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‘Hurts Iraqis but won’t stop resistance’

Published Sep 25, 2006 12:06 AM

The U.S. occupation forces and the Iraqi puppet government have found a new way to make life even more miserable for the people of Baghdad than it is already: They are building a trench around urban Baghdad to be able to stop and search all traffic entering and leaving the city.

Despite the additional burden on residents, there is no indication this harsh step will be effective in turning back the Iraqi resistance or in subduing the capital.

This planned trench coincides with the final stages of an earlier plan to quash the resistance inside this city of 7 million people. U.S. and puppet troops have been carrying out house-to-house searches through Baghdad neighborhoods and have recently been entering the poor Shi’ite areas of Sadr City, where the Mahdi Army is strong.

Moqtada al-Sadr is head of the Mahdi Army, which, according to most observers, is the largest of the party-based militias. Although al-Sadr participates in the pro-U.S. Iraqi government, the imperialist media continue to describe him in hostile terms. Their favorite description is “firebrand cleric,” indicating an ongoing U.S. distrust of his role.

According to an article in the Sept. 17 New York Times, the proposed trench will circle urban Baghdad, crossing farmlands and forcing all traffic through 28 main highways to the city. There all vehicles and people will be subject to inspection, at least in theory.

In practice, according to Iraqi exile Abdul al-Bayaty, who keeps close contact with events in Iraq, this will interfere with “students, workers, ill people needing medical care, merchants, farmers and pub lic workers trying to move in both directions. Imagine what will happen to economic fluidity if every truck of vegetables or cement or bricks which Baghdad consumes each day should be searched each time it passes,” not to mention all the 6 to 7 million inhabitants.

“Urban Baghdad is surrounded on all sides by tribes and towns that support the resistance,” said al-Bayaty, “and the U.S. military has been unable to subjugate them up to now. Nor will it be able.

“This is a large agricultural region covered by palm trees, and the population there knows the land better than the U.S. Historically they are fighters whose sons have made up the armies protecting Baghdad since the Abasside caliphate of [the years] 750 to 1248.

“The trenches will not stop the resistance, which is strongest inside urban Baghdad, where there are now real liberated regions. The government cannot enter there,” al-Bayaty told Workers World. Regarding Shi’ite regions like Sadr City, which is not now actively joining the resistance, he added, “Nothing indicates that the Shi’ites will not rise against the occupation in the future.”

‘Only contractors will profit’

al-Bayaty called the trench scheme “a crime against urban Baghdad, the Baghdad region and Iraq. It will destroy the economy and the life of people but will fail militarily. It is a new mirage that the U.S. is selling Iraqi collaborators. Only the contractors digging the trenches will profit from it.”

In a Sept. 14 Guardian Unlimited article assessing the occupation’s failures, Iraqi novelist Haifa Zangana makes the point that while U.S. forces destroyed great parts of the towns of Falluja, Samara, Tel Afar and parts of Najaf, and carried out massacres in Haditha, Al Qaem and Al Ishaqi—all located in Anbar Province to the west and northwest of Baghdad—the resistance is still strong there.

“The reality,” writes Zangana in an article emphasizing the nationwide character of the resistance, “is that the U.S.-led occupation has not just failed to put an end to the resistance in the ‘Sunni Triangle’ but has helped to multiply resistance triangles in other Iraqi cities.

“In Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, Azzaman Iraqi newspaper reported on Sept. 1, 2006, that: ‘The rebels now even do not mind the presence of Americans since they never dare to dismount their armored vehicles. U.S. foot patrols are unthinkable as they will make the Marines easy prey for snipers. Iraqi police and troops have no armored protection and drive in open pick-up trucks, turning them into easy targets.’

“In Basra and Amara—cities south of Iraq, both are far beyond the sides of any triangle—British forces are under repeated mortar attack,” wrote Zangana.

Meanwhile the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, made it clear the priority of the occupation was that of securing Baghdad. “I’ll be perfectly clear with you, our main effort right now is Baghdad,” Chiarelli said.

According to the most seasoned anti-occupation observers, this too will fail.

Al-Bayaty, Zangana and Catalinotto are all members of the advisory board of the Belgium-based BRussell’s Tribunal.

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