No peace in Iraq

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Violence continues to sweep across the supposedly ‘secure’ Iraq that US forces left in December. By the beginning of February 434 Iraqis had been killed. On 24 February at least 60 more were killed when Sunni groups attacked Iraqi security forces. 25 Iraqi police were shot in Haditha on 6 March and 13 people died in explosions in Tal Afar two days later. Iraqi legislators have passed a bill to buy 350 armoured vehicles for their own use.

The violence stems from Prime Minister Al Maliki’s attempts to suppress the mainly Sunni Iraqiya opposition. Although Iraqiya has ended its boycott of parliament, Iraqi Vice-President Tariq Al Hashemi remains in hiding in the Kurdish north after being charged by Al Maliki for running death squads. Iraqiya MP Haidar Al Mulla has also been threatened with prosecution for questioning the independence of the judiciary and accusing Al Maliki of trying to quash any criticism of his rule.

Behind this apparently internal dispute lie the interests of the US and regional powers. Ayad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya, is a long-time CIA asset and was the imperialists’ choice as interim prime minister in 2004. Turkey and Saudi Arabia funded Iraqiya’s election campaign in 2010. They want a greater say for Iraqiya and for Allawi to oversee the main security ministries. All are concerned that the predominantly Shia administration in Iraq will allow Iran greater influence in the country. Turkey also does not want an independent Kurdish state established in the north. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan accused Al Maliki of encouraging violence against Sunnis, saying, ‘It is impossible for us to remain silent.’ According to a US government spokesman, the US wishes to negotiate ‘broad defence ties to Iraq, similar to American relationships with other nations in the Gulf’. The US already has 40,000 troops in the Gulf, including 25,000 in neighbouring Kuwait, together with a naval base in Bahrain and access to several air bases. The US intends to use drones to oversee its huge embassy in Baghdad and assist regional security officers with mission planning and execution – in other words, to spy on Iran.

Al Maliki has signalled that he will not side directly with Iran. However, he opposes the use of US drones. One member of Al Maliki’s government said, ‘If they are afraid about their diplomats being attacked in Iraq, then they can take them out of the country.’

Jim Craven

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 226 April/May 2012

 

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