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Bush's Plans For Puppet Regime
AFTER STRUGGLING to pronounce "Abu Ghraib" - the now notorious jail where Iraqi prisoners were tortured by US forces - president George Bush announced he would tear it down and build a new maximum security prison. That's reconstruction, White House style!
However, the big news story from the president was that Iraq would obtain "sovereignty" after 30 June, with elections for a 'transitional national assembly' before 31 January 2005. This sovereignty will consist of an unelected interim regime which, while advising a new UN-backed multinational military force, won't actually enjoy 'full authority'.
In reality, life for most Iraqis won't change one jot after 30 June - at least not for the better. The new government will remain a puppet of the US and the 'Coalition' military forces on the ground will be answerable only to their US and British commanders, beyond the reach of Iraq's laws. 130,000 US troops and 9,000 British troops will remain 'until the job is done', ie indefinitely.
George Bush and Tony Blair, desperate to find an exit strategy from the Iraq quagmire, hope to 'internationalise' the occupation through their draft UN resolution.
The other imperialist powers on the security council, notably Russia, France and Germany, want to clip their Anglo-Saxon rivals' wings but are unlikely to send significant numbers of troops into the Iraq war zone. Germany's Chancellor Schršder welcomed the resolution, whereas the French government's proposal for setting a deadline for withdrawal was not included.
The UN secretariat, headed by Kofi Annan, is beholden to these major powers. Having previously seen 50 of its staff, including High Commissioner Sergio de Mello, blown up by Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad the UN is reluctant to return to Iraq in any numbers unless the political situation has stabilised.
Herein lies the dilemma for imperialism. The longer Iraqis are denied an independent, democratic state with control over its own resources then armed opposition to the occupation will grow, which in turn will prevent UN agencies operating in the country. After all, look at what is happening in Afghanistan (see box right).
But while Bush and Blair talk of staying in Iraq, despite increasing attacks, their respective domestic electorates are becoming more opposed to the occupation.
The grisly photos of Iraqis being tortured and humiliated and reports of detainees being murdered at the hands of US and British forces is undermining political support for the president and prime minister. So too is the growing toll of nearly 800 dead US troops.
A recent CBS news poll says only 41% approved of the job Bush is doing while 53% disapproved. 61% disapproved of his handling of the situation in Iraq.
In Britain, according to The Guardian's ICM poll, 66% disapprove of sending a further 3,000 troops to Iraq. And while 45% say UK troops should remain in Iraq "as long as necessary", 35% (up 8% in one month) call for the immediate withdrawal of US and British troops.
More analysis on Iraq and a socialist programme, see article by Peter Taaffe in issue 343 of the socialist
A Nation On The Edge Of Anarchy
THREE YEARS after the Taliban regime was overthrown by the US-backed Northern Alliance Afghanistan, according to The Independent, "is a nation on the edge of anarchy".
A Commons select committee report, to be published in July, says the country's remaining infrastructure is shattered, opium production is rocketing and the Taliban and warlords are back in control of large areas.
Aid agencies cannot function outside the capital Kabul due to attacks on their staff and elections for a national assembly, originally scheduled for June, have been postponed.
Abu Ghraib Allegations
AN ARTICLE in The Washington Post accuses Lieutenant General Ricardo S Sanchez, the top US general in Iraq, of being at Baghdad's notorious Abu Ghraib prison while Iraqi detainees were being abused and tortured during interrogation.
The military tops deny it, of course. If such claims were proved correct it would show up their 'rotten apple' line - that the maltreatment of Abu Ghraib prisoners was the independent work of a few military police guards - as nonsense.
The article says that Sanchez issued an order last October giving military intelligence control over almost every aspect of prison conditions. The open aim was to manipulate the detainees' "emotions and weaknesses."
More details have emerged of how far abuse of detainees has gone, which include an army translator raping a teenage Iraqi boy. Every week, these allegations are more and more clearly linked to the very top of the occupation forces.
HOW THE mighty are fallen. Not so long ago Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader Ahmad Chalabi was the darling of the Pentagon. The convicted fraudster had provided the US administration with 'evidence' that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction - the supposed basis for war against Iraq.
This of course turned out to be false but it did secure Chalabi a pot of gold from Washington ($335,000 a month) and a place on the stooge Iraq Governing Council.
But last week came a parting of the ways. His office was raided by coalition forces who now suspect that Chalabi was passing US state secrets (apparently given to the INC by US officials) to a member of the 'axis of evil', Iran.
In The Socialist 29 May 2004:
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