The Socialist 12 June 2004 |
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Iraq's Sovereignty Sham
THE US presidential election campaign is governing US
policy half a world away in Iraq.
US public opinion has shifted under the
impact of revelations of large-scale torture, supported, whether implicitly or
explicitly, by Rumsfeld and company.
This added to horror at the siege of Falluja, where up to a thousand people were slaughtered by US forces before
those same forces were forced into an inglorious retreat.
Reeling from these events the director and deputy-director
of the CIA have resigned, scapegoats for Bush's blunders. The Bush regime is
moving might and main to try and create an illusion, in the US if not in Iraq,
that the 30 June 'handover' is a real step towards peace and democracy for the
people of Iraq.
To get agreement on a UN resolution, the US government has
in words shifted ground and accepted the description of the Iraqi Interim
Government (IIG) as "fully sovereign and independent". This concession has a
very limited meaning. Iraqi prime minister, Allawi, has already done what
Colin Powell demanded two months ago. He has 'given some sovereignty back' to
the US and specifically to 138,000 'coalition' troops who will continue to
operate under US command.
The Iraqi Interim Government are an unelected cabal who have won their places
in 'government' because they are willing to prostitute themselves to US
imperialism. And, at least in some cases, because they claim to represent
social forces that US imperialism needs to have 'inside the tent'. Allawi has
another quality which is attractive to US imperialism, he has made it clear he
considers himself a 'strong man' who would undoubtedly be prepared to use
brutal force against the Iraqi people. He has already made plans to try and
're-Ba'athify' the new Iraqi army.
As members of an unelected 'government' which is acting as
a fig leaf for the brutal imperialist occupation of Iraq, none of the Iraqi
Interim Government will
be able to maintain whatever social base they have. And many of them have
virtually none. Five of the six leading posts in the government are held by
people who have spent most of their lives abroad. The ministers of
communications, electricity, and industry and minerals (oil) were all
residents of the US until 2003. One still has a job in the US, from which he
has taken an indefinite leave of absence to become an Iraqi government
To bolster the illusion that stability is increasing in
Iraq under the Iraqi Interim Government the US have had to retreat militarily yet again. They
dropped their demand for the arrest of anti-US Shia leader Al Sadr and
withdrew troops from the Shia holy city of Najaf. But immediately afterwards
they revealed in one fell swoop how the US-led occupation will never bring
genuine democracy to Iraq but will mean escalating conflict and violence.
No sooner had members of the Iraqi Interim Government agreed to 'disband' their
militias (which seems to mean that the militias continue but are formally part
of the new Iraqi army) then all those militias that had not 'disbanded' were
banned, and their members banned from holding political office for three
years. This means that even if Al Sadr's Mahdi army were to disband today it
cannot contest elections in the next three years!
The US had already turned Al Sadr from a leader with
relatively little support to an icon of the resistance to US occupation. This
latest move can only increase his support and dramatically fuel the flames of
what is now a generalised national insurgency of the Iraqi people.
WHILE THERE will be troughs and peaks in the resistance in
Iraq, it is clear that it will continue while 'coalition' troops occupy Iraq.
Even if at some point they don blue helmets it will not make them acceptable
to the majority of Iraqis, particularly given UN responsibility for the
The dreams of the neo-cons are in tatters. The Bush regime
is desperate for an exit strategy from Iraq, but one which will maintain its
strategic and economic interests in tact. But such a strategy does not exist.
There are no reliable forces in Iraq on which the US can base itself.
In classic imperialist fashion it is attempting to lean
on, and balance between, the self-appointed leaders of different ethnic and
religious groups, but is incapable of meeting the aspirations of any of them.
Nothing has been resolved on the constitution of a future Iraq. This is only
increasing the possibility of a bloody civil war further down the road.
However, this is not the only possible future for Iraq. In
the aftermath of the siege of Falluja Sunni and Shia forces united against the
occupation. This shows the potential for a united movement of the Iraqi
working class and poor. Unfortunately, the programme of Al Sadr is in reality
opposed to such a united movement, but is instead for the establishment of a
right-wing theocratic Islamic state.
Socialists must support the building of workers'
organisations in Iraq that can unite across the religious and ethnic divides,
and of democratic multi-ethnic defence forces. Capitalism offers no democratic
way out of the nightmare in Iraq. That is why the movement against the
occupation should fight for an Iraq-wide government of the workers and urban
and rural poor that could break with imperialism and capitalism and introduce
a democratic and socialist programme.