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Constitution will not prevent Iraq decay
IN THE eyes of the occupying powers, the new Iraqi constitution was meant to be an important step in the direction of a "sovereign and free" Iraq. British and US imperialism in particular were also hoping to present it as a stepping stone towards a way out of a war, whose unpopularity is central to the crisis facing the Bush administration.
None of this is materialising. The situation on the ground is becoming more dangerous by the day and the divisions between the different ethnic and religious groupings in the country have never been sharper.
Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, declared the constitution passed long before even any official results had been published! This indicates just how desperate the ruling elites are to deliver any 'progress' in the nightmare situation of Iraq. However, the outcome of the referendum was overshadowed by the news that the death toll of US soldiers had reached 2,000.
October was the most violent month in Iraq so far this year. Many of the ingredients are there for a possible descent into civil war and break up of the country.
The published results give 78.59% in favour of the constitution and 21.41% against. In order to prevent the constitution from being passed three out of 18 provinces needed a two-thirds majority against. Two Sunni dominated provinces, Anbar and Salaheddin, voted against the constitution with a large majority. In Ninive, another Sunni province, 55% voted against, just short of a two-thirds majority. Only another 38,000 votes against would have rendered the constitution void. Sunni political opponents claim foul play.
Moreover, reports suggest that many people, including Shias and Kurds, who voted in favour of the constitution did so not because they support the content of the constitution but because they hope this brings them closer to a withdrawal of the occupying forces.
In essence, the constitution favoured by the Shia and Kurdish political elites is a recipe for fostering the divisions amongst the different ethnic and religious groupings. US and British imperialism hope to be able to make deals with the Shia and Kurdish elites. The corrupt Kurdish politicians and leaders of the PUK and KDP are amongst the only ones the occupying forces can rely on. A province made up of the oil-rich area of Mosul and Kirkuk under the reliable control of the PUK and KDP plays into the hands of imperialism.
Although not to the same degree, this would also apply to a Shia province which would control the Rumayla oil fields. The Sunnis would not have control over any oil or gas fields and therefore most of the Sunni parties with the exception of the Iraqi Islamic Party campaigned for a 'No' vote or called for a boycott altogether.
None of the political parties or organisations in the different parts of Iraq, be it Sunni, Shia or Kurdish represent the interests of the working class and poor peasants. They are engaged in a power struggle over the resources and the wealth of the country and how to divide them up.
The Iraqi working class and poor are losing out again. And while there may be some hopes and illusions on the part of the Shia and Kurdish population, those will be very short lived. Under capitalism, even if there was a shift towards formal domestic control over the oil and gas reserves, the revenues would still flow into the pockets of foreign, multinational companies and regional politicians, clerics and war profiteers.
Today social conditions in Iraq are appalling. Some 71% of people do not get clean water, 70% say their sewerage system does not work. 47% are short of electricity and 40% of southern Iraqis are unemployed.
Opposition against the war is growing in the US, in Britain and around the world. Up to 500,000 people marched against the war in Washington on 24 September.
This, in combination with reports from soldiers who increasingly question the military occupation can trigger an upsurge of the anti-war movement in the US. Leaked reports also talk about the low morale of the British troops and the shortfall of meeting army recruitment targets.
Dissatisfaction with the situation and hatred towards the imperialist occupation forces is mounting in Iraq. Without an exit strategy it is estimated that troops will have to stay for another five to ten years.
Under siege and occupation and a possible slide towards the break-up of the country, the future looks grim for the Iraqi working class and the poor masses. Imperialism has nothing on offer for them and there will be no peace and no security with the occupation in place. At the same time, the present religious and local leaders and their organisations will use the Iraqi people as a football in their power struggle for influence over resources in the region.
Iraqi people need independent trade unions and political parties which organise workers regardless of their ethnic and religious origin. Multi-ethnic defence committees should be formed and elected to fight the occupation. In order to bring about real change, the Iraqi working class and poor masses need to break with capitalism and imperialism and strive for a socialist Iraq as part of a voluntary federation of socialist states of the Middle East.
Rising death toll
CONTRARY TO what the White House says, the death toll of Iraqi civilians from 'insurgent attacks' is rising. A recent Pentagon report to the US Congress says that 26,000 Iraqis have been killed or wounded in these attacks, rising from 26 a day between January and March 2005 to 64 a day prior to the constitution referendum in October.
These statistics are lower than other estimates but they also exclude people killed in air strikes in which the US forces do not distinguish between insurgents and civilians.
A report carried in the independent medical journal, The Lancet, in October 2004 suggested that 100,000 Iraqis had been killed since the US-led occupation of the country began in March 2003.
Reconstruction billions lost through greed and corruption
CORPORATE GREED, corruption by contractors, bribery of local officials and failed projects, have been the hallmarks of the US-organised reconstruction of Iraq.
The latest report to Congress by the special inspector for Iraq reconstruction reveals that much of the $30 billion fund for rebuilding has gone down the drain, spent on security costs and on unfinished and unplanned projects.
One example is the building of five electricity substations in southern Iraq for $28.8 million, which are praised for their high building standards. "Unfortunately," says the report, "the system for distributing power from the completed substations was largely non-existent."
- In March 2005 the Pentagon's auditing agency found that Halliburton, the Houston oil services giant formerly run by Vice-President Dick Cheney, overcharged by more than $108 million on a contract.
- A Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root, in one case charged the Army more than $27 million dollars to transport $82,000 worth of fuel from Kuwait to Iraq.
- A January 2005 report by special inspector Stuart Bowen found that $8.8 billion dollars had been disbursed from Iraqi oil revenue by US administrators to Iraqi ministries without proper accounting.
- Last month, media news agency CNN reported that large-scale corruption in Iraq's ministries, particularly the defence ministry, "has led to one of the biggest thefts in history with more than $1 billion going missing," according to Iraq's finance minister.
In The Socialist 3 November 2005: