In what the Sunday Times of 21 May referred to as “one of the most significant moments in [Iraq’s] rebirth since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003”, the Iraqi ‘parliament’ finally approved what is being called a government of national unity, with Nouri al-Maliki (yes, another stooge) in the role of prime minister. The Sunday Times journalist, clearly in optimistic mood, wrote: “The tough-talking Maliki said that he would make restoring stability and security the top priority of his anew administration. He added that he would ‘work to improve and co-ordinate Iraqi forces so they can reduce attacks by insurgents and militias’.”
Only a few weeks into his tenure, Maliki was pushing a ‘national reconciliation plan’, the purported aim of which is to persuade the resistance to bury the hatchet (or IED) and come together as minor players in his US-prone government. There were even early rumours that the plan was going to offer amnesty to resistance fighters who had fought against US soldiers:
“The Government intends to form a committee to distinguish between groups that can be considered legitimate resistance and those that are beyond the pale. ‘For those that defended their country against foreign troops, we need to open a new page … They did not mean to destabilise Iraq. They were defending Iraqi soil,’ said Adnan Ali, a senior member of the Dawa party of Nouri al Maliki, the Prime Minister.” (‘Peace deal offers Iraq insurgents an amnesty’, The Times, 23 June)
It almost goes without saying that the proposal to grant amnesty to resistance fighters generated immediate and intensive criticism from the imperialist seats of power, with the US Congress formally denouncing any such plan. Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was quoted as saying: “For heaven’s sake, we liberated that country. We got rid of a horrific dictator. We’ve paid a tremendous price. More than 2,500 Americans have given up their lives. The idea that they should even consider talking about amnesty for people who have killed people who liberated their country is unconscionable.”
In the end, the clause in question mysteriously disappeared. The final wording contained a somewhat watered down version: “To adopt a credible national dialogue in dealing with all the different views and political positions that are opposing the views and positions of the Government and the political powers …”
The resistance refuses to sell out
Iraqi resistance groups made it clear that they would not be participating in any unity coalition with the government and that they had no plans to give up their arms until the imperialist occupation had been sent packing.
“Representatives of 11 Iraqi insurgent groups told The Sunday Times yesterday that they would reject the peace offer because they did not recognise the legitimacy of the government.
“A senior commander authorised to speak on behalf of other groups warned that they would continue to fight. ‘As long as there is an occupation and an illegitimate government, the resistance and insurgency will continue,’ he said…
“The 11 groups have indicated that any future talks should be conducted with American officials under UN or Arab League supervision, but not with the Iraqi government.
“The commander, who cannot be identified, said the seven Sunni insurgent groups in the negotiations were splinter groups and small groups that were neither authorised nor empowered to represent Iraq’s main insurgency.
“‘They are small groups both in numbers and military power, easy to reach because of the simplicity of their hierarchy and unable to sustain a long-term military confrontation for lack of finances, numbers and logistics,’ he said.
“‘The government is very aware that those it says it is negotiating with are not representatives of the main organisations. This whole so-called reconciliation plan is being exaggerated as a breakthrough to help to promote Maliki and his government as well as to aid the Americans to find a face-saving way out of Iraq.'” (Sunday Times, 25 June, ‘Key insurgents vow to reject Iraq peace plan’)
A Ba’ath Party statement of 26 June denounced the reconciliation plan in no uncertain terms: “While we utterly reject the so called reconciliation, we assert that it is not a reconciliation but a surrender without conditions to the Occupation which is being defeated and routed.”
The apparent killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by occupation forces was loudly proclaimed by most bourgeois newspapers as a stunning victory for peace and democracy – so important, in fact, that it has been accorded the status of ‘turning point’ (a label usually set aside for the appointment of some or other Iraqi stooge as reserve vice president of the non-functioning puppet government).
The majority of reliable reports have indicated that Zarqawi was killed in the early days of the war and that his role was emphatically unimportant even then. Zarqawi’s role, alive or dead, has been as a bogeyman for the occupiers – a crass propaganda exercise to fool the British and US public into thinking that there is a significant Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq and that, by deduction, the Iraqi resistance is not a militant nationalist movement engaged in legitimate resistance to imperialist occupation, but a religious fundamentalist movement that is primarily concerned with the imposition of strict dress codes and the introduction of on-the-spot death penalties for anyone found with a can of Stella.
Even the Washington Post of 10 April admitted that “the U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of [Zarqawi] in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the … Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
The Baghdadi writer of the award-winning ‘Riverbend’ blog wrote: “The timing is extremely suspicious: just when people were getting really fed up with the useless Iraqi government, Zarqawi is killed and Maliki is hailed the victorious leader of the occupied world! … ‘A new day for Iraqis’ is the current theme of the Iraqi puppet government and the Americans. Like it was ‘A New Day for Iraqis’ on April 9, 2003 . And it was ‘A New Day for Iraqis’ when they killed Oday and Qusay. Another ‘New Day for Iraqis’ when they caught Saddam. More ‘New Day’ when they drafted the constitution… I’m beginning to think it’s like one of those questions they give you on IQ tests: If ‘New’ is equal to ‘More’ and ‘Day’ is equal to ‘Suffering’, what does ‘New Day for Iraqis’ mean?”
One thing is for sure: Zarqawi’s ‘death’, real or fake, will have precisely no impact on the Iraqi resistance. This much is accepted even by bourgeois journalists.”The death of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be a significant boost for the embattled Iraqi government but few in Iraq believe that it will make much of an immediate dent in the insurgency” (Financial Times, 9 June).
More from The Guardian: “Zarqawi’s death may have little impact in the short term. It will not affect the nationalist insurgency that targets the Americans and British, and those defined as collaborating with them. When Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed, the US claimed it would reduce the resistance. Similar hopes were expressed when Saddam was captured two and a half years ago. In both cases the predictions were wrong.” (The Guardian, 9 June)
BBC journalist Hugh Sykes, writing on 24 June – two weeks after Zarqawi’s alleged death -, says: “Hardly a day has gone by without several car bombs in Baghdad and so many bodies dumped in the street that I have lost count. There have been hijackings, ambushes, American soldiers captured and killed, a lawyer on the Saddam Hussein trial defence team abducted from his home and murdered, suicide bombs successfully aimed at police or army patrols, buses taking factory workers home held up by men with guns and driven away. Workers at a commercial bakery abducted at gun point. Now I can go nowhere without armed protection and I can only travel in an armoured private car.”
While Maliki was desperately trying to sell his ‘security crackdown’ and the occupiers were basking in the glory of the Zarqawi affair, it was very much business as usual for the resistance. In a report on the government’s inauguration, the Financial Times noted that: “There has been little sign of any immediate abatement of violence, … and a string of bombings and other attacks in recent days left at least 16 people dead in Baghdad and elsewhere” (this is after citing Tony Blair as saying “There is now no vestige of excuse for anyone to carry on with terrorism or bloodshed”!). The puppet government declared a state of emergency on 23 June, and imposed a curfew in Baghdad in response to resistance fighters setting up roadblocks in central Baghdad and firing at troops. In the week commencing 19 June, 12 US service members were killed by resistance forces (Associated Press, 23 June).
Basra used to be held up in the bourgeois press as a perfect example of well-managed occupation (with the implication that the British soldiers – relaxed in their familiar role as colonial occupiers – were more successful than their US counterparts in terms of getting the local population on side). But Basra has become an extremely dangerous place for occupation forces, with nine British soldiers killed during the month of May (the heaviest losses suffered by the British since an attack on a helicopter took out 10 men in January 2005).
Despite the enormous effort being made by the occupiers to crush the resistance, it continues to get stronger by the day. Writing in The Guardian of 9 June, Jonathan Steele notes that “the success of any insurgency always depends on the degree of its popular support. In a country occupied by foreign troops and where the government is not perceived as independent, the most powerful source of that support is nationalism. The occupiers are the insurgents’ best recruiting tool”.
To give the reader an idea of the frequency of resistance attacks, we will summarise all those attacks reported by the Reuters ‘humanitarian emergencies’ website, AlertNet.org, for a single fairly run-of-the-mill day, Monday June 26:
– Baghdad: The U.S. military said two American soldiers found dead south of Baghdad last week were kidnapped and killed. Privates First Class Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were part of a three-man team guarding a canal crossing in Yusufiya.
– Baghdad: A U.S. Marine died from wounds sustained in combat in the western Anbar province, the military said.
– Baghdad: A suicide bomber killed two police commandos and wounded four at a checkpoint in al-Saidiya district, police and Interior Ministry sources said.
– Baghdad: Gunmen shot dead a security guard for top Sunni politician Adnan al-Dulaimi, while he was standing near an intersection in western Baghdad, Dulaimi told Reuters.
– Baghdad: One civilian was killed and five wounded when a roadside bomb targeting a police patrol exploded on a road in eastern Baghdad, police said.
– Kut: Gunmen killed a policeman on Sunday in Kut, 170 km (105 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.
– Mosul: Gunmen killed a police officer on Sunday in Mosul, police said.
– Mosul: A policeman was killed and six people wounded — four police and two insurgents — in clashes in Mosul, police said.
– Baquba: A bomb outside a shop killed a policeman and wounded five people. Police had gone to recover the body of a Shi’ite man killed by gunmen in the religiously mixed city of Baquba, police said.
– Mosul: A policeman and a civilian were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Iraqi soldiers killed three gunmen in a separate incident. Gunmen killed a Kurdish man in the city on Sunday, police added.
– Near Fallujah: The body of a policeman was found with bullet wounds in his head and chest near Fallujah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.
– Iskandariya: Gunmen shot dead two undercover policemen and their driver in their car in Iskandariya 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
Note that this report excludes incidences of sectarian violence aimed at civilians, as opposed to acts of resistance against the occupying forces and their puppets in the Iraqi ‘state’.
Increased sectarian violence
In addition to the steady onslaught of the heroic Iraqi resistance, there has also been a worrying increase in activity by sectarian militias, most of which have direct links with the government (and the occupation) and in particular the Interior Ministry. The reader must be careful not to confuse these groups with the genuine Iraqi resistance. These militias are doing the dirty work of the occupiers, blowing up mosques and civilian centres in an attempt to incite a full-scale civil war along confessional lines. The vast majority of the Iraqi population is well aware of this fact, and the close ties between the militias and the puppet Iraqi government is a significant factor in the near-universal contempt for the government. Saddam Hussein, who has been openly calling for the victory of the Iraqi resistance, said in relation to the sectarian violence which has been taking place: “My conscience tells me that the great people of Iraq have nothing to do with these acts” (BBC News, 15 March).
The militias are tied to the occupation and to the Iraqi puppet government at all levels. One of the main groups involved in sectarian operations, the Badr organisation, is the armed wing of Sciri (Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq), described by Jonathan Steele in The Guardian as “a leading Shia political party which supported the invasion and is Washington’s main interlocutor in the Shia coalition”. Sciri and its Badr organisation have provided willing assistance to the occupiers on every front since the early days of preparation for the war. Badr is famous for its attacks on Sunni targets, and yet it was described by former puppet ‘prime minister’ Ibrahim Jaafari as a “shield” defending Iraq.
As Robert Fisk pointed out in his article in The Independent of 20 March, “‘Operation Swarmer’ is now supposedly targeting those who want a civil war in Iraq. Some of the men who are trying to provoke civil war, however, work for the Iraqi Interior Ministry, and are paid, ultimately, by us” (‘The march of folly, that has led to a bloodbath’).
The numbers involved in sectarian sabotage activity are small in comparison with the human force of the legitimate Iraqi resistance, and certainly the militias enjoy practically no support among the Iraqi population, in contrast to the resistance, which enjoys tremendous support and respect. Although the militias are currently causing a lot of damage and killing a lot of people, it must be borne in mind that their targets are considerably easier than those of the resistance – detonating a bomb in a mosque or marketplace with no security is relatively simple; blowing up a tank or ambushing a patrol is not.
The sectarian militias are a tool being used by the US and British occupiers to attempt to divide the Iraqi people and consequently weaken their resistance. We are absolutely confident that the Iraqi people will not be fooled by this strategy.
Depravity of the occupiers
Such is the level of moral degeneration in the occupying forces (the inevitable result of their participation in a clearly unjust and unpopular war) that ruthless and humiliating violence against unarmed civilians has become commonplace. Even puppet prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has denounced the disgraceful treatment of civilians by the occupying forces: “The multinational forces … do not respect the civilians …They run them over and leave them, or they kill anyone suspicious.” (cited in the Washington Post, 2 June). For example, the Financial Times of 22 June reported that the US military had charged eight US troopers with kidnapping and murdering an unarmed, handicapped Iraqi civilian and then attempting to cover up their crime by making it look as though he had been trying to plant a roadside bomb.
The truth is now emerging in relation to the indiscriminate killing of 24 unarmed Iraqis, including 10 women and children and an elderly man in a wheelchair, at Haditha on 19 November last year. Although the US marines involved told military officials that their use of grenades and blind fire was permitted under their combat guidelines when they believed their lives were threatened, investigators have found that the victims died from well-aimed rifle shots to the head and chest, not shrapnel or random fire (see New York Times, 17 June). Civilian witnesses reported that the victims were shot at close range, some while trying to protect their children or praying for their lives.
The Haditha incident has been referred to by a number of bourgeois commentators as a modern-day My Lai for the occupying forces (a massacre committed by U.S. soldiers on hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians, mostly women and children, on March 16, 1968, in the hamlet of My Lai, during the Vietnam War), but the sad fact is that the only thing that makes Haditha stand out is the fact that it has been widely reported. Such incidents are happening all over Iraq, all the time.
Life under occupation
Life for the Iraqi continues to get worse and worse. There is no-one who will try to tell you that life in Iraq is more comfortable than it was in 2003 before the start of the war (even though Iraq had endured 12 years of suffocating sanctions). John Simpson writes that “virtually all basic services are in a worse state now than they were before the invasion … There is less clean water, less sewage control, less gas, less petrol, less power. Baghdad now has an average of only 5.8 hours of electricity a day. At present Iraq is producing 1.8 million barrels of oil a day; just before the invasion the figure was 2.5 million barrels a day.”
“Things are expensive and inflation is high. So is unemployment: perhaps above 50%. There is malnutrition, and the level of infant mortality is still disturbingly high. But in the cities, at any rate, most people seem to get by.
“If you see a US patrol, you should brake sharply and keep away from it. The gunners on the vehicles kill people every day for getting too close to them. Every Iraqi has a horror story about a friend or relative who misunderstood an instruction, often in English, and was shot at …
“[T]here is a real, abiding anger that the richest nation on Earth should have taken over their country and made them even worse off in so many ways than they were before” (‘Iraq invasion: For better or worse?’, BBC News, 20 March).
The money for services and construction has all but dried up, as US funds for the war have been diverted to the fruitless task of tackling the resistance. However, the Chicago Tribune of 29 May did note that construction in Baghdad has not stopped completely – the construction of a new US embassy is underway.
“At a time when most Iraqis are enduring blackouts of up to 22 hours a day, the site is floodlighted by night so work can continue around the clock.
“This is to be the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq, and it will be the biggest embassy in the world. It also is the biggest construction project under way in battered Baghdad, where the only other cranes rising from the skyline belong to Saddam Hussein’s abandoned project to build the world’s biggest mosque.” (‘Giant U.S. Embassy project dismays Iraqis’, May 29)
Even in the ‘Green Zone’ – the 10 sq km area of Baghdad which the occupation forces and their puppets can actually claim to control – life is beginning to get tough. A recently leaked memo to Condoleezza Rice, written by the US Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, gave lie to some of the triumphant proclamations by the US government that the war is as good as won and that life is rapidly improving for the Iraqi people:
“We have begun shredding documents printed out that show local staff surnames. In March a few staff approached us to ask what provisions would we make for them if we evacuate.”
“Temperatures in Baghdad have already reached 115 degrees. Employees all confirm that by the last week of May, they were getting one hour of power for every six hours without.”
“Another employee tells us life outside the Green Zone has become ’emotionally draining”. He claims to attend a funeral ‘every evening”. He, like other local employees, is financially responsible for his immediate and extended families. He revealed that ‘the burden of responsibility’ new stress coming from social circles who increasingly disapprove of the coalition presence, and everyday threats weigh very heavily’.”
The imperialist bandits claimed that they would be freeing Iraq from a ruthless dictator and putting the country on the path to democracy and prosperity. What they have in fact brought is death, misery, poverty and a client government that could comfortably be described as positively sadistic and brutal.
Assault on Ramadi
At the time of going to press, the US/British occupation forces are engaged in an intensive Fallujah-style assault on Ramadi, the capital of the Al Anbar province, around 100 km west of Baghdad. Ramadi has been a stronghold of resistance forces, and is now being subjected to the only warfare the occupation forces are capable of: cowardly, indiscriminate bombing. Mike Whitney writes: “The pattern [in Ramadi] is identical to the previous sieges of other cities in the Sunni region. The water and electricity are cut off, vital food and medical supplies are disrupted, a military cordon and checkpoints are set up, and the air strikes begin pounding away at ‘suspicious’ areas of the city. This paves the way for foot-patrols to go from door to door; destroying personal property; shooting at anything that moves on the streets, and generally terrorizing the people who were left behind.
“The military’s actions are executed with complete impunity knowing that the embedded media will remove any account of atrocities from the official version of events. Ramadi is another test for Rumsfeld’s ‘full spectrum dominance’ of the news cycle. His success is evident in the dearth of coverage from the front-lines and from the complete absence of photos from Falluja and the other pummeled cities.” (www.uruknet.info)
The resistance forces in Ramadi are giving a strong account of themselves, but the tactics of the occupation forces mean that there will inevitably be a high civilian cost, as well as a devastating blow to the infrastructure of the city.
Nonetheless, as with every atrocity committed by the forces of occupation and their Iraqi puppets, the assault on Ramadi will serve to ignite the passions of yet more would-be resistance fighters. As Mao Zedong famously said, the reactionaries pick up a rock only to drop it on their own feet. Every turn the occupiers take, they find their actions only lead to a growth and strengthening of the heroic Iraqi national resistance.
Meanwhile, the farce that is the trial of Saddam Hussein has been continuing.
Saddam is charged with ordering the illegal arrest of 399 people, torture of women and children, the destruction of farmland and the murder of over 150 people in the aftermath of an assassination attempt on him in the town of Dujail in 1982.
From the start it has been clear that Saddam will not receive fair treatment. Successive judges have gone to considerable lengths to try and silence him and his lawyers (it is to Saddam’s great credit that he has been able to use the court-room to make a number of important statements against the illegal occupation of Iraq). Everything has been pitted in favour of the prosecution. Defence lawyers have been regularly ejected from the court, as have the defendants. Defence witnesses have been intimidated and assaulted (the BBC reported on 12 June that four witnesses who had accused the prosecutor of trying to bribe them have been arrested). Whereas the prosecution was given five months to put its case, the defence was given only 10 court sessions over the course of a month, and was constantly rushed by the judge. Dozens of defence witnesses have been disallowed by the judge. The first chief judge of the trial even resigned as a result of accusations from government officials that he was too lenient towards the defendants. The conduct of the trial has been so outrageous and so blatantly loaded in favour of the prosecution that it has drawn extensive criticism from international legal experts.
The recent murder of leading defence lawyer Khamis al-Obeidi at the hands of hired goons makes it a total of three defence lawyers in Saddam’s case that have been killed. Let no-one say that the US/British occupation and its Iraqi proxies are not worthy of the label ‘fascist’.
In spite of the odds being stacked against them, Saddam and his defence team have put an effective case, with multiple witnesses claiming that the prosecution had tried to bribe them. Some defence witnesses had even been defendants in the Saddam assassination case:
“The second witness had once been a defendant before the Revolutionary Court. He described how he had been acquitted by the judge at the time.
“‘I didn’t want a lawyer because I was innocent but the judge gave me sufficient time to bring a defence lawyer to defend me,’ said the anonymous witness.
“‘I still remember he called me ‘my son’ and I was just a defendant.'” (BBC News, 30 May)
According to a BBC News Online report of 31 May, the blatant perjury of a key prosecution witness was exposed in court:
“Ali Hassan Mohammed al-Haidari testified for the prosecution in December that there had never been an assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein in the town of Dujail on 8 July 1982.
“Any shooting in the town had come from guns being fired in celebration at Saddam Hussein’s visit, he said.
“But on Wednesday the defence played DVD footage of him praising the attack, which triggered a violent crackdown, at a ceremony in Dujail 2004.
“In it, Mr Haidari – who was 14 years old in 1982 – tells the audience that the assassination attempt on the ousted president had been an attempt by ‘sons of Dujail… to kill one of the worst dictators ever.'”
There is no need for us to comment on Saddam’s guilt or innocence in relation to the Dujail incident. Suffice to say that it is not abnormal for there to be repercussions resulting from an assassination attempt. As Tariq Aziz testified: “The Dujail case is part of a chain of assassination operations against officials and I am one of the victims … The president of the state in any country, if faced with an assassination attempt, should take procedures to punish those who conduct and help the operation”. As the defence team pointed out, US President George W Bush signed 152 death warrants while he was governor of Texas; Saddam’s role in the Dujail case was to sign the death warrants of 140 men found guilty under Iraq’s laws. But Saddam’s history is not the issue; the fact is that the trial is simply a vain attempt by Iraq’s imperialist occupiers to justify the horrific crimes they have committed, and are committing, in Iraq.
The Iraq Body Count, which provides a conservative (but at least fact-based) estimate of the numbers of civilian Iraqis killed in the current war, based on newspaper and radio reports, puts the current figure at around 40,000. In reality, it is likely to be at least 150,000. The imperialist occupation of Iraq, not to mention the decade of suffocating sanctions that made way for it, has decimated a once proud country, killing its people, poisoning its children and its environment, plundering its oil and stopping essential services such as the provision of water and electricity. It is universally agreed by even the most right-wing of newspapers that conditions for the people of Iraq are now significantly worse than they were under Saddam. Any schoolchild can see that it is the representatives of the invaders who should be put on the stand, not Saddam. In all likelihood Saddam will be given the death penalty – this fate has no doubt been decided in Washington long ago. No doubt it will be yet another ‘turning point’. But the pseudo-judicial murder of Saddam Hussein will not solve any problems for imperialists; more likely it will become another important focal point to arouse the anti-imperialist anger of the Iraqi resistance.
Coalition collapsing and domestic confidence waning
In late June, Japan’s prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, announced that Japanese troops would be pulling out of Iraq. Although the Japanese government has not admitted as much, popular pressure in Japan is most likely the primary factor in Japan’s decision to pull out.
The war in Iraq was sold to people on the basis of it being a short, sharp mission to remove Saddam Hussein and allegedly to prevent the good civilised people of the imperialist world from being blown up by some or other mad scientist in Baghdad. The war was sold to business on the basis of the quick flow of oil profits. In the eyes of any thinking person, it has been an unmitigated failure on both counts. Consequently it is extremely difficult for governments to continue to justify their presence in Iraq to their electorates.
Italy, another country where the war has been deeply unpopular, has also announced that its troops will be leaving Iraq in the near future, joining a set of former coalition members that includes Spain, Holland, Ukraine, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Honduras. Australia and South Korea are planning to dramatically reduce the number of troops they have deployed in Iraq.
Writing in the Financial Times of 20 June, Guy Dinmore and David Pilling remark dryly that “[t]he shrinking US ‘coalition of the willing’ in Iraq has come to resemble more a coalition of the reluctant, as allies weigh up the costs of continued involvement in an unpopular war against the benefits of backing President George W. Bush for the rest of his second term … Anthony Cordesman, senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the changes in the coalition were much more important for the political symbolism than operational reality. The war, he said, had led to serious political problems at home for contributing states as public support deteriorated.
“‘A steady pace of withdrawal and cuts from the coalition of the willing sends a message that the war does not have the support … and nor does the US,’ he said.”
Even in the US, a number of high-profile politicians – including former presidential candidate John Kerry, who at the time of the presidential election supported the war – have started calling for the troops to be reduced/withdrawn. This movement, motivated not by a love of peace and humanity but by a love for capital and a desire to preserve it (the current price tag for the war is around $318 bn for the US alone, and there’s no sign of the oil flowing freely any time soon), is gaining ground daily. Democratic member of the senate Russ Feingold questioned the current policy on Iraq in the following terms: “Does it make sense to continue to pour virtually all our resources into an Iraq war that is not working?” Carl Levin described the current “open-ended commitment” as a “formula for dependency”.
Especially embarrassing for the US government is the flurry of denunciations of the war which has emerged from retired (but respected) senior officers of the US army, “none of them putting it more pithily than Lieutenant-General William Odom, with an article in Foreign Policy magazine under the unambiguous headline: ‘Cut and run? You bet.'” (‘Iraq is a full-scale military balls-up’, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Guardian, 23 June)
With the official US military death toll now over 2,500, the US population is very seriously questioning the validity of the war. According to the Pentagon, over 5,500 American and nearly 1,000 British soldiers have deserted since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq. The Daily Mail of 29 May reported that a total of 8,600 troops have gone absent without leave since 2003.
In Britain, the war effort received a further setback when Michael Ancram, former shadow foreign secretary, became the most senior British politician so far to call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, saying “Given … the fact that there is a fast-diminishing prospect of further positive achievement … is it time now with honour and dignity and pride to bring our troops home?” (cited in the Financial Times, 22 June)
According to the Financial Times of 19 June, a recent opinion poll indicated that 36% of Europeans identify the US as the greatest threat to global security (‘US still main threat to stability in European eyes’). The fact is that the populations of the occupying countries now realise that they were hoodwinked three years ago. In 2003, it was only the most politically astute that would claim that the war in Iraq was primarily motivated by a need for cheap oil. Now, this argument is widely accepted as being true. The British and US governments are both experiencing very tough times at the opinion polls, and the number one reason is the war in Iraq.
No plan for withdrawal
Although new Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki has been making noises about setting a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, the US administration has been very careful to distance itself from any comments made by Iraqi government officials implying that troop numbers are likely to be reduced in the near future. The US and Britain know perfectly well that there is very little light at the end of the tunnel and that they are losing the war against the Iraqi resistance. But the logic of imperialism – the desperate need to conquer markets and raw materials and find avenues of investment – prevents them from simply pulling out.
According to the Financial Times of 23 June, “Mowaffak al-Rubbaie, the Iraqi national security adviser, said that while there was no ‘defined timetable’ for coalition troops to leave Iraq, there was an ‘unofficial roadmap’ for troop reductions based on ‘the achievement of set objectives for restoring security in Iraq’.
“President George W. Bush has refused to outline a timetable to remove US troops from Iraq. But Mr Rubbaie said the Iraqi government hoped to have full control of the country by the end of 2008.
“‘This will mean a significant troop reduction. We envisage the US troop presence by year’s end to be under 100,000, with most of the remaining troops to return home by the end of 2007,’ wrote Mr Rubbaie.
“However, a State Department official reaffirmed the US position that the ‘only withdrawal that can occur’ would be based on conditions, not timelines.”
We would add that the occupiers’ withdrawal can, and almost certainly will, be based on fleeing the guns of the Iraqi national resistance.
We salute the heroic Iraqi resistance fighters, who are sacrificing everything in the name of freeing their country and struggling against imperialism.
VICTORY TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE, LED BY THE IRAQI RESISTANCE!