THE KILLING of Saddam Hussein's sons should have meant the beginning of the end of opposition to the occupation of Iraq, according to Tony Blair and George Bush. But within hours of the killings last week US troops opened fire on Iraqi civilians, killing five people near a checkpoint in a poor suburb of Baghdad. Local residents told journalists that they shed no tears for Saddam's sons, but the deaths of the civilians made them prepared to resist the occupying forces.
The occupation regime has stopped recording attacks on its forces that do not result in fatalities. But attacks are running at 12 a day on average. Over a dozen US soldiers were killed in the seven days following the attack on Uday and Qusay Hussein's hideout. Many US soldiers are bitter at being kept in Iraq indefinitely.
EVERY SERIOUS Western journalist in Iraq reports that the spiralling attacks on occupying forces are not coordinated by Saddam Hussein or 'remnants of the Ba'athist regime'.
The resistance is coming from dozens of sources. And it is spreading in areas, such as the Shia slums, which were bedrocks of opposition to Saddam Hussein's regime.
War plan in shreds
BUSH'S ULTRA-hawkish deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz admitted last week, 'Some of our assumptions turned out to be wrong.' But the occupation regime's response is to step up aggressive raids in an increasingly frantic attempt to find Saddam Hussein. A central plank of the neo-conservatives' war plan is shattering.
They assumed they would be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of Iraqis and would quickly be able to set up a pro-US government. But now Bush is having to consider whether to send up to 100,000 more troops to Iraq and US diplomats are trying to get states they snubbed in the run-up to the war to provide forces.
The quagmire in Iraq and the global anti-war movement are making it difficult for other governments to get involved directly. The Spanish government, which backed Bush and Blair to the hilt, has had to pull back its forces. Some four million people joined anti-war demonstrations in Spain on 15 February.
There is disquiet in the US itself. Support for the occupation is falling. Over the last few weeks there has been a spate of protests by families of US troops calling for them to be brought home. The pressure on the New Labour government here is even greater as Blair's web of lies unravels.