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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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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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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Tragedy and farce in Iraq

Cowboy hats, fur coats, fireworks, nine dress balls and sparkling wine celebrated the second inauguration of President Bush. The 55th presidential inauguration cost a record $40 million plus $17.3 million for security. To the singing of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and invocations to ‘God and freedom’, Death rode out from the multitude. If anyone in Baghdad wanted to watch the proceedings on TV they were frustrated by power cuts. Trevor Rayne reports on the reality behind the window dressing of imperialism in Iraq.

The US and British governments present the 30 January elections for a national assembly as a step towards democracy for Iraq. They are not democratic nor do they transfer power from the occupation armies to the Iraqi people. The elections, devised by the occupation forces, are intended to confer legitimacy on the occupation, to consolidate an Iraqi political alliance willing to negotiate with and serve imperialism against the growing national resistance movement. If their outcome proves otherwise, this will be yet another stumble in imperialism’s collapsing Middle East strategy.


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BLITZING FALLUJAH Fitting up Iraq for democracy

What was done to Fallujah was done in the name of democracy and the war on terrorism. The Spanish conquistadors put millions of lives to the sword and flame in the name of Christianity. The British Empire declared civilisation from atop a mountain of corpses. In the names of democracy, Christianity and civilisation US military depravity in Fallujah compares with the Nazis extinguishing towns and villages for race and Fatherland. The British Army and the British Labour government were complicit in this murder of a city. Trevor Rayne reports.

On 15 October US forces established a ‘dynamic cordon’ around Fallujah. That same day they detained Fallujah’s chief negotiator. Fallujah was then subjected to aerial, heavy artillery and tank bombardment, missiles were fired from helicopter gun-ships and AC-130 aircraft, firing 1,800 rounds a minute, strafed the city. Before the 7 November ground assault Sergeant Major Carlton W Kent addressed his marines: ‘You’re all in the process of making history. This is another Hue City in the making. I have no doubt, if we do get the word, that each and every one of you is going to do what you have always done – kick some butt’. Vietnamese national liberation forces occupied Hue during the January 1968 Tet Offensive. It was re-captured by the US and their South Vietnam allies the following month. The Under Secretary of the US Air Force stated in a March 1968 memo, Hue is ‘a devastated and prostrate city. Eighty per cent of the buildings have been reduced to rubble, and in the smashed ruins lay 2,000 dead civilians…Three quarters of the city’s people were rendered homeless and looting was widespread, members of the ARVN (US-backed South Vietnamese troops) being the worst offenders.’ One US officer memorably explained, ‘In order to save the city we had to destroy it.’ This was the US agenda for Fallujah.


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Iraq: imperialist plans fall apart

Writing on the Middle East and the Caucasus in FRFI 142 (April 1998) we said, ‘the USA must use violence, sooner rather than later, if its position as the dominant imperial power is not to be undermined’. Six years later the Financial Times carries the headline ‘US asks private groups to ease bullet shortage’. The US defence contractor General Dynamics proposed a solution, ‘pulling together several small bullet suppliers – including Winchester, a unit of Olin Corporation; Israel Military Industries; and Canada’s SNC Technologies – to meet the army’s gap. “We’re using so much ammunition in Iraq there isn’t enough capacity around” said Eric Hugel, a defence industry analyst at Stephens Inc. “They have to go internationally”.’ (Financial Times, 27 May 2004). TREVOR RAYNE reports.

The Iraqi interim government drafted in at the end of June is not working and for all the bullets fired by US and British troops they are not winning. The terrain that the US and British states have taken is not subdued and they cannot govern it. In fact, they are losing that terrain.

In a tape timed to coincide with the third anniversary of 11 September, Bin Laden’s associate Al Zawarhi said, ‘southern and eastern Afghanistan have completely become an open field for the mujahedeen…The Americans are huddled in their trenches refusing to confront the holy warriors despite the holy warriors shelling, shooting and cutting the routes around them.’ The US has lost 135 soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Bin Laden has not been captured. Elections scheduled for October are implausible with much of Afghanistan out of government control and reports of people making multiple registrations to vote.


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Iraq: Coalition retreats under fire

FRFI 180 August / September 2004

On 28 June, two days before planned, the Coalition forces announced they had restored ‘full sovereignty’ to Iraq. A ceremony took place in a military compound behind four US Army checkpoints guarding the event from the Iraqi people. Three days later Saddam Hussein, now formally in Iraqi custody, was presented to a US-selected Iraqi judge in a court packed with US soldiers dressed as civilians and chosen US journalists in a display timed to coincide with US breakfast television. The performance over, Saddam Hussein, still of course in Iraqi custody, was whisked back in a US military plane to a US military base in Qatar where US soldiers guard him. This is the substance of Iraq’s newly found freedom – a sham. The interim government is confined to a US guarded fortress in Baghdad. Trevor Rayne reports.


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EDITORIAL - Iraq: blood for oil

FRFI 147 February / March 1999

So, they had their day. On 16 December 1998 President Clinton called Prime Minister Blair from Air Force One and said, 'Get ready for strikes'. There followed the British armed forces 29th military intervention in the Middle East since 1945, with four days of bombardment of Iraq. The Pentagon estimated that US and British forces dropped 88,500 tons of ordnance or, on another estimate, the equivalent of some 350,000 Omagh bombs. The Red Cross estimated 200 civilian deaths. Three hospitals were hit, as well as schools and homes.

Clinton justified the attack on the grounds that the Iraqi government was not complying with the United Nations weapons inspection team. Blair said the purpose was to 'degrade and diminish' Saddam Hussein's military potential and ability to threaten neighbours. UN Permanent Security Council members France, Russia and China all opposed the attack, but they were ignored by the USA, determined to demonstrate its power and willingness to use it unrestrained. Clinton did not bother to inform French President Chirac of the assault, leaving that to Blair.


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Iraq: Coalition on the edge of the abyss

‘In this type of war the entire arsenal of a hegemonic superpower is superfluous. This superpower can conquer a country with its enormous power but it is impossible to administer and govern that country if its population battles resolutely against the occupiers.’
Fidel Castro, Havana, 1 May 2004.

During April the world witnessed the barbarism of imperialism as the Coalition forces attempted to defeat the Iraqi resistance. By May the US and British governments were scrambling to stop their plans for Iraq from falling to bits. The US government that mocked international law and institutions was scurrying to the United Nations to cobble together an interim government. Saddam Hussein’s generals were back in charge of cities. A war to secure cheap oil had pushed oil prices to a 21 year high. A former commander in chief of US Central Command told the US Senate, ‘I believe we are absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss.’ Trevor Rayne reports.


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EDITORIAL - Iraq: warmongering Labour government

FRFI December 1998 / January 1999

Before the Remembrance poppies were removed from their button holes, Prime Minister Blair and his ministers were banging the war drums for another round of carnage in the Middle East. That so far, as in February, the attack on Iraq has been suspended should not blind anyone to the persistent violence of US and British policy against Iraq and throughout the Middle East. It is a violence inflicted in pursuit of power, profits and oil. The victims are Kurds, Palestinians, Arabs, Iranians and other working classes and peasantries of the Middle East - the oppressed. That is the reality of the Gulf, not the demon Saddam Hussein, not the search for 'weapons of mass destruction', not the mockery of a 'peace process' between Israel and the Palestinians, but war, class war, a war that is intensifying as the imperialist system slides into crisis.

'The region, from the US air base at Incirlik in Turkey, through the Middle East to the Caspian and the Gulf is becoming an American protectorate'. (Martin Walker, The Guardian, 16 November 1998)


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One year on Iraq in ruins

20 March 2004 marked one year from the launch of the British armed forces’ twenty-ninth military intervention in the Middle East since the end of World War Two. Together with the US invasion force they are responsible for killing in one year over 10,000 Iraqi civilians and up to 6,370 Iraqi troops. The Royal Navy commenced shelling and burning down ports along the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf in 1819. In six of the nine decades of its existence the RAF has bombed Iraq. This repeated use of violence against Middle Eastern peoples is intended to control them, control their resources and break any resistance. This time the resistance in Iraq, like the resistance in Palestine, is not being broken. Trevor Rayne reports.

The ruling Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) does not keep figures of Iraqi casualties. The Independent’s Robert Fisk, unable to obtain reliable information, visited mortuaries. He concluded that in September 1,000 Iraqi civilians were being killed each week. Iraq Body Count estimates that during five months under CPA jurisdiction Baghdad alone had over 1,500 violent deaths. Using reports from 2003 it is estimated that Iraqi deaths from previously unexploded cluster bombs dropped by US and British planes ran at 300 a month from May onwards. Infant mortality has almost doubled from 57 per 1,000 live births in 2002 to 103 in 2003. Safe water was available to 85% of Iraqis before the war, now it is accessible to 60%. Unemployment is put at 70% of the workforce. Assorted meat and vegetable prices have doubled or tripled, cooking gas has increased in price ten-fold, petrol is scarce. 15,000 Iraqi and Palestinian prisoners are held captive by US and British forces; they have no legal rights. Desperate to portray the occupation as a success, sections of the media seized on an opinion poll conducted by Oxford Research International in February for the BBC which states that 60% of Iraqis say that life is better today than under Saddam Hussein. The poll sampled 2,500 people outside Baghdad.


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IRAQI resistance forces coalition retreat

FRFI 177 February / March 2004

With the US and British occupation forces in danger of losing their most valuable political assets in Iraq, Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), was flown back to Washington on 15 January. The previously quiescent Shia population of the south had taken to the streets demanding elections that the CPA did not intend to give them. The dominant Kurdish political parties of the north, military allies of the US and Britain, demanded a degree of autonomy from the rest of Iraq also unacceptable to the occupiers. As the resistance war continues to claim its daily toll of coalition soldiers’ lives, the US and British governments are groping for a political solution before they are engulfed in a greater conflagration they cannot win. TREVOR RAYNE reports.

‘Ladies and gentlemen – we got him.’ So announced Paul Bremer after the capture of Saddam Hussein on 13 December. The US Pentagon claimed that the capture led directly to the arrest of over 200 people. Thirty Iraqi civilians were killed in suicide attacks within a day of Bremer’s triumphal announcement. US troops killed over 40 Iraqi civilians in the four days following the capture. In captivity and at large Saddam Hussein was of use to the US and British states. His capture was used to justify the invasion and as a means for increased repression.


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IRAQ: The fires spread

FRFI 176 December 2003 / January 2004

The predicted attack on British interests and civilians came in Istanbul on 20 November killing 30 people, four of them British, and wounding 450 people. Scotland Yard said it was only a matter of time before people in Britain are similarly attacked. Labour Prime Minister Blair, with President Bush at his side, struck a Churchillian pose, ‘When something like this happens today, our response is not to flinch or give way or concede one inch. We stand absolutely firm until this job is done – done in Iraq; done elsewhere in the world.’ Let us be clear: the British government is leading us from war to war, endangering the lives of millions of people in Britain and around the world in pursuit of selfish, racist, imperialist and ultimately unobtainable goals. Trevor Rayne reports.

As US casualties in Iraq mounted and the debacle of the occupation washed against his White House door, Bush announced, ‘America will never run’. Run, no, but a brusque quick step, yes. US and British military strategy aims to destroy their opponents’ will to fight. A CIA report leaked in November described how the occupation forces could fail in Iraq. On 11 November the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head Paul Bremer was hastily recalled to Washington. Within a week he was announcing new constitutional arrangements to allow the US and British authorities to hand over administrative powers to Iraqis by the end of June 2004. The US and British governments seek to retain smaller forces in Iraq, housed in well guarded camps, launching targeted forays against any resistance. This would reduce US and British casualties. As the Iraqi resistance grows this looks a forlorn hope. Missing is the essential ingredient which the US and Britain cannot provide: a legitimate Iraqi government accepted by the Iraqi people.


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