‘I’m not fighting for Saddam, I’m fighting for Iraq.’ Those were the words of Nasr Al Hussein, a former Iraqi special forces parachutist, on Monday. He was one of hundreds of Iraqi exiles in Jordan queuing to board coaches to take them back across the border to Iraq so they can fight US and British forces.
The reality of this war has broken through the honeyed propaganda. Remember the predictions last week in rags like the Sun of ‘bloodless victory’, ‘taking Baghdad in 48 hours’ and ’25 million Iraqis hailing us as liberators’? Millions of Iraqi people, who have no time for Saddam Hussein, see this war for what it is – an invasion by the most powerful state on the planet killing for oil and global power.
They get to see the gruesome pictures, which are kept off Western television screens, of civilians blown to pieces by cluster bombs. They look in rage at a swaggering US marine hoisting the Stars and Stripes above an Iraqi town. And they do not want long-term US occupation whatever their feelings toward the current regime.
People across the globe too recognise an old-fashioned imperialist land grab when they see it. That’s why the majority of the world’s population oppose this war and are taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers.
The protests, walkouts and strikes last week and the internationally coordinated mass protests at the weekend have never happened before at the start of a war. They make an enormous difference. The global anti-war movement has already placed limits on the amount of devastation Bush and Blair feel they can get away with unleashing.
The desperate argument from the warmongers, accepted by turncoats like Clare Short and Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, is that now the war has started everyone should back a quick US victory to end the bloodshed. The swiftest way to end the slaughter would be for the US and British forces to get out now.
The thing that will make that happen is deepening anti-war protests here and rising resistance from the people of Iraq and the Middle East. That is also what stands in the way of the US occupying Iraq like a colonial power.
THE STOP the War Coalition has called for protests across towns and cities this week, following the huge demonstration in London last Saturday. Everywhere people are extending the network of anti-war groups inside workplaces, schools, colleges and localities.
Such a network can counter the pro-war lies and come together in large, angry protests that show the government it can’t pretend to be running a normal country. To their shame, TUC leaders have refused to call workplace stoppages or any protests against this war.
Despite calls from left wing union leaders, the TUC passed a resolution last week that did not even come out against slaughter. This is no time to stand with a Labour government that has thrown its lot in with the US war machine while attacking groups like the firefighters at home. The best way to support the Iraqi people is to build our resistance here.
Half a million people marched through London on Saturday against the war. The size of the demonstration stunned the government and all those who had predicted that opposition would fade away once fighting began. Saturday’s protest was the largest ever protest in Britain against a war that is under way.
The size of the demonstration was even more impressive as it was called at only a few days notice. School and college students, trade unionists, pensioners and people from all walks of life marched in united fury at what Britain and the US are doing.
The US has already begun dividing up the spoils in Iraq, even before it has conquered the country. USAID, the US government agency put in charge of overseeing Iraq’s economy, issued its first ‘reconstruction’ contract on Monday. It awarded the port of Umm Qasr, which was still not under US control, to the Stevedoring Services of America company in a $4.8 million deal.
It was expected this week to award its largest contract, for $600 million. Frontrunners to get it are Halliburton, the company US vice-president Dick Cheney used to head, and Bechtel, which makes the biggest political donations of any US construction company.
These companies will siphon off the profits from Iraq’s oil industry which will be used to ‘pay for reconstruction’. Last week George Bush ordered the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars deposits made by Iraqi individuals in US banks.
Yet still we hear Tony Blair and Clare Short pretend Iraq’s oil and economy will be used to benefit ordinary Iraqi people.
Manchester, Sheffield, BBC White City, Southampton, Enfield, Kettering, Bedford, Rotherham, Coventry, Newham, Hackney, Preston, Cambridge, Middlesbrough, Hove and many other towns and cities. London student protest – assemble 5pm, Thursday 27 March, UCL, Gower Street for march to US embassy
Bosses unleash misery on ordinary people