Iraqi progressives say ‘no’ to more U.S. arms

Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki, who rose to power under the U.S. occupation, used his visit with U.S. President Barack Obama on Nov. 1 to ask for weapons to “fight terrorism.” Progressive Iraqis immediately called on U.S. anti-war activists to fight to stop any new arms deliveries to Iraq.

At least a half million Iraqis died because of the 2003 U.S.-British invasion and eight years of occupation, according to an authoritative study published Oct. 15 in plosmedicine.org. Millions more were forced to flee their homes as the U.S. occupation regime encouraged sectarian fighting in order to divide Iraq’s resistance movement.

No good has come to the Iraqis from U.S. involvement in their country. Now al-Maliki says he wants the U.S. to train and equip Iraq’s army to use combat helicopters and other sophisticated weapons to fight al-Qaida terrorism.

Though the U.S. no longer has combat troops in Iraq, sectarian fighting continues and casualties doubled this year. Bombings and politically motivated attacks killed 964 people in October alone, including 855 civilians.

In an article in the British Guardian on Nov. 31, exiled Iraqi anti-imperialist Haifa Zangana insists that to send this military aid to the Iraqi regime “will add to the crimes committed by the U.S. against Iraqis since the invasion of 2003, as weapons and equipment made available to the regime have, to date, been used only against Iraqi people.”

Zangana writes that many Iraqis see al-Maliki’s rule as being behind the sectarian fighting, “because the regime is the embodiment of the sectarian divide entrenched by the occupation. Its constitution and political process, nurtured by the U.S. and Britain, has spawned a kleptocracy of warlords, charlatans and merchants of religion. Yes, al-Qaida is a presence. But the sectarian political parties that mushroomed after the invasion are also fighting each other, killing thousands of civilians in the process.”

Zangana said Iraqi anti-government partisans should call on the people of the U.S. to prevent Washington from giving arms to oppressive regimes, including al-Maliki’s.

Six militarist senators send letter to Obama

Six of the senators most closely connect­ed with the U.S. military-industrial com­plex wrote a letter Oct. 31 to Obama ex­pressing their criticism of the Maliki regime, calling it sectarian. These warmongers propose an even deeper U.S. intervention.

The six — Republican Sens. John McCain, James Inhofe, Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham, and Democrats Carl Levin and Robert Menendez — expressed concern that Maliki’s sectarian policies were “driving many Sunni Iraqis into the arms of al-Qaida in Iraq.” They said, “the extent of Iran’s malign influence in the Iraqi government is a serious problem in our bilateral relationship” and chided the Iraqi government for failing to join in the campaign against Syria.

Back in 2003, these senators were among those most hostile to the Ba’athist government led by Saddam Hussein. They insisted on purging all Ba’athists from the army and the government.

At this point they — and they speak for a section of the U.S. ruling class with close Pentagon ties — prefer to write that al-Maliki should be “sharing greater national power and revenue with Sunni Iraqis, reconciling with Sunni leaders and ending de-Ba’athification.” The six militarist senators also urge Obama to “step up [U.S.] counterterrorism support for Iraq.”

The six’s strategy is to continue the U.S. drive for control over Iraq. That they reversed themselves on “de-Ba’athification” indicates they want to manipulate differences between Iraqis and Iranians to the advantage of U.S. imperialism, just as was done in the 1980s.

Zangana’s appeal to fight to stop further U.S. arms delivery is thus right on target for protecting the interests of the Iraqi people.