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Iraq three years on
ALMOST COINCIDING with the third anniversary of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and British foreign secretary Jack Straw, flew to Baghdad last week try and resolve Iraq's political impasse.
Three months after parliamentary elections a government has still not been formed. Instead, sectarian feuding is opening up deeper divisions in the main Shi'ite UIA faction between current prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, backed by the Islamist nationalist leader Moqtada al-Sadr, and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) who wants the PM replaced.
A peeved Condoleezza Rice stopped short of calling for Jaafari's resignation but bluntly told him: "A lot of treasure, a lot of human treasure, has been put on the line to give Iraq the chance to have a democratic future."
This was, for once, an honest admission by Rice. The Bush administration has sacrificed over 2,300 American troops trying to make Iraq a secure outpost for US imperialism in the Middle East. Billions of dollars too have been spent (although $20 billion of this was Iraq's own money, with much of it looted by corrupt US and Iraqi officials and siphoned into US companies' coffers in 'reconstruction' contracts).
One 'sacrifice' that didn't enter Condoleezza's reckoning was the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed during the occupation. Many of these were killed by air strikes, the blunt instrument increasingly used by US forces to try and defeat the Iraqi insurgency.
But the split in the largest political Shia camp is nothing compared to the ethnic civil war developing between Shia and Sunni Arabs and the Kurds. A battle for the control of the capital involving 'ethnic cleansing' is taking place in Baghdad's districts.
Iraq's armed forces and police are also split along ethnic lines. In the army there are around 60 Shia battalions, 40 Sunni battalions, nine Kurdish and only one mixed battalion. The Baghdad police are effectively controlled by al-Sadr's militia which also controls the interior ministry. Sunnis accuse this ministry of as organising Shia death squads.
Former US diplomat Peter Galbraith confidently predicts that the Iraqi army will disintegrate once inter-communal fighting starts in earnest.
Three years after Saddam's overthrow most Iraqis have little to celebrate. In a country that once boasted a first world health service many hospitals are barely functioning. In an oil rich country, energy production and supplies of clean water are worse now than before the US-led invasion.
Iraq war - a recruiting sergeant for terrorism
AN OFFICIAL British government report into last July's London bombings concludes that the Iraq war was a motivating factor for the suicide bombers.
This will not surprise Socialist Party members who have long argued that the brutal war and occupation of Iraq, together with US imperialism's other oppressive policies in the Middle East and elsewhere, would act as recruiting sergeants for Islamic terrorist organisations.
The disintegration of Iraq in factional civil war has provided an ideal terrain for terrorist networks to flourish.
Tony Blair justified regime change in Iraq by saying Saddam Hussein provided a 'permissive environment' for terrorism, thereby posing a threat to the region and to the world. Blair maintains this fiction even though the White House concluded no terrorist link existed between the regime and al-Qa'ida.
In The Socialist 6 April 2006: