Socialist Worker

New failures in ‘war on terror’

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2099

Any notion that the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan were “turning the corner” has evaporated in a week of bloody battles and growing instability.

Last week over 22,000 Turkish troops poured into Iraqi Kurdistan in a massive incursion against Kurdish rebels.

Further south, US troops and their Iraqi allies continue to lay siege to many poor slums. And last weekend insurgents attacked a parade attended by Afghan president Hamid Karzai that was meant to show the power of the Afghan army.

In Iraq US troops and their Iraqi allies are attempting to crush the resistance inside the poor Shia Muslim slums of Baghdad’s Sadr City and in the oil rich city of Basra.

George Bush promised that the “surge” of 38,000 US troops had transformed the security situation. Earlier this week, the US military said that its offensive against Sadr City had driven back resistance fighters.


Yet the Green Zone – the headquarters of the occupation – remains under daily barrage of mortar and rocket attack.

Moqtada al-Sadr, the rebel cleric leading the anti-occupation Mehdi Army, had been calling for a ceasefire.

But the Iraqi government ignored his calls for negotiations. Now he is threatening to call on Iraqis to wage an “open war until liberation”.

An attempt by the Iraqi army to disarm the Mehdi Army failed last month after towns and cities across the south rose in rebellion. Large sections of the army defected or withdrew from the battle.

The Iraqi government has revealed that over 400 people have been killed in the fighting during the last four weeks. Reports from the poor neighbourhoods of Sadr City – home to two million people – describe medical services under massive strain.

According to Qassim al-Suwaidi, director of the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City, 800 civilians have been wounded by shrapnel and bullets. He told the Christian Science Monitor newspaper that over one third are women and children.

The instability created by the occupation of Iraq has spilled over to the northern border with Turkey.

The Turkish troops are attempting to crush Kurdish rebels in the PKK, which has been fighting for an independent Kurdish state in south east Turkey since 1984.

The Kurdish regions of northern Iraq had been considered the most stable, with US-backed Kurdish parties in firm control. But this latest offensive threatens to drag Turkey into an endless war.


As the battle for Iraq takes a new and bloody turn, US federal investigators have uncovered huge fraud in the reconstruction projects doled out to multinationals following the invasion.

An audit found that US taxpayers have shelled out over £51 billion in projects that were abandoned, incomplete or never started. It also revealed that US authorities then attempted to cover up their failure.

In one incident the multinational Bechtel was given £26 million to build a children’s hospital in Basra only to halt it two years later. But it changed the terms of its contract and declared it a “success”.

The revelations come as a US Congress committee found that one in every six US dollars spent in Iraq was “unaccounted for”. That means £5 billion has vanished into the pockets of the contractors and mercenaries that plague Iraq.

Meanwhile insurgents in Afghanistan have humiliated Hamid Karzai, the man tasked by the US to run the country, as he was reviewing his troops.

Fighters believed to be from the Taliban opened fire on the rows of foreign dignitaries, ambassadors and officials who were watching the parade.

The attack highlights the growing absurdity of the claim that the war in Afghanistan is “winnable”. Now thousands of US troops have been thrown into the south of the country as insurgents launch attacks from neighbouring Pakistan.

The latest offensive comes as the toll of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan reached 800. An unknown number of Afghans have perished in the war.

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Tue 29 Apr 2008, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2099
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