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An "Inconvenient" Atrocity: The Chemical Weapons Attack on the Kurds of Halabja, Iraq [Kindle Edition]

Susan Schuurman

Kindle Price: $9.99

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Book Description

On 16 March 1988, the Iraqi military attacked the Kurdish town of Halabja with chemical weapons, killing approximately five thousand civilians and injuring twice that number. Taking place during the ethnic cleansing campaign called the Anfal (1987–1988), the attack on Halabja was one of forty poison gas attacks against the Iraqi Kurds but bears the dubious distinction of having the highest number of civilian casualties.

The English-language literature on the attack includes media coverage, human rights reports, and an authoritative account by Middle East analyst Joost Hiltermann. Schuurman briefly discusses the history of the Kurds, who are spread over Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria and number approximately twenty-five million; the nature of the Ba‘athist government under Saddam Hussein; and the wider Anfal campaign against the Kurds.

The story of March 16 is told from the point of view of survivors with emphasis on the experiences of women and children. Schuurman then evaluates media coverage of the attack and the responses from the U.S. government, the United Nations, and other actors. The author concludes with an examination of which persons and/or entities have been held accountable for the attack, plus the long-term impacts on Kurdish survivors including how they memorialize the Halabja attack today.

This study is based on English-language, written sources including reports by Human Rights Watch, the UN, U.S. government documents from the Reagan Library and Digital National Security Archive, and media reports. Schuurman argues that the Reagan administration not only failed to hold Iraq accountable for the attack on Halabja but actively worked to prevent others from sanctioning Saddam Hussein’s regime. The U.S. allied with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war (1980–1988) largely because it saw the Islamic Republic of Iran as a greater threat to Persian Gulf oil. Citing numerous internal memos, Schuurman argues that economic considerations outweighed human rights concerns when American foreign policymakers calculated how to respond to the attack on Halabja. Her research differs from Hiltermann’s, which focused primarily on the military and political context, for its emphasis on women and children and the role Western companies played in supplying Iraq’s chemical weapons industry.

Schuurman wrote this book for her Master's thesis in the History department at the University of New Mexico. Includes an extensive bibliography and footnotes.



Product Details

  • File Size: 228 KB
  • Print Length: 154 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036FTZXY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,449,185 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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