HUNDREDS OF Iraqis dead. US and British troops under heavy fire. Oil prices shooting up. That’s not a description of the height of the war on Iraq. It has occurred during the last week in the “peace” that we are told reigns.
US soldiers were caught up in a bloody five-day battle against Iraqis fighting the occupation in Najaf and other parts of Iraq as Socialist Worker went to press. These were supposed to be “pockets of resistance” that the US merely had to “mop up” in the new, free Iraq.
The Iraqis have been fighting back now for 15 months. Their determination is growing, not weakening. The US and British war has killed thousands of Iraqi civilians and reduced the country to rubble.
The supposed handover of power has not improved life in Iraq. The US-backed interim prime minister Ayad Allawi is now stepping up the repression.
He has imposed a 14-hour curfew every night in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad. Allawi has also reinstated the death penalty, which was suspended after Saddam’s fall.
His new regime has banned Al Jazeera’s journalists from Baghdad. It says the TV station is putting out propaganda for the Iraqi insurgents. Allawi relies on 138,000 US soldiers to keep any control.
The new government has issued arrest warrants for Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew Salem.
Only a few months ago Ahmed Chalabi was the US’s puppet of choice to run Iraq. The US put Salem Chalabi in charge of organising Saddam’s trial. But bitter splits in the US establishment over the mess they have created in Iraq have pushed the Chalabis out of favour.
The war in Iraq has not “gone away”. That is why it is still a raging political issue for both Bush and Blair on the domestic front. Bush faces the presidential election in around three months. He is dogged by the bloody legacy of the war in Iraq, as well as problems with the US economy.
Bush is hoping the weak opposition from his main contender, the Democrats’ John Kerry, will get him off the hook. Kerry is so desperate not to labelled anti-war that he refuses to campaign on the issue that could ensure Bush is booted out.
Tony Blair constantly declares he is “moving on” from the war in Iraq.
But this is an issue that will continue to haunt him. It is the fundamental cause of the growing dissatisfaction with Blair.
British troops met fierce resistance in Basra last week. This is the city that was supposed to be a model of how an occupying force can be welcomed.
This is the “peace and stability” that Bush and Blair’s war has brought.
The millions across the world who joined anti-war demonstrations would cheer if the aftershocks of the war brought the imperialists down from their thrones.
A video is being prepared to celebrate the life of Paul Foot, to be shown at his memorial meeting on 10 October. If you have any footage of Paul, please e-mail email@example.com