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Iraq bombing - US imperialism flexes its muscles
JUST WEEKS after his inauguration, US president George Bush has flexed his country's military muscles by bombing Iraq and in so doing has sought to demonstrate his 'decisiveness'. As usual, Tony Blair played the role of US imperialism's lap dog.
The action is a continuation of a failed ten-year policy, following the 1991 Gulf War, to remove the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussain. In fact, the thousands of deaths and terrible privations as a result of sanctions have weakened the Iraqi opposition and strengthened Saddam's rule.
In reality, only the US and Britain governments adhere to the bombings and sanctions policy. The sanctions regime is crumbling as international trade and flights increase.
Late last year 1,450 firms from 30 countries attended a trade fair in Baghdad. British-based Shell and Premier Oil have already discussed with Iraqi officials about the resumption of trade in post-sanctions Iraq.
Last Friday's attack on Baghdad is George Bush serving notice on ruling regimes and the masses of throughout the Middle East and the world, that US foreign policy will continue to be backed with its military might.
In many Arab capitals people have taken to the streets to protest against the attack by US and British imperialism. They point to the plight of the Palestinian masses who face national oppression by the US-backed Israeli ruling class, who ignore UN resolutions which demand a return of Palestinian territory seized in the 1967 and 1973 Arab/Israeli wars.
To add fuel to the fire of the present Israeli/Palestinian national conflict the US intends to hold joint manoeuvres with the Israeli military.
NEW LABOUR government defence ministers Geoff Hoon and John Spellar, with their usual breathtaking hypocrisy, claimed this action was to cage Saddam Hussein and thereby protect the Kurds of northern Iraq and the Shia Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq.
However, since the end of the 1991 Gulf war and the imposition of 'no fly zones' and a 'safe haven' in northern Iraq, NATO member Turkey has continued to bomb and send in ground troops against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) members and Kurdish civilians. Saddam's ground forces still operate in these areas while the reactionary warlords of the Kurdish PUK and KDP parties oppress the working-class, women and peasants.
They also conveniently forget the gassing of Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988 when the Iraqi dictator still enjoyed the West's patronage.
It was the US-led alliance that allowed Saddam's murderous Republican Guard to crush the Shia uprising at the end of the Gulf War having previously encouraged the revolt. The Western powers feared a dismemberment of Iraq and a strengthening of Iran at the time.
Consequently, thousands of Iraqi Kurds have been forced to flee from the repression and poverty they suffer. Desperate to escape this persecution many have risked their lives to seek sanctuary in the West.
AND WHILE sanctions have reduced the Iraqi population to paupers they have failed to stop the rebuilding of the country's armed forces. At the same time, Saddam's cronies are profiting from smuggling operations
According to Unicef, sanctions have contributed to the deaths of 500,000 children and 800,000 are chronically malnourished.
Advocates of sanctions say that food and medicines are exempt under United Nations 'food-for-oil' programme. But, Iraq's oil revenue is held in a UN managed account with 30% being taken for reparations. Imports are subject to approval by the UN Security Council, so that equipment vital to Iraq's electricity and water supplies is held up. Even lead for pencils is prevented under sanctions.
A new mood of anti-imperialism is developing throughout the Arab world. This could lead to revolutionary explosions against local dictators like Saddam and movements against the Western capitalist powers.
The long-suffering masses of the region can't rely on the imperialist powers to provide a solution. Instead, a socialist solution is necessary, where the oppressed of the Middle East rise against their oppressors and establish a socialist confederation of states to end capitalism.
In The Socialist 23 February 2001: