After having relatives killed and wounded and their homes and property destroyed, thousands of furious victims of American attacks on Iraqi cities, towns and villages have yet to receive compensation.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq began in March 2003, and the official announcement of the end of major combat operations came shortly after its forces landed in Baghdad. But there has been no letup in these operations. Many Iraqi cities, towns and villages have seen a wave of "invasions," ostensibly to root out the sources of "terror and insurgency."
And with the insurgency and resistance mushrooming, so have these "invasions" by U.S. forces.
Major cities like Falluja, Samarra, Mosul, Ramadi, Tal Affar and several others, lying within the so-called Sunni Triangle, have been invaded several times.
Before, during and immediately after these invasions, American and Iraqi officials routinely make big promises to the civilian population. They vow to rebuild the destroyed cities and pay handsomely for casualties and damage. And the local media carry stories on the amounts of money already earmarked for the purpose.
For example, $25 million was allocated to the city of Samarra alone, after a large-scale U.S. invasion of the city in October, 2004. But residents say that while they continue to be bombed, there has been no trace of the money.
Along with two cars, Mr. Abu Rihab had his house destroyed. He estimates the damage at $300,000, but despite four applications for compensation he has so far received nothing.
"U.S. warplanes struck my home, destroyed my house and two cars as well as my store, which sells air-conditioning equipment. I have a right to compensation, since I had nothing to do with the so-called mujahiddeen or resistance," he said.
The neighborhood of al-Jibriya is perhaps among the most affected in Samarra. American bombing of the neighborhood has turned Mohammed Nadeem’s life into a tragedy.
"U.S. warplanes bombarded my sister’s home. The bombing turned the house into a heap of debris. We had to dig up the corpses of my sister, her husband and three children from the ruins. We have submitted several applications for compensation, but to no avail," Nadeemd said.
Stories like these are the most likely source of the mistrust many Iraqis feel toward the U.S. occupiers. Confidence in America and its occupation forces in the country is at a very low ebb.
But local authorities say that the $25 million allocated for Samarra, most of it part of an American grant, is set aside in the Central Bank and will be released as quickly as possible.
Hussain Jabbara, senior provincial official from Takreet, where Samarra is located, said he recently had a meeting with Iraqi officials and U.S. military officers who confirmed that "appropriate compensation" will be made for those affected in Samarra.