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Iraq: Occupation Continues, Resistance Grows

Analysis by Tracy Molm and Erika Zurawski |
July 15, 2004
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Surrounded by American troops, a handful of the media were summoned June 28 to witness a truly strange event - Paul Bremer, the U.S. head of Iraq’s occupation, announcing a ‘transfer of power’ to a government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The time and place was a closely held secret. The participants feared an attack from Iraqi insurgents. The new interim Prime Minister Allawi is a long time recipient of CIA funds and runs the CIA-crafted political party called the Iraqi National Accord. In Washington, spokesmen for the Bush administration hailed the event as the return of ‘sovereignty’ for the Iraqi people. That same day, battles took place across Iraq as the Pentagon worked on plans to send more U.S. troops. The new ‘prime minister’ was quick to ask for the occupying forces to remain in Iraq indefinitely - to protect him from the Iraqi people.

Fake Sovereignty

Real sovereignty for Iraq would mean the right of Iraq to govern itself, free from any outside interference. It would mean that the U.S. would completely withdraw from the country. As things stand, Washington will continue to have final say on matters of Iraqi security and the interim government will not be able to enact new legislation or overturn laws imposed during the U.S.-led occupation, which began in March 2003.

Alongside U.S. military commanders, the newly appointed ambassador John Negroponte is the most powerful man in Iraq. Negroponte, a former official in the Reagan administration was among the architects the wars on the peoples of Central America which left hundreds of thousands dead. From his post as ambassador to Honduras, he helped direct the brutal contra war against the progressive and revolutionary government of Nicaragua and the bloody counter-insurgency wars in El Salvador and Honduras.

Washington’s new embassy in Iraq will be the largest U.S. embassy in the world. It is anticipated that about 1000 Americans will be posted there, along with an Iraqi staff of over 700. The estimated 2005 budget for the embassy alone is $1 billion. Even so, embassy officials will have their hands full directing the U.S. ‘advisors’ who function in all of the ministries of Iraq’s puppet government, and who are working to extend their reach into all facets of Iraqi society. U.S. embassies often serve as operations bases for the CIA. The embassy in Iraq will have special counselors on hand to help personnel deal with the stress resulting from constant attacks.

The Bush administration says that its troops, numbering over 130,000, will remain in Iraq at least through 2005. Maintaining troops and building fourteen military bases shows that the U.S. is still occupying the country and that it is not willing to turn over control to the Iraqi people.

The main evidence to come to light in the legal proceedings against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is that Iraqis do not run Iraq. Those sitting in judgment are there because the U.S. put them there. The organizer of the trial Salem Chalabi is a leader in the CIA-backed Iraqi National Congress and was appointed by Bush advisor Condoleezza Rice. Chalabi then appointed the judge. Saddam Hussein is still being held by prisoner by U.S. troops. Censors from the U.S. military controlled the broadcast from the court appearance. Saddam was right to observe that the trial is “political theater” to benefit the Bush administration.

When the Bush administration projected the June 30 deadline for turning over sovereignty last year, it had three goals in mind: scoring points in the upcoming U.S. elections, legitimizing an Iraqi puppet government and gaining international support for the war and occupation. Administration officials did not anticipate the power and determination of the Iraqi resistance. As a result, Bush failed on all three fronts. Among the American people, the war is more unpopular than ever. Prime Minister Allawi and the other U.S. appointees do not have the support of the Iraqi people because they do not represent Iraqi interests. And while some of the other western powers might welcome fake sovereignty because it might someday pave the way for them to get their hands on Iraq’s oil resources - as shown by the maneuvering at the NATO summit in Istanbul - they fear the Iraqi insurgents and they won’t send troops.

The Resistance

The scope and intensity of the Iraqi resistance has thrown the occupation and the Bush administration into a political crisis. In the early days of the Iraq occupation, Defense Secretary Rumsfield promised quick victory over a “handful of dead enders.” A little more than a year later, it is the handful of ‘dead enders’ in the Bush administration who are facing defeat.

Entire cities, Fallujah being the most well known example, are outside the control the Iraqi central government and U.S. troops. None of the roads between major cities are secure and ambushes of coalition convoys take place on a daily basis. Even the most stubborn right-wing commentators acknowledge the resistance has grown dramatically since the onset of occupation. More than 1000 American, British and other coalition troops have died since March of last year.

Between October and April, the percentage of Iraqis who view the United States as an occupier rather than a liberator more than doubled, from 43% to 88%, according to the Center for Research, an Iraqi polling firm that works for several U.S. contractors. The majority of Iraqis polled want the occupiers to leave Iraq immediately and allow the Iraqis to manage their own affairs. Only 1% of thpse Iraqis agreed that the goal of the U.S. was to establish democracy in Iraq.

The Iraqi resistance movement has developed into a popular war, where a growing section the people are actively participating in and assisting the insurgency - a shift that has changed the entire dynamic of the occupation. U.S. and British troops tend to remain in their bases. When they come out it is to carry out a military objective. Routine patrolling, where troops attempt to mingle with Iraqi civilians, has by and large come to an end.

As a result, occupation forces increasingly rely on terror and the widespread use of torture. While torture has long been a practice of U.S. intelligence agencies and armed forces, be it in Latin America or Vietnam, its use mushroomed in Iraq as the insurgency expanded. Top officials in the administration gave the word to ‘get tough’ and soon jailers at Abu Ghraib were carrying out sexual assaults and beating prisoners to death.

The U.S. has also closed Iraqi newspapers, illegally searched homes, wrecked trade union offices and detained innocent Iraqis without cause. The U.S. military continues to fire upon peaceful protests in attempts to silence demonstrators.

Days after assuming office, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi announced measures to suspend civil liberties, including the right to assembly, in an attempt to combat the insurgency.

U.S. Out Now

The ongoing occupation has led to a series of political disasters for the Bush administration. The pretexts for the war have been exposed as lies. The widespread use of torture and repression make any talk of democracy or human rights ring hollow. Occupation is the opposite of liberation.

There is growing opposition to the war amongst the rank and file of the U.S. military and their families. Some soldiers have denounced the war and openly refuse to fight. The military brass has ordered troops to condemn neither the war nor Defense Secretary Rumsfield in press interviews. Military families have deluged the Congress with complaints about the extended tours of duty.

Among the U.S. elite, there is growing controversy about Bush’s conduct of the war. U.S. politicians are the best that money can by, so big corporations spend alot on them. In turn they expect that the White House and the Pentagon will insure stable climates for their investments and access to the land, labor and natural resources of the Third World. This is what the Defense Department means when it says one of its top priorities is the creation of ‘free-market democracies.’ Now some of them are worried. The result of this is that many of the big Democratic politicians attack war profiteering, the use of torture or the lies that were used to justify the war. But they are in a bind. Even if they think the war was a ‘mistake,’ they can’t stomach the idea of the empire of the dollar being pushed out of Iraq. So they talk about sending even more troops than Bush. By doing this they make it harder to get Bush out of office this November.

Everything behind this war is big. Big Oil. Big Corporations. And the big ideas of small men dreaming of world domination. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

The people of this country have no stake in this war. Success for Bush and Cheney means that the hands of those who attack our rights and livelihood will be strengthened. Setbacks for them are an advance for all poor, working and oppressed people here. All U.S. troops should be brought home now.

The people of Iraq doing what anyone would do in their position - they are fighting to free their county from foreign domination. They deserve our support.

The anti-war movement is helping to turn the tide against the war on Iraq. Bush is the one who is outside of the mainstream. The protests at the Republican convention in New York will be huge. Everything possible should be done to build done to make them as powerful as possible. The time has come to end the occupation of Iraq.

U.S. out of Iraq! Bring the troops home!