Iraqi Resistance Confronts Imperialist Occupation
The sole reason given by Anglo-American imperialism for its predatory war against Iraq was that it possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which posed a compelling danger to peace, security and stability in the Middle East and beyond. Knowing full well that this was a lie, the governments of US and Britain had also added two incidental reasons, namely, that Iraq had connections with Al Qaida and that the interests of humanitarianism required the invasion of Iraq so as to topple Saddam Hussein and liberate the people of Iraq from his “tyrannical” regime. Every one of these assertions has turned out to be a blatant and deliberate lie – as we always said it was.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)
On 24 September 2002, addressing the House of Commons, Tony Blair, British prime minister, stated emphatically that:
“… Iraq has chemical and biological weapons, … Saddam has continued to produce them … he has existing and active military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, which could be activated in 45 minutes”.
On 2 December 2002, Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary, asserted in unequivocal terms that:
“President Bush’s determination to use force if necessary is because of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction”.
On 18 March this year, just hours before unleashing a barbarous imperialist war of aggression against Iraq, US president Bush, in his address to the nation, in tones of total certainty, declared:
“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised”.
Neither Hans Blix and his team of UN inspectors, nor the Anglo-American imperialist aggressors, who have been in Iraq for more than three months, have been able to discover any WMD. The truth is that there were no such WMD in Iraq; any such weapons that it has had in the past, had been duly discovered and destroyed by UN inspectors over a period of several years. It is very telling indeed that the two occupying powers are not allowing the UN inspectors back into Iraq; they are doing so because they have something to hide, that is, the absence of WMD in Iraq. Had Iraq actually been in possession of such WMD, and in the quantities it was alleged to have had, had it really presented the kind of danger the public in the US, Britain and elsewhere were told that it did, Anglo-American imperialism might have thought it wise not to attack Iraq.
Admission of Lie
Now that it is clear that Iraq had no WMD in the period leading up to the war and it has not had such weapons for a very long time, the principal actors in this war, at least on the other side of the Atlantic, have either begun to admit openly (as for instance Wolfowitz) that the alleged possession of WMD by Iraq was not the real reason for the war, or they constantly shift their ground (Rumsfeld).
This is what is stated by Paul Wolfowitz, in an interview in the June issue of Vanity Fair magazine: “The truth is that for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction”. In plain language, the allegation that Iraq possessed WMD was a lie and a better fake excuse than any other for a war, whose real purpose was to topple the Iraqi regime and monopolise Iraqi oil resources as a first step in securing complete domination over the Middle East and its vast oil riches.
Already by 17 April, Donald Rumsfeld had thrown in the towel when at a press briefing he admitted: “I don’t think we’ll discover anything, myself. I think what will happen is we’ll discover people who will tell us where to go find it. … The inspectors didn’t find anything and I doubt that we will”.
Just over a month later he had changed his mind. On 27 May, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, he said: “[Iraq is] a country the size of California. It is not as though we’ve managed to look every place. There are hundreds and hundreds of suspect chemical or biological or nuclear sites that have not been investigated as yet. It’ll take time”. This from a person whose government, just like the British government, were earlier so impatient about the efforts of Hans Blix and his team of UN inspectors to do the same job.
A mere six weeks after the above statement, Rumsfeld had changed his mind yet again. On 9 July he said that there had been no new intelligence on Iraqi WMD; that the US authorities had merely looked at old intelligence in the light of September 11 incidents. To put it plainly, the September 11 incidents had provided to the US a pretext for initiating a series of imperialist wars of aggression for which there was no justification whatever in international law or morality.
Bogus uranium claims
Rumsfeld had no option but to come clean on this question, for three days earlier (6 July) a former US ambassador, hired by the CIA to investigate allegations that the Iraqi regime had secured large quantities of uranium from Niger, went public stating that the Bush administration had “twisted” intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq. Joseph Wilson, former envoy to Gabon, had gone to Niger in February 2002. He concluded and reported that there was no truth to the allegations that Niger’s mines were a source for Iraq’s nuclear programme. Subsequently the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also came to the same conclusion. Yet, a whole year after Wilson’s report, president Bush in his January State of the Union address, as part of his case for war on Iraq, asserted that “the British government learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”.
Writing in the New York Times, Mr.Wilson, now an international business consultant, asked: “Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programmes to justify an invasion of Iraq?” He went on to answer his own question thus: “Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons programme was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat”.
Following Wilson’s public statement, the Bush administration was compelled to admit that it had relied on falsified documents. Having, however, been obliged to accept that Bush relied on “bogus” information in his January State of the Union message, the Bush team is busy discrediting Wilson’s findings by saying that they were either unpersuasive or simply drowned in the flood of daily intelligence reports. As we go to print, CIA director George Tenet has admitted that he was to blame for not deleting this allegation from Bush’s speech. This is an attempt by the establishment to save Bush’s skin, but this story will run for some time.
Bush and his administration had also repeatedly cited the interception of aluminium tubes which, it was alleged, could serve as rotors in centrifuges used to enrich uranium. “Our intelligence sources”, said Bush in his January address, “tell us that he [Saddam] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminium tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production”. In the light of the lies put out by the US and British governments concerning Iraq’s alleged WMD, no one believes a word of what Bush and Blair or their administrations say on this or any other topic. Every decent, honest and intelligent person sees them for what they really are – mercenary liars who are prepared to commit any crime, and tell any amount of lies, in the service of their respective imperialist ruling classes. This is how it should be. Just as, in the wake of a series of business scandals, the leaders of imperialist finance and industry have become thoroughly discredited, so in the aftermath of the imperialist wars of the past decade, especially the present war on Iraq, the political leaders of imperialism have become thoroughly discredited and perceived by the majority of people around the world as untrustworthy and lacking in any moral fibre. Before a system can be got rid of, it and its representatives, must be perceived as thoroughly rotten, bankrupt and degenerate.
In Britain, the BBC, which is one of the most important propaganda arms of British imperialism, and which did so much to help with the imperialist propaganda leading up to the Iraq war, is embroiled in a public row with the government over a report by its journalist, Andrew Gilligan, that the government had “sexed up” (the latest buzz word for exaggeration and distortion) intelligence reports to make the case for war. There is no question that the government, especially Tony Blair and his director of communications, Alistair Campbell, had done precisely that. The important point to make, however, is that even if they had not exaggerated and twisted the intelligence dossiers, there would have been no justification for this war; that with or without the dossier being “sexed up”, the war on Iraq was, and continues to be, an imperialist war without a shred of legal or moral justification. It is a measure of the degeneration and decadence, the complete rottenness of imperialism and imperialist politics that, while ignoring the substance of the issue – the justness or otherwise of this war – the BBC, the opposition and the government are busy engaging in a fight with paper swords as to whether the intelligence dossier had or had not been manipulated by the government. They all supported this filthy imperialist carnage; now they are busy doing damage limitation by attempting to restore some faith in a decadent system run by a gang of decadent and degenerate professional liars and mercenaries.
While highly placed officials in Whitehall have stated that WMD will not be found in Iraq, Tony Blair and his defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, continue to assert, with dwindling conviction, that their assertions in the period up to the invasion of Iraq were correct and that they have no doubt these weapons will be discovered. But their language is changing, Now they speak, not of Iraq’s WMD, but of Iraqi programmes concerning WMD. Moreover, their lying assertions are daily being undermined by the admissions of the top Bush officials.
A ‘Liberation’ War
If there has been no discovery of Iraqi WMD, equally there is no evidence of Iraqi connections with Al Qaida. This leaves us with the last attempted justification for Anglo-American imperialism’s war on Iraq – that it was to liberate the Iraqi people from the Ba’athist Iraqi regime. The only problem with this justification is that the Iraqi people, the supposed beneficiaries of this imperialist humanitarianism, do not see it this way. They continue correctly to treat the US and British forces in Iraq as armies of occupation; they want these armies to leave Iraq; and since these armies won’t quit voluntarily, the Iraqi people are waging an armed struggle to convince the occupiers of the wisdom of leaving Iraq to the Iraqis.
On the 1st of May, George W.Bush, declared an end to combatant operations from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Arriving in a jumpsuit on the deck of the US aircraft carrier, he declared melodramatically: “America is grateful for a job well done”.
The triumphalism with which Bush declared the end of the Anglo-American imperialist predatory war against Iraq has become a dim and distant memory. The initial euphoria at the capture of Baghdad has made way for dismay, with anti-US and anti-British sentiments being the dominant feature in all parts of Iraq.
In the last issue of Lalkar, we wrote: “US imperialism and its junior partner in crime, Britain, may entertain a momentary feeling of triumph. They will shortly have the grin wiped off their smug and arrogant imperialist faces as the Iraqi people, recovering from the initial phase of this war, get themselves together and organise resistance against the occupation regime, whittle it down and force on it a humiliating retreat”.
What we said barely two months ago, is being realised right under our eyes. Iraq today presents a picture of total chaos, turmoil, insecurity, massive unemployment, mass destitution, disease and hunger. Two months after the end of the war there is no electricity; water supplies and emergency services have ground to a halt; the sewerage system has collapsed; there are piles of rubbish everywhere; robbery and theft are rampant, with cars stolen in broad daylight.
Andrew Gilligan, the BBC journalist at the centre of the row concerning the British government’s dodgy dossier produced in an attempted justification of the war in Iraq, rightly claimed in a letter from Baghdad that “… in the days after Saddam Hussein’s fall, the people of Baghdad were living in greater fear than they had ever known”. Answering criticism from the Sunday Telegraph that he and his colleagues then reporting the war from Iraq “were insufficiently questioning of Iraq”, he wrote with devastating sarcasm that “your leader-writer and columnist Nigel Farndale must enjoy unusual powers of perception to have discerned facts to be otherwise from several thousand miles away”. He concluded with these words: “If only the same robustness [as that displayed by Gilligan and his colleagues in treating Iraqi claims with scepticism – Lalkar] and scepticism could have been employed towards many of the untrustworthy, premature or downright false claims made by the US and Britain – such as the ‘uprising’ in Basra, the ‘fall’ of Umm Qasr, the ‘discovery’ of a chemical weapons plant, and the ‘execution’ of British prisoners” (Sunday Telegraph, 20 April 2003).
Although compared with the 1991 Gulf War, the damage to infrastructure is less severe, back then (in 1991) the Iraqis had everything running again within 41 days. The difference is that whereas in 1991 Iraqis were in charge of reconstruction, today imperialism is in the driving seat, whose priorities are the restoration of the oil industry, privatisation of Iraqi state enterprises, demobilisation of the Iraqi national army and police force and getting rid of thousands of Iraqi officials from the old regime and replacing them with reliable elements and putting in place an interim administration of a couple of dozen hand-picked Iraqi stooges willing to do the bidding of US imperialism.
The present US proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer, who arrived in Baghdad on 12 May and whose Provisional Coalition Authority (PCA) succeeded the Office of Rehabilitation and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), headed by the retired US general Jay Garner, who left in derision and covered in ignominy, has sacked 30,000 top-level Ba’ath party officials from the old regime and demobilised the half-a-million-strong Iraqi army. These actions of Bremer have added to the already existing massive unemployment and serve to exacerbate frustration and tension within Iraqi society, already suffering in the aftermath of a devastating war of aggression.
On 1 June, the occupying powers jettisoned an earlier plan to create a national conference of about 300 members, who would elect an administration in mid-July. They decided instead to form a political council of 25-30 members to advise Iraqi ministries – an act designed not to hasten the formation of an interim administration but to strengthen the control of the occupying powers over its decisions. The reason for this turn around is that the alarming increase in Iraqi hostility to, and resistance against, imperialist occupation has made the occupying powers totally distrustful of the Iraqi people.
On the other hand, the Iraqi people want to hold elections and create an elected sovereign national government of their own choice. Bremer opposes it, saying elections should take place only after ratification of a new constitution (a process not even begun thus far and may take years), improvement in the security situation and improved public services. Since improved security and services can only be realised by an Iraqi government chosen by the Iraqi people, Bremer’s formula is a recipe for never having an Iraqi government.
Protests and demonstrations
No wonder, then, that the Iraqis, fed up with the misery and humiliation heaped on them by their occupiers have resorted to protests, demonstrations and guerrilla warfare as the only means for improving their conditions of existence and enforcing their right to elect a government of their own liking. From the day of his arrival in Baghdad on 21 April, Jay Garner was greeted with huge protest demonstrations. Towards the end of April, even before the war had ended, more than 20,000 marched in Nasseriya in protest against a gathering called by Garner to consider the question of a future government of Iraq. 19 May witnessed a major protest in Baghdad, jointly attended by 10,000 Shias and Sunnis, with the crowds chanting: ‘No Shiites and No Sunnis, just Islamic unity’. They carried banners reading: ‘No to the foreign administration’, ‘No, no, no USA’, ‘We will not sell this country’, and ‘We want honest Iraqis, not their thieves’. Commenting on these protests, the Washington Post of 19 May observed: “these planned protests mark an escalation in organised Shiite disenchantment with the US occupiers, Shiite Muslim politics and their array of competing personalities and agendas remain one of the least understood and potentially most decisive axes in the emerging political landscape in Iraq”.
The armed struggle, which too commenced before the end of the war, has continued at an accelerating pace. Here are just a few example of the armed actions by the Iraqi national resistance against the occupation armies of Anglo-American imperialism.
On 26 May, one US soldier was killed and four injured in two separate Iraqi ambushes. These ambushes were part of four attacks against US forces in the course of a single day, including one in Baghdad. According to US military sources, in one of these attacks gunmen fired at a supply convoy of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment near Haditha, 110 miles north-west of Baghdad, killing one soldier and injuring another. A little later an explosion struck a convoy near Baghdad, injuring three soldiers and destroying their vehicle.
The Financial Times (FT), of Monday 2 June, reported the following:
“Last week in the town of Hit, townspeople went on a rampage and burned a police station when soldiers searched homes of residents following a missile attack on US forces there.
“In Fallujah, where up to 18 civilians were killed last month by US troops in two separate incidents, there are almost daily attacks on US soldiers. Last Monday, two died and nine were injured when their checkpoint came under attack. Two attackers were killed and six taken prisoner, according to the US military”.
On Friday 13 June, US forces were ambushed outside the town of Balad – a Shia island in a Sunni sea. The growing realisation that the US-led forces may be up against the early stages of a guerrilla war have undermined the morale of the US military, putting paid to hopes of an early return home for tens of thousands of troops. On 15 June, General Richard Myers, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, admitted that at least five groups were operating against the Anglo-American forces in Iraq.
During the weekend of 14-15 June, the US military conducted a large-scale operation in the Sunni towns to the north and west of Baghdad. This operation centred on the town of Falluja, 90 km west of Baghdad, which has claimed the lives of several US soldiers over several previous weeks of shootings and missile attacks. Over the same weekend, US troops brought to an end Operation Peninsula Strike, an attack by 4,000 US troops on the village of Thuluiya, north of Baghdad. During this operation, on 12 June, a US attack helicopter was brought down. On 15 June, US headquarters in the town of Ramadi came under mortar attack, according to the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television station. According to the FT of 16 June, the US army regards large swathes of Iraq “semi-permissible” – military jargon for unsafe – either for reasons of political elements with close connections to the erstwhile Saddam regime or due to lawlessness pure and simple.
On 18 June, as Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary, told the US Congress that “there is a guerrilla war there [in Iraq]”, a US soldier was killed in a drive-by shooting at a petrol station in Baghdad – the 52nd soldier to die since Bush declared the end of Combat Operations on 1st May. On 19 June, one US soldier was killed and two injured in a rocket attack on south-west Baghdad – the second day in a row in which a US soldier was killed in the capital. The US authorities openly acknowledge that they are facing “organised guerrilla groups”, adding however that there is little sign that the attacks are being “centrally coordinated”.
On Saturday 28 June, US forces discovered the bodies of two soldiers who had gone missing the previous week north of Baghdad. As the political process appeared close to collapse, on Sunday 29 June an explosion in Baghdad killed an Iraqi civilian and wounded two US military police. In the meantime, US troops launched more than 20 lightening raids in towns across a wide area of Iraq on 29 June in an endeavour to put an end to Iraqi resistance and stem the wave of almost daily deadly attack on US forces. Between Saturday 28 June and Tuesday 1 July, US military sources confirmed that there had been 10 attacks, including two on 1 July in Baghdad. According to reliable sources, three US soldiers and an Iraqi were killed when a RPG (rocket-propelled grade) was fired at their vehicle in the Mustansiriya district of Baghdad. On Monday 30 June, there was an explosion near a mosque in Falluja. At least 4 people were killed after a weapons store blew up. Also on 30 June, a NBC news reporter was wounded when the military truck he was travelling in was hit by a RPG. On 3 July a mortar attack in a town near Baghdad left 16 US soldiers injured. On the same day, 8 American soldiers were wounded, three of them in a huge blast when their Humvee vehicle was struck by a RPG near Baghdad. Another five were wounded in Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad, in a similar incident. Over the weekend of 5-6 July, a police station in Ramadi was bombed by the Iraqi resistance, killing 7 recruits in a clear signal that Iraqi collaborators would be targeted just as much as foreign soldiers. On Saturday (5 July) a US soldier was shot dead at close range in central Baghdad, and on Sunday a US soldier was killed on the campus of Baghdad university.
Killing of British soldiers
The British establishment had been rather smug about how their army’s long experience in wars of colonial subjugation and plunder had taught their soldiers to relate well to the local population. This, it was claimed, was the reason for the absence of attacks on the British forces occupying southern Iraq. Anyone with any knowledge of British colonial history knows only too well its blood-soaked record and the infernal infamies committed by the British army on a regular basis over a period of several centuries – in the Americas, Asia, Africa AND Ireland. Then came the events of 24 June when six British soldiers were killed and 8 injured in two separate incidents in Al Majar al Kabir, near the city of Al-Amarah. In the second of these incidents, troops from the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment patrolling Al Majar were attacked with RPGs, heavy-machine guns and rifles by a large number of Iraqis. An RAF Chinook CCH-47 helicopter responding to the incident was fired on as it landed, leaving eight British soldiers injured. With characteristic imperialist and racist arrogance, Geoff Hoon, the British defence secretary, asserted that the attack on the British soldiers had been without provocation. Leaving aside the question of an aggressive weapons confiscation campaign and intrusive searches, during which the British soldiers regularly kick down doors, shoot dogs dead or take dogs into their victims homes, strike children with rifle butts, put a bag on the head of someone they arrest, handcuff him and leave him lying in the sun for a few hours, and pound towns and villages with helicopter gunships, does not Hoon, this insensitive defence minister of the oldest colonial and imperialist power, not realise that invading a sovereign state with 300,000 troops, destroying its infrastructure, occupying it, humiliating its proud people and making their lives mean and miserable is provocation enough!
The truth is that all occupation armies, US and British, are hated by the Iraqi people, for whom they are a legitimate target – a fact that has begun to be appreciated by members of the British government – at least some of them. Baroness Amos, the British international development secretary, told members of parliament a few days ago that threats to security remained a “significant obstacle to progress”, adding that attacks against US soldiers and sabotage of the recently restored infrastructure in Baghdad had become more organised. She emphasised concern about “worrying threats to international personnel and Iraqis working with the Coalition [imperialist occupation forces]”.
As a result of the attacks by the resistance, US soldiers have become panic-stricken and, on the slightest pretext, hit out against Iraqi civilians, killing large numbers of them, followed by false bulletins of fake encounters in which dozens of alleged guerrilla fighters are shown to have been killed. During the second week of June, US forces claimed to have raided a resistance camp in the town of Rawa, 80 km from the Syrian border, in which 70 Iraqis were killed. Likewise, a day after the mortar attack which left 16 soldiers injured on 3 July (see above), US soldiers killed 11 Iraqis who they claimed were gunmen involved in an attempted ambush.
The high-handed methods of the occupation authorities; the non-functioning public services; the continuing economic chaos; massive unemployment made worse by the disbandment of the Iraqi army, police and civil administration personnel, the total insecurity of life, and an imperialist-imposed administration along with the humiliation of occupation, have all combined to exacerbate discontent among the population and driven the Iraqi people to desperation. Even the Shia clergy has become paralysed and is fighting to retain its authority in the face of direct challenges from radical clerics and, more importantly, the Shia masses, who are increasingly hostile to the occupation forces and who want the Hawza (Shia clerical establishment) to declare a Jihad against the foreign occupiers. It is this anger of the masses which compelled Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a leading Shia jurist, to issue an edict, on Monday 30 June, calling for an elected convention to draw up a constitution – a basic right that the self-proclaimed liberators – the Anglo-American aggressors – are denying the Iraqi people.
Large numbers of Iraqis have been detained and subjected to torture, cruelty and inhuman treatment. Calling for detainees to have access to families and lawyers and the right to a judicial review of their detention, Amnesty International recently stated that: “The conditions Iraqis are held under at the Camp Cropper Center at Baghdad International Airport – now a US base – and at Abu Ghraib Prison may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, banned by international law”.
Conflict spreads to other countries
Along with the conflict in Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people for national liberation against Zionist brutal occupation, the rape of Iraq by Anglo-American imperialism with the tacit connivance of several execrable and reactionary regimes, has caused seething anger among the masses of the Arab people, who have taken some significant steps towards extending their struggle against imperialism to targets within their own countries. Thus it was that on Monday 12 May three car bombs, simultaneously detonated, ripped through three expatriate housing complexes in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Apart from the 9 attackers, 29, including 10 Americans were killed and 150 others injured. The attack was timed to take place with the arrival of Colin Powell, US secretary of state, who reached Riyadh (just a few hours after the bomb blasts) to promote the US-backed Road Map for peace between the Palestinians and Israel. The Saudi bombings underscored the volatility and extreme instability afflicting the region following the Anglo-American imperialist carnage in Iraq and overshadowed attempts to accelerate the Road Map and the US announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Saudi Arabia – both moves intended to sooth anti-American sentiment.
These bombings, the most serious incident in Saudi Arabia since 19 US servicemen were killed in the eastern city of Khobar in 1996, demonstrate the seething discontent and anger the Saudis feel at the policies of US imperialism on Palestine and Iraq – a discontent which manifested itself so dramatically on 11 September 2001. No longer are attacks confined to foreign lands – a fact which indicates a desire on the part of the attackers to directly target the reactionary Saudi monarchy.
Four days later, on Friday 16 May, four co-ordinated suicide attacks struck Casablanca, the commercial capital of Morocco. One of the targets was the Farah, earlier known as the Safir Hotel, owned by some Kuwaitis. The bombings, in which 41 people died (including the 14 bombers), shook Morocco’s self-advertised image as an oasis of stability and a haven for foreign tourists in an otherwise violent Arab world. As time goes on, and the brutality of the Zionist occupation of Palestine and the Anglo-American imperialist occupation of Iraq becomes starker still, attacks of the type witnessed in Riyadh and Casablanca would spread with a virulence not known so far.
Exacerbation of Inter-Imperialist Contradictions
In the run up to the war on Iraq, inter-imperialist contradictions sharpened to a degree not seen since before the Second World War. Several European countries, notably France, Germany and Russia, opposed the war. Britain was the only major European power to have supported, and participated in, this war. Since the end of the Iraq war, although a deal of some sort has been stitched through the UN Security Council, which on 22 May voted by a majority of 14 to nil (only the Syrian ambassador was absent) to lift sanctions on Iraq, in an interview with the FT a few days before the G8 Summit in Evian, the French president, Jacques Chirac, pointedly said that “a war which lacks legitimacy does not acquire legitimacy if it is won”. Equally pointedly, on the eve of the Security Council meeting which passed the resolution to lift the Iraqi sanctions, Igor Ivanon, Joschka Fischer and Dominique de Villepan, the Russian, German and French foreign ministers respectively, held a meeting at which they formally approved the endorsement of the Security Council resolution passed on the following day. The French officials emphasised that the Security Council resolution in no way legitimised the war – a key demand insisted on by France.
The Security Council resolution was, as was to be expected, a sordid compromise between the major powers. While it allowed the occupying powers, mainly the US, to exercise initial control over the use of Iraq’s oil resources, it satisfied French demands for a certain degree of transparency and independent monitoring with a view to the resolution of the legal issues concerning the winding up of the UN oil-for-food (OFF) programme. While the resolution confers transitional control over Iraqi oil to the occupiers, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and an interim Iraqi administration – all of them with no real power – have been written into the script, for the US insisted on control of Iraqi oil albeit with an element of international supervision, instead of placing it under UN control.
Under this resolution, billions of dollars in frozen assets as well as future revenues, will be taken out of UN control and placed at the disposal of the occupation forces to pay for Iraqi reconstruction, which is estimated to cost upwards of $100 billion – the largest such project since the Marshall Plan in the aftermath of the Second World War. Imperialist corporations are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of getting large and juicy contracts. Thus far the largest contracts have been awarded to US corporations, with close connections with the Bush administration. However, Balfour Beatty, Costain, Taylor Woodrow, Alston and many other British multinationals are hoping to secure a sizeable slice of these lucrative contracts. Russia, Germany and France must have been promised some share in the Iraqi bonanza, otherwise it is inconceivable that they would have voted for the Security Council resolution which removed sanctions on Iraq.
Iraqi reconstruction, i.e., the damage done to Iraq’s infrastructure through Anglo-American bombing and twelve years of murderous sanctions, is to be made good and paid for by Iraqi oil revenues. Even a bourgeois expert, Mr.Dan Plesch from Royal United Services Institute, was outraged enough to observe: “If oil revenues pay for bomb damage, it is … the principle of putting someone in front of the firing squad and charging for the bullet” (quoted in the Observer, 23 March 2003).
It is precisely the above bandits’ principle which is being put into effect by the predatory Anglo-American imperialist gangsters. As the control and domination of Iraq for the purposes of looting its oil riches was the chief motive behind US and Britain’s invasion of Iraq, it is not at all surprising that the occupying powers have with great speed appointed an interim head of the Iraqi oil sector and placed above him an advisory board headed by an American, Philip Carroll, the former chief executive of Shell Oil, with the UN being assigned the role of monitor of some financial flows, rather than that of a decision maker. These are but temporary arrangements, which will be swept aside in the coming days by the combined effect of the intensification of inter-imperialist contradictions and the Iraqi resistance to occupation.
Doomed to a catastrophic failure
Be that as it may, the greatest hope for the Iraqi people lies in organising resistance against the imperialist occupation forces. All progressive humanity cannot fail to be delighted at the growing number – both in frequency and sophistication – of attacks on the US troops throughout Iraq. According to the Washington Post of 10 June: “Almost every day, well-organized groups of assailants using assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars are ambushing US Army convoys, patrols, checkpoints, garrisons and public offices used by troops to interact with the civilian population”.
According to the same source, “there are signs of increasing organisation and efficiency of the resisters, US officers said”.
Desperate in the face of growing Iraqi resistance, on 3 July, Paul Bremer, the US chief administrator in Iraq put a $25 million price tag on the head of Saddam Hussein and $15 million on each of his sons, Uday and Qusay, being of the view that the capture of these three would help put an end to Iraqi resistance and also help resolve the question of the Iraqi non-existent WMD. Saddam responded the following day (4 July) when an audiotape from him was broadcast by al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based television station. In his message, Saddam called upon Iraqis to protect the resistance fighters and not to help the Americans, adding that the next few days would be “more arduous for the infidel invaders”.
With the resistance on the increase, military experts believe that the present force level of 175,000 is inadequate, and that a more realistic level is close to 300,000. If the US alone had to supply all of these numbers, the effect on US defence resources would be nothing short of catastrophic. Taking into account rotation in and out of the war theatre, it would mean the commitment of nearly a million soldiers to Iraq – nearly three quarters of the US army’s total strength. The whole thing becomes unsustainable in the light of the increased resistance in Afghanistan to the imperialist occupation forces, which have come under increasing attacks lately. Even the most hawkish elements in the US administration must thus be forced by these developments to delay their plans for further wars of aggression against countries such as the DPRK and Iran. The present operation is costing the US 4$ billion a month; nearly doubling the numbers of US troops in Iraq will mean a corresponding increase in costs. With the US budget already heading for a deficit of $400 billion this year, such costs are not sustainable in the long run. The US economy is in decline, the trade deficit has ballooned to 5% of the US GDP, the dollar is plunging; the EU and the Japanese economies are in no better state. All these factors are creating a most fertile ground for an inter-imperialist trade war and bringing the principal imperialist blocs closer than ever, since the 1930s, to an inter-imperialist war. The breach in the façade of the unity of the imperialist camp is there for all to see. The people of Iraq, as indeed the people of other countries, ought to be able to take advantage of such inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts. One thing which can be predicted with certainty is that the Anglo-American imperialist adventure is doomed to a scandalous and catastrophic failure.