The battle for Najaf is over.Though the bombing was brutal and indiscriminate, the militias that were facing against the occupying forces only accepted the withdrawal as the result of a political agreement between their chief, Al Sadr, and ayatollah Sistani, the maximum Shiite religious authority in Iraq. The agreement established the cease fire and the withdrawal from the holy city, both of the militias and the US troops. The militias withdrewarmed and Al Sadr remains free. The puppet provisional government, which didn't participate directly in the negotiation, will pay the costs of damage inflicted to the victims and their police will take control of the city.
The result of the agreement is contradictory but in line with the policy of strengthening the repressive forces of the puppet government. The Shiite leadership led by Sistani supports the "institutional strengthening" of the occupation. Sistani, according to the Britishpress, was "the last alternative" for a negotiated solution for Najaf (Financial Times, 26/8).
After the agreement in Najaf, the maximum assembly of Shiite religious authorities, gathered immediately afterwards, decided to condemn "armed struggle".
As a consequence, the fighting that had begun in what is called "Sadr City", the huge slum in Baghdad where two million Iraqis live in conditions of over-population, poverty, despair and rebellion only comparable to the Gaza Strip, also died down. The weekend before the agreement between Al Sadr and Sistani, violent clashes had taken place there between militias and occupying forces. During the combats, according to Financial Times (29/8), "Sadr City was to all effect outside the controlof US troops and those of the provisional government".
Thanks to the agreement between Sistani and Al Sadr, the rebellion was temporarily deactivated. But the occupiers are incapable of effectively controlling the country's territory ("United States only controls effectively a part of Baghdad", informed the journalist Robert Fisk in early August). As a consequence of "the almost daily attacks on oil ducts and bombing stations" (Financial Times, 31/8), oil exports fell from 1.8 million daily barrels last March all the way to 1 million daily in August.
That's why no one is fooling themselves regarding the length of the truce. "More than a long-lasting agreement it's a weak and stumbling truce", says the journalist David Rieff (Financial Times, 30/8). The reason, he explains, is the despairing situation that the Iraqi masses face under the occupation: "80% of youth, says Rieff, is unemployed and it's among those youths where Sadr has his most solid supporters".
The rebellion and battle of Najaf divided the puppet government. Prime minister Allawi and the representatives of the Kurdish parties proposed the military suppression.The same was demanded by a part of the Shiite leadership: the absence of Sistani from Najaf and his silence during the three weeks of bombing was interpreted as a "blank check" for repression (Financial Times, 26/8).The Shiite parties represented in the provisional government, however, demanded a "negotiated solution".
The crisis of the puppet governmentwas, however, hardly more than a reflection of the political crisis of its master. The battle of Najaf put in evidence once more the fracture that exists between the military command and the White House.
The generals of the Pentagon pushed, as did Alawi, for the military suppression of the rebellion. Bush, on the contrary, favored the truce to take a "success" with him to the Republican Convention gathered in New York. Bush is opposed to the increase of the number of occupying troops, because he makes a priority, within the military budget, of the program of large contracts for "technological war" (the same that showed its limits in the occupation of Iraq and that, according to the generals, put the army in tension because of the lack of men and bullets).
The deception of the generals with the truce accepted by Bush was ventilated by one of the usual spokesmen of the Pentagon, the right-winger Daniel Pipes, who called it "a disgrace" and accused Bush of "lack of conviction".
The truce was also criticized by Kerry and the Democrats (twelve top generals and admirals are part fo Kerry's team). One of them, Wesley Clark, ex-commander of NATO, criticized the truce in Najafand Bush's whole military program, which includes the withdrawal of 70,000 soldiers form Europe and Asia, as "a strategic mistake". Kerry himself denounced that Bush's plan "will compromise the safety of the United States and the war on terrorism".
Kerry announced he will not evacuate Iraq and proposed "increasingthe army's ranks in 40,000 soldiers" and "doubling the special forces" to be able to "face the increasing amount of missions abroad" (Página/12, 18/8). But, as opposed to Bush, he proposes "to cooperate more fully with the allies, especially NATO, to reduce the military and political effort of Washington in Iraq" (ibid.).
The pressure cookerof the Middle East
"For the first time since the downfall of Saddam, the division of Iraq appears to be a real possibility"(Financial Times, 19/8). Centrifugal tendencies manifest themselves.Iran, according to some observers, would be giving the Shiite rebellion silent support as a way of keeping the US generals busy; Turkey backs the demands of the Turk minority in the North of the country; important sectors of the Saudi regime would be backing the Sunni rebellion to avoid the coming of a "Shiite Iraq".
All these interventions pale, however, in comparison to the one the Zionist state would be waging in support of the Kurds. According to Seymour Hersh, the journalist who denounced the tortures in the prison of Abu Grahib, Israel has installed espionage and infiltration bases in Kurdish territory, with the objective of spying (and even intervening against) Iran and the Shiite Iraqis. Hersh himself informs that the Zionists firmly support the division of Iraq. Israeli intervention in support of Kurds destabilizes Iraq and the whole Middle East: it threatens to break one of the most important points of support of imperialism in the region: the military agreement that exists between Turkey and Israel. Turkey is opposed to its own Kurdish minority and is a deadly enemy of the birth of a "Kurdish republic" in the North of Iraq.
What fuels the stagnation of theUS occupation of Iraq are the unsolvable contradictions of the world crisis.
United States invaded Iraq to monopolize the Gulf 's oil, force the privatization of the oil fields of the whole region, "redesign the map" of the Middle East (meaning,"solve the Palestine question"and impose friendly regimes in Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia) and, finally, use this path to subordinate their European rivals.
The increase in the price of oil makes the failure of these objectives evident. But while the United States doesn't make the decision of sharing these oil enterprises with European capital, there will be no political agreement in the United Nations nor, much less, French or German troops in Iraq; "the Transatlantic Split -between Europe and the United States - is deeper than ever" (Financial Times, 8/8).