Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/427/5002
Troops out of Iraq
End this brutal occupation
Demonstrate on 18 March
THE SICKENING video images showing British soldiers kicking and beating unarmed Iraqi teenagers in 2004 and new images of abused Iraqi prisoners at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, will come as little surprise to those in the anti-Iraq war movement.
Muslims protest. Photo Marc Vallee
It is also one reason why a majority of Iraqis in surveys consistently say the US-led occupation is doing more harm than good and that they support an immediate military withdrawal.
Bush and Blair claim to be liberating Iraqis, introducing democracy and rebuilding the shattered economy. In reality, Iraqis are living in fear of attacks from coalition forces, sectarian clashes and insurgents. An estimated 100,000 Iraqis have been killed since the start of the war in March 2003.
There is mass unemployment and poverty. Oil production and electricity supplies remain below their pre-war levels. Much of the country's infrastructure remains unrepaired with the majority of reconstruction aid paying for 'security' and billions being siphoned off by corrupt officials.
A report of the United States Inspector for Iraq Reconstruction found widespread "fraud, incompetence and confusion" in the American occupation's handling of billions of dollars of Iraqi government money and American funds given for reconstruction.
And then there is profiteering by US corporations like Haliburton (formerly headed by US Vice-President and crack shot Dick Cheney!) creaming much of the remainder.
And now it seems the US administration is preparing to pull the plug on Iraqi reconstruction aid.
But what about democracy? "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." (The Independent, 21/12/05)
Moreover, Bush and Co. talk about spreading democracy throughout the Middle East. Yet they continue to support reactionary regimes such as in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and according to the International Herald Tribune: "The US and Israel are discussing a strategy aimed at destabilising a new Hamas government in the Palestinian Authority," (14/2/06) by starving the PA of funds.
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. In Britain, Blair's travails are in part due to his perceived lies over going to war and his support for Bush's military adventure.
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.
Stop the War Coalition
National demo 18 March
Assemble 12 noon, Parliament Sq., London SW1
'Cartoon' protest rally
ABOUT 5,000 people, mostly young and male, attended a United Against Incitement and Islamophobia rally in London on 11 February.
The rally was called by a number of Muslim organisations with the support of the Mayor of London and other organisations. Muslim speakers spoke alongside Christians, anti-war Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather and Respect's George Galloway.
While the rally had a strong religious flavour, some non-religious participants clearly came because they saw the publication of the cartoons of Muhammad as yet another provocation and insult aimed at immigrant and non-Christian minorities.
The organisers, anxious to distance themselves from the sectarian slogans used at the small 3 February protest, assumed almost authoritarian control over the demo. No home-made banners or hand-written additions to the official placards were allowed. This extended to a few stewards threatening to call the police to stop the distribution of a Socialist Party leaflet, something which other stewards prevented.
While some participants pointedly refused to even take the Socialist Party leaflet, saying that they were not socialists, many other took and read this reprint of last week's editorial in the socialist.
In The Socialist 16 February 2006: