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Iraqi resistance alters world situation

Published Mar 25, 2007 10:59 PM

In a March 20 statement on the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, President George W. Bush defended this illegal and criminal invasion and said that the United States would stay. The Iraqi resistance is replying with continued struggle to liberate the country from its occupiers.

This resistance has kept up a determined struggle since the first days of the U.S. occupation in spring 2003. The struggle continues to make its impact on Iraq, on the Middle East, on the United States and on the world.

The resistance’s greatest success has been to tie down the most powerful imperialist military and, up to this time, to prevent Washington from taking the further aggressive steps it had planned before the Pentagon got mired in the deserts and cities of Iraq.

Unfortunately this success has come at a great cost to the Iraqis, based on the crimes of the occupation. A survey of 2,205 Iraqis conducted from Feb. 25 to March 5 organized by ABC News, USA Today, the BBC and ARD German TV found an enormous gain in what can be best described as an index of fear and misery even over similar surveys 16 months earlier.

Even this survey, with which the news agencies want to reflect changes in the situation in Iraq, could seriously understate the misery of the Iraqis and their hostility to the occupation. But it is an index of change nevertheless. For example, the Associated Press report on the poll describes Iraqi attitudes as having “dissolved into widespread fear, anger and distress amid unrelenting violence.” (March 19)

In November 2005, some 71 percent of Iraqis said their own life was going well. Now only 39 percent say so. Some 75 percent of Iraqis say they have feelings of anger and depression and difficulty concentrating. More than 50 percent say they have cut down on leaving their homes, going to markets or other crowded places and traveling through police checkpoints.

In an amazingly frank response, considering the power of the occupation force and the likelihood that the Iraqis would be suspicious of the survey takers, only 18 percent of Iraqis said they had confidence in U.S. and coalition troops. Some 51 percent were now willing to tell the interviewers that they believed that violence against U.S. forces is acceptable. That number was only 17 percent in early 2004, according to the AP report. This hostility to the occupation was especially strong in that part of the population who identified as Sunni.

Change for Mahdi Army?

While the United States has only been able to put a stable client government in the Kurdish areas of Iraq, Washington has depended on its relationship with the religious and political leaders of the Shiite community to form the puppet national government. Participation in this government has included not only groups that cooperated with the occupation since its beginning, but also the Mahdi Army, which was in armed conflict with the occupation in 2004 but whose leaders joined later puppet governments. This cooperation has been complicated by the U.S. government’s growing hostility toward Iran, which has close ties with some of the Shiite groups in Iraq. Regarding Washington’s attempt to use more Pentagon troops—the “surge”—to occupy the large Shiite-based Sadr City in Baghdad, the recent news has been that Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Mahdi Army, had asked his forces not to combat the U.S. operations.

All this has now been thrown into doubt by al-Sadr’s latest statements, made March 16: “The occupiers want to harm this beloved [Sadr City] and tarnish its name by spreading false rumors and allegations that negotiations and cooperation are ongoing between you and them. I am confident that you will not make concessions to them and will remain above them. Raise your voices in love and brotherhood and unity against your enemy and shout, ‘No, no America!’”

After this statement was read at a Sadr City mosque, thousands of people took to the streets to protest the U.S. military presence there, which had then lasted for two weeks. According to U.S. military officials, al-Sadr has been in Iran since February.

Should the Shiite population in the South and in Baghdad resist the occupation with the same determination as the resistance fighters in the center of the country, there is no way the U.S. troops could stay in Iraq. Already, according to the AP, 3,208 U.S. troops have been killed since the invasion of Iraq, almost 2,600 of them in military operations. Another 20,000 have been gravely wounded.

Disintegration of U.S. military

These losses are numerically small compared to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, and compared to U.S. losses in the wars against Korea or Vietnam. Yet the political impact has been great. Combined with the loss of support for the Bush administration, the casualties have broken U.S. popular support for the war. Youths are less likely to join the U.S. Armed Forces, which are now voluntary.

Generals and other high Pentagon officials have been testifying before Congress and seriously complaining of the threat of disintegration of the U.S. military, especially the land forces, because of the stresses of the Iraq occupation. Of course, these brass are doing so in the context of trying to appeal to Congress to increase military funding. Their specific goal is to increase the number of land troops by 92,000 in the coming years.

In the past, however, the generals, even when demanding more resources, usually claimed that the U.S. military could handle all its assigned tasks. Now the tone has changed.

U.S. Army Chief Gen. Peter Schoomaker’s second-in-command, Gen. Richard Cody, said that the loss of materiel in Iraq makes it difficult to find the weapons for another conflict or even to arm the 30,000 additional troops being sent to Iraq as part of the so-called surge. And the conclusion from general evidence is that the United States won’t be able to “react in a new crisis”—meaning it won’t be able to launch another aggression—until the materiel and human resources are replaced and increased.

While these generals are talking about resources for buying weapons and training troops as well as attracting them, they omit what has become obvious to many in the U.S. population. The growing disillusionment with the war and occupation has stretched the land forces to the breaking point. Soldiers and marines who volunteered either with a patriotic spirit or to get access to education and something besides low-paid work at McDonald’s are now considering what steps they are willing to take to keep themselves out of Iraq. Veterans and active-duty GIs are participating in anti-war demonstrations.

All this is the result first of the Bush gang’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq, and second of the Iraqi people’s determination to resist.

The Iraqi resistance has changed the world situation.