Socialist Worker

‘Surge’ into Iraq threatens to spill into Iran and Syria

Issue No. 2034

The threat of war against Iran came one step closer this week when the US neocons announced they are “going to deal” with Iran.

President George Bush accused Iran and Syria of providing material support for attacks on US troops in a speech last week, saying, “We will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

And as the first “surge” of US troops arrives in Baghdad details are beginning to emerge of plans for a new bloodbath in the Iraqi capital – and wider ethnic and sectarian conflict across the country.

“The Iraq surge is beginning to look like the Vietnam escalation, spilling over into Iran and Syria the way that one did into Cambodia and Laos,” said the Financial Times this week

The US military have sent more warships to the Persian Gulf – including aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines – a clear sign of its intentions towards Iran. The US is deploying batteries of Patriot missiles to the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.

US special forces fired the first shots in this war hours after Bush made his speech. Troops raided an Iranian diplomatic mission in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil. They seized five diplomats and pulled down the Iranian flag.

In Iraq a brigade of 3,000 Kurdish soldiers will be used to batter their way into the Shia Muslim slum of Sadr City. The use of Kurdish troops threatens to trigger ethnic clashes in the north.

This “assault on the militias” is part of an offensive against rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi army. Sadr has led two uprisings against the occupation and is seen as a barrier to a stable occupation.

The battle for Sadr City could spill over to other Shia areas and see a general rebellion in Basra, where British troops are based.

The US military has also unveiled plans to turn Sunni Muslim neighbourhoods into “gated communities”. Troops will sweep through areas, and in a rerun of the assault on Fallujah, put the neighbourhoods under permanent occupation by the Shia dominated Iraqi army.

The threats of a new war on Iran comes as the first shipment of armoured Humvees were delivered to the Lebanese army. The US plans to supply 285 combat vehicles to the army in the hope that it can accomplish what the Israelis failed to do in its war on Lebanon last summer – smash Hizbollah and the Lebanese resistance.

Bush is making a last desperate gamble to stop his defeat in Iraq – a gamble that could plunge the whole region into further bloodshed.

We have a chance to end the bloodshed. Demonstrate Saturday 24 February. London: 12 noon Hyde Park, march to Trafalgar Square. Glasgow: 12 noon George Square.

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