Archive article from The Socialist Issue 365
Palestine / Iraq
Troops, Bulldozers And Resistance
WATCHING THE TV news last weekend, it was difficult trying to identify whether the tanks and helicopter gunships blasting buildings were Israeli or US, and whether the location was the Palestinian Gaza strip or the cities of Samarra and Fallujah in Iraq.
In the biggest offensive since the start of the Palestinian intifada (uprising) four years ago, Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, ordered 200 tanks and masses of infantry to occupy several miles of the Gaza strip to hunt out Palestinian militiamen.
By Sunday 3 October this latest invasion had resulted in 66 dead - including 23 civilians - and 240 wounded. A senior member of Hamas's military wing was reported killed in an airstrike. And behind the armour came the notorious 'bulldozers' which systematically destroyed homes, orchards and a nursery school. 15,000 people in the area are now without water and electricity.
Sharon's much-vaunted commitment to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza strip must have a hollow ring with the long-suffering Palestinian population. Sharon's latest incursion is undoubtedly aimed at demonstrating that any withdrawal will not be the result of Palestinian military pressure - unlike the humiliating withdrawal of Israeli Defence Forces from the Lebanon in May 2000, which the Syrian-backed Hizbollah guerrillas claimed as a military victory.
Unsurprisingly the US administration, which sees Israel as its key ally in the region, refused to condemn this Israeli escalation of the one-sided war between Israel and the Palestine areas. As usual, the White House supported Sharon's justification of 'self-defence' - a euphemism for denying Palestinian national rights.
At the same time as the Israeli invasion of Gaza, 5,000 US forces (supposedly acting in concert with the interim Iraqi government's new national army) smashed their way into rebel-held Samarra in the Sunni triangle, north west of Baghdad.
The 'pacification' of this town is part of the US strategy to end the large number of urban centres that are no-go areas for coalition troops and forces loyal to the US appointed prime minister, Iyad Allawi.
Without control of major towns and cities the much-hyped elections, scheduled for January, would be meaningless. The idea of compiling a usable electoral register and holding safe elections in three months time is risible.
While the US claimed 125 insurgents killed in the Samarra assault, local residents said civilians bore the brunt of the attacks. But these casualty figures are nothing as to what can be expected when US forces again attack the rebel stronghold of Fallujah.
This is the third time in 18 months that US forces have 'captured' Samarra, and with few US casualties the assault is designed by the Bush administration to play well to an American audience in the presidential election.
The deepening conflicts in the Middle East are a consequence of US imperialism in particular, which wants to secure its strategic aims of political domination and control of the region's oil reserves.
However, this strategy is coming apart as the impasse of the Israel/Palestine conflict drags on and as more military and financial resources are sucked into an unwinnable war in Iraq.
Rumsfeld's Lack Of Evidence
"I HAVE not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two."
In one fell swoop, US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, admitted there was no link between Saddam Hussein's regime and the al-Qa'ida terrorist network, contradicting previous statements he has made.
After 18 months of occupying Iraq, the US administration has been forced to admit there were no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist links - the two principal reasons for Bush and Blair's war.