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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 March 2006

Iraq: A three-year nightmare

"IF THIS is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is," said Iyad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister and one-time ally of the US administration.

International Socialist Resistance on the 18 march 2006 Anti-War demoUS vice-president Dick Cheney and the British defence secretary John Reid both took issue with Allawi but for many Iraqis his comment was merely stating the obvious.

International Socialist Resistance on the 18 march 2006 Anti-War demo

Three years of occupation by the US-led coalition has been a bloody disaster with no political solution in sight as the country fragments and descends into sectarianism and civil war. A new constitution and a new parliament has not united the main Shia Arab and Sunni Arab and Kurdish communities but has only served to exaccerbate their divisions.

The exposure of secret jails and death squads operated by the Shia-run interior ministry and then the bombing of the Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra on 22 February have dramatically increased the tit-for-tat sectarian killings.

Even the trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is to be a PR disaster. Instead of consolidating a 'new Iraq' its farcical proceedings have symbolised the general chaos in the country.

With growing political instability the head of Israel's Shin Bet state security police lamented: "I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."

Bush and Blair as representatives of imperialism have no easily realisable exit strategy. Using the fledgling Iraqi police and army to pacify the growing Sunni-based insurgency is proving illusory as these forces are largely loyal to the Shia politicians.

Increasingly, the US is using the blunt and indescriminate weapon of air strikes - the highest number since March 2003.

Unsurprisingly, an opinion poll in February 2006 said 70% of Iraqis wanted a full US withdrawal in two years. But for the coalition forces to withdraw 'under fire' would be seen as a complete humiliation for US and western imperialism, seriously weakening its abilty to militarily intervene around the world. However, remaining in Iraq will only serve to fan the flames of armed resistance, increasing the death toll of US and British forces (now over 2,300 and 100 dead, respectively) and undermining domestic political support for Bush and Blair.

Bush's popularity has slumped to the same level as discgraced former president Richard Nixon at the time of the Watergate scandal. Only 29% of Americans now approve of his handling of the war but all Bush could promise is "more fighting and sacrifice".

Thousands demonstrated in London last Saturday against the Bush/Blair occupation of Iraq. Socialist Party members, International Socialist Resistance and Socialist Students formed a lively contingent.

This was one of many protests worldwide. In the US, rallies, marches and protests took place across the country, including in New York, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, and Detroit.

For eyewitness reports see

The Pentagon's multi-billion dollar heist

'BRIBERY, CORRUPTION, fraud, and mismanagement'. This was Channel 4's conclusion to their Dispatches investigation last week into the US administration's handling of Iraq's resources.

Under the Coalition Provisional Authority's (ie the US Pentagon) rule - headed up by Paul Bremer - $23 billion of Iraq's revenue from oil and assets was put into a development fund for Iraq. This was stored by the Federal Reserve in the US who shipped out 263 tons of US dollars in $100 dollar bills - some $12 billion in cash. Bags of cash was handed out daily from the CPA's basement in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Millions were simply stolen.

Paul Bremer told US contractors and other war profiteers attracted to this enormous honey pot that they would not be subjected to Iraqi law nor any other law. Iraq had become a "free fraud zone".

Contractors such as Haliburton (previously headed by US vice-president Dick Cheney) overcharged for services or simply charged for non-existent services. US security contractor, Custer Battles, turned a $3 million contract into a $10 million. None of these profiteers have been prosecuted.

But it was ordinary Iraqis who paid the price for this looting. All the talk of rebuilding the health service and the country's infrastructure was an illusion. Basic medical equipment remains in short supply. Newly refurbished hospitals were in ruins before they re-opened.

Of $1.5 billion spent on electricity repairs, less electricity is now being produced than before the invasion. The same applies in the oil industry and in the provision of clean water, despite billions being spent.

Some $8.8 billion was spent through Iraqi ministries, again none of this was accounted for. (Although auditors subsequently discovered that one ministry's payroll of 8,000 employees turned out to be only 600 people!)

Out of $23 billion only $3.5 billion was handed over to Iraq. And having blown the country's money George Bush has now said that reconstruction money is coming to an end.

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In The Socialist 23 March 2006:

Hands off our pensions!

How to win the battle to defend pensions

Time for a new workers' party

Successful Campaign for a New Workers' Party launch conference

Socialist Party members protest against Labour education minister Ruth Kelly

France: Millions protest against Villepin government

Iraq: A three-year nightmare

Can the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be resolved?

How to plan a revolution

Fight to save the NHS

Lewisham: Socialist Party takes up the fight against ALMOs

Fight privatisation in universities and colleges

Sheffield bus protest blocks the road

NUJ Conference: Defending pay and conditions


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