George W Bush has authorised a major escalation of the war in Iraq.
Until a few weeks ago the common talk in Washington was that if Bush secured his re-election then US forces would move to attack Fallujah in revenge for their failure to secure the city from the resistance in April.
But the Bush camp fears that failure to deal now with the rising tide of resistance in Iraq might undermine its election chances.
Their policy is blood for votes—more Iraqi agony and destruction in an effort to secure office.
By stepping up the war, Bush also hopes to put pressure on his opponent John Kerry to reiterate his support for the occupation. So in last Friday’s televised presidential debate Kerry spoke of “staying on the offensive” in Fallujah, and called for an extra 25,000 troops to be sent to Iraq.
In a time of crisis, Bush has turned to a fellow criminal for advice. The US has asked Israel how to fight an urban guerrilla war.
The result is that US forces in Samarra, Fallujah and Baghdad are using air power in built-up areas.
The Bush gang trot out the same story as the Israelis—that these are precision strikes against houses being used by “terrorists”. The reality is that in both Iraq and Palestine those dying under the bombs are overwhelmingly civilians.
At least 23 children were among those killed when the US stormed Samarra using battle tanks, artillery and attack aircraft.
Further copying Israeli tactics, occupation forces took control of the main bridge into Samarra.
They imposed an economic blockade on the city, forcing people to queue for hours in the heat to enter or leave, and requiring them to show identification in English.
Samarra was selected because the US believed Iraqi police there were working with the resistance.
In addition the Samarra resistance was setting up an administration based on, and allied with, nearby Fallujah. The US fears coordinated resistance.
Meanwhile chilling stories are appearing of what happened when the US retook Tal Afar, in the north of Iraq. The resistance, uniting the city’s majority Turkmen population and the minority Sunni Arabs, took control in August.
In the Asia Times on 29 September Michael Schwartz describes what happened next:
“The US then initiated a massive bombing campaign, much more ferocious than in any other locality—except perhaps Najaf at the height of the siege. Though public health and hospital officials denounced the bombing and reported hundreds of civilian casualties, the US military claimed that all the dead and wounded were insurgents, including a large number of women and children.”
Even the Turkish government, a close Washington ally, complained to the US that the large majority killed were Turkmen civilians.
The US then handed control of the city to Kurdish militias who are widely reported to be forcibly removing Turkmen and Arabs from a city they wish to include in their mini-state.
As US forces pounded Samarra, a few hundred miles to the west Israel’s Ariel Sharon ordered Operation Days of Penitence—a mass assault on Palestinian camps in Gaza City using aerial bombing, tanks and the destruction of homes.
The coincidence of these two operations in Palestine and Iraq is not lost on the Arab world.
The destruction in Samarra shows the reality of the occupation.
This is what delegates voted for last week at Labour’s conference when they backed the leadership’s call to keep British troops in Iraq. To prevent a further all-out assault on Fallujah and other Iraqi towns, the anti-war movement must mobilise in its thousands in London on 17 October.
A new pamphlet by Socialist Worker’s editor, Chris Bambery, Iraq: Why the Occupation Must End, will be available at the European Social Forum and on the 17 October demonstration.