In an interview with Muslim Press on the Iraq war and its consequences, Tim King says, “It is important to note that religious tolerance was greatly diminished in Iraq during the US occupation through the construction of walls dividing Sunni and Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad.”
Read the full text of the interview:
MP: How do you see the situation in Iraq as of today?
Tim King: I see the situation in Iraq as a total and complete tragedy. The extreme resilience of the Iraqi people seems the only saving grace.
So much life was taken by the American forces in a war launched over false intelligence. The killing was then fostered in absentia after the US withdrawal, through the Obama Administration's training and direct military and financial support of Daesh terrorists who support ultra-conservative Wahhabi and Salafist ideologies. The Iraqi people have suffered and suffered and continue to today, due to the wrath of war-spawned radicals backed by US taxpayers.
It is also important to note that religious tolerance was greatly diminished in Iraq during the US occupation through the construction of walls dividing Sunni and Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad, and the hiring of Sunni fighters under the so-called "Sons of Iraq" program that was suddenly all but disbanded in 2008, along with the scant $305 a month pay per man that was lifting Sunni families out of poverty. Now waves of mostly foreign Daesh fighters seek to eliminate all who do not adhere to their extreme views of Islam.
MP: What has changed since the last time you were there?
Tim King: Much has changed in the years following my time in Iraq as a reporter. The US led forces occupying much of the country are mostly gone. I was in Iraq during the summer of 2008, when operational tempo was comparatively low to the previous years. What I saw then is what continues today; that is the targeting of Iraqi military and civilians.
I was in Fallujah around the time that control of the base was handed over from the US Marines to the Iraqi military. Such places witnessed so much bloodshed but disturbingly, Fallujah and other areas in Anbar province continue to experience extreme numbers of birth defects. I have written in the past about the work of Dr. Chris Busby of the UK who examined large numbers of Iraqi people in Fallujah and determined that they had been exposed to high levels of radiation that was not caused by depleted uranium, but enriched uranium. In context with this, I covered the efforts of a US military doctor in Anbar who was attempting to transport young Iraqi children with congenital heart defects from that region out of country for surgeries. The environmental impacts from the US war in Iraq are countless.
MP: In your opinion, what has to happen to defeat ISIS? Is the Mosul operation on the right track?
Tim King: Lest we forget that a slim but powerful margin of Americans make billions from war and terrorism. The defeat of the Islamic State would be a historical matter if the political leadership of the United States had, in the name of world progress, joined forces with Russia, Syria and other nations to defeat terrorism end the matter but that does not seem to be the goal of the US. Vladmir Putin sees the foolishness of the US backing the Free Syrian Army, al Nusra Front and ISIL, but the American politicians are stuck in a quagmire of hatred that, when combined with ignorance... results in a profound inability to understand Islam.
It is also important to remember that the only political benefactor of the continuous wars in the Middle East is Israel, the apartheid Zionist state that draws millions of dollars a day from US taxpayers. Israel maintains friendly political relations with Saudi Arabia, a nation that violates international law almost as frequently as Israel. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of radical interpretations of Islam. Religious minorities suffer in these two countries.
As far as today's picture, Islamic State forces have had a degree of success taking control of important cities in Iraq. Fortunately, the success of the operation in Mosul has seen much difficulty but it appears to be on track. Twelve years have passed since the Battle of Mosul and the area has seen bitter fighting on and off again the whole time.
MP: How do you compare the humanitarian situation of pre-invasion era with today?
Tim King: I don't think it is comparable at all. While former Iraqi President Saddam Hussien spent years as a US political puppet, and had a reputation as a hard line political leader, he unquestioningly loved his nation and also supported the political struggle of the Palestinians which without question, added to his ultimate demise. Life for Iraqi people was immeasurably better under Hussein. Every Iraqis I met and spoke with in 2008 who spoke freely, entirely confirmed this. I always find it important to remind people that Iraq had a sizeable Christian population which flourished for many years.
Millions in Iraq today have lost loved ones, and they are forever saddled with memories of years of US checkpoints and the blood that was spilled as a result of a needless war and occupation. Post-traumatic stress dominates large swaths of the Iraqi population. Thousands of career soldiers in Iraq were permanently removed from the Iraqi military as the war raged under the Bush/Cheney Administration. Baghdad was left partially in ruins. Then add to that Guantanamo, abu Ghraib, and similar draconian facilities where the US has incarcerated so many. It will take years for the humanitarian situation in Iraq to heal from so many years of brutal war.
MP: What’s your take on Obama’s legacy in the Middle East, especially in Iraq?
Tim King: I see the legacy of Obama as one filled with great promise that never materialized. Rather than aiding the Middle east after his slew of false promises issued in Cairo, Obama and his cronies used the Arab Spring as a propaganda launching tool to encourage revolt in Libya and Syria, leading to the murder of tens of thousands of innocent people and military soldiers, while further diminishing the role of secular nations in this region of the world. Obama funded dangerous factions to upset the governments of both Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al Assad to no positive end.
Rather than showing humility from a nation that killed up to a million and a half Iraqi people due to GW Bush's ramblings about "weapons of mass destruction" - Obama added two wars to the ensemble of US-funded Middle East violence. Could Obama have deescalated the war in Iraq in more positive ways? Absolutely. It didn't happen. Obama was a shaded continuation of the Bush Administration.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native has served as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting.