Iraq – imperialist occupation unsustainable

With each passing month, as the resistance in Iraq gathers strength, the position of the US-led imperialist army of occupation gets more and more dire, putting paid to the blithely optimistic rhetoric of the Bush and Blair administrations. At the end of June, returning from Iraq, Joe Biden, the Democrat senator, criticised the “…long litany of rosy assessments, misleading statements, premature declarations of victory that we’ve heard from the [Bush] administration on Iraq.” The Sunday Times of 26 June 2005, in which the above words of Senator Biden were reported, goes on to say: “With each passing day of bland reassurance, the credibility of Mr Bush – whose approval ratings are in freefall – and, of course, of Mr Blair, takes a further knock.”

Growing sophistication of resistance

Of course, the Bush administration’s internal assessments of the war have been nowhere near as optimistic as the White House’s public utterances. The CIA’s recent report on the Iraqi resistance said that, just as the US forces have learnt much from fighting the resistance in a difficult urban terrain, so have the resistance from fighting the occupation forces. What is more, the resistance have been successful in adapting fast in an environment they know better than the foreign aggressors and have developed remarkable lethality against US armed convoys and Humvers, thus contributing to an escalation of the rate of casualties among the US forces. “The guerrillas”, says the International Herald Tribune of 25 July “are choosing their targets with greater precision, and executing and dramatizing their attacks with more sophistication than they have in the past.”

The growing sophistication of the resistance in the waging of people’s war is accompanied by its ability to replenish its ranks faster than they are killed by the occupation forces. “We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents”, said a senior US army intelligence person, but “…they’re being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge.” (International Herald Tribune, 25 July 2005). US commanders freely admit that the number of resistance attacks against American and puppet Iraqi forces has held steady over the last year, averaging about 65 a day.

Use of IEDs

The Iraqi resistance has become especially adept in the use of improved explosive devices (IEDs), which it uses as roadside bombs to attack the occupation convoys and armoured vehicles, making it highly dangerous for the US-led forces and its puppets to negotiate their way across the country. In the first 18 days of August alone, 31 US soldiers were killed by IEDs – making it one of the deadliest months for roadside bombings since the start of this predatory war against the people of Iraq. In fact, it has been a summer of IEDs. Between 1 May and 18 August, 136 US soldiers were killed by IEDs – more than double the number in the same period last year. The toll of 72 in June and July was the highest over a 2-month period since the war started.

The IED attacks furnish graphic proof of the resilience and adaptability of the resistance – even in the face of intensified US offensives up and down the Euphrates valley. “This is a very brutal, lethal and adaptive enemy,” said Brigadier General Carter Ham, commander of the US forces in north-western Iraq, where the new US offensive against the resistance is presently under way. The sophistication of the resistance is, inter alia, attested to by its employment for the first time of the so-called ‘shaped’ charges – explosives that can direct the blast force to a single point in order to penetrate armour, thus countering US measures to protect their troops on the road. The resistance is busy improving the IEDs, using different penetrators and techniques for triggering the events. Convoys from Kuwait, Jordan and Turkey have encountered twice the number of IED attacks this year as compared with last year. Even where, because of US offensives, the number of IED attacks has gone down, the lethality has escalated sharply.

Resistance attacks

To give the reader an idea of the rising resistance of the Iraqi people against the occupation regime, we list below some of the significant actions of the resistance aimed at the US forces and their puppets and collaborators over the months of July and August 2005.

In the first week of July, the occupation forces were forced back on the defensive in a cascading series of attacks by the resistance throughout the country.

During the second week of July, Iraqi freedom fighters unleashed a major offensive against US and puppet forces in a series of attacks across the whole of Iraq. The deadliest of these attacks took place on 10 July, when bombers in 4 separate attacks around Baghdad killed 40 people. The most bloody of these was an attack on a crowd of about 400 army applicants at the gate of Murhanna military airfield, now converted to a recruiting centre. Meanwhile, frustrating US attempts to split the Iraqi population along confessional lines, radical Shia cleric Muqtada Sadr, called for a million signatures on a petition demanding that the US-led occupation leave Iraq. Ibrahim al-Jafaari’s puppet government has been forced to admit that the resistance now controls 60% of the western Anbar province, including large parts of its capital, Ramadi.

In the third week of July, the occupation forces faced an avalanche of rocket attacks, bomb explosions and gunfire throughout Iraq. The US forces’ efforts to enter the western town of Rawah were repeatedly beaten back, while the freedom fighters bombed US camps and ambushed US patrols in the heroic city of Fallujah, supposedly overrun and pacified by US forces last November. On 19 July, and in the middle of a busy Baghdad street in heavy traffic, the resistance shot dead 3 Sunni collaborators who had been taking part in the US-staged charade of writing a new constitution, as they left a Baghdad restaurant. On the same day, a collaborator judge was gunned down in Nasiriyah. Such attacks by the resistance, designed to eliminate collaborators, and as a warning to others not to go down the road of treachery against the Iraqi people, appear to be succeeding, for following these attacks, moderate Sunni leaders announced that they were suspending their efforts to help draft the new constitution.

On 24 July, a truck bomb rammed into barricades at a police station in the middle of a raging sand storm, killing at least 25 and wounding 33. The series of bombings in July, which claimed hundreds of lives, have served to raise serious doubts about the ability of the US and the Iraqi stooge government to defeat the resistance. Only weeks before, US and puppet regime officials boasted that their operations in Baghdad had made the capital safe and frustrated the designs of the freedom fighters. As if in reply, the resistance in quick succession pulled off a series of spectacular and lethal attacks – wiping the grin off the faces of US spokesmen and the representatives of the puppet regime. During the 10 days preceding 24 July, more than 20 car bombs claimed upwards of 200 fatalities in or around Baghdad. The week prior to this witnessed 23 car bombs. The main target in all these attacks were the units of the puppet police.

On 2 July, the resistance also liquidated the quisling general in charge of the puppet Iraqi Rapid Deployment, while on 24 July it killed a senior police commander in Kirkuk.

In an effort to isolate the puppet regime and persuade foreign governments, especially those in the Middle East, to withhold full diplomatic relations from it, the resistance on 2 July abducted, and subsequently killed, Ihab al-Sharif, the top Egyptian diplomat, who had been designated the Arab world’s first ambassador in Iraq. Three days later, the resistance attacked Pakistani and Bahraini diplomats in their cars. Following this ambush, Pakistan pulled its ambassador out of Iraq to Jordan. On 22 July, the top Algerian diplomat and a colleague of his were kidnapped by the resistance in Mansour, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods of Baghdad, in broad daylight. Since these kidnappings, no Arab government has yet sent an ambassador to Iraq.

If the going for the occupation was as tough in July as outlined above, August brought no respite. On 11 August, 6 US marines on a foot patrol outside the town of Haditha were killed by the resistance using small-arms fire. 2 days later (13 August), 14 US marines were killed when a roadside bomb struck their amphibious assault vehicle near Haditha – 200 km west of Baghdad in the Euphrates Valley – bringing to 21 the number of marines killed in this area during that week, belying US hopes that the resistance might be fading away.

The level of resistance is such that the International Herald Tribune of 25 July was obliged to remark: “They [the resistance] just keep getting stronger.

“Despite months of assurances that the forces were on the wane, the guerrillas and terrorists battling the American-backed enterprise here appear to be growing more violent, more resilient and more sophisticated than ever.

“A string of recent attacks, including the execution of moderate Sunni leaders and the kidnapping of foreign diplomats, has brought home for many Iraqis that the democratic process that has been unfolding since the Americans restored Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 has not only failed to isolate the guerrillas, it has become the target itself.”

Increased attacks in Afghanistan

The rising tide of resistance in Iraq is now accompanied by an increase in insurgent attacks on US-led forces in Afghanistan, where 4 US soldiers were killed and 3 wounded in a bomb attack in Dia Chopan district on 21 August. This followed the killing of 17 Spanish soldiers when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise near Heart, it being strongly suspected that the aircraft was brought down by hostile fire from the Afghan resistance. So far this year, 47 US soldiers have been killed in combat in Afghanistan, bringing to 177 the total of US troops killed in and around Afghanistan since the so-called Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001. In all, according to official war sources, which grossly underestimate US losses, the US has lost over 2,100 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, all but 177 of whom have been killed in Iraq. Well over 15,000 have been wounded – a third of them very seriously.

Even more alarming for the occupation are the well-founded claims that the various factions of the resistance are ready to form a united liberation front following many meetings in Algiers.

No wonder, then, that Anglo-American imperialism has worked out plans to reduce drastically the size of its forces in Iraq. A secret report ‘UK Eyes Only’, leaked to the press on 10 July, contained clear plans to reduce the British army of occupation from 8,500 to 3,000 as of the middle of next year, whereas the US plans to reduce its forces to 66,000 from the current level of 150,000. The report, denied officially, contains the proviso that the reduction in force levels would depend on the security situation and “internal Iraqi pressure”.

Costs of the war

Meanwhile the costs of this war are spiralling out of all control. The predatory wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost US taxpayers $314 billion and, according to the projection of the Congressional Budget Office, they will cost an additional $450 billion over the next decade – making the combined campaigns, in particular the war in Iraq, the most expensive military campaign in the last 6 decades.

According to the estimates of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank, the US imperialist war against the Korean people cost the US $430 billion and the Vietnam war about $600 billion at current prices, whereas the cost of the war in Iraq could be in excess of $700 billion. Its monthly costs are between $5 billion and $8 billion.

In the current fiscal year, the US administration has received $107 billion in special appropriations, of which $87 billion is directly connected to military operations, the remainder being spent in training and equipping Iraqi forces.

All this is in addition to other costs as, for example, the construction of the US embassy in Baghdad at a cost of $658 million. Add to this the initial operating costs, the total expense on this extra-secure facility could reach $1.3 billion by the time it opens in a few years – that is if the US has not meanwhile been expelled from Iraq by the resistance.

And, unlike the first Gulf War (1991), the US has had to shoulder single-handedly all the costs of this war (information in the preceding 4 paragraphs is derived from the San Francisco Chronicle of 17 July 2005).

By way of comparison, the British government is spending £408.3 million each month on its imperialist ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Far from making US citizens safer, it is damaging taxpayers by saddling them with a huge debt burden, since the war is being financed with deficit spending – throwing US fiscal priorities, which are already out of balance, into near-total disarray with its unprecedented trade and budget deficits and enormous net external liabilities. Continuing along its present course, US imperialism is on a path to certain economic ruin. No wonder, then, that Republican senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska told US New and World Report earlier this year that the White House was “…completely disconnected from reality”, having already in February accused the Bush administration of acting in a “…dangerously irresponsible manner”.

Unpopularity of the war

The financial burden, combined with military failure, is increasingly making the war highly unpopular. Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey, a young US soldier killed in Iraq, whose vigil began in early August a few miles from Bush’s ranch in Crawford as he began his 5-week vacation, has helped to galvanise the anti-war movement. The vigil has been a public relations disaster for Bush who has refused a meeting with Mrs Sheehan to explain why her son died in Iraq, prompting allegations of callousness.

A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found 54% of the Americans did not think that it was worth going into Iraq; 51% disapproved of Bush’s handling of the presidency. A separate Newsweek poll found that 61% disapproved of Bush’s handling of Iraq. With only 34% approval for Bush’s handling of the war, the US is reaching a “tipping point”. A Gallup poll on 26 August revealed that Bush’s overall public approval had dropped to 40%, down 5 points in the two weeks to 26 August. Whereas in August 2003, only 14% of Americans demanded the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, today it is 33% who make this demand.

Emboldened by the above data, even some senators, such as Russell Feingold (Wisconsin Democrat), have called for troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2006.

There is a new intensity in the debates dividing the ruling circles on the question of the war in Iraq. That intensity is indicative of the fact that “…the long period of acquiescence in a policy barely explained and riddled with inconsistency is coming to a close. Some kind of tipping point is approaching – either for or against the entire venture” (Sunday Times, 26 June 2005).

The International Herald Tribune of 25 July, commenting on the chasm dividing the American public from the army, especially the mission in Iraq, observes that the “…Bush administration’s rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war, but a nation with only its military at war.

“While officers and enlisted personnel say they enjoy symbolic signs of support, and the high ratings the military now enjoys in public opinion polls, ‘that’s just not enough’, said a brigadier who had served in Iraq. ‘There has to be more’, he added, saying that the absence of a call for a broader national sacrifice in a time of war has become a near constant topic of discussion among officers and enlisted personnel.”

David Hendrickson, a scholar on foreign policy at Colorado College, is reported by the International Herald Tribune as saying: “The public wants very much to support the troops. But it doesn’t really believe in the mission. Most consider it a war of choice, and a majority … thinks it was the wrong choice.” (Ibid.).

Major General Robert Scales, a former commander of the Army War College, now retired, is reported to have said that he had heard a string of concerns from serving officers that “the military is increasingly isolated from the rest of the country. People associate being an officer with the priesthood. You know, there is an enormous amount of respect, but nobody want to sign up for celibacy.” (Ibid).

It is in the very nature of the unjust predatory war waged by imperialism that they do not arouse public support or sympathy, with the result that the imperialist soldiers are perceived as no more than mercenaries – hired killers – paid by imperialism to do its dirty work of subjugating others in the interests of the domination of their ruling class. With such an attitude, conscious or otherwise, prevalent among the population, it becomes problematic for imperialism to wage wars over a sustained period of time.

The constitutional fiasco

In parallel with the war that it has been waging on the people of Iraq, US imperialism has initiated a charade of a political process – for the sole purpose of endowing the puppet Iraqi government, installed at gunpoint by the occupation forces, with a democratic garb and the trappings of sovereignty. Following the mock election of 30 January, 2005, the puppet parliament had to meet the deadline of 15 August, by which time the draft constitution had to be completed, presented to and approved by this mock parliament. There are serious differences among the puppets involved in writing this meaningless document over such questions as, for instance, the role of religion and the question of federalism.

Unable to agree among themselves, and under pressure from US imperialism to meet the deadline so as to give the appearance of political momentum, the puppet parliamentarians got busy with the enactment of a hilarious farce. The document, though incomplete and not agreed to by all the parties concerned, was nevertheless presented to this assembly to meet the deadline. Meanwhile, negotiations have carried on behind the scenes to persuade those who are vehemently opposed to the federalist provisions of this abortion of a constitutional document to drop their opposition. Such opposition comes not only from the Sunnis, as the imperialist spokesmen and media would have us believe, but also from many Shias, including Muqtada al-Sadr, who believe that federalism is merely a recipe for the partition of Iraq – making it easy prey for imperialism to gobble up piece by piece. Hence the armed fights which have been raging between the followers of Sadr and the counter-revolutionaries of Sciri (Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq). On 26 August, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched in 8 cities in support of Sadr’s stance.

In view of this impasse, either the puppet assembly will have to jettison this constitutional document (complete versions of which, while supplied to the US and British embassies in Baghdad have so far not been seen by the members of this assembly), and thus start the whole process yet again. Alternatively, the followers of Ibrahim al-Jafaari and the Kurds will use their majority to endorse the document, and risk having it rejected in a referendum on this document, which is due to be held on 15 October. Under the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) – the US-imposed interim constitution – a no vote with a two-thirds majority in any 3 Iraqi provinces would suffice to nullify this document, something which could be easily arranged by the resistance alone, let alone the combined forces of all those opposing it.

It is clear that the constitutional hoax is leading the occupation regime and its puppets nowhere, for the problem is not the constitution but occupation of Iraq by the Anglo-American imperialist forces.

Iraq today is divided into two mutually hostile and irreconcilable camps – the majority, who oppose the occupation and are fighting a life-and-death struggle to rid Iraq of it; and a small minority of stooges, with no social base, who were catapulted into Iraq in US military vehicles as a cover to legitimise the predatory imperialist war for domination. Even if accepted, no constitution can bridge the differences between the two opposing camps. The issue can only be resolved in the battlefield through the victory of one side or the other. As things stand, and the way that events are unfolding, it is clear that the forces of national liberation are making the running and are on course, whatever the zigzags on the way and however long it might take, to achieving a historic victory by inflicting a most humiliating defeat on Anglo-American imperialism.


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