(PART 1)

Iraq is now a broken country. The cause of Iraq’s disintegration cannot be blamed solely on the Bush, Blair invasion and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s cruel Baathist regime. The eight-year term in office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a puppet of the Iranian regime, sowed the sectarian seeds, which set off a low-level civil war and paved the way for ISIS to invade the country from Syria. Because of Maliki’s destructive actions, no sign of democracy exists in Iraq, no free elections, no rule of law and no independent judiciary. I have met many Iraqis and they all say that the situation is much worse than during the days of Saddam Hussein; killings and injustice are worse and poverty and destruction have reached catastrophic levels.

As a puppet of the Iranian mullahs, Maliki took his orders from Tehran. They demanded that he should manipulate the voting lists, banning many Sunnis, anti-Iranians and anti-sectarian politicians from standing for election. They demanded that he should exercise political control over the Iraqi justice system to accuse prominent politicians of being Baathists. They demanded he get rid of all the senior Sunni officials from his own government. This ultimately led to the bogus charges of terrorism leveled against Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who avoided arrest by fleeing to Kurdistan and then Turkey, where he now lives. However, 12 of his bodyguards were arrested and confessed to terrorism under torture. One bodyguard was so badly tortured that he died. Amnesty International said that his parents could not even identify his body it was so horribly disfigured. The other bodyguards were sentenced to death.

Maliki also tried unsuccessfully to arrest Rafeh al-Issawi, the Finance Minister, a prominent Sunni who fled, but many of his bodyguards were arrested. This sparked million-people uprisings in the Sunni towns of Falujah and Ramadi, which Maliki responded to with brutal force, setting off a low-level civil war. Leading Sunnis came to see me to explain what was happening, including the Grand Mufti of Iraq and Dr Salim Abdullah al-Jabouri, currently Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives. Both met me in Erbil and again in Brussels 

Maliki acted as a dictator from the outset, although it took him two terms to poison Iraq and virtually break the country apart. During his first term he successfully broke the power of Muqtada al-Sadr and his militias by using the Iraqi military in a vicious crackdown. He then consolidated his power by taking political control of the judiciary, opening scores of secret prisons into which his enemies and thousands of Sunni men and women were thrown without trial. Many hundreds were tortured and executed. Even Dr Tariq al-Hashemi exposed the horrors of these prisons and filmed the human rights abuse that was taking place. These were totally illegal torture chambers outwith the control of the police or the government, run ostensibly from Maliki’s prime ministerial office and manned for the most part by Shi’ite militiamen.

On one of my visits to Baghdad, I actually met with the senior UN official who had been sent to Iraq post-invasion to train the Iraqis in running a fair and humanitarian prison system. Like me, he was Scottish and a former senior UK police officer. He told me that the system was so out of control that many people who were arrested simply disappeared and their families could find no trace of them. This venally corrupt and anti-humanitarian system is, in fact, very similar and probably modeled on the same system that is used by the Iranian mullahs to terrorize and oppress their own population.

I met with many leading politicians, religious leaders and leaders of civil society and they told me that lawlessness, terrorism, corruption and the systematic abuse of human rights were each a daily feature of life in Iraq. They told me that the then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had turned Iraq into a dust bowl of violence and bloodshed, waging a genocidal campaign against his own Sunni population and fanning the flames of a sectarian civil war. The many ethnic groups who for generations lived in peaceful harmony side-by-side with the majority Shi’ia and Sunni communities, were now suffering systematic abuse, despite being guaranteed safety and security in a multi-faith society enshrined by the Iraqi Constitution. Maliki had become a puppet of Iran and its hardline mullahs, pursuing a sectarian agenda outlined by Tehran, ruthlessly removing all Sunni politicians from influential government positions and cracking down hard on dissent. The predictable Sunni backlash unleashed a storm of violence that ISIS was quick to exploit.

It was also evident that Maliki had been ordered by Khamenei to massacre the Iranian dissidents from the Mojahedin e Khalq or PMOI who were living in Camp Ashraf in Diyala Province. Khamenei met President Talebani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on 28th February 2009. In a TV interview following this meeting Khamenei stated that he had instructed them to get rid of the PMOI from Iraq. The first massacre took place shortly afterwards. In the 6 attacks on Ashraf and Camp Liberty, which followed, 117 residents were killed, around 1400 injured, 7 were taken hostage. Also 27 have died because of the medical siege on Camp Liberty that is still ongoing.

Following the second massacre in Ashraf in April 2011, when three battalions of the Iraqi military numbering 2500 heavily armed troops and 40 armoured vehicles mounted a vicious assault on the unarmed civilians, I arrived in Baghdad within days of this crime and I met with Hoshyar Zebari who was at that time the Foreign Minister. I condemned the attack and asked his permission to visit the camp. He said “absolutely no”. It was clear that this was a red line for the Iranian mullahs who had ordered Maliki not to give me permission to go to Ashraf. Interesting to note that 2 months later, in June 2011, a senior delegation from the US Congress went to Iraq but Maliki prevented them from visiting Ashraf and he even ordered them to leave Iraq because of their support for the PMOI.

Struan Stevenson

Struan Stevenson was a Conservative MEP representing Scotland in the European Parliament from 1999 until his retirement in 2014. He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He is now President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).




(PART 2)

Iraq is now teetering on the brink of becoming a failed state. Under Maliki, billions of dollars in oil wealth simply disappeared into illicit bank accounts. It is estimated that $550 billion in oil revenues has poured into Iraq since 2006, but where has it gone? Last time I was in Baghdad, there were only 4 hours of electricity a day. Few people in Iraq have access to proper functioning sewerage systems or fresh, running water. The money has simply been stolen from the people. Transparency International now lists Iraq as the 6th most corrupt country in the world. Only Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, South Sudan and North Korea are worse. Lebanese newspapers reported that Maliki’s son was arrested in Beirut last December in possession of over $1.5 billion in stolen cash, part of an alleged horde of over $3 billion that had been smuggled to Lebanon from Iraq.

Maliki held at least two press conferences that I am aware of, where he denounced me as a liar and an enemy of Iraq. On one occasion I was approached by a prominent Iraqi who now lives in Germany; he was a close friend of Maliki’s chief spokesman. He asked if he could travel to Brussels to meet me in my office. I agreed and when he came, he told me that Maliki had sent a message through him to me, asking what it would take to stop me attacking him! I was staggered and asked for clarification of what exactly he meant by this. He said that he had only been asked to convey this straightforward question and wished to know my answer. I told him that the only thing that would shut me up would be Maliki’s arrest and indictment for murder and crimes against humanity.

Maliki supervised and instructed the three horrific attacks and massacres on the unarmed civilian Iranian exiles in Camp Ashraf that led to 117 deaths, 7 kidnappings (6 of them women) and over 1400 injuries. In response to protests from the EU, US and UN, Maliki promised to hold full enquiries into the massacres which had involved thousands of Iraqi troops and armoured vehicles. No such enquiries have ever been held. Maliki knows full well that even a serving head of state can be indicted for crimes against humanity and he fears further disclosure of his pivotal role in these brutal murders.

In a 16-page indictment lodged with the Public Prosecutor in Iraq by the National Center for Legal & Judicial Research & Studies, Maliki is accused inter alia of Causing the loss of more than 800 billion dollars of Iraqi funds without a single notable achievement, whether on the security, economic or services level. Proof: Request disclosures from the Ministry of Finance and the disclosures of projects implemented in 15 Iraqi governorates during the period of his premiership of the Council of Ministers.” Part of the indictment against Maliki lodged by the Center for Legal & Judicial Research & Studies states that he is accused of Committing great massacres against the Iraqi people constituting genocide and crimes against humanity, whereupon he killed hundreds of children, women and demonstrators; as he did in Zarka’a, Al Huwaija, Fallujah and Al Ramadi.”

Maliki cheated his way to a second term as Prime Minister by violence, bribery, intimidation and fraud. He was taking his orders from Khamenei who had a red line against allowing Ayad Allawi from heading a non-sectarian government of all the people in Iraq and forced the West into backing Maliki, even although he had won fewer seats in the election. I was receiving so many complaints about fraud and vote-rigging during the second election campaign that I set up a special website and invited people with evidence of fraud to email it to me with, wherever possible, corroboration. I gathered so much evidence that I had to employ teams of people to translate from Arabic into English. I ultimately published a dossier, which contained evidence of hundreds of cases of vote rigging, intimidation and fraud. It received widespread publicity at the time and led to Maliki denouncing me as a liar and enemy of Iraq at a press conference.

Khamenei had a red line against the anti-sectarian Ayad Allawi ever becoming Prime Minister and he mobilized all of his forces to stop him, including pressurizing the West. The West was terrified that Iran would develop nuclear weapons and set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. They were convinced that by pursuing a policy of appeasement they could negotiate a peaceful end to the nuclear enrichment process in Iran. This was why President Bill Clinton initially agreed to Khamenei’s demand to list the PMOI as terrorists, which in turn led to their listing in the UK and EU. The appeasement policy continues to this day and the signing of the nuclear deal with Iran will have catastrophic results, which the west will come to regret. The ending of sanctions and the release of $150 billion of assets will enable Iran to rebuild its support for Hamas, Hezbollah, Bashir al-Assad and the Shi’ia militias in Iraq.

By manipulating the pro-Iranian factions like Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr into forming a coalition with Maliki, Khamenei achieved his objective and the West meekly complied. Khamenei then set about ordering Maliki to purge Iraq of its senior Sunni political leaders and to crackdown hard on the Sunni population. The peaceful demonstrations in many Sunni cities including Falujah and Ramadi were met with brutal force, which paved the way for mass uprisings and the start of a low-level civil war.

This, in turn, opened the door for ISIS to invade Iraq from Syria where, during their occupation of Tikrit, Mosul and up to one third of Iraqi territory, they captured billions of dollars’ worth of modern military equipment and ammunition. It is worth mentioning that General Ali Gheidan, Commander of the Iraqi Ground Forces, was responsible for crushing the peaceful civilian Sunni demonstrations. However, when confronted by a small force of ISIS terrorists he fled from Mosul, abandoning Iraq’s second largest city to its fate. He was later dismissed for cowardice. Ali Gheidan is also one of the active participants in the killings of PMOI members in Ashraf and the Spanish Court has opened an investigation against him and several others and has called on him to come to the Court but he has refused to do so.

In many meetings I have had with religious, political and community leaders from the Sunni population, I have heard again and again how the Sunnis felt that they had been marginalized and effectively banished from Iraqi society. The horrors inflicted upon them by the Shi’ite militias are well documented. Sunnis have been kidnapped, tortured, burned alive, executed and murdered by the thousands. The militias have been consistently encouraged to do this by the Iranian regime, which wishes to fan the flames of civil war in Iraq in order that it could exploit the opportunity to extend its hegemony by pretending to be protecting the famous Shi’ia shrines.

Struan Stevenson

Struan Stevenson was a Conservative MEP representing Scotland in the European Parliament from 1999 until his retirement in 2014. He was President of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014. He is now President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).




(PART 3)

Maliki inherited some of the Shi’ia militias, but he then expanded them and by illegally using government funds to arm and equip them, he built them into formidable forces that were directly under his control and command. Maliki went to Washington and pled with Obama to supply him with weapons to help in the fight against al- Qaeda. This was totally bogus, as he then used these weapons to supply the Shi’ia militias and the Iraqi military under his command and it was these weapons, which were used in the brutal genocidal crackdown on the Sunnis in Falujah and Ramadi, which led to the civil war and the invasion of Iraq by ISIS.

Maliki’s claim that he was engaged in a fight against al-Qaeda was completely spurious. I received repeated representations from Sunni tribal leaders stating that they were being attacked by Maliki, despite the fact that they had helped to secure victory over al-Qaeda following the American surge. The subsequent cowardly abandonment of Mosul to ISIS by General Ali Gheidan, gave the lie to the claim that they were fighting terrorists. The Iraqi military was badly corrupted, with Maliki actively selling high-command positions to senior officers, who in turn pillaged and blac - mailed the civilian population to fill their coffers. As a fighting force it had completely lost its way, becoming ill-disciplined, corrupt and without effective leadership. For this offence alone, Maliki should be tried for high treason.          

Maliki repeatedly visited Tehran, meeting with Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and other senior religious, political and military figures. These meetings were always well publicized and always contained threats against the PMOI in camp Ashraf and Liberty. Maliki still maintains a close relationship with Tehran to this day, clearly hoping that Haider al-Abadi may be removed and he may be returned to power. Khamenei was responsible for Maliki becoming Prime Minister in the first place and as he owed his position entirely to them, he became their willing puppet from the outset. Ultimately it was the sinister General Qasem Soleimani who was sent to Iraq to take charge of Iranian affairs inside Iraq. He became Maliki’s effective boss.

I had experience of one very high-ranking military officer who was a close confidant of Maliki and who arranged to meet me secretly in Brussels. It was during Maliki’s second fraudulent election campaign and this particular general had been ordered by Maliki to drop leaflets from helicopters over the Sunni suburbs of Baghdad. He brought me one of the leaflets to see. They told the Sunni voters that if they dared to come out to vote on election-day they would be killed. The general was appalled at this attempt at intimidation and knew that I was building a dossier of cheating by Maliki during the election campaign. He courageously wished to expose this outrage.

The lack of oversight on military appointments allowed Maliki to choose his preferred officers (nearly all Shi’ia) to head the most significant command positions in Iraq - those of the Iraqi Army Divisions and Operations Commands. Maliki has appointed these senior military officers in acting capacities to bypass requisite parliamentary approval and oversight. The individuals who benefited from these appointments became, in turn, invested in Maliki’s success and continuation as prime minister.

The Iranian regime, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, sent a large group of its agents to Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iranian-Iraqis were in Iran who spoke fluent Farsi and Arabic and the Iranian regime recruited many of them over the course of 20 years as members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). They were officers and spies of the IRGC who entered Iraq after the fall of Saddam. A list of 32,000 of them was published by the PMOI in 2005, which included the location of their mission and their monthly salaries. The PMOI at that time also published a list of 420 names of agents who worked in the offices of the Prime Minister, mainly in security and military organs. Hadi Al- Ameri was on them. Abu Mohandess who is a commander of militias in Iraq now, was also in that list on the payroll of Tehran.

The Quds Force is a special-forces unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations. The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. Its commander is Major General Qasem Soleimani. Its size is estimated at 15,000 troops. The United States has declared the Quds Force a terrorist organization since 2007. This terrorist organization is now active in Iraq where Qasem Soleimani is commanding the Shi’ia militias in their oppression of the Sunni population and the so-called fight against ISIS. I have never met Soleimani. It seems apparent that Maliki is afraid of Soleimani and takes his orders from him.

ISIS was able to seize control over large swathes of Iraq because Maliki had so weakened the army, partly on purpose to avoid any powerful general staging a coup, that it proved incapable of defending Iraqi territory. Maliki fired at least 4 generals following the capture of Falujah, Tikrit and Mosul by ISIS and others fled the country. Maliki should be tried for high treason for allowing this to happen but Iran would do everything possible to avoid such a trial as the evidence would expose the extent of their meddling in Iraq.

I hate corruption, oppression and the cruel genocidal campaign that Maliki waged against his own people. As a Scotsman, I find such behavior repulsive and I felt that as President of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq I had no alternative but to expose his crimes and demand he be held accountable. In particular, his punitive and vicious attacks on the refugees in Ashraf and Liberty repulsed me and hardened my determination to see him face justice.  That was one of the key motivators in forming the European Iraqi Freedom Association after I retired from the European Parliament last year. The people of Iraq deserve better. The 16 page indictment by the Center for Legal & Judicial Research & Studies lists high treason, venal corruption, murder, perjury of the oath of office, breach of the Iraqi Constitution, dereliction of duty and numerous other serious crimes. Haider al-Abadi must waste no time in having Maliki arrested and brought to trial. I would even favour his deportation to face criminal prosecution in the international court in The Hague.

I call on Haider al-Abadi to prosecute former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for crimes against humanity, torture, murder and corruption. Evict Iran and its agents from all areas in which it has interfered in Iraq. ISIS cannot be defeated, nor order restored in Iraq until the Iranian ‘occupation’ is ended. Confront and neutralize the brutal, sectarian Iranian-led Shi’ite militias. No armed forces should be tolerated in Iraq apart from the Iraqi military and the police. Form a real transitional inclusive non-sectarian government and hold early free and fair elections under UN supervision.

Struan Stevenson

Struan Stevenson was a Conservative Member of the European Parliament representing Scotland, from 1999 to 2014. He was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009 to 2014 and is now President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).