Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/455/5547
End the occupations
Iraq: Will bringing the troops home bring stability?
THE NEWSPAPER headlines said it all: a "grim scorecard", "scores die", "murders continue unabated in Iraq".
There is no doubt that Iraq is experiencing a civil war in which Sunni and Shia death squads are the determining factor. The British and American occupation forces are increasingly forced to go into hiding in a country that has spiralled out of control. The occupation has brought this about and it must end.
In the three months since the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the alleged Al Queda leader in Iraq, the bloodletting has increased. The civilian death toll recorded by the Iraq Body Count website since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq has exceeded 47,000.
The bloodshed continues to grow with 50 deaths the average daily rate for 2006. Even this shocking level of violent deaths is probably an underestimation, as many other are unreported and unrecorded.
A secret report by the chief of intelligence for the US Marine Corps in Iraq bluntly stated that in the Western province of Anbar, which encompasses 30% of Iraq's land mass and contains the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, there is nothing the US military can do to improve the political and social situation.
One Army officer commented: "We haven't been defeated militarily but we have been defeated politically - and that is where wars are won and lost."
Speaking on the anniversary of 9/11, Bush restated the intention of US imperialism to do whatever it takes to control Iraq's oil wealth. His declaration that the US is in "the early hours of this struggle between tyranny and freedom" will have horrified Iraqi, US and British working-class families alike.
THERE ARE those who were opposed to the war at its onset but argue now that the occupation forces should stay until the necessary institutions are built and an 'Iraqi democracy' is established with reliable armed forces of its own. This is the position of the Liberal Democrats.
However this is never going to happen. The Iraqi government sits on the bayonets of the occupation government and has no real authority.
The armed forces trained by the US military reflect the ethnic divisions in the country and could fragment into ethnic-based militia.
The situation in Baghdad is so bad that the Iraqi government is planning to seal off Baghdad by building a 60 mile-long trench around the city to control the movement of seven million people in and out of the city.
The Socialist Party demands the immediate withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq. However, the withdrawal of the troops would not guarantee an end of the sectarian conflict.
On the basis of capitalism, with its long history of divide and rule fomented by imperialism, and the fight over who can lay their hands on the natural resources of the country, the existing sectarian divisions could grow.
In our opinion, the only guarantee of overcoming the divisions in Iraq and preventing an escalating and bloody civil war and possible break up of the country, is a united struggle of Sunni, Shia, Kurdish and Turcomen workers.
This would include the setting up of multi-ethnic defence forces, based on trade unions and community organisations, to halt the sectarian killings and a united struggle to end the occupation.
Although it will not be easy to build such organisations in the current situation, the history of Iraq itself has shown many examples of united struggle against the Saddam regime. And more recently against the occupation when, for example, cross-sectarian solidarity was organised when the Shia town of Najaf and the Sunni town of Fallujah were both brutally attacked by occupation forces.
But a united struggle would also need to be based around a socialist programme which would guarantee that production and the rich resources of Iraq were democratically owned and controlled by the working class and poor of that country.
A socialist Iraq, as part of a socialist confederation of the Middle East, would guarantee the rights of all ethnic groups, religions and nationalities, including the right to self-determination, ending the nightmare that faces ordinary Iraqis today.
In The Socialist 21 September 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Youth and Education
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis