“IRAQ IS disintegrating”. The first results from the parliamentary election last month show the country is dividing between the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.
“Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. …The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.”
Patrick Cockburn’s stark conclusion in The Independent (21/12/05) confirms what the socialist has been arguing for some time now ie that Bush and Blair are mired in an unwinnable war and occupation of Iraq, with no viable exit strategy.
Ironically, the election has resulted in the Shia electorate voting en bloc for pro-Iranian religious parties, including the reactionary cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – who, last year, the US said it wanted to kill!
But the real price for this imperialist adventure is being paid for by ordinary Iraqis who are caught up in the deadly exchanges between the largely US forces and the mainly Sunni-based insurgents. An estimated 100,000 or more Iraqis have been killed since the US-led invasion of March 2003. And with no respite from the daily levels of violence, those Iraqis that can afford to do so are leaving the country.
Responding to growing demands in the US for withdrawal, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that the US troop levels will be reduced. However, Rumsfeld is well aware that the Iraqi police and army are too badly trained and ill-equipped to pacify the insurgency, and, moreover, most of the Iraqi armed forces are Shia controlled.
The Sunni based insurgents having lost out in elections will increase their guerrilla struggle. And the alliance between Shia politicians and Kurdish leaders appears to be fracturing as the Kurds increasingly reject the political demands of the Shia religious parties.
Any hopes of ordinary Iraqis that the country’s oil wealth could rebuild a better Iraq are also being dashed. Last week the oil minister resigned as petrol shortages worsened and oil exports dipped well below the pre-war output. These shortages are compounding the difficulties in electricity production in Baghdad and throughout Iraq, where supplies average out at just 12 hours a day.
And now it seems the US administration is preparing to pull the plug on Iraqi reconstruction aid – despite George Bush’s publicly stated commitment to rebuild the war-torn country. Even before this U-turn, much of the reconstruction aid had been swallowed up in security costs and siphoned off by corrupt officials.
This monumental failure of imperialism is undermining the standing of George Bush’s administration and dovetailing with an increasing US public opposition to his pro-rich, pro-corporate domestic policies.
Bush’s ‘war on terrorism’ mantra also no longer chimes with public opinion. He has attempted to justify the illegal surveillance of US citizens by the threat of terrorism on US soil. Yet it was the revelations of illegal spying by the government that sealed the fate of president Richard Nixon in the early 1970s.
The campaign to end the imperialist occupation of Iraq and to work with those genuine working-class Iraqis and organisations for a socialist solution to the Iraq quagmire must be stepped up in 2006.