Iraq: Occupation forces face hostility

The British military in Basra, Iraq’s second biggest city, is under attack. This is not from ’rogue elements’ of the former Ba’athist regime but local residents incensed at the lack of mains electricity and, ironically in oil-rich Iraq, the continuing shortage of petrol.

In sweltering heat over 2,000 took to Basra’s streets, angry that coalition forces seem more keen on resuming oil production than on restoring basic services.

Later sabotage left two fires burning out of control in the oil pipeline while a water pipeline was bombed. Yet another journalist was shot dead by US troops. Elsewhere soldiers from US and other occupying forces continue to be killed in attacks and ambushes. And the attack on the UN headquarters has raised things to a new level.

But civilian Iraqis bear the brunt of the absence of public security – victims of killings, robberies and rapes fill up the overburdened hospitals and their overworked staff.

Malnutrition still stalks the country. One child in 12 suffers from food shortages that shouldn’t be possible in such a resources-rich country.

Iraq’s finance ministry says the country will need a minimum of $20 billion just to sustain basic services but income from oil is unlikely to exceed $15 billion. The coalition’s ’war of occupation’ is becoming a political mire for imperialism.

Afghan anarchy

Meanwhile another example of the Western powers’ ’nation building’ is worrying international humanitarian agencies. ’Liberated’ Afghanistan is fast descending into the type of armed anarchy the Taliban regime’s overthrow was supposed to end.

NATO troops have taken over the country’s security mandate from the International Security Assistance Force. But their UN-sanctioned mission only applies to Kabul.

Beyond the capital the fragmentation of the country, now increasingly under the control of warlords and regrouped Taliban forces, continues. Often it is fuelled by the lucrative opium trade. This drug trafficking has actually revived since Afghanistan’s regime change.

With no national army, police force or judiciary, humanitarian efforts in the provinces are being abandoned, leaving defenceless people at the mercy of criminal gangs.


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August 2003