1 February 2023Feature

What Stop the War and the direct actionists missed in 2003

Could the anti-war movement have prevented the US-UK invasion of Iraq in March 2003? I think there was a real possibility, slim though it was.

In my view, the British anti-war movement came very close to halting British participation in the invasion – and derailing the war entirely.

Well, that’s not only my view. Just days before the war began, the British government told the US government that it might be forced to pull out of the invasion force. Britain’s ministry of defence…

1 February 2023Feature

Nuclear bullying of non-nuclear states is a core part of Britain's nuclear doctrine

Sometimes, Western nuclear threats against non-nuclear weapon states have been covert operations, signalled secretly by mobilising strategic nuclear weapon systems (like the British V-bombers sent out to Singapore during the Malaysian Confrontation – see PN 2659).

Sometimes, Western nuclear threats have been very, very public.

Such was the case in the run-up to the March 2003 US-UK assault on Iraq.

It was a very long run-up to war, for reasons discussed…

1 August 2022News in Brief

On 10 June, ex-prime minister Tony Blair, who invaded Iraq in 2003, was given the highest possible rank of knighthood by the queen.

Over a million people signed a petition on asking for Blair to be stripped of this honour. The petition said: ‘He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes.’

Outside a Windsor castle ceremony for…

8 December 2020Feature

Another 3 January victim: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

In the past few weeks, there has been much outrage in the British media at Iranian ‘meddling’ in Iraq over the past 17 years. Iran’s interference in Iraq was directed for most of that time by Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, probably the most powerful non-Iraqi in Iraq until he was assassinated in Baghdad by the US on 3 January.

There has not been much attention paid to the fact that Iran could only intervene because of the disintegration of Iraq because of the US-UK invasion of 2003…

1 December 2019News

Corruption, unemployment and opposition to Iranian interference three key factors behind unarmed protests

Large-scale unarmed anti-government protests in Iraq have been met with lethal force from the security forces, leaving over 330 people dead since the beginning of October.

While the main focus of popular anger has been corruption, unemployment, poverty and the lack of public services, there have also been a number of protests at symbols of Iranian interference, including Iranian consulates.

On 26 October, to take another example, protesters set fire to dozens of offices…

1 April 2019Feature

Chelsea Manning reimprisoned

Photo: Manolo Luna [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the US military, is again imprisoned in a US jail. On International Women’s Day, 8 March, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, Virginia, federal detention centre for refusing to testify in front of a secretive grand jury. [In the US system of law, grand juries decide (in secret)…

31 March 2018Blog

Iraq is the forgotten war that continues to destroy lives, writes a long-time visitor to Iraq, US peace activist Cathy Breen.

Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet and professor of Creative Writing at Texas State. Her father was Palestinian and a refugee journalist. In one of her poems after 9/11, entitled 'Blood,' she writes:

I call my father, we talk around the news.
It is too much for him,
neither of his two languages can reach it.
I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,
to plead with the air:
Who calls anyone civilised?
Where can the crying heart…

1 June 2017Feature

How a human rights lawyer was destroyed


On 2 February 2017, Phil Shiner, the award-winning human rights lawyer who brought the UK government to account for the 2003 killing of the Iraqi hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, was struck off by the solicitors disciplinary tribunal (SDT). In March 2017, Shiner, who was also ordered to pay interim costs of £250,000, was declared bankrupt, and was reported to be in poor health.

Shiner and his legal firm, by fighting for victims of the Iraq war, had…

1 April 2017News

Alleged coalition civilian killings since January outstrip claims against Russia

On 24 March, Airwars, a transparency NGO monitoring civilian casualties from international airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Libya, sent out an email warning that the escalation of US strikes was threatening to overwhelm its capacity to monitor and assess the civilian impact.

Airwars wrote: ‘Following an unprecedented number of alleged Coalition civilian casualty events and casualties in recent weeks, Airwars has taken the difficult decision to suspend detailed assessing of alleged…

1 December 2016Review

OR Books, 2016; 428pp; £19

In this collection of original news reporting and analysis, journalist Patrick Cockburn describes in detail the long build-up to the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq. Arranged as a series of diary entries, these reports give a clear picture of how the lasting effects of UN sanctions in the ’90s, invasion and regime change in 2003 and the resulting devastating civil war all contributed to the formation of ISIS. The book also covers the recent conflicts in…

1 August 2016Feature

The goal of the Iraq war was to maintain ‘Saddamism without Saddam’

Amiriyah shelter, Baghdad. Image: Emily Johns

It has been right under the media’s nose, but they have decided not to follow up one of the most politically-explosive aspects of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, something that I exposed back in 2002 using publicly-available sources, and which has now been verified by Chilcot’s declassified documents.

The single most attention-grabbing aspect of the Chilcot report into the war and occupation was the personal note the then-prime…

1 August 2016Feature

The British media avoid parts of the Chilcot documents

Victory Palms Image: Emily Johns

What did we learn from Chilcot? Among other things, that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was indeed a war for oil.

The day after the long-awaited Chilcot report into the Iraq war was published, the energy editor of Financial Times, Andrew Ward, explained how documents released as part of the report ‘lay bare the desire of UK companies for a share of the spoils from the opening of Iraq’s oil and gas fields once Saddam Hussein’s regime…

1 August 2016Feature

Iraq’s missing weapons – another failure of the Chilcot report

Fallujah. Image: Emily Johns

UN weapons inspectors were not sent into Iraq in 2003 in order to find out the truth about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD). As far as US president George W Bush was concerned – and, for most of the time, British prime minister Tony Blair – the inspectors were sent in to help set the stage for war. If they could be helpful in this role, they were to be supported. If they got in the way, they were to be undermined and, eventually, destroyed.

5 July 2016Blog

With the publication of the Chilcot report, watch the trailer for "A Letter to the Prime Minister", made during the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, and sign up on the website to see the entire feature length film.

A Letter to the Prime Minister, Jo Wilding's Diary from Iraq - trailer from Julia Guest on Vimeo.

Jo Wilding’s Eye Witness account of the war and occupation of Iraq between 2002- 2004.

The film focuses on the effect of sanctions and war on civilians and where this breached Geneva conventions.

It is an eye…

24 April 2015Blog

I just read the transcript of the evidence given by John Chilcot, head of the Iraq Inquiry, to parliament's foreign affairs committee on 4 February. I was staggered to read in a footnote that they are going to publish 1,500 British government documents alongside the Chilcot Report itself…