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

Former US diplomat Peter Galbraith confidently predicts that the
Iraqi army will disintegrate once inter-communal fighting starts in

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

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.