Iraq: Obama’s great vanishing trick

On 4 June President Obama made a speech at Cairo University that was intended to cement ‘better relations’ between the US and the Muslim world. The cornerstone of the speech was a promise that the US would keep no bases in Iraq and would withdraw its military forces from the country by the end of 2011. Fine words, but reality does not mirror them. Obama has stated that only ‘combat’ troops will be withdrawn; such troops make up only about a third of the 130,000 US forces still in Iraq. The rest of the military personnel have now been re-labelled ‘advisors’ so that they can stay on in the areas vacated by ‘combat’ troops.

 

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US extends Afghan war into Pakistan

‘Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.’ Thus, in the first significant statement of his in­augural address, President Obama reiterated US imperialism’s justification for its military rampage in pursuit of global domination. In February he announced that 17,000 extra US troops will be sent to Afghanistan this spring. More will follow later in the year. Obama has requested $75 billion this year and $130 billion next year for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to a 4% increase in the Pentagon budget, bringing it to $534 billion: over $23,000 a second. JIM CRAVEN reports.

The US is preparing more intense aggression over a wider area. Rules of engagement suggested by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to try and prevent civilian casualties were dismissed as ‘unworkable’ by US/ NATO commanders. NATO’s senior military commander General John Craddock called for the indiscriminate shooting of alleged drug traffickers. US army chief General George Casey spoke of ‘no quick fixes’, expecting the military to be in Afghanistan in ten years’ time. The arena of war is now referred to as ‘AFPAK’ – Afghanistan and Pakistan combined. Within days of his inauguration, Obama sanctioned missile attacks on Pakistani villages that killed 22 people, including children; attacks that have continued with bloody regularity since. Rustam Shah Mohmand, former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan, said, ‘If anything, the policy [of missile attacks] is going to be more focused, more aggressive under Obama.’

 

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Iraq – internal conflicts threaten US plans

Between 92,000 and 107,000 US combat troops are to leave Iraq by the end of August 2010, four months later than Obama promised in his election campaign. His top generals wanted an even later date. Up to 50,000 troops will remain in the country. These troops are supposed to leave by the end of 2011. However, Defence Secretary Robert Gates has argued for ‘some very modest-sized presence for training and helping’ beyond 2011. Furthermore, a get-out clause in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) allows the Iraqi government to ‘request continued US presence after the 2011 deadline’. The collaborationist Iraqi regime will be dependent on US money and weapons to maintain its power.

Corruption and election apathy
In January’s provincial elections Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki appeared to strengthen his position. His State of the Law coalition now dominates the councils in 10 provinces. Al Maliki, however, has been accused of using the state machinery to buy political support, giving money to tribal councils in return for votes, using the government-controlled media and doling out patronage and jobs. Turnout in the election was 51%, less than in 2005. In Baghdad the turnout was just 40%. As one Baghdad woman told the Financial Times, ‘What’s the point? All the local councils do is give money to their friends.’ In Salahaddin province Faka’a Ahmed Jihad concurred, ‘Electricity, water and employment, these are the three main things. But usually, everyone who comes along just pockets the money and changes nothing.’ The US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is investigating the misuse of $125 billion of aid, including $50 billion that has ‘gone missing’. Senior US military officers are under suspicion.

 

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Occupation of Iraq – no end in sight

FRFI 207 February / March 2009

When Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al Zaidi threw his shoes at President Bush during a Baghdad press conference last December shouting, ‘This is a farewell kiss. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq’, he no doubt hoped to be seeing the end not only of Bush but also the whole of the imperialist occupying forces. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the US and the Iraqi governments in November calls for US troops to be withdrawn from Iraqi towns and cities by 30 June this year and from the whole of Iraq by the end of 2011. Opposition to the occupation by the people of Iraq and neighbouring governments, principally Iran, forced the Iraqi government to insist on far more than the US initially wanted to concede. But they both knew that the Iraqi government and President Al Maliki had to be able to pose as ending the occupation; otherwise the followers of Moqtada Al Sadr, who, unlike the Iraqi government, have consistently opposed the occupation, were likely to make sweeping gains in the forthcoming provincial elections. SOFA, however, includes provision for it to be cancelled by either side at any time.

 

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Iraq: Imperialists attempt an orderly retreat

FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009

Months of wrangling resulted in a vote for the Status of Forces Agreement between the US and Iraq by the Iraqi parliament on 27 November. ‘All US forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than 31 December 2011.’ Make no mistake: if this is enforced it will be a defeat for US imperialism. All US forces are to pull out from cities, towns and villages ‘on a date no later than 30 June 2009’. From the boast of ‘Mission Accomplished’ in 2003 to the so-called victory of the surge in 2007, the reality is that the ground has given way beneath the imperialists’ feet until they stumbled and fell and could no longer claim success. They have accepted a way out that allows them to claim an orderly withdrawal – leaving behind over one million Iraqi dead, and, thus far, 4,136 US soldiers killed.

 

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Afghan War: Problems deepen as more troops are promised

In October, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, commander of the 16th Air Assault Brigade, told the Daily Telegraph, ‘We’re not going to win this.’ He had just returned from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. Three months earlier Carleton-Smith had claimed that the Taliban leadership had been ‘decapitated’ and that the ‘tipping point’ in favour of the occupation forces had been reached.

The imperialist’s exasperation was emphasised by Major Will Pike, a former serving officer in Afghanistan, saying, ‘No real thought is going into what we are doing and why. Who is in charge of the campaign in Afghanistan – the Secretary of State for Defence, the Foreign Secretary or the Minister for International Development?’ Major Pike highlighted the dilemma for British imperialism, the second biggest imperial power in terms of overseas assets, yet militarily too weak to defend its global interests without riding on the back of the US. He said, ‘If the UK wants to play on this stage, across the world, then the will has to be backed by the resources. Otherwise it’s a bit of a con.’ Jim Craven reports.

 

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Afghan war escalates: Pakistan under threat

US presidential candidate Barack Obama calls the tragedy in Afghanistan a ‘good war’, adding ‘we must win...there is no other option’. He has promised to send 10,000 extra troops to ‘finish the job in Afghanistan’. Far from winning, the imperialist occupation forces are stuck in quicksand and the more forces they throw in the more they will sink. Jim Craven reports.

A poll carried out by the Canadian Globe and Mail earlier this year showed that only 14% of Afghans wanted the occupying forces to leave the country immediately. However, more than half wanted them out within three to five years, 74% wanted negotiations with the Taliban and 54% would support a coalition government with the Taliban, indicating that a majority of the Afghan people does not see the war as Obama does; as a war to be won by the invaders. Furthermore, only a small minority of Afghans in the poll saw the Taliban as a united political force. The Globe and Mail concluded that, ‘The typical Taliban foot soldier … is not a global jihadist’… but a young man who has had someone he ‘knows or loves …killed by a bomb dropped from the sky’ and ‘fervently believes that expelling the foreigners will set things right in his troubled country’.

 

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Iraq: ‘sustained progress’ is ‘fragile and reversible’

Speaking of Iraq this summer President Bush claimed, ‘A significant reason for the sustained progress is the success of the surge’. It is thankfully true that casualties have fallen greatly in the past year, but that is only in comparison with the worst period of sectarian conflict. According to Iraqi government figures there were 851 Iraqis killed in July of this year, 300 more than in June. More than 3,000 people have been killed by Apache helicopter attacks alone in the past year. The imperialists launched 200 Hellfire missile attacks around Baghdad in the early summer compared with just six in the previous three months.

 

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COLONISING IRAQ

The Bush administration is desperately trying to secure the colonisation of Iraq and control of its resources before the President leaves office. The US wants to impose a Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) and a strategic framework agreement on Iraq that will ensure its long-term military domination of the country and allow the US to threaten other countries in the region, notably Iran. The agreements are reminiscent of those imposed on Iraq by British imperialism in the 1920s. Jim Craven reports.

 

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Divisions in NATO aid Afghan resistance

FRFI 203 June / July 2008

In 2006, the then Labour Defence Secretary, John Reid, claimed British forces were in Afghani­stan to ‘help and protect the Afghan people reconstruct their own economy and democracy’. The following year was the deadliest since the 2001 invasion with over 6,200 Afghan people killed. Louise Arbour, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, said that civilian casualties have reached ‘alarming levels’ and an Oxfam report said the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan was ‘comparable with sub-Saharan Africa’.

With the spring the struggle in Afghanistan has intensified again. The US launched unmanned Predator aircraft attacks on the Pakistan border and urged the Pakistan government to move troops into the region. Pashtuns on both sides of the border united. The resistance spread into the Swat Valley and rockets were fired at the provincial capital Peshawar. The Pakistan army suffered thousands of casualties.

 

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Iraqi poor resist imperialist onslaught

Much of the British media has fallen silent on Iraq. However, most recent attempts by the US, Britain and the Iraqi puppet government forces to secure the imperialist occupation of Iraq is meeting fierce resistance from sections of the Iraqi working class. The present onslaught began on 24 March when 15,000 Iraqi troops and another 15,000 members of the Iraqi police force attacked militia forces in Basra. At least 40 people were killed and 200 injured in the first two days of fighting. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki demanded that the militia disarm within three days. He proclaimed there would be, ‘No retreat, no talks, no negotiations.’ Al Maliki labelled the militias ‘criminals’ and ‘terrorists’, but the only target of his attack was the Mehdi Army, supporters of the Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr. The militia supporting Al Maliki’s own Dawa Party and the Badr Organisation, supporters of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), were not targeted. Many of the Iraqi government forces are Badr militia in uniform. Jim Craven reports.

 

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Iraq ‘surge success’ unravels

The fires beneath the ashes still burned and have burst into flames. On the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, 20 March, the US and British governments gave the impression of victory. Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband said, ‘I think the war itself was a remarkable victory… building the peace has been more difficult but indications over the last year or two have been more encouraging about change’. President Bush told US forces that the ‘surge’ had ‘opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terrorism’. Three days later four US soldiers were blown up, bringing the death toll for US soldiers in Iraq to 4,000. On 25 March the Iraqi army attacked the Shia population’s biggest militia, the Mehdi Army, in Basra, unleashing clashes from Basra to Baghdad as the militia fought back. Four days into the fighting the Mehdi Army still commanded much of Basra. Mortars and rockets fired from Baghdad’s Shia neighbourhoods struck the Green Zone containing the US embassy and Iraqi government. US General Petraeus accused Iran of supplying the weapons and Baghdad was placed under a three day curfew. If this is ‘victory’ what would defeat look like? Jim Craven and Trevor Rayne report.

 

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IRAQ – resistance beyond the ‘surge’

FRFI 201 February / March 2008

The media have been feeding us images of life returning to normal in Iraq. They would have us believe that the US ‘surge’ has turned the tide and that perhaps the invasion and occupation have been worthwhile after all. The Daily Telegraph, alongside a picture of the man smiling and waving, voted General Petraeus, architect of the ‘surge’, their ‘Person of the Year’. It said, ‘Where once Iraqis saw the glass as virtually empty, now they can see a day when it might be half full’ –a cruel metaphor at a time when fewer than a third of the Iraqi people have access to safe water, cholera has broken out in the poorest parts of Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan and water-borne diarrhoea is the second-biggest killer amongst Iraqi children. More than nine million Iraqis are living below the poverty line. Women and children have to beg or prostitute themselves to feed their families. The number of items available on government rations has just been halved. One in five children has stunted growth because of malnutrition. What sort of warped humanity gains comfort from these conditions? Only those longing for just enough improvement to begin the plunder of Iraq’s oil and resources. JIM CRAVEN reports.

 

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IRAQ: Normalising genocide

FRFI 200 December 2007 / January 2008

The war on Iraq has been removed from the headlines, except for reports of British or US soldiers’ deaths. We are fed the occasional lie that ‘life in Baghdad is returning to normal’ and that ‘the surge is working’. We are being conditioned to accept war as normal. Meanwhile, the leading groups on the British left squabble in public over the legacy of the Stop the War Movement and the remains of Respect, and they build nothing, absolutely nothing, to oppose the warmongering British Labour government. JIM CRAVEN reports on the war in Iraq.

 

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Iraq: bloody reality behind the lies

FRFI 199 October / November 2007

September’s report by General Petraeus on the progress of the so-called ‘surge’ was always going to be ambiguous, for the reality is too obviously horrific. Accordingly Petraeus, commander of US forces in Iraq, claimed modest success in reducing sectarian violence and in preparing the Iraqi security forces so that he could plead more time was necessary for the ‘surge’ to work. Since the military aims of the ‘surge’ were vague, Petraeus’s report was never going to give a clear judgement on the success or failure of the supposedly short-term strategy. He was left, therefore, to say that the undefined tasks were unfinished and so make the continuing US occupation of Iraq seem inevitable. The political purpose of the ‘surge’ was to give a new impetus to the occupation and defuse the mounting criticism of President Bush. In that sense, the ‘surge’ and Petraeus’s report have done their job. Jim Craven reports.

 

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Iraq: Resistance grows to imperialists’ bloody surge

FRFI 198 August / September 2007

At the end of May, President Bush warned the US people to ‘prepare for a bloody summer of heavy fighting and loss of life’. In the three months to mid-July 2007 331 US soldiers were killed and 2,029 wounded in Iraq, the bloodiest three months for the US since it and Britain invaded the country in March 2003. From early June to mid-July 13 British soldiers were killed in Iraq. The so-called troop ‘surge’ was reaping its predicted toll on US and British soldiers and taking thousands of Iraqi lives. JIM CRAVEN and TREVOR RAYNE report.

 

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Imperialists launch Afghan offensive

In Afghanistan occupying imperialist forces and puppet government troops have launched a major exercise to prevent the spring offensive by the Afghan resistance. Code-named Achilles, the operation has been focused on Helmand Province in the south and in the western part of the country towards the Iranian border. Both the US and Britain have claimed that Iran is supplying weapons to the resistance, but the move is no doubt associated with preparing for a possible strike on Iran.

Controlled by US commanders, Operation Achilles has involved 4,500 troops backed by air strikes and Apache helicopters. The imperialists claim to have killed 145 resistance fighters in battles in Shindbad and the Sangin Valley and to have killed the main Taliban leader in the area. They always describe all resistance fighters as Taliban but the reality is that large numbers of the Afghan people now support the resistance because of the poverty and misery they are suffering under the corrupt puppet regime of Hamid Karzai and because of the war crimes committed by the occupying forces. In March, US forces went on a killing spree after one of their vehicles was hit by a suicide bomb. They fired indiscriminately at anyone fleeing the scene. Ten civilians were killed, including a four-year-old girl, a baby boy and three elderly villagers, and 33 were wounded. The US military banned media reports of the event. In the US the family Sergeant Patrick Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2004, accused the Pentagon of lying about his death. The Pentagon had said Sgt Tillman had died in a heroic action when in fact he had been killed by US forces in a so-called ‘friendly fire’ incident.

 

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Imperialist surge means more misery for Iraq

On 1 May 2003 President Bush stood on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in front of a banner proclaiming ‘Mission Accomplished’ and announced that ‘major combat operations are over’. Four years later to the day Bush vetoed a US Congressional bill calling for combat troops to be withdrawn from Iraq next year and refused to set any date for the end of the occupation. Since the war began over 650,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. 3,401 US and 148 British service personnel had been killed by early May 2007, 104 US and 12 British troops were killed in April. The so-called ‘surge’ of 20,000 extra US troops that began in mid-February is failing in its proclaimed objective to establish security by this summer. A further two US military brigades are to be deployed. JIM CRAVEN reports.

At the beginning of April the Iraqi government said civilian deaths had increased by 13% and the US military admitted that suicide and car bombs in the whole of Iraq had jumped 30% since the surge began. The year to the end of March was the bloodiest of the war so far, accounting for 50% of all Iraqi civilian deaths; 78% up on the previous year. Fatal suicide bombs, car bombs and roadside bombs had doubled and fatal mortar attacks had quadrupled. Even the heavily defended Green Zone in Baghdad, considered a sanctuary for imperialist and Iraqi puppet officials, was not safe. Resistance fighters attacked it on six occasions in the last week of March. Rocket attacks there killed a US soldier and a contractor. On 12 April a bomb attack by resistance fighters shook the Iraqi parliament building. On 24 April nine US soldiers were killed and at least 20 wounded in an attack on the US headquarters in Diyala.

 

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IRAQ: AN ERA OF PERPETUAL WAR

FRFI 196 April / May 2007

The spate of reports and critical debate in the US has defused mounting pressure on the Bush administration, allowing it to escalate the violence in Iraq under the guise of one last push either to total victory or withdrawal. But the US has no intention of pulling out of Iraq. Withdrawal would not simply be a sign of failure and defeat in Iraq but a major blow to the US strategy of global domination through the use or threat of overwhelming military force. The US relies upon this military power to keep in check political challenges from imperialist rivals such as the EU and Japan, from rising powers such as China and Russia, from opposition movements within allied and puppet regimes and from so-called ‘rogue regimes’. Political hegemony bolsters the US against growing economic threats: for the US ruling class the key issue is control over Middle East oil. JIM CRAVEN reports.

 

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IRAQ: IMPERIALISTS BUNKER DOWN

FRFI 195 February / March 2007

In December 2006, following the defeat of the Republican majorities in Congress and with the critical report of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) pending, there was much speculation in the bourgeois media that the US and Britain would begin to withdraw from Iraq. A US Marine Corp Intelligence Report stated,‘the social and political situation has deteriorated to such a point that US and Iraqi troops are no longer capable of defeating the insurgency’. Colin Powell, President Bush’s ex- Secretary of State admitted the US army was ‘about broken’. Only 9% of the US population believed the war could be won; 70% wanted the new Congress to withdraw troops within six months. Yet, on 10 January President Bush announced he would be sending an additional 21,500 US soldiers. Why did this happen?

 

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IRAQ: IMPERIALISTS DOWN now get them out

FRFI 194 December 2006 / January 2007

The determined resistance of the Iraqi people to the occupation of their country and growing divisions among the ruling classes in the US and Britain have forced a critical reassessment of policy by the imperialist governments. In the November US mid-term elections the Republicans lost control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, forcing the immediate resignation of leading warmonger Defence Secretary Rumsfeld. Within a few days of the election President Bush was in discussion with the Iraq Study Group (ISG) about changes in policy. JIM CRAVEN reports.

In September, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported ‘the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism’ and the ‘occupation and injustice’ had fuelled what it called ‘violent jihad’. This was followed in October by comments from the previously loyal Republican leader of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, who said there was ‘a very serious situation’ in Iraq and events were ‘simply drifting sideways’. A US diplomat told the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera that the US had shown ‘arrogance’ and ‘stupidity’ in Iraq, while another US diplomat and consultant to the ISG, David Mack, said, ‘We are really at a point where any talk of a victory is an illusion.’

 

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Iraq & Afghanistan: Imperialism's crusade

FRFI 193 October / November 2006

‘It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.’

In a speech to the American Legion in Salt Lake City at the beginning of September, President Bush said, ‘The war we are fighting today is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.’ Coming from Bush this was a remarkably accurate statement. It indicates that the ruling classes in the imperialist countries understand that what is at stake in the present struggles in the Middle East and elsewhere may be the very survival of imperialism itself. JIM CRAVEN reports.

A few weeks earlier, speaking at the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, British Prime Minister Blair had referred to ‘an elemental struggle about values’ and said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ‘were not just about changing regimes but changing value systems’. Had they elaborated in an honest fashion Bush and Blair would have explained that the ideology and values at stake represent the right of the rich capitalist nations to conquer, occupy, oppress and exploit the resources and people of the rest of the world. More likely they would have mystified their ideology, as capitalists usually do, by talking about spreading ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘civilisation’ against ‘the forces of evil’. At the same American Legion rally at which Bush spoke, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, with his grotesque ability to calmly turn the truth on its head, said the world faced ‘a new kind of fascism’. He went on, ‘Those who know the truth need to speak out against the kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our country and our troops.’ Immediately afterwards the Pentagon announced they would tender a $20 million public relations contract to promote more positive coverage from Iraq in US and Middle Eastern media – ‘public relations’ being what Rumsfeld regards as synonymous with the truth.

 

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Iraq: Growing resistance – imperialists sink further

FRFI 192 August / September 2006

When the US and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, leading proponents of the war such as Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other neo-cons expected a swift victory using their overwhelming fire power in ‘shock and awe’ tactics. They would establish a friendly Iraq and stabilise access to Middle East oil at a time when the West’s principal ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, was becoming increasingly problematic. Above all the war would send a warning shot across the bows of any potential challenger to US hegemony. Iraq would become a base for further US assertiveness, both in the region and beyond, as the US, with Britain tagging along, used its global military domination to prevent an economic crisis for imperialism becoming a political one. Jim Craven reports.

Over three years later and the US and British troops remain bogged down in Iraq, sinking deeper every day. Their allies in the ‘coalition of the willing’, who hoped to gather crumbs from the imperial table, dwindle. Spain, Netherlands, Ukraine, Philippines, Nicaragua and Honduras have already withdrawn their troops. In June, Italy and Japan announced they would pull out by the end of the year. Not that their military contribution amounted to much but their retreat indicates that neither the war nor the US have the support they had. The war has destabilised the region and tied down imperialism.

 

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Iraq and Afghanistan: No progress and no way out for imperialists

FRFI 191 June / July 2006

Visiting Iraq in April, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised the ‘progress being made towards stability’. This was, of course, just another layer on the blanket of lies spread by the imperialist governments to camouflage the pit of devastation and carnage into which they have thrown Iraq. First there was the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003, then the establishment of an interim Iraqi government in 2004, then the agreement on a new constitution and the elections of 2005; all were sold as signs that ‘normality’ was returning to Iraq. The Iraqi people do not agree. By the end of 2005, even before the upsurge in sectarian violence, less than half of them thought the country was heading in the right direction and over 80% of Iraqis wanted the imperialist forces out of their country. The new puppet government announced on 20 May does not change anything. JIM CRAVEN reports.

 

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Iraq Imperialists fan the flames of sectarian violence

FRFI 190 April / May 2006

In a major speech last autumn President Bush described the establishment of democratic elections as a ‘moral imperative’ of US policy in the Middle East. What he intended, of course, was that such elections would legitimise the imposition of puppet governments sympathetic to US concerns. But the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian election and the continuing difficulties in forming a government following the Iraqi elections are forcing a reassessment of the policy and adding weight to those in the imperialist camp who would prefer to divide and rule through naked military power. JIM CRAVEN reports.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post the leading US neo-con and arch Zionist Daniel Pipes said ‘The bombing on 22 February of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was a tragedy but it was not an American or a coalition tragedy. When Sunni terrorists target Shi’ites and vice-versa, non-Muslims are less likely to be hurt. Civil war, in short, would be a humanitarian tragedy but not a strategic one. Civil war will terminate the dream of Iraq serving as a model for other Middle Eastern countries, thus delaying the push towards elections. This would have the effect of keeping Islamists from being legitimated by the popular vote, as Hamas was just a month ago’. Pipes also welcomed the fact that civil war ‘would likely invite Syrian and Iranian participation hastening the possibility of confrontation with these two states’. Pipes was updating a scenario first elaborated by other influential neo-cons such as David Wurmser, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith in 1997.

 

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Iraq: no end to resistance

FRFI 189 February / March 2006

The run-up to Christmas saw the usual ‘morale-boosting’ visits to Iraq from imperialist politicians, happy to pose alongside the machines of war that terrorise the Iraqi people and the soldiers they send to die. JIM CRAVEN reports.

Blair, Rumsfeld and Cheney all went and grinned and gave upbeat messages about troops coming home in 2006 and Iraqi elections defeating the insurgents. In the United States President Bush even managed to raise his popularity rating a couple of points from October’s all-time low with a series of flag-waving speeches. At the end of November, he told cadets at the US Naval Academy: ‘Our strategy in Iraq is clear...I will settle for nothing less than complete victory’. Bush claimed that 120 Iraqi army and police battalions were now ready to fight on their own and another 80 with US support. The Iraqi National Security Adviser, Muaffah Al Rubbaie, followed this up by claiming that Iraqi forces were ready to take control of 14 out of 18 provinces, that 30,000 occupation troops would be withdrawn in the first half of 2006 and the remainder by the end of 2007. This optimistic assessment, devised to re-assure the Iraqi electorate that an end to the occupation was in sight, was somewhat undermined when the Los Angeles Times revealed that the US forces had been paying the Iraqi press to pass off their propaganda as unbiased Iraqi accounts. A few days later Iraqi Vice-President Ghazi Al Yawer admitted that the training of Iraqi security forces was not gaining any momentum.

 

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IRAQ–imperialists lose the plot

FRFI 188 December 2005 / January 2006

US and British imperialism cannot afford to admit any sort of defeat in Iraq. It is not simply that they might lose control of Iraqi assets and an important strategic position in the Middle East. Any sign of weakness would undermine their claim to global military dominance, a threat they are using to try and prevent an economic crisis from becoming a political one as well. Any retreat would give space for imperialist rivals such as France and Germany and other rising economic powers such as Russia, India and most particularly China to take advantage. This is why the US and British governments are in complete denial of the horror into which Iraq is sinking; why they maintain the myth that Iraq is moving towards peace and democracy and desperately cling to their timetable of sham elections.

The reality on the ground, however, is very different. It is phosphorus and napalm bombs, torture camps, death squads and a rising toll of casualties. The Resistance is growing, the occupying forces are becoming increasingly demoralised, the Iraqi government and security forces remain ineffective, corruption and crime are rife and the Iraqi economy and infrastructure are stagnant. In the US opposition to the war is growing and the ruling class is divided. JIM CRAVEN reports.

 

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Chaos in Iraq

FRFI 187 October / November 2005

Writing in The Independent (15 September 2005) Robert Fisk asks a leading question, ‘Why is it that we and America wish civil war in Iraq?’ The ‘we’ is the British state. A little history of colonial wars provides a few ready answers: divide and rule; an excuse to prolong the military occupation; deflect the violence away from the occupation armies; isolate and target the main source of resistance; get others to do the fighting for you etc. Entangled in an escalating war the US and British governments are seeking to reduce and focus their military forces in Iraq, but in doing so threaten to ignite a wider conflagration. The Iraqi people’s suffering continues; their death rate accelerates. Trevor Rayne reports.

 

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Iraq: no exit for imperialism

FRFI 186 August / September 2005

On 28 June 2004, Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister of the newly inaugurated Iraqi interim government boasted, ‘In a few days Iraq will radiate with stability and security’. One year on and the average daily number of attacks by the Iraqi resistance has risen from 45 to 70 per day. The total number of coalition troops killed has almost doubled. At least a further 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. All roads around Baghdad have been cut by resistance fighters and can only be travelled by Coalition and Iraqi government troops in armed convoys. Killings and the bombing of mosques have broken out between sections of the Shia community who support the puppet government and Sunnis who oppose it. The US and Britain invaded Iraq both to secure Middle East oil supplies and to maintain their role as the world’s leading imperialist powers. Any hope they had of quickly establishing a united and stable Iraqi government with strong Iraqi forces to police it has crumbled and with it an important plank of their global strategy is being undermined. The resistance in Afghanistan also gathers momentum. Dissent and division is rising within the US. JIM CRAVEN reports.

 

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IRAQ: End the occupation now

After three months of wrangling, following the 30 January elections, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced a new government on 28 April. Within a week 270 people had been killed in attacks by different organisations. Early in May US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a visit to the country to tell the new government that the resistance can be beaten politically and that they must demonstrate that the political process works. She wanted to see a new draft constitution written by August and fresh elections thereafter. The very length of time it took to allocate ministerial posts demonstrates the weakness of this government. It is an amalgamation of privileged and sectarian interests more concerned with promoting their own privileges than the plight of the Iraqi people. The US and British military will remain in charge. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

Al Jaafari left Iraq in 1980 and spent part of his exile in Britain. His deputy is the proven crook, Ahmed Chalabi, formerly wanted in Jordan for financial crimes but now apparently pardoned. The Finance Minister is a former consultant to the World Bank, who heads a London investment firm and has Ahmed Chalabi as an uncle and the Prime Minister as a cousin. Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), is President. Within hours of the US allowing the Kurds in Iraq to form their own Parliament on 4 October 1992, the PUK thanked the US and Turkish states by attacking the revolutionary nationalist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq. The government is a reliable ally for the US and Britain.

 

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Iraq: democracy at gunpoint - Target Syria

Elections in Palestine, elections in Iraq, the ‘cedar revolution’ in Lebanon, local elections in Saudi Arabia and the promise of a contested presidential election in Egypt. Democracy is coming to the Middle East, or so the story goes. Behind the Palestinian election stands the Zionist military machine, crushing the Intifada and reducing the Palestinians to beggary. The road to the vote in Iraq passed through the rubble and uncounted corpses of Fallujah. In the name of democracy imperialism is setting the Middle East on fire. It is not freedom Bush and Blair bring – it is war. Trevor Rayne reports.

Prime Minister Blair declared Iraq’s 30 January election ‘magnificent’. Television and newspaper reports sought to use the election to justify and legitimise the war. The Labour Party hoped these would prove sufficient to retrieve support lost among Labour voters who opposed the war. Genuine demands for democracy among the Iraqi people are being cynically used to prolong the occupation of their country. Immediately after the election the US Pentagon announced it would keep 120,000 troops in Iraq until at least 2007. These elections were not about sovereignty.

 

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