Iraq ’n’ roll

[Friday]

My usual apologies about the slapdash nature of the post must be joined by a big sorry for the atrocious pun that I have deployed to attract attention.

Britain’s going Brown
Gordon Brown’s trip to Iraq on Monday was supposedly to get a handle of the situation. How he was able to do this, confined to the Green Zone in Baghdad and the British base in Basra, I do not know. But that is not the important point.

His declaration that in future intelligence will be properly vetted was an attempt to put off a Labour rebellion over the vote in Parliament on an inquiry into the Iraq invasion. As it happens, the vote failed. Calls for an inquiry were instigated by the opposition Tories and there was some fear that there would be sizeable Labour support.

The other part of the “triangulation” was an affirmation that he would not pull British troops out of Iraq upon becoming Prime Minister. For the millions, a promise to be careful in future and for the millionaires, a guarantee that he will be obedient in future – this was not explicitly stated, but the implication was there.

Do over
What will Brown do when there are calls for an invasion of Iran and the “evidence” that Iran is backing the Iraqi resistance and the Taliban in Afghanistan is produced? There has not been a good return on the occupation, and it is not only unpopular among ordinary people in the UK – establishment voices are speaking out, including serving army officers.

The switch from the potential WMD threat from Iraq to the certainty that Iraq possessed WMDs is not repeatable today. The US had to back down on claims that the supply of arms to the Iraqi resistance was sanctioned at the highest level in Tehran as no evidence could be produced to prove official authorisation of the policy. The Tory leader David Cameron has expressed a willingness to partake in an attack on Iran. Perhaps the ruling class would prefer Dodgy Dave to Grumpy Gordon?

Shia later
Moqtada al-Sadr, a radical cleric, Iraqi nationalist and prominent opponent of the occupation, re-emerged in recent weeks to call for unity in the struggle to liberate Iraq from foreign domination. The Mehdi army, a militia loyal to Sadr, is involved in armed resistance to the British forces in Basra, but the movement is not limited in tactics: massive street demonstrations took place in April to call for the occupying forces to leave involving hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqis.

Sadr’s political career looks more promising than that of current Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, with whom Brown met on Monday. Perhaps Sadr will be the leader of Iraq in the not-too-distant future? Though military strength of Sadr’s followers is overestimated, his popularity is not: the stronghold in the Baghdad slum of Sadr city, points to popularity amongst the Shia poor and working class.

Sadr’s current strategy is to overcome the sectarian divisions that have plagued the country, and the resistance, for the past few years. It may be that occupying forces have been operating a kind of “strategy of tension” and there is evidence to suggest complicity in acts of terror. This is Sadr’s position, and even if it is not entirely the case it may be a necessary illusion if the sectarian conflict is to be transformed into long-term stability.

Resistance is fertile
A number of developments point towards a promising future for the working class in Iraq. For example, striking Iraqi oil workers in the south were able to win a partial victory, despite the resistance meted out to them by the “democratic government”, which used the laws against unions and collective bargaining that were kept on the books from Ba’ath rule. And a new Marxist resistance group has declared its existence, perhaps deriving support from left-wing nationalists and former members of the Iraqi Communist Party, disillusioned with the party’s collusion with the occupiers. The depth of support is an unknown, but there needs to be a strong anti-capitalist current in the Iraqi resistance to shape the post-war situation in favour of working people.

The US cannot win militarily and will suffer a death of a thousand cuts at the hands of the resistance. It remains to be seen which side will win out in the States, but I would bet on there being a forced withdrawal and an attempt to co-opt Sadr in a last ditch effort to secure lasting power in Iraq. The surge has not increased the strength of Maliki’s puppet administration nor diminished the power of the national liberation movement.

The acts of the resistance towards the occupying forces have become more daring in recent weeks, and suggest a growing strength. Much of the country is effectively under the control of anti-occupation groups which need only be united to achieve a final push.

There is a high level of dissatisfaction amongst US and British forces; the realisation that there is little point to their mission and the growing sense that its initiation was based upon deception for the purposes of elite enrichment. The safest exit that the armed forces of Anglo-American imperialism can have from Iraq is at their own request.

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