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Report on IWP - November15, 2015

The day this brief report is written---November 15, 2015---ISIS-claimed terrorist bombings in Paris are staining the front pages of newspapers all over the world. What lift some people think they achieve as they ascend to the skies upon their own pyrotechnics and the blood and fragments of complete strangers, is well beyond the understanding of any of us. But it is well worth remembering that governments all over the world do the very same---the stronger the government the greater the destruction---except without the suicidal satisfaction, or so they think. Might not Blowback be some weird form of unconscious suicide? Is there a discipline within International Political Psychology that can do a seminar on this question?

Another sad item dominating contemporary headlines has been our own country’s lethal attack upon the MSF hospital at Kunduz. Apart from the approximate number of victims--- doctors and staff together with helpless patients cremated in their beds---little is known for sure about causality and responsibility, and we can hardly be blamed for suspecting the US government will keep it that way. The fog of the Afghanistan war will never lift so long as they keep seeding the clouds.

Wide international attention to this incident puts in mind of a point of contact the Kunduz attack has with the Iraq Water Project. Back in 2006, after IWP had financed reconstruction of several municipal and rural water filtration plants, a decision was made to scale back escalating costs by sending small, relatively inexpensive purification units to schools and hospitals in various parts of Iraq, and to keep doing this while funding lasted. We are still at it. The very first hospital to receive an IWP unit was in alQaim, a city on the Euphrates River just inside the Iraq/Syria border. Part of the reason for selecting this particular hospital was that its maternity ward and adjacent areas had been flattened a few months before by US ordnance, the military circumstance being an attempt by US forces to seal off a major corridor for insurgents infiltrating from Syria. I cannot say whether the damage to the alQaim hospital was deliberate, unlike the case of Kunduz, where no one is denying intentionality. I don’t recall casualty figures, if we ever knew them. We used to have a video filmed by somebody at the wrecked hospital and posted on this website, but it has evaporated.

Still, one distinct difference between the two events is that the alQaim destruction did not receive media attention. There were no internationals working at that hospital, just Iraqis, and who cares about them. We, conversely, were provided the opportunity to assist these people via our Iraqi engineer friend Faiza, who had just started cooperating with our project at that time. Faiza was acquainted with one of the doctors working at alQaim. Sad to say, this skilled and dedicated physician subsequently had to flee with his family into Kurdistan when ISIS swept through that part of Anbar province. What became of the two water units we sent to the hospital is unknown; the fog of war has blotted the sun.

As mentioned above, Iraq Water Project is still in business after 16 years. Over the past six or seven months we have enabled our partner organization in Nassiriya to install reverse osmosis filtration units at two area schools and two clinics, one medical the other dental. We also funded repair and maintenance through this group for 15 previously placed water purifiers. This is in addition to 15 other units they repaired a few months previously. We have picked up the costs of monthly maintenance for filters placed with our help by Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Najaf. I think we are now doing a reasonably good job of follow-up on our projects, but of course this does not obtain with the hospital at alQaim or some of our other previous placements that have been sucked into the black hole of Iraq’s unending conflict. Check the August 2011update for further information.

Pending work includes 4 water units for a heart disease center in Nassiriya and water cooler/filtration units proposed for two schools in Diyala Province (Life for Relief and Development).

One last thing. Previous to the Paris terror assaults, news outlets reported that Kurdish peshmerga forces had driven ISIS out of Sinjar in northern Iraq. Let us hope it is true and permanent, though by now Sinjar city may well be a desolation unfit even for owls. Sinjar was another town Iraq Water Project tried to help some years ago, largely because it had been the site of what at that time was the single most lethal terrorist attack against an Iraqi population, in this case Yezidis. 500 people were killed in two separate bombings and who knows how many horribly wounded. Faiza, with her wide Iraqi connections, knew a Yezidi engineer in Sinjar and in two installments we managed with his help to place four units in clinics and schools. Whether those buildings are even standing is, of course, unknown to us, nor do we know the whereabouts of our Yezidi friend the engineer.

What an interesting world has been put in place by the violent fanatics of the Middle East and their godfathers, the cold and calculating---it would be an unearned kindness to label them “blind”---creators of American foreign policy.

Thanking everyone for your attention and interest in Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project, now in its 16th year

Art Dorland, project chair