Iraq: A transition to discontent?

ONE REASON for Labour getting ’a good kicking’ in the 10 June elections was opposition to Blair’s war and occupation of Iraq.

Blair lied about Saddam Hussein’s regime possessing launch-ready weapons of mass destruction in order to stage the war and now, the coalition forces are becoming bogged down trying to keep a lid on an increasing Iraqi insurgency. In the Netherlands and in Italy too, the governing parties received a mauling in the polls because of the ’Iraq factor’.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the ’transition to sovereign democratic government’ isn’t going to plan – the plan of the occupying powers that is. On the contrary, political discontent and violence is growing, while ’reconstruction’ grinds to a halt.

Assassinations of transitional government officials and suicide bombing attacks aimed at killing foreign workers are amounting to more than one a day. This insurgency could increase further after the 30 June handover to a supposed Iraqi civilian government – as Iraqis’ hopes for a better life are dashed by the continuation of the US-led occupation.

Coalition troop deployment figures in Iraq will remain high. Tony Blair is also likely to despatch a further 3,000 British troops. As US military spokesman Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said: "I don’t think you’re going to see much difference on 15 July than you saw on 15 January. We will not be pulling out of the cities. We will not be relocating. We would certainly like to see more and more Iraqi security forces at the lead."

However, this could turn out to be wishful thinking. During the recent armed uprisings in Falluja and Najaf many local police and paramilitary units either switched sides or went home. The recent bloody fighting between US marines and insurgents in Falluja witnessed half the new Iraqi army rebelling against their US masters.

Eventually, a ceasefire was only secured after the insurgents were incorporated into a new Iraqi army unit led by a former general of Saddam’s Republican Guard! The beleaguered US forces in Baghdad are increasingly withdrawing into fortified bases and now have even less contact with Iraqis.

The social conditions facing ordinary Iraqis are appalling. Without proper security, kidnapping by criminal gangs is a fast-growing and lucrative venture. And while the US stooges of the transitional regime enjoy fat salaries and luxury cars many Iraqis are unemployed and have to queue for hours for petrol in their oil-rich country.

The electricity supply in the capital has actually fallen from 12 hours a day to six hours – this when temperatures reach between 30 and 40C.

From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales

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June 2004