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Iraq - the nightmare continues
THE SHOOTING down for the first time of a British military helicopter over the southern Iraq city of Basra last week, in which five servicemen were killed, underlines the growing hostility to the occupying forces in the south of the country.
British troops no longer routinely patrol this Shia heartland but increasingly move by helicopter to avoid roadside bombs. Three years ago the "liberating forces" were initially greeted by cheering crowds. Now, crowds gather to cheer attacks on the British forces.
US and British forces are struggling to contain the largely Sunni Arab-based insurgency. Yet the Sunni population makes up around 20% of Iraq, what will happen when the Shia forces are unleashed against the occupation?
The rebuilt police force is heavily infiltrated by Islamist groups such as the Mehdi Army and the Badr Brigade who are terrorising the local Sunni population. These Shia militias, who according to the occupying forces are armed by neighbouring Iran, are controlled by Shia religious parties who form the government of Iraq.
The main growth industry in Iraq is kidnapping. Between five and 30 people are abducted for ransom every day. Often criminal groups co-operate with insurgents as their victims are sometimes sold and resold.
In the last three months an estimated 100,000 people have fled their homes to escape sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni militias.
This bleak portrait of a country disintegrating into ethnic civil war is the responsibility of George Bush and Tony Blair. Instead of a pliant regime which would provide a platform for policing the Middle East and providing the world economy with cheap oil, the occupation has turned into a bloody nightmare for Iraqis and a political quagmire for imperialism.
In The Socialist 11 May 2006:
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