Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Iraq: War and occupation bring growing misery

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The Iraqi Interior Ministry said this week that 8,175 Iraqis had been killed in the insurgency in the ten months between August 2004 and May 2005. At over 800 deaths a month this grisly figure exceeds the average monthly death toll of 500 since start of the occupation in May 2003.
Dave Carr Reports.This dramatic increase has been seen since the US-approved ‘government’ of prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was appointed in January 2005.

The deteriorating security situation also deflates US military chiefs’ announcement of the capture on 9 July of Abu Abdul Aziz, supposedly Abu al-Zarqawi’s chief operative in Baghdad. Al-Zarqawi’s al-Qa’ida organisation recently claimed responsibility for the murder of Egypt’s envoy and two other attacks on diplomats from Arab countries in Iraq.

In March 2003 when US-led coalition forces invaded Iraq, George Bush and Tony Blair justified this imperialist adventure citing Saddam’s ‘WMDs and terrorism’ as a threat to the ‘civilised’ world.

As later revealed, these claims were deliberately concocted by US and British secret services, on behalf of their governments, to legitimise furthering their aims ie geo-political control of the region, including Iraq’s vast oil reserves.
‘A safer world’?

Having subsequently admitting that there were no WMDs in Iraq, the US CIA spy agency recently concluded that the occupation is creating a new generation of Islamic jihadists, deadlier than the jihadists who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s ie Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida. And who, having honed their terrorist methods in Iraq, will subsequently target Western countries. Hardly the safer world promised through “regime change”.

As predicted, despite its overwhelming military supremacy, the US and Co. have been sucked into an urban guerrilla war of attrition, with no quick and easy exit strategy.

Unfortunately, the socialist party’s prediction at the start of the Iraq war is being borne out. That is that there was a danger that Iraqi resistance to the occupation – unless it was united behind the banner of the working class and poor farmers, with a socialist and internationalist programme – would increasingly take the form of inter-religious ethnic conflict.

US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld might claim that the US is “not losing the war” and Vice-President Dick Cheney says the insurgency is in its “last throes.” But that’s not the position of top US commander General John Abizaid. He told a Senate hearing: “There are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago.”

Recently, the coalition forces resorted to the blunt but deadly use of air strikes in villages along Syria’s border with Iraq to try to quell the insurgency. In October 2004 a report in the British medical journal, the Lancet, estimated that over 100,000 Iraqi civilians had died as a result of the occupation, mostly through aerial bombardment.

A foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels last month pledged to build a “new Iraq” but the carnage continues. The Iraqi regime (which has virtually zero support amongst the Sunni Arab population), is wholly dependent upon imperialist troops for its survival. And the attempt to write a new unifying constitution has revealed the deep ethnic and political faultlines of the new government.

The Brussels meeting pledged a “democratic, pluralist, federal and unified Iraq”. But the conservative Shia Muslim leaders want a theocratic regime under their control.

This has brought them into conflict with the Kurdish leaders (having temporarily stopped their own internal feuding) who want a more secular society and – in particular – a separate Kurdistan in northern Iraq, including the oil fields. A separate Kurdish state is anathema to neighbouring Turkey, a key regional ally of US imperialism.

But all the pledges of the Western leaders for a better Iraq count for nothing. Haliburton and other mainly US-owned giant corporations reap fabulous profits from reconstruction aid, while graft and corruption is rampant amongst officials.

Yet 78% of households still have no reliable electricity supply – 92% in Baghdad. Only 61% of Iraqi households have access to a safe and stable drinking water supply with 28% of those experiencing daily supply problems. There is mass unemployment and almost one-quarter of children between six months and five years suffer from malnutrition.

The war and occupation of Iraq has brought untold misery to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Now, as a consequence of Western imperialism in the Middle East, the misery has spread to the people of London.


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