Iraq: Opposition To US/UK Occupation Mounts

The deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons has not stopped the attacks on coalition forces. Some 77 US armed forces personnel have been killed in Iraq since George Bush declared the war was over on 1 May. The total death toll of US service personnel since the start of the war has now surpassed the 1991 conflict.

Dave Carr

Last week the head of US central command, general John Abizaid, admitted that his troops were facing a “classical guerrilla-type campaign”.

Describing the current situation in Iraq as a “guerrilla campaign” is a blow for Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the political standing of the Bush administration, which has consistently refused to use the term for fear of conjuring up the spectre of the Vietnam war – a guerrilla war which proved unwinnable for the US ruling class.

But this volte-face is seeking to cover up the growing opposition amongst Iraq’s various population groups. Far better from the US administration’s point of view to blame the continuing attacks on its forces from ‘rogue Baathist elements’ than admit to the difficulties of pacifying an increasingly resentful Iraqi population.

Hardly a week passes without a large anti-US occupation demo taking place, not only from the minority Sunni Muslim population (from whom the Baathist leadership were drawn) from but also from the Shia Muslims, by whom the US and British occupiers expected to be greeted as ‘liberators’.

With lawlessness gripping most of Iraq, including the capital Baghdad, and with the collapse of services, a shortage of electricity, and no sign of ‘democracy’, the demise of Saddam’s regime has brought little cheer to most people.

As a Basra coffee shop owner told a BBC reporter: “Liberation has brought insecurity and crime to Basra – robbers, mugging, kidnappings for ransom. And they can’t even provide us with reliable electricity.

“The Americans and the British do not bring safety, they are here only for oil, not for the people,” he said.

Little wonder then that Paul Bremer the US ‘pro-consul’ in Iraq is trying to embroil the United Nations into the country’s reconstruction projects and in a new departure he is offering a greater UN role in establishing a central government and in security matters.

Despite 150,000 US troops, such is the anarchy of post-war Iraq that the Pentagon has been in talks with the private security firm Kroll to train former Iraqi soldiers to guard up to 2,000 sites – government buildings, pipelines, etc.

Winning the war is a different matter to ‘winning the peace’. US imperialism may have the whip hand militarily but its failing capitalist policies cannot reconcile an increasingly embittered Iraqi population.