Archive article from The Socialist Issue 378
Iraq: Elections won't end crisis
End the war and occupation
WITH THE sham Iraqi elections just days away American commanders are preparing "public opinion in Iraq and abroad for one of the bloodiest chapters in the war so far", according to John F Burns of the New York Times.
The right-wing Islamic leader of some of the Sunni insurgent groups, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared "fierce war" on the elections and its result.
Pentagon officials have admitted they will have to keep 120,000 US troops in place for two years or more. This is after their bleak acceptance that only 5,000 of the 120,000-strong Iraqi 'army' were well enough trained to be dependable.
A member of the Commons Defence Committee said after a recent visit to Iraq: "It will take 10 to 15 years at least before the troops can be withdrawn. The Iraqis just cannot cope with the security situation and won't be able to for years."
This is hardly the backdrop to establishing a 'stable democracy' and Bush's new world of 'freedom'.
The Iraqi elections are descending further into chaos and even farce. Allawi's stooge government is trying to talk up the elections and claims that the voter turnout will not be the most important issue.
Given that more than half the population in some parts of Iraq will not participate, and turnout could even be as low as 5% in some areas, Allawi is preparing his spin in advance.
With most candidates not revealing their names for fear of reprisals and officials admitting they cannot guarantee security or anonymity for voters, then it is hardly surprising that turnout will be low - especially in Sunni areas. Even measures to stop alleged voter fraud will heighten voters' concerns about safety.
As opposed to elections in other 'trouble spots' where people have had their hands stamped with invisible ink, voters in Iraq will have their hands stamped with indelible ink - clearly visible to anyone who wants to attack them for voting.
And whilst there may be a higher turnout in Shia and Kurdish areas, this will not be because they are endorsing the occupation of US imperialism but more in the hope that they will be able to lift the veil of oppression they suffered under Saddam.
However, all serious commentators now consider a descent into civil war after the election the most likely development. Whatever the final outcome of the Iraqi election - and the results are unlikely to come out for ten days or more - the Iraq occupation will lead to a deepening crisis both inside Iraq and at home for Bush and Blair.
The actions of imperialist leaders have brought only chaos and carnage to Iraq and the Middle East. Because of this, the anti-war movement is once more gaining momentum and there could be huge turnouts worldwide for the anti-war demonstrations taking place on 19 March.
The anger against the war and occupation in the US and Britain is growing, especially given the growing allegations of brutality by the occupying forces.
Support for the war in Britain has dropped by 5% since October to 38% according to the latest ICM poll.
THE SOCIALIST Party fully supports the right of the Iraqi people to resist this brutal occupation. But the road towards ethnic conflict being adopted by both Shia figures and the majority of the leadership of the Sunni resistance will be a disaster for the workers and poor of Iraq - whether Shia, Sunni, Kurd or from other ethnic or religious groups.
Ethnic and religious clashes inside Iraq after the elections will have to be combated through the formation of multi-ethnic defence forces to protect the security of all, under the democratic control of working people.
Combining this with a mass movement of the working class and the oppressed masses can build a force capable of ending the occupation of Iraq.
This 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 that would provide the basis to deal with the crushing problems facing Iraq. The deepening of the crisis inside Iraq shows the urgent need for a socialist alternative to be posed.
Protest against war profiteers
In June, the Pentagon's Program Management Office in Iraq awarded a $293 million contract to co-ordinate security operations among thousands of private contractors to Aegis. 3
This is a UK firm whose founder was once investigated for illegal arms smuggling with another company. Aegis is to supply "security services, anti-terrorism support and analyses, movement escort services, and close personal protection services".
An inquiry into Sandline, Aegis head Tim Spicer's former firm, determined that the company had shipped guns to Sierra Leone in 1998 in violation of a UN arms embargo. Spicer resigned from Sandline in 2000 and incorporated Aegis in 2002.
Spicer is also a former associate of Simon Mann, who was involved in Sandline and is now in prison accused of organising mercenaries to stage a coup in Equatorial Guinea.
Over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed in this illegal war, while firms like Aegis make millions in profits from the chaos and instability in Iraq. Ordinary Iraqis and coalition soldiers are dying in an occupation designed only to increase the power of US imperialism and secure their oil supplies.
We must continue to build the anti-war movement and call for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
International Socialist Resistance weekend of action against the occupation.
29 / 30 January
Protest at war profiteer Aegis, 2.30pm 29 January, 118 Piccadilly, London W1.
INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST Resistance (ISR) is an international anti-capitalist youth organisation with groups in many different countries.
Initiated by the Socialist Party, ISR is a democratic, broad organisation fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism.
Stop the War Coalition national demonstration
19 March, 1pm, central London
Details to follow
Water - but not on tap
BILLIONS OF dollars in US aid are targeted for Iraq's reconstruction. But while US companies given exclusive contracts such as Bechtel are laughing all the way to the bank, the plight of ordinary Iraqis worsens.
Take water supply in the city of Basra. Bechtel refurbished the central water pumping station and 14 substations in a showcase development. Unfortunately, according to Ahmad al-Khadimi, chairman of engineering at Basra University: "We turn on the tap and no water comes out"!
What the American authorities failed to take into account is that decades of neglect and two wars left a legacy of broken pipes going into homes.
And according to the International Herald Tribune: "Basra residents now receive electric power only four hours a day, less than they got before the US-led invasion." Despite this failure, Thomas Rhodes, regional co-ordinator for USAID in southern Iraq, boasted: "I think we should get credit for accomplishing the things we set out to do."