The Iraqi people have opened a new chapter in their struggle to end the U.S. occupation. The resistance, supported by Iraqi civilians, has liberated Najaf, Kufa and Kut in the south, as well as some neighborhoods in Baghdad and the city of Fallujah. According to press reports, the resistance now controls sections of the main highways. For whatever length of time these areas are held, the resistance has shown its strength.
The resistance at Fallujah has received significant press in the U.S. since the killing there of four so-called ‘civilian’ contractors, who were actually mercenaries working for the U.S.-based Blackwater Security corporation. At this point, the U.S. government decided - against international law - to collectively punish the people of Fallujah. A U.S. commander stated that the U.S. response would be ‘overwhelming.’
The U.S. laid siege to the city. However, the resistance in Fallujah was able to hold back the U.S. military. Bombs and missiles were unleashed on the city. The U.S. military destroyed part of a mosque and killed over 40 people after firing a rocket and dropping a 500-pound bomb on the building. There was house-to-house fighting, as U.S. soldiers had extreme difficulty making any progress into the city. Dozens of U.S. soldiers were killed, along with hundreds of Iraqis. Meanwhile, Iraqis from other towns broke through U.S. checkpoints to deliver food, medicines and supplies to the people of Fallujah.
The resistance in Fallujah occurs not only in the context of occupation but also of severe U.S. repression. On April 28, 2003, U.S. troops fired on protesters, killing 15 people. U.S. soldiers killed another three protesters two days later. And the week before the attack on the Blackwater mercenaries, U.S. Marines killed a number of civilians in raids on the city.
Battles between U.S. forces and Iraqis have occurred in many cities, including Ramadi, Baquba, Mosul, Kerbala and Nasiriyah. Some of these battles and larger uprisings have received attention in the press, but a number of other protests, daily attacks on U.S. troops and smaller uprisings (including those in the neighborhoods of Baghdad) go unreported or are downplayed in U.S. media.
The Iraqi people have spoken loudly and clearly. They myth that U.S. is seen as a liberator in Iraq is put to rest. Iraqis are willing to stand up and face death to free their country.
Bush’s Lies about Sovereignty for Iraqis
As tensions at home and abroad continue over the loss of life and the continuation of Iraqi resistance, the Bush administration continues its newest big lie: that the supposed ‘transfer of authority,’ scheduled to occur on June 30, will give Iraqis sovereignty.
True sovereignty would mean that Iraqis get to choose their own government and decide the fate of their own land and resources without interference. The U.S. government will not support true sovereignty for Iraq - the current repression reveals that clearly. So does the ‘sovereignty’ process crafted by the U.S.
The Interim Constitution
The Interim Constitution is a fraud. It was written by the Governing Council, whose members were picked by the U.S. and whose decisions can be vetoed by the U.S. The Governing Council was not chosen by the Iraqi people and is not supported by the Iraqi people. Without the U.S., it would have no ability to govern.
How can a constitution written by U.S.-picked members and directed and overseen by the U.S. government truly represent the opinions of the Iraqi people? This is no more than a colonial imposition on the Iraqi people. For example, the constitution includes the guarantee that all laws passed by the occupation authorities will remain in effect.
In its content, the constitution reflects an idea of sovereignty totally detached from the realities that the U.S. has created. The constitution calls for the federal government of Iraq to have control over the resources, including oil resources, to help rebuild the country. However, the U.S. is hand picking the companies that will rebuild Iraq and control its oil reserves. The constitution also calls for freedom of expression, but the U.S. is taking over or closing radio and television networks that denounce the occupation and is repressing anti-occupation demonstrations. The U.S. government has no plans to abide by the very constitution that it forced on the Iraqi people.
The Bush administration wants to install a puppet government that serves U.S. interests, but that also appears on the surface to be democratic. Since the parties are not yet created that would support U.S. interests in Iraq and the security situation is bad for U.S. lackeys, the U.S. government has been forced to publicly oppose elections - this despite the fact that bringing ‘democracy’ to Iraq is now stated as the reason for invading Iraq in the first place.
The opposition to elections by the Bush administration shows the real intentions of U.S. intervention in the country. There is a fear that ‘the wrong people’ will be elected - people who will think independently of U.S. interests. Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush cronies make offensive arguments like “Iraqis aren’t ready to vote.” Elections have been put off to 2005, giving new meaning to Bush’s ‘long-term commitment.’
In the midst of a U.S. occupation of Iraq that may last years, we must remind ourselves that true democracy is not just elections, and it’s definitely not elections under occupation. Until the U.S. government and military leave Iraq, there can be no talk of true democracy or sovereignty for Iraqis.
Iraqis Fighting Each Other?
Like many countries with a history of colonial domination, Iraq has challenges confronting it. As the newest invader, the U.S. continues the colonial policy of hand picking, demonizing, disfavoring or favoring different sectors. These actions create rivalries and attempt to promote the idea to Americans that Iraqis can’t govern themselves.
Shiite Muslims are portrayed as the ‘bad apples’ who are ruining democracy, even though they are fighting for representation and elections. Similarly, Sunni Muslims are portrayed as extremely dangerous terrorists and ‘dead-enders’ who must be combated by U.S. soldiers. This or that cleric is described as ‘anti-American.’ There is a constant attempt by the U.S. administration and by the media to define Iraqis as Shiite or Sunni, and to suggest that this is more important than the fact that they are Iraqis. This type of divide and conquer strategy is, at the least, an attempt to make the U.S. population believe that the U.S. government must stay to stop civil war and, at the most, an actual attempt to divide Iraqis against each other.
It is in the U.S. government’s interest to keep the people of Iraq divided and focused on each other rather than on the U.S. The Iraqi people see through statements like “the U.S. must stay in Iraq to prevent a civil war,” and have rightly blamed violations of their security on the U.S. occupation. Iraqis justifiably hold the U.S. responsible for the environment that led to the bombings that happened in March during a Shiite Muslim festival that killed over 100 people. Iraqis, in Baghdad, in the north and in the south, both Sunni and Shiite and of all different ideologies, have joined the fight against the U.S. occupation.
In May 2004 the administration plans to begin to replace the current U.S. troops in Iraq with what will be mainly National Guardsmen, reservists and Marines. This is said to be the largest troop rotation since World War II. Despite the plan, the Bush administration has announced that a number of the troops that had expected to return home will have their deployment in Iraq lengthened.
The replacement of troops that have been in the region for a over a year with less experienced National Guard and reserve troops, along with the lengthening of soldiers’ stay in Iraq, cuts hard into the homes of working class and oppressed nationality families in the U.S. Many reservists and National Guardsmen are people who enlisted to receive scholarships for school or for an additional wage, with the understanding that they would not be sent into combat situations - and especially not to be sent into situations of defending the interests of the rich in the U.S.
U.S. and International People’s Resistance Grows
There is increasing opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq. The U.S. elections in November are a national stage for the struggle about the country’s foreign policy - especially about the war and occupation of Iraq. In Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, a strong critic of the war who has promised to bring Spanish troops home, defeated the incumbent and U.S. ally Jose Maria Aznar, in a popular rejection of Spanish involvement in Iraq.
Support for the Bush administration policies is weakening in the U.S. and worldwide. The few other countries supporting the U.S. with troops are also showing signs of wanting to withdraw. In the coming months it will become increasingly important for people in the U.S. to voice their opposition to the war and occupation and to vote against Bush’s war policies. Most importantly, we must continue to organize and protest against this unjust occupation.