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Iraq:

Resistance Grows, Casualties Mount

by Jared Cruz |
February 1, 2004
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The continued strength of the Iraqi resistance has created a growing crisis for the occupiers.

The capture of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on a farm near his hometown of Tikrit, Dec. 13, revealed much about the U.S. problems in the country. His capture did not end attacks against U.S. occupation forces or collaborators. It has made it clear that the resistance is much bigger than one man - President Hussein - and that the Iraqi people do not want to live under an occupation. So, the capture was followed by an increase in curfews, roadblocks, house-to-house searches, raids of mosques and mass arrests. Hundreds of people have been arrested since President Hussein’s capture, and many have died as U.S. troops blast open doors and shoot residents during raids.

Resistance and Repression

A quick recap of the events of November says a lot about the future of the occupation. It was a terrible month for the U.S., with the most American casualties since the invasion.

Emergency meetings in Washington D.C. between L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, which is the U.S.-imposed government of Iraq, and George W. Bush laid plans for an attempt to stabilize the occupation. U.S. policy responding to this crisis included a bigger crackdown on the Iraqi people, more training of Iraqis to fight Iraqis, (also called the ‘Iraqification’ of the war), as well as changes in the political structure in Iraq.

Responding to its failures to end Iraqi resistance, the U.S. government is employing the most common method of empire builders - increased repression. In November, U.S. troops began a military operation called Iron Hammer. Nighttime raids and mass arrests increased. Some neighborhoods were completely encircled with barbed wire and sand bags and the residents were denied the right to leave. Buildings and homes were bombed with massive explosives. Indiscriminate shootings at civilians occurred, as in the city of Samarra on Nov. 30.

Reminiscent of Israeli attacks against Palestinians, the U.S. government released information about a policy to assassinate members of the resistance. Homes of resistance fighters have been demolished and their family members have been jailed.

In a related development in Afghanistan, U.S. attempts to assassinate resistance leaders by bombing raids resulted in the deaths of six children on Dec. 5 and nine children on Dec. 6.

‘Iraqification’

To assist in its repression, the U.S. has stepped up its police and military training of Iraqi collaborators, a process termed ‘Iraqification.’ Iraqification refers to a failed policy during the Vietnam War, termed ‘Vietnamization,’ where the Pentagon pursued a plan of having the Vietnamese, not U.S. soldiers, do the fighting and dying for U.S. goals there. Currently there are over 140,000 Iraqis serving for the U.S., mostly as police and security guards. In the next year, the Pentagon plans to increase that number to 220,000. New recruits for the Iraqi police force are receiving accelerated training by the U.S. and its allies in Iraq and in U.S.-allied countries. It’s telling that an important part of the training is teaching the recruits enough English to understand the commands of U.S. officers.

Hundred of police are being trained in Jordan, where the U.S. backed government has a long history of torture and repression.

A major aspect of the Iraqification policy involves upping the Iraqi role in fighting the resistance, something that has been limited to this point. To accomplish this goal, the U.S. is creating a paramilitary force from militias representing organizations in the Governing Council. The U.S. wants to be able to form these militias into a single military force. U.S. Special Forces troops would work with this battalion to fight the resistance in Baghdad. The United States also plans to set up an Iraqi intelligence service with the assistance of the CIA and Jordan.

In a setback for the U.S., the first battalion of 700 Iraqi army troops was to be deployed in December, but almost half of them quit. Although their roles will still be limited, the U.S. plans to speed the recruitment and training of all Iraqi forces. The goal is for these forces to be cannon fodder and to provide increased legitimacy for U.S. control.

Little Support

The plan to ‘Iraqifi’ the war is partly a response to the reluctance of other countries to send troops to assist the U.S.-led occupation. Britain is the strongest U.S. ally and the biggest contributor of troops. It only has about 10,000 soldiers in Iraq. This compares with the more than 130,000 U.S. soldiers and an unknown number of Special Forces.

The need for these high levels of troops is due to the strength and persistence of the Iraqi resistance. At times, the U.S. has had difficulty protecting its own headquarters in Baghdad from mortar attacks. U.S. troops have been unable to protect the Iraqi and foreign personnel that support this occupation. Attacks on U.S. troops and U.S. collaborators by elusive guerrilla forces have remained at high levels.

Despite their small numbers, troops and personnel from other countries are politically important for the U.S. government. Assistance from other countries is used by the U.S. government to argue that it has international support. This is important, since the U.S. continues to receive strong international condemnation, at times including criticism from Iraqis in the Governing Council. But because of attacks by the Iraqi resistance, criticism of the governments of U.S. allies like Spain, Italy and Britain has increased inside those countries. Meanwhile, governments like South Korea and Japan have been forced to postpone deployment of troops. Bulgaria and the Netherlands had to remove ‘diplomatic staff.’ South Korea postponed deployment of reconstruction workers, and Thailand of troops. Turkey was forced to cancel its plan to send in troops.

As part of its political response to the crisis caused by the Iraqi resistance, the U.S. government decided to increase the talk of a ‘transition to democracy.’ An agreement on Nov. 15 between L. Paul Bremer and the Governing Council was presented as a step forward for Iraqi democracy. It includes the creation of another unelected government, a ‘transitional government,’ by July 1, 2004 and yet another government and a new constitution by the end of 2005.

This maneuver is a political ploy by the U.S. administration to take the pressure off for true national sovereignty in Iraq, for true rights for the Iraqi people to determine their own government and their own future. In reality, the most that will come from this is a puppet government, with all strings pulled by the U.S. The U.S. will use its power to manipulate the process and determine its results. But the Iraqi people will not be fooled, as the current Governing Council, which is universally seen as a U.S. tool, has not fooled them.

End the Occupation

On the economic front, French, German and Russian companies have been officially excluded from competing for $18.6 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts. In fact, only companies from the United States, Iraq and 61 countries designated ‘coalition partners’ will be allowed to bid on the contracts. This is not simply an act of retaliation. This is an act of U.S. self-interest. It is mostly directed at other powerful capitalist countries that didn’t support U.S. imperialism, and will be used to ‘encourage’ them to cooperate more in the future. It is also a prelude to the plundering of the oil of Iraq. Like the reconstruction contracts, oil contracts will be parceled out to U.S. companies and companies from other countries that supported the U.S. invasion. The connections between U.S. military might and U.S. corporate profits are clear.

The U.S. policy for Iraq demands the continued development of the anti-war movement here. The war in Iraq has never been in the interests of the people of the United States. The occupation is not either.

Though some people in the U.S. have been confused by the calls to ‘support our troops,’ the Iraqi resistance has made it evident that bringing them home is the best way to support them. Though some people may have been confused by the U.S. propaganda that the U.S. is bringing a better life to Iraqis, the increased repression of the U.S. military and Iraqification of the war makes it clear that it’s a lie.

Massive anti-war rallies will take place March 20. It is vital that we build the movement to end the occupation.

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