The Socialist 21 September 2006 |
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End the occupations
Iraq: Will bringing the troops home bring stability?
THE NEWSPAPER headlines said it all: a "grim
scorecard", "scores die", "murders continue unabated in Iraq".
There is no doubt that Iraq is experiencing a civil war in which
Sunni and Shia death squads are the determining factor. The British and
American occupation forces are increasingly forced to go into hiding in
a country that has spiralled out of control. The occupation has brought
this about and it must end.
In the three months since the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the
alleged Al Queda leader in Iraq, the bloodletting has increased. The
civilian death toll recorded by the Iraq Body Count website since the
beginning of the invasion of Iraq has exceeded 47,000.
The bloodshed continues to grow with 50 deaths the average daily rate
for 2006. Even this shocking level of violent deaths is probably an
underestimation, as many other are unreported and unrecorded.
A secret report by the chief of intelligence for the US Marine Corps
in Iraq bluntly stated that in the Western province of Anbar, which
encompasses 30% of Iraq's land mass and contains the cities of Ramadi
and Fallujah, there is nothing the US military can do to improve the
political and social situation.
One Army officer commented: "We haven't been defeated militarily but
we have been defeated politically - and that is where wars are won and
Speaking on the anniversary of 9/11, Bush restated the intention of
US imperialism to do whatever it takes to control Iraq's oil wealth. His
declaration that the US is in "the early hours of this struggle between
tyranny and freedom" will have horrified Iraqi, US and British
working-class families alike.
THERE ARE those who were opposed to the war at its onset but argue
now that the occupation forces should stay until the necessary
institutions are built and an 'Iraqi democracy' is established with
reliable armed forces of its own. This is the position of the Liberal
However this is never going to happen. The Iraqi government sits on
the bayonets of the occupation government and has no real authority.
The armed forces trained by the US military reflect the ethnic
divisions in the country and could fragment into ethnic-based militia.
The situation in Baghdad is so bad that the Iraqi government is
planning to seal off Baghdad by building a 60 mile-long trench around
the city to control the movement of seven million people in and out of
The Socialist Party demands the immediate withdrawal of the
occupation forces from Iraq. However, the withdrawal of the troops would
not guarantee an end of the sectarian conflict.
On the basis of capitalism, with its long history of divide and rule
fomented by imperialism, and the fight over who can lay their hands on
the natural resources of the country, the existing sectarian divisions
In our opinion, the only guarantee of overcoming the divisions in
Iraq and preventing an escalating and bloody civil war and possible
break up of the country, is a united struggle of Sunni, Shia, Kurdish
and Turcomen workers.
This would include the setting up of multi-ethnic defence forces,
based on trade unions and community organisations, to halt the sectarian
killings and a united struggle to end the occupation.
Although it will not be easy to build such organisations in the
current situation, the history of Iraq itself has shown many examples of
united struggle against the Saddam regime. And more recently against the
occupation when, for example, cross-sectarian solidarity was organised
when the Shia town of Najaf and the Sunni town of Fallujah were both
brutally attacked by occupation forces.
But a united struggle would also need to be based around a socialist
programme which would guarantee that production and the rich resources
of Iraq were democratically owned and controlled by the working class
and poor of that country.
A socialist Iraq, as part of a socialist confederation of the Middle
East, would guarantee the rights of all ethnic groups, religions and
nationalities, including the right to self-determination, ending the
nightmare that faces ordinary Iraqis today.