Iraq war aimed also at Palestinians
By Sara Flounders
One of Secretary of State Colin Powell's justifications for
a devastating U.S. attack on Iraq is that country's support for
the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and a
In his 90-minute presentation to the United Nations Security
Council Feb. 5 Powell said: "Iraq and terrorism go back
decades. Baghdad trains Palestine Liber ation Front members in
small arms and explosives. Saddam uses the Arab Liber ation
Front to funnel money to the families of Palestinian suicide
bombers in order to prolong the intifada. And it's no secret
that Saddam's own intelligence service was involved in dozens
of attacks or attempted assassinations in the 1990s."
Powell's effort to paint the Palestinian struggle as a
foreign-funded terrorist organization is meant to politically
delegitimize the long, heroic Palestinian struggle for
This labeling of the Palestinian resistance as terrorism is
no accident. Powell was presenting the U.S. justification for
destroying Iraq. By including Iraq's support of the Palestinian
struggle against Israeli occupation among the charges, Powell
demonstrated U.S. imperialism's broader strategic goals in the
Much more than seizing Iraqi oil is at stake. It is clear
that U.S. imperialism's goal is to pacify and politically
transform the entire region.
The Bush administration intends to use the war against Iraq
as an effort to eliminate every form of resistance in the
What is the greatest impediment to U.S. plans to conquer the
entire region? It is the fact that millions of people
throughout the Arab and Islamic world deeply support and
identify with the Palestinian struggle. This struggle has
survived the most onerous conditions, and it has inspired
generations of militants to resist imperialist control. Since
the 1958 overthrow of the U.S./British-backed Iraqi monarchy,
Iraq has supported the Palestinian struggle.
Every Arab government gives at least nominal support to the
Palestinian struggle, because the Palestinians' heroic
resistance is a living issue among the masses. In order to gain
compliance among Arab states for the 1991 U.S. war against
Iraq, Washington promised to broker an historic compromise that
would lead to at least a nominal Palestinian state. This came
to be known as the Oslo Accords.
Despite years of talks and a few minimal gains for the
Palestinian movement, Israeli settlements doubled. Constant
land confiscations and repression led to a new Palestinian
uprising, or Intifada, that began in September 2000.
Today, Israel's colonial-style occupation of the West Bank
and Gaza has strangled the Palestinian economy. Through a
system of road closures and walls, the whole population is
locked down into ghettos.
Now U.S. imperialism has signaled the Israeli government of
war criminal Ariel Sharon that the war against Iraq is an oppor
tunity for new, possibly far worse repression and expulsions of
The real terrorists
Even with murky slides and dubious audiotapes, Powell's war
talk at the UN presented little that was new or even original.
The "irrefutable and undeniable" evidence that supposedly
represented the latest declassified secret revelations from
U.S. and British sources was actually a plagiarized
cut-and-paste rehash of years-old academic articles posted on
While Powell and President George W. Bush reiterated their
charges that bombed, sanctioned and surrounded Iraq has weapons
of mass destruction, the Feb. 2 New York Times described the
blitzkrieg of more than 3,000 bombs and missiles that would rip
into Iraq in the first 48 hours of a U.S. attack.
One Pentagon official said: "There will not be a safe place
in Baghdad. The sheer size of this has never been seen before,
never contemplated before."
The plan for destruction is called "Shock and Awe."
One military planner explained, "You have this simultaneous
effect, rather like nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking
days or weeks but in minutes." This description was printed
three days before Powell's UN talk charging new evidence of
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Labeling the Palestinian resistance as terrorism is the same
upside-down reality as Washington claiming that Iraq threatens
the world with weapons of mass destruction. It is Israeli
military forces--funded, equipped and politically supported by
Washington--that are today inflicting a campaign of mass terror
on the Palestinian people. Scores of Palestinian leaders have
been victims of Israeli targeted assassinations from
U.S.-supplied Apache attack helicopters. This is publicly
acknowledged and accompanies a policy of mass arrests, torture
Palestinians living within the 1948 borders of Israel,
although nominally Israeli citizens, are denied the right to
buy land or work at many jobs. They are paid far less and are
forced to live under constant scrutiny and discrimination. They
are the remnants of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians
driven out of historic Palestine through a campaign of
systematic terror and land expropriation.
While declaring Iraq to be in material breach of UN
resolutions, the United States has never proposed any action
against the state of Israel for flouting literally hundreds of
UN resolutions passed over the 55 years since the mass
expulsion of Palestinians from their land in 1948.
But as U.S. oil and military corporations lay out their
plans for a longterm occupation of Iraq and its fabulously rich
oil fields, they should look again at the Israeli army of
occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. Even using the most
brutal tactics of mass deportations, uprooting and imprisoning
tens of thousands of people, they have never been able to
destroy the Palestinian determination to resist.
The strains of keeping an Israeli army of colonial
occupation mobilized have created deep divisions and growing
opposition within Israel--even within the military. And there
is no end in sight.
In the past two years of the new Intifada, the Palestinian
struggle for justice and self-determination has gained wider
support, including among many Jews. Millions of young people in
the United States, Europe and Latin America now identify deeply
with the resistance.
Bush faces massive world opposition on the eve of war. U.S.
occupation in Iraq will prove even more costly and divisive.
The thin and wavering support will crumble as millions of
people come to understand the enormous cost of U.S.
imperialism's reactionary plan for the entire region.
The broad world movement that has mobilized to oppose the
criminal U.S. war against Iraq will be strengthened by linking
up and defending the Palestinian people's decades-long struggle
for justice and self-determination.
Reprinted from the Feb. 20, 2003, issue of
Workers World newspaper
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