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Death and destruction, the price of intervention - EDITORIAL

28 October 2019 12:23 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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n Saturday, US President Donald Trump triggered a wild guessing game after announcing on Twitter that “something very big” has happened, amid rumours that the US military had killed the Islamic State leader. On Saturday, White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said Donald Trump planned to make a “major statement” at 9.00 am on Sunday morning (1300GMT).   
Meanwhile, rumours have been swirling that the US President was going to announce on Sunday the killing of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to rt.com political activist Ryan Fournier, co-chairman of Students for Trump, wrote that US Forces “captured” the warlord, celebrating it as a “huge defeat for ISIS.”The BBC, the Guardian and numerous other media outlets however, say the claim has not yet been verified and President Trump is yet to follow-up on his planned statement.   


The Islamic State traces its roots to Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in Jordan in 1999 and was led by Al-Zarqawi. Jama’at participated in the Iraqi insurgency (2003–2011) following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. On October 17, 2004 al-Zarqawi had pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network (Al-Queda was one among the insurgent groups trained, armed and provided arms by the the American Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA).   
Later the group became known as Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (commonly known as AL-Qaeda in Iraq). In January 2006, Tanzim and five other Iraqi insurgent groups formed the Mujahideen Shura Council, which on October 15, 2006 merged to form Islamic State of Iraq. On April 7, 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi transformed ISIS into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS, IS), which is still active today.   


Through today’s (as yet unverified) ‘major statement’, President Trump hopes to divert attention from his impeachment and other domestic woes which will boost his chances of re-election at the 2020 US Presidential election, now plagued by an impeachment crisis. Since its interference in Afghanistan to bring about regime change in that country and in pursuance of aim to dominate the region identified as holding trillions of dollars worth minerals, the US has stumbled into armed conflicts in oil-rich Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran. But what must be remembered is the death, destruction and suffering inflicted on the long-suffering people in those countries by the US in its aim to control the riches in those countries.   
According to the ‘Watson Institute’ of Brown University International and Public Affairs, quoting government sources says the war in Afghanistan left in its wake from 2001 through 2018, a reported 20,135 total civilian casualties (14,693 injured and 5,442 killed).   


In October 2006, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Iraqi government estimated that more than 370,000 Iraqis had been displaced since the 2006 bombing of the al-Askari Mosque, bringing the total number of Iraqi refugees to more than 1.6 million. By 2008, the UNHCR raised the estimate of refugees to a total of about 4.7 million (16% of the population). The number of refugees estimated abroad was 2 million (a number close to CIA projections) and the number of internally displaced people was 2.7 million. The estimated number of orphans across Iraq has ranged from 400,000 (according to the Baghdad Provincial Council), to five million (according to Iraq’s anti-corruption board).   
A UN report from 2008 placed the number of orphans at about 870,000.The Red Cross has also stated that Iraq’s humanitarian situation remains among the most critical in the world, with millions of Iraqis forced to rely on insufficient and poor-quality water sources. The BBC in 2013 estimated around half-a-million people died in Iraq as a result of war-related causes between the US-led invasion in 2003 and mid-2011. The study was conducted by University researchers from the US, Canada.   


Today, the US is increasingly turning its attention to Asia and attempting to counter what it sees as increasing Chinese influence in the South Asia region.    Sri Lanka with its strategic ports at Hambantota and Trincomalee which command the main sea lanes and trade routes in the Indian Ocean is today becoming more and more vulnerable to US influence especially in light of the ongoing trade war between the US and China and our forthcoming November 16 Presidential election.   
Could Lanka be the next target of a US move the liberate Sri Lankans as they did it from Vietnam to Afghanistan, to Syria and Iraq...? We sincerely hope not. We Sri Lankans are quite capable of bumbling and stumbling out away through this minefield without the help from the US or any other foreign nations.     

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