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Targeted Killings - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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We, the sons and daughters of the Arab World, were almost certain, for the last two years at least, that the Iraqi scientists, doctors and university professors are being especially targeted in Iraq. The report filed by the American state department and submitted to President Bush only confirmed this belief. The report acknowledges that special Israeli Commandos and Mousad elements operate within Iraq especially to kill and physically liquidate Iraqi scientists, engineers and Medical doctors after the failure of the U.S. efforts to tantalize them to work in the U.S. The report confirms that a special intelligence American team supports the Israeli commandos in this bloody mission by submitting the C.V.’s of these scientists and the ways to reach them. The result of this was the killing of 350 Iraqi scientists and over 200 university professors on the streets of Iraq and away from their homes. But what is new in this report is that “one of the reasons of the spread of violence and explosions in the streets on Iraqi cities is to target and kill Iraqi scientists”. This means that the Iraqi scientists and university professors were not killed as a result of random violence or mysterious terrorist actions, but that these terrorist operations were especially orchestrated in order to kill these scientists and often tens of people are killed with them.

Many writers and antiwar movements have tried to raise alarm about the deliberate genocide of Iraq’s intellectual capital. The Irish antiwar movement, for example, said in a report compiled in March 2006 that the American occupation forces are “erasing and annihilating Iraq’s professional and intellectual capital” calling upon UNESCO “to protect those who are left of them”. The report significantly indicates that although those who are assassinated are from different religions and sects, but the absolute majority of them are ethnically Arabs and that the main fields targeted are “science, medicine, those who have PhD’s and MA’s, University Presidents, Deans, Heads of Departments and well-known and successful doctors and academicians”.

This targeted killing of the best Iraqi brains is accompanied with looting of Iraqi museums, setting libraries on fire, bombing churches, mosques and even tombs, especially those with special archaeological and historical values. It is within this context that the Mutanabi street, which is the only street in the world devoted totally to books, was burned. Is it a mere coincidence that the most important libraries in Lebanon, such as the Library of Sheikh Afif Nabulsi in Sidon, which included thousands of books and manuscripts, and the library of Sayed Muhamad Hussein Fadlallah, which is one of the richest libraries in the region, were also targeted and destroyed by Israeli bombardment during the Israeli aggression against Lebanon in July 2006?

If we read, in the light of what has preceded, what was published in the British Guardian on August 10, 2007 about the Iraqi National Library and Archive we can detect from that who are “the extremists” who are usually blamed for targeting scientists and burning libraries and who publish statements on the internet holding al Qaeda responsible for the attacks. Michael Howard wrote from Irbil, Iraq:” Looking fear as Iraqi state library seized” “Thousands of rare books and manuscripts in Iraq’s national library and archive, one of the country’s most important cultural institutions, are in peril after the occupation of the building by Iraqi security forces” the library’s director, Saad Eskandar, said. He further explained: “They have turned our national archive into a military target. Tomorrow or the day after, the extremists will attack… we are, like many ordinary citizens, caught between the extremists and terrorists on one side, and the Iraqi U.S. Army on the other”.

Is the war on terrorism in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon a war on the Arab best minds and on their history, library and civilizations? Are the Israeli daily targeted killings of the best Palestinian men and women part of this long and organized war against the Arabs and their historical and intellectual identity? Is past history revisiting when Arab capitals were invaded and deprived of hundreds of thousands of chemists, astronomists, builders, doctors, Architects, and skilled artisans and were taken to the capitals of the invaders? Can’t the new invaders see that past aggressors disappeared while the Arabs continued to breed the best minds ever despite the atrocities to which they are subjected? The killings today target the soul of Arabism, the dignity and integrity of the Arabs in different Arab countries, but they will fail and the Arabs will reemerge to continue their mission of supplying humanity with their creativities and inventions.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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