US Imperialism Further Weakened In Iraq

What We Think

US Imperialism Further Weakened In Iraq

THE DREAMS of the US right-wing ‘neo-cons’ lie in tatters on the
battlefields of Iraq. One of the only certainties in the turmoil of Iraq
is that imperialism’s occupation is doomed to failure.

Nine months ago a poll indicated that 1% of Iraq’s population supported
the rebel Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. In a poll carried out in May the
same organisation found that 68% of Iraqis supported him, second only to
Ayatollah al-Sistani.

The outcome of the second siege of Najaf will have done nothing to
undermine al-Sadr’s standing. For the second time the US-led coalition
attempted to crush al-Sadr and his militia. For the second time they have
failed utterly.

Militarily, there is no doubt that US firepower could crush al-Sadr’s ‘Mahdi
army’. But this is not only a military question. This is a guerrilla war
where the Iraqi militia melt away when they face attack. And the more
damage US imperialism inflicts, the more the fire of Iraqi national revolt
is stoked up – ready to burst forth with renewed strength in the near

The recent three week-long onslaught on Najaf has undoubtedly killed
many anti-occupation fighters as well as killing, maiming and making
homeless countless civilians. But it resulted in the uprising spreading to
at least seven cities and ended with US and coalition forces agreeing to
pull out of Najaf, and al-Sadr being told by a Iraqi ‘government’ minister
that he is "as free as any Iraqi citizen to do what he likes" –
even though his militia has not disarmed itself.

While al-Sadr has been strengthened, Allawi’s weak government has been
exposed as a fig-leaf of US imperialism. Allawi could not carry out his
threats to "crush" al-Sadr’s forces. Not only did the military
action fail, it was entirely carried out by non-Iraqi, coalition ie US
forces. Nor are Allawi’s problems limited to Najaf. Coalition and Allawi’s
forces have almost entirely lost control of the Sunni areas of Iraq.

Ayatollah Sistani, the most senior Shia figure in Iraq, played a
crucial role in getting the US off the hook in Najaf by brokering the
peace deal. However, Sistani is trying to carry out a very difficult
balancing act and his position will be undermined the more he is seen as
supporting the US occupation.

Mass movement

By contrast al-Sadr is now the symbol of opposition to the US
occupation. Sadr’s main basis of support comes from Sadr city, the poor
Shia area of Baghdad, which has over 2 million of the 5.5 million
population. Living in desperate poverty they fear that the Allawi
government is attempting to reconstruct the Baathist, Sunni-dominated,
state machine, cheating the Shia, who makeup 60% of the population, of any
political control.

But while Sadr’s main base is amongst the poor Shia, he is also
attempting to appeal to layers of the Sunni population on the basis of
Iraqi nationalism. However, real unity of the Iraqi masses can only be
achieved on a class basis.

Sadr’s broadening support gives a glimpse of the potential for a mass
movement against the occupation that unites together the different ethnic
and religious groups of Iraq. Nonetheless, Sadr’s programme, which is for
a reactionary theocratic Shia state, does not offer a way forward for the
Iraqi masses.

The solution lies with the working people and poor masses of Iraq. The
Socialist Party stands for a mass movement of the working class and the
oppressed masses for an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Such a movement should call for the convening of an Iraq-wide national
assembly of democratically elected delegates to vote on the formation of a
workers and poor farmers’ government – the basis to deal with the crushing
problems facing Iraq. It should also establish multi-ethnic defence forces
to guard against ethnic and religious clashes and to protect the security
of all, under the democratic control of working people.