Socialist Worker

The West launches fresh attacks on Iraq in bid to regain control

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2417

The US is bombing northern Iraq in a desperate attempt to maintain control

The US is bombing northern Iraq (Pic: Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway US Air Force)

Western forces are becoming more deeply embroiled in a new military intervention in Iraq, which they now admit will last months. 

While originally spun as a humanitarian mission, its strategic aims for the Western powers have become increasingly clear. The West is worried about losing control of the region. 

The US has carried out air strikes in northern Iraq since 8 August. 

It initially claimed that it was trying to protect the Yazidi minority from further attacks by the Islamic State, the Sunni Islamist group formerly known as Isis.  

Thousands of Yazidi people had taken to the Sinjar mountains for refuge and were left trapped without shade, food or water. 

It’s hard to know the exact number of displaced refugees, but there could be as many as 40,000.

The US announced an ambitious plan for an airlift rescue of some of them. The military would then rescue the rest by creating a safe corridor running through Islamic State territory to the Kurdish city of Ebril. 


Yet on Wednesday of last week the US did a U-turn. Officials claimed that special forces had landed on the mountain and found fewer Yazidi refugees than expected, and with sufficient provisions.

Local Kurdish fighters had already helped many refugees, but the US tried to credit its airstrikes for the fact that many had escaped. 

But the West’s real priorities  were revealed by what was the biggest bombing raid of this campaign so far last Sunday. 

This attack was to take back the Mosul dam which the Islamic State captured two weeks ago.

The dam is the main supplier of water and electricity for much of the region. US president Barack Obama defended the operation saying that US personnel and civilians in Bagdad were in danger if the dam failed.

It was taken back from the Islamic State, but the group’s broader geographical advance has not been halted. 

It has also rapidly extended its reach within Syria, as borders in the region become ever more immaterial. It controls much of the east, which is rich in oil, and its forces are moving north west to Syria’s second city Aleppo. 

The few besieged rebels still fighting president Assad’s dictatorship face attacks both from the regime and Islamic State forces. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Assad’s air force bombed a rebel convoy moving towards Aleppo to challenge the Islamic State last Sunday.

Obama and David Cameron offer nothing to the ordinary people in the region. They are caught between their own ruling regimes, the rise of the sectarian militias of the Islamic State and the even greater firepower of Western imperialism. 

Ex Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki

Ex Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki (Pic: Staff Sgt. James Sherrill)

Iraq's hated prime minister finally forced out 

Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki finally succumbed to pressure to stand down on Thursday of last week.

His replacement, Haider al-Abadi, is from the same ruling party.  

The West painted Mailiki’s sectarian agenda as the root of the Sunni Islamic State group’s rise.

Yet no Western leader will acknowledge that Maliki’s sectarianism was a legacy of the US and Britain’s invasion.

Occupying forces aimed to crush the opposition by playing groups off one another. 

That’s why Western military intervention is not a solution—it will only fuel violent division in the country. 

Minister admits it's 'not just humanitarian'

British military intervention is about more than bringing aid to displaced Yazidi refugees, defence secretary Michael Fallon has admitted. 

He said, “This is not simply a humanitarian mission,” and disclosed that RAF Tornado aircraft were flying deep into Iraq.  

At first the British government said it was simply going to bring aid to the Yazidi refugees. 

Then on Friday of last week Fallon announced that Britain would be arming Kurdish forces fighting in the region. 

Now it’s clear the government is dragging Britain deeper into a new war. 

Following David Cameron’s humiliating failure to win a vote for bombing Syria last summer, he is resisting demands to recall parliament to discuss the question. 

He wants to play down the nature and scale of the military mission he has launched. 


He is worried by the strength  and breadth of anti-war sentiment.

Cameron said, “Britain is not going to get involved in another war in Iraq. 

“We’re not going to be putting boots on the ground. We’re not going to be sending in the British army.”

Yet every day British involvement and the propaganda that goes with it increases.

Cameron declared a clamp down on those perceived to be potential supporters of the Islamic State group in Britain. 

He wrote in the Sunday Telegraph, “If people are walking around with its flags or trying to recruit people to their terrorist cause they will be arrested.”

Such statements are a green light for the police to treat all Muslims as terror suspects. 

Already 69 people have been arrested in recent months after being accused of planning to fight in Syria.  

Former head of counter-terrorism at MI6, Richard Barrett, has attacked Cameron’s strategy. 

Barrett explained that bombing will only harden people’s opinions against the West. 

“They will go back home if they are defeated with a strong sense of injustice and a strong motivation to carry on the fight,” he said. 


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