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IW 05

Asia-Middle East

Iraq: The yanquis in retreat

 

The parliamentary elections in Iraq form part of the “political process” the yanquis are setting up to prepare a “withdrawal”, that will be no such thing. Imperialism aims to maintain military bases in Iraq and to exercise undisputed air and navy power (the Iraqi (new army” lacks air and naval units capable of defending the borders; it is barely more than an army of occupation against its own people). The also aim to continue with a monopoly over the business deals arising from “reconstruction” and over Iraq's oil reserves.

The US political crisis, provoked by the impasse of the occupation, has put “withdrawal” at the top of the agenda. High officials at the Pentagon (and a good many of what is called the “intelligence community”) have reached the conclusion that they cannot defeat the resistance militarily. An army obliged to fight a war it cannot win is condemned to fall apart.

The signs of that decomposition are already beginning to show themselves. “There exist grave doubts among the military concerning the capacity of the US Army to sustain two or three more years of combat in Iraq” (The New Yorker, 25 Nov). The lack of troops in an army that cannot —for fear of a rebellion among the youth— have recourse to conscription is a pressing one indeed. Michael O’Hanlon, specialist in military affairs at the Brookings Institution, warns that “if the president decides to keep the current course in Iraq, some troops will be obliged to serve four or five tours of combat in 2007 and 2008, which would have serious consequences for moral and competency” (ídem). It is not necessary to wait three years: Congressman John Murtha denoucned that “fifty thousand US soldiers suffer from combat fatigue or whatever syndrome they call it now...” (ídem).

Each day the troops continue in Iraq is a fresh blow against the Army. That is why the generals are pressing the government to withdraw them from Iraq as quickly as possible.

Political process”

The so-called “political process” not only includes the Shiites (religious and laymen) and the Kurds, that is, political manpower with which it has been attempted, without success, to “stabilize” Iraq. The novelty is that it also includes the majority of the political representatives of the Iraqi resistance (mainly Sunni). “A substantial part of the resistance made a call to enter the electoral dispute with the aim of obtaining as many deputies in the National Assembly as possible” (Anti-imperialist Camp, 24 Dec).

The new “political process” includes, in addition, “an opening towards sectors of the resistance from the Baath party (the party of Saddam)” (idem): as part of that “opening”, a few days after the elections 25 high officials of Saddam's regime were freed.

The other novelty —confirmed by Bush himself— is that the US ambassador in Baghdad has been authorized to negotiate directly with Iran in order to direct the “political process”.

Imperialism negotiates with everyone —including the rebels, the followers of Saddam and those belonging to the “axis of evil”— so as to place in Baghdad a government of “national unity” allowing it “to withdraw” from Iraq.

National unity”

The government of “national unity” would have to include all the relevant fractions, today in conflict politically and militarily: the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds. At the head of this contradictory government, the yanquis are disposed towards imposing (with the help of fraud) a man of their confidence: Ilyad Allawi, a lay Shiite and, above all, agent of the CIA. However, “the possibilities of there emerging a tolerant, multi-sectorial government of broad coalition are not bright” (The Economist, 17 Dec).

The first obstacle is the distribution of oil income: the Shiites and the Kurds demand that the property rights over the hydrocarbon reserves (which are concentrated in the regions each one of them dominates) remain in the hands of regional entities; not in those of the federal government. In direct connection to this, the recently approved constitution (over the opposition of the Sunnis), grants broad “federal” (autonomous) powers to the Shiites in the south and to the Kurds in the north. An agreement for the forming of a coalition government should include, necessarily, the commitment of the Kurds and the Shiites to reform the constitution and to share in the benefits of the oil business.

The second is the militias. The Shiites and the Kurds incorporated their militias into the “new Iraqi army”, in which they act as shock troops against the Sunnis. There are innumerable reports indicating that these militias —which constitute the real power both in the south (Shiite) and in the north (Kurdish)-, kidnap, torture and assassinate the Sunni population. The resistance (mainly Sunni), meanwhile, attacks the mosques and massacres the Shiite population.

To all this must be added the religious disputes (which not only confront Sunnis against Shiites, but also Islamics against laymen, a current of strong tradition in Iraq) and the “irrenounceable” demand of the Kurds over the city of Kirkuk, where they aspire to establish the capital of their autonomous region. In Kirkuk (and in all the province) the Kurdish militias have unleashed a real “ethnic cleansing” against the Arab population.

Apart from the explosive contradictions that confront the various fractions against each other, are those appearing within each of them, particularly between religious Shiites. The clergyman Al Sadr heads his own militia, which sustains an open political (and at times military) struggle against the militias of the “party of the Islamic revolution” (Sciri) and those of the Dawa party, the nucleus of the Shiite coalition, due to its preeminence in the south. Al Sadr is followed by the most impoverished Shiite population, particularly the most miserable neighborhoods in Baghdad.

The political crisis is brutal: that is why “the United States should use all its influence in extracting a certain degree of generosity” from the religious Shiites, whose slate seems to have won the elections (The Economist, 17 Dec).

The main problem, all in all, is that the government formed to facilitate the US “withdrawal” would not survive the yanqui troops leaving. The “Kurdish leaders have said in interviews that they expect the Shiites to create a semi-autonomous State and afterwards an independent State in the south as they wish to do in the north” (Miami Herald, 28 Dec).

International accords

In order to leave Iraq without the country falling into civil war (which would necessarily involve neighboring countries), imperialism needs to set up broad based international accords, to support the government of “national unity”.

Kissinger has said it very clearly: “Those countries relevant to the security and the stability of Iraq, or which consider their security and stability affected by the emerging accords, should be given a sensation of participation in the next stage in Iraqi politics. The political institutions in development in Iraq need to be built within an international and regional system (...) because, otherwise, the United States would have to act alone as permanent police, a role which any Iraqi government probably rejects in the long term and which the very debate being analyzed here makes impossible” (Viewpoint Syndicate, 18 Dec).

The “guests” —Europa, countries in the region, Russia, China, Pakistan and India— see, above all, the possibility of getting involved in the oil and financial deals which should accompany the 'international accords'. The problem is that Bush and his cabinet of war criminals and torturers have no intention of ceding anything involving the control they have imposed in the area of politics and in the energy business. The occupation of Iraq obeyed in large part, precisely, the purpose of removing from the Persian Gulf the US' rival monopolies. international arbitration over Iraq would involve, in turn, influence for European imperialism in the Palestinian crisis.

In order to be able to withdraw from Iraq, the United States needs a government disposed towards accepting a broad based international agreement. In this way, the war that was begun to produce a “regime change” in Baghdad will end up producing a “regime change” in Washington.

For the United Socialist States of the Middle East

Under the pressure of imperialism and the world crisis, Middle East regimes as a whole are disintegrating. This is not only the case in Iraq, but also in Syria, Lebanon and even in Saudi Arabia itself. The artificial frontiers that have been raised cannot contain the rottenness of minority regimes facing deep based political crises threatening their survival.

A new sharing out of the Middle East is underway, which will be a new weight that must be carried by the masses of the region. The workers and peasants will have to pay with their blood, their sweat and their tears the renewed imperialist pillaging and the survival of washed up reactionary regimes.

This crisis places in the foreground the validity and currency of the slogan of the United Socialist States of the Middle East. The meso-oriental disintegration shows that this is no alchemy or recipe: it is the only way out for the exploited masses, for the workers and peasants, for the whole region.

By Luis Oviedo