Occupation wades deeper in Iraqi blood
All carefully crafted pretence that it was now “all over bar the shouting”, with the occupation supposedly winding down, the resistance dormant and Iraq returning to “business as usual”, was rudely dispatched by the violent upheavals accompanying and following the election.
According to the testimony of eyewitnesses recorded by the New York Times (3 April), up to a dozen men dressed in “what resembled American and Iraqi military uniforms” arrived in a neighbourhood of Hawr Rajab, near Baghdad, on 2 April “in a minibus and Iraqi military and police vehicles”. They wore black masks and carried what looked like M-16 rifles, the US army’s weapon of choice. Some of the men spoke English, which was translated into Arabic by an interpreter. Claiming to be a joint unit of US and Iraqi soldiers investigating a crime, they gathered people at the home of an Awakening Council member, separated the adults from the children and then killed all the adults. At nearby Mahmudiya Hospital the following day 25 coffins were trucked in for the deceased. US army spokesman Jay Ostrich was curiously defensive, insisting that “By no means were American service members involved”.
On Sunday 4 April, by the Financial Times account, “three co-ordinated suicide bombs rocked Baghdad … killing up to 41 people and wounding more than 200 others” (FT, 4 April 2010). The explosions occurred in the vicinity of the German, Egyptian and Iranian embassies. A fourth suicide bombing was said to have been forestalled, this time against the puppet government’s “protective services” (NYT, 4 April). A puppet spokesman also reported that two mortar shells were fired into the Green Zone the same day. Meanwhile at least six other attacks took place in Hilla, Mosul and the Baquba area, leaving at least four dead and 30 wounded.
But still no credible puppet regime in sight
Whilst imperialism may derive some ghoulish satisfaction from the apparent degree to which some of the thrust of the anti-occupation forces has been vitiated by the sectarianism so sedulously encouraged by the occupiers – with attacks upon the occupation forces and their quislings and apologists supplemented by actions of a less welcome character– there is nothing in the protracted post-election squabbling to offer real comfort to Washington.
Despite having imposed yet another set of fraudulent elections upon the Iraqi people on 7 March, conducted as always under the shadow of the occupier’s gun, Washington now finds itself further away than ever from its goal of establishing a puppet regime with sufficient credibility to serve as guarantor for US interests in the region.
The failure of Maliki’s open sectarianism to win the election for his State of Law party has given Allawi’s Iraqiya Coalition a narrow lead (91 seats against 89), but one which he can only exploit through non-sectarian alliance with other groupings. Notable amongst these are the Iraqi National Alliance. Of the 70 seats won by this alliance, a full 40 went to the Sadrist faction. The leader of this political faction – whose Mehdi Army fought memorably against the occupation two years ago, in Basra and Baghdad – is now proposing a referendum to decide who should be the new prime minister.
The International Herald Tribune (‘Iraqi Sunnis expect allegiance shift to bear fruit’, 16 April) claims that much of the new support among Sunnis for Allawi’s coalition is being drained from the formerly influential Islamic Party. It seems that the IP’s treacherous role in persuading tribal leaders to join forces with the invaders lost it the support of many patriots, some of whom are now drawn to the avowedly non-sectarian politics of the Iraqiya Coalition.
How much store to set by Allawi’s avowals is dubious, but it will certainly give no comfort to Washington to see its classic divide-and-rule tactics – backing first one and then another confessional or national grouping the better to impose its own interests upon all – now descending into a bloody and uncontrollable chaos which can only be ended through a united and strengthened insurgency.
Iran and her neighbours
Least of all will Washington be cheered by the measured advice now being offered by Teheran, whose status as near neighbour and potential target lends its words weight. According to Rod Nordland in the International Herald Tribune (‘Iran wants Sunnis in Iraqi politics’, 10 April), Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad told a news conference “that any successful coalition would have to include Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya political alliance, which won a narrow plurality of the parliamentary seats in the March 7 elections, thanks to votes from Sunnis and secular Iraqis”. Whereas Allawi had hitherto been critical of those who sought Teheran’s political assistance, his coalition had now solicited that assistance for itself. Asked about the Iranian ambassador’s comments, his US counterpart responded, “My suggestion to him would be to leave that up to the Iraqis” – advice which would more appropriately be offered to his own government in Washington. As President Ahmadinejad said in a recent speech, “The region has no need for alien troops and they should return home and let the regional states take care of their own affairs. They must leave the region and this is not a request but an order, and the will of the regional nations” (Al Jazeera, 18 April).
Clearly Teheran’s policy with regard to Iraq, as to everything else, is dictated primarily by the need to defend Iran’s own national interests. With the latest warmongering memo from US Defence Secretary Robert Gates alternately leaked and retracted, it is clearly the intention to go on building up the psychological pressure against the Iranian nation. In particular, Iran will do whatever she can to prevent imperialist aggression against her from being launched from occupied Iraq.
Yet in defending her own national interests, Teheran is also posing a more fundamental challenge to Washington’s hegemony in the Middle East, acting as a rallying centre for other nations resisting US imperialism and Zionism. Whilst Iran was, with great ostentation, being banned from talks in Washington preparatory to the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference, another set of nuclear talks was taking place in Teheran, attended by politicians and experts from over 70 countries (as compared with the 47 nations represented in the US).
Whilst the Washington meeting pretended to be about disarmament, it happily welcomed Israel to the fold (not a signatory to the NPT, unlike Iran) and concerned itself solely with maintaining the existing monopoly on vast nuclear arsenals held by large and powerful countries. The purpose of the talks in Teheran was quite different, tackling the issue of nuclear energy and nuclear non-proliferation in a far more honest fashion. As the spokesman for the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of Iran’s Parliament, Kazem Jalali, pointed out, “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) pursues two main goals, which include preparing the ground for access to peaceful nuclear technology and making efforts to disarm nuclear-armed countries around the world. However, the NPT has succeeded in achieving neither of these two goals”.
Jalali explained how the interests of developing countries stood in contradiction with those of the US hegemonists: “The first front, led by the US, seeks to limit countries, which intend to access peaceful nuclear technology while the second front is comprised of non-nuclear countries, which call for worldwide disarmament” (Press TV, 19 April). So whilst US imperialism stifles Iran’s voice at the Washington talks (and raises a stink because opposition leader Khatami is not meanwhile permitted to swan off to Japan to posture at some other nuclear talks), Teheran rallies the wretched of the earth behind the cry: “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for no one” (Press TV, 17 April).
Syria’s foreign minister, noting that the Teheran “conference provides a great opportunity to push for the implementation of nuclear disarmament goals” underlined the fact that “Israel, with the numerous atomic warheads it has in its stockpile, poses the biggest nuclear threat to the Middle East” (Press TV, 17 April). Syria has good grounds for this assertion, given the endless attempts by Israel to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, including a recent ground incursion into the border town of Abbassiyeh and repeated violations of Lebanese airspace by reconnaissance drones, in addition to intolerable meddling in the fraternal relations between Lebanon and Syria.
Whilst many arab governments remain in thrall to the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes, their peoples do not share their cowardice. Whilst Cairo blocks aid convoys and seals tunnels into Gaza, the Egyptian masses are roused in solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters. Under these circumstances, it is harder than ever to persuade people to wait for Obama to roll out yet another “Road Map” to a non-existent “Two State Solution”, especially when the Zionists take the occasion of the US vice-president’s recent visit to announce the yet more vigorous ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem.
Israel: the end draws nearer
It was back in 2007 that the then Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, blurted out that “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished.” He then would surely find it hard to disagree with the conclusions more recently drawn by Ahmadinejad, if not the sentiments. The president said that Israel, “the main instigator of conflict” in the Middle East, is on its way to collapse, declaring “This is the will of the regional nations that after 60 odd years, the root of this corrupt microbe and the main reason for insecurity in the region be pulled out” (Al Jazeera, 18 April).
Nor can Zionism rely for ever upon the divisions which it sows in the camp of national liberation. Many of those who identify themselves with Fatah will echo the sentiments of Mustafa Barghouthi (FT, 5 April) when he writes that “The time has come to tell Washington that the viability of the two-state solution is being destroyed on Barack Obama’s watch”, and that “When Washington fails to act decisively towards this festering conflict, it is in fact acting decisively”. And whilst for some the campaigns of civil disobedience announced by Fatah in the West Bank may primarily serve the purpose of restoring the leadership faction’s dented credibility, most Palestinians will embrace all and every means at their disposal to hasten the demolition of the apartheid state.
In a development that will send a chill down Zionist spines, at massive rallies in Gaza to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day – giving support to the 7,000 prisoners held by the state of Israel – representatives of both Hamas and Fatah called for the prisoners to be freed. Raafat Hamdouna from Fatah said that the two sides “must put aside anything that can harm our unity”, whilst Ismail Haniya of Hamas called for Palestinian reconciliation, urging the people to fight the occupation “by any means”. Meanwhile in Ramallah nearly a thousand took to the streets bearing Palestinian flags and photos of their jailed relatives (Al Jazeera, 17 April).
The unity of the Palestinian struggle will spell the end for Israel.