Huge Iraq march says: U.S. out now!
Published Apr 12, 2007 12:52 AM
Four years ago, U.S. troops drove their armored personnel carriers and tanks
into Baghdad, pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein in a well-choreographed
photo op, and announced they had “liberated” the city—which
could barely function after U.S. planes and missiles had destroyed much of its
infrastructure in “shock and awe.”
Just four years later, this April 9, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched
the six miles from Kufa to Najaf, south of Baghdad, demanding an end to the
U.S. occupation of their country. The marchers then held a rally in Revolution
Square, named after a 1920 uprising against British colonial rule.
A Reuters report described the scene:
“Hundreds of banners saying ‘Down with Bush, Down with
America’ were carried by protesters as Iraqi police and soldiers guarded
checkpoints in and around Najaf and Kufa.
“Many people, draped in Iraqi flags, set U.S. flags ablaze and some
trampled on and struck U.S. and Israeli flags painted on the ground with their
shoes, an act considered one of the worst insults in Arab culture.
“’In four years of occupation, our sons have been killed and women
made widows,’ cried Ahmed al-Mayahie, 39, a Shia from the southern city
“’The occupier raised slogans saying Iraq is free, Iraq is
liberated. What freedom? What liberation? There is nothing but destruction. We
do not want their liberation and their presence. We tell them to get out of our
“Falah Hassan Shanshil, an MP from al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc,
said: ‘This crowd has come to reject the American occupation and demand
The Bush White House has made no comment.
This remarkable demonstration was held in the midst of a brutal war that has
already cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Not only that, but
it was held at the precise moment that the Pentagon was escalating the war in a
“surge” that is supposed to prove it can be won and Iraq can be
In recent weeks, U.S. troops have been going house to house with Iraqi puppet
forces in Baghdad, especially in the area known as Sadr City, terrorizing the
population. They are supposedly searching for “insurgents,” but the
massive demonstration showed that opponents of the U.S. war and occupation are
everywhere in Iraq.
The corporate sponsors of the war, especially the oil companies and the
military-industrial complex, need to be reassured that “normal”
life—that is, a functioning economy that turns out profits for the big
corporations—can be restored and their profits, which they call
“American interests,” will be protected. They already have doubts
on that score, and the ruling elite in the U.S., knowing they are more hated
every day around the world, are split over what to do.
This demonstration of determination to get the occupiers out will only deepen
the split and confusion in the U.S. ruling class.
When the invasion took place four years ago, the world was told that the Iraqi
people, especially those from the Shia branch of Islam, would welcome the U.S.
as “liberators.” Only some of the Sunnis, a minority in the
country, had benefited under the old regime, it was said, and even they would
not put up a fight.
This turned out to be the most colossal miscalculation of any U.S. imperialist
administration in decades.
The resistance to the U.S. occupation is firmly rooted in all the Sunni areas,
despite the Pentagon’s ruthless pounding of civilian concentrations like
the cities of Falluja, Ramadi and Mosul, beginning in 2004. Now, it is
indisputable that a huge part of the Shia population is also taking a stand and
ready to fight to end the U.S. occupation.
The march from Kufa to Najaf was called by Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who
went underground several months ago after his support base in Baghdad was
targeted by the U.S. “surge.” Prominent also in the demonstration
were Sunni clerics, in a show of unity against the occupation.
Rather than admit that the Iraqi people as a whole are overwhelmingly against
the occupation and that U.S. troops should be brought home, the Bush
administration has taken to Iran-baiting al-Sadr and other Shia leaders. The
rationale for the war has shifted again; it’s no longer weapons of mass
destruction or al-Qaeda, it’s now Iran that is supposedly responsible for
What is never admitted by the leaders of either capitalist party in the U.S.,
Democrat or Republican, is that it is the neocolonial project of U.S. big
business in the Middle East and the brutality it has employed in an effort to
break the Iraqi resistance that has turned virtually the whole population
against the so-called “liberators.”
Four years into the war and occupation, the Iraqi people are suffering under
the most atrocious conditions of life—no reliable water supply or
electricity, massive unemployment, the shortage of everything needed for daily
living, and all this on top of the constant threat of death and destruction as
the whole country has become a war zone.
Nor can they have any confidence that the election of the Democrats to
leadership of Congress will bring them any respite—especially when
leading Democrats like Hillary Clinton were arguing for years that the U.S.
should send more troops to Iraq, a program that George W. Bush has now claimed
as his own. He has decided to send 13,000 National Guard troops for their
second tour and to extend the time troops spend in Iraq from 12 to 15 months,
putting unbearable pressure on the rank-and-file.
The jousting now going on in Washington over the war spending bill, which
everyone knows will end in the Democrats funding the war even as Bush rejects
any timetable for withdrawal, must only deepen the frustration of the Iraqi
The demonstration of hundreds of thousands in Najaf showed that they’re
not going to wait until 2008 and a promise that some troops will be withdrawn
at some time. They are putting the U.S. and British occupiers on notice that
their resistance will only grow.
Those who want to end the bloodshed and suffering on all sides and the criminal
diversion of resources to this war must also find ways to unite and stop the
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