional class to flee, resulting in the inability to build a functioning state, and in regional destabilization.
  6. Displaced Iraqis have the individual right to return, but as long as stability and security is absent, the conditions for return are absent.
  7. The occupation and its apparatus is the perpetrator of violence. Security can only be achieved by the unconditional withdrawal of all foreign occupying forces from Iraq.
  8. Only a state of its equal citizens after the departure of all foreign forces can ensure peace, stability and democracy for Iraq and its people.
  9. A sovereign Iraq would not only refuse to surrender its main source of wealth – oil – to foreign companies, but is entitled to claim reparations for all losses endured since 2003.
  10. The Iraqi resistance in all its expression is the only force capable, both objectively and legitimately, to secure a path towards peace, stability, wellbeing and democracy in Iraq.
  11. The Iraqi resistance in all its expression is the only force capable, both objectively and legitimately, to secure a path towards peace, stability, wellbeing and democracy in Iraq.

On the eve of Occupation Year 7, The BRussells Tribunal felt it imperative to assert these truths in official forums.  Rejection of the US occupation and all that derived from it must become an official position.

The BRussells Tribunal ended by saying that the Occupation cannot be borne and as the Occupation enters its 7th Year, it is due time to work against it with a different agenda.

Second:  Support of the nationalist political forces politically and media wise and granting it the opportunity and the chance to explain its just case on international podiums and at international meetings, until it achieves its target of liberating Iraq, and transporting it out of the crisis.

Third:  Activate the work of the human rights committees and NGOs.

Fourth:  Exert pressure towards the release of prisoners and detainees in the Occupation’s prisons as well as of those of the present government.

Fifth:  Exert pressure on the treatment of the problem of refugees and internally displaced as well as the necessity for offering them material and moral support, and the alleviation of the suffering of the countries which embrace them.

Sixth:  Assistance in taking those who caused the catastrophe which enfolded Iraq, to court, equally whether they were members of the Occupation Forces, and members of the consecutive governments formed in the shadow of the Occupation.

Ladies and Gentleman, I thank you for your presence and I apologize for the length it took me to speak to you.

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