Editorial for Northern Light - 2006-03-19

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The weekend of 19 March 2006 marked the three-year anniversary of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. The first act of the war was the US bombing of the civilian infrastructure where "reliable intelligence" told commanders that Saddam Hussein and his military were hiding. The many civilians killed - like us - had lives, families, and futures. It was neither the first nor the last error of "reliable intelligence" in the war. Since then, an estimated one hundred thousand Iraqis have died as a direct result of the conflict - ten times the population of Bathurst.

As an anniversary gift, US troops this week launched Operation Swarmer, the single largest aerial assault since the opening raids three years ago. When the dust settles on Swarmer, we should expect tens or hundreds more to lie dead - most of them civilians if the US track record continues.

What has the war accomplished? The world is a more dangerous place today than before the war started. States like North Korea and Iran are more interested - not less - in developing nuclear weapons, since they see it as the solitary defence against similar aggression. International treaties on non-proliferation and weapons reduction have fallen apart, and our progress in international law has been supplanted by some demented Law of the Global Jungle. And if this war really is about prices at the pump, the record high 106.9 cents/litre I saw at local gas stations this week proves it a failure.

According to opinion polls, the Canadian people have never supported the Iraq war. And yet, Canada is directly involved in the US war effort. One company headquartered in Quebec, SNC-Lavalin, has a contract to supply US occupation forces with 300-500 million small calibre bullets [1]. A subsidiary of that company recently opened customer support operations in our own Campbellton. Our government subsidized them to the tune of $250 000 up front, with an additional $750 000 more for job creation [2]. We may not be doing the fighting, but we are providing the ammo.

Bathurst is a quiet place with honest people. We have what it takes to understand what is happening in Iraq and empathize with our fellow human beings. With that, I would like to make a modest proposal: Let us twin Bathurst with an Iraqi city affected by war. Once twinned, let us help the townsfolk build something instead of helping an illegal war destroy it.

Tarek Loubani

Bio: Tarek Loubani is a Bathurst native of Palestinian origin, and son of local residents Drs. Mahmoud and Sara Loubani. He is currently studying at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. He has travelled to Iraq twice since its invasion to work with human rights and medical groups. Tarek may be contacted at tarek@tarek.2y.net.

Suggested photograph caption: Despite their effervescent smiles, children in Iraq have suffered most during the US invasion and occupation. Loubani suggests twinning Bathurst with an Iraqi city as a step toward helping communities to deal with the aftermath. [Photo: Tarek Loubani/Baghdad 2004]

Suggested photograph: Iraq kids.jpg


  • SNC Lavalin ProFac open Customer Support Operations in Campbellton
    • [3] : Government gives $7,500 per job, through the Department of Business New Brunswick. The Regional Development Corporation will contribute up to $250,000
    • http://www.gnb.ca/cnb/news/bnb/2006e0233bn.htm
    • [4] "The Canadian company SNC Technologies Inc. (SNC TEC) is now part of a multinational consortium of small-caliber ammunition producers whose purpose is to supply between 300 million -500 million more bullets to occupation forces per year, and potentially for at least five years."
  • [5] "We're using so much ammunition in Iraq there isn't enough capacity around," said Eric Hugel, a defense industry analyst at Sephens Inc.