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Interview with Abdul al-Bayaty

Why Washington’s surge in Iraq failed

Published Nov 19, 2008 5:34 PM

Following are parts of an interview done last Aug. 27 by Sigyn Meder of Swedish Iraq Solidarity with knowledgeable Iraqi exile Abdul Ilah al-Bayaty at his home in Le Feyt in the Auvergne region of France. Though the interview is over two months old, it still adds insight to more recent events in Iraq exposing the difficulty Washington has imposing a Status of Forces Agreement on the Iraqis. It also debunks the false claims the Bush administration has made that the so-called surge of U.S. forces has stabilized the occupation. Al-Bayaty, a Ba’ath Party organizer in the 1960s, played a leading role in August with a group of anti-war activists who drafted the Le Feyt proposal for a peace agreement that would end the occupation of Iraq. (See anti-occupation.org for the Le Feyt Declaration.)

Abdul Ilah al-Bayaty
WW photo: John Catalinotto

Sigyn Meder: According to the election propaganda of the Bush administration and in the media, “security is increasing day by day” in Iraq. What is the reality of the situation?

Abdul Ilah al-Bayaty: For whom is security increasing? The American troops are changing tactics, avoiding movements on the roads and land, letting Iraqi troops do the ground work—at the same time the U.S. provides air support. Some 1,700 people were killed during the last two months during American-Iraqi offensive operations.

What kind of security exists when thousands of people are arrested in connection with offensives against Mosul, Basra, Baghdad and other cities? What kind of security exists when American troops can hardly leave the Green Zone?

It is not just a military question—it concerns clean water, food, being able to go to school, meet friends, travel. It is about having a normal life. What kind of security is it to live closed-in behind the high walls that the occupation power builds around neighborhoods in Baghdad and around whole towns in Iraq or when people are exposed to bombings, military offensives and mass arrests? There is no security. There is no normal life.

Meder: Would you comment on the Status of Forces Agreement being discussed by the United States and the puppet regime?

Al-Bayaty: The people have no legitimate government. This is a security problem. There can be no security with a government that has no legitimacy. And it cannot attain legitimacy. The propaganda talks about security and the mass media ignore the real situation.

The security agreement is a charade between the Bush administration and some local forces that fear that they will lose their privileges if the U.S. withdraws their troops. They want to ensure a continued American presence. At the same time the Bush administration wants to ensure a continuation of its policy regardless of the results in the U.S. election.

These Iraqi forces are completely dependent on foreign troops, militias, criminal gangs and foreign, private-contract employees—in essence, an entire corrupt apparatus whose lifeblood is money. Iraq is one of the most corrupt states in the world. How can you fight corruption with corruption?

According to the original plan Iraq was supposed to have an army with 40,000 soldiers. Today the “armed forces” include a million members if you include the integrated militia forces. They will never achieve security or obtain legitimacy. If there were real security in Iraq, then the refugees would return.

The people of Iraq and their resistance in all its forms, the parliament and even parts of the government, are opposed to a security agreement that expresses the colonial dependency of Iraq in humiliating forms.

The Bush administration has tried to transform the treaty into an agreement to avoid having the question dealt with by the U.S. Congress or the Iraqi parliament in the face of growing opposition. They know that the people of Iraq will change the constitution and the government if the U.S. troops leave the country.

It is obvious that the agreement will make Iraq a permanent colony. In the same way that Arab regimes have created the concept of “hereditary republics,” the United States is trying to create a “sovereign colony.”

Meder: The United States has not yet succeeded in forcing through the “oil and gas law.” [It would leave Iraqi energy resources in the hands of foreign transnational corporations, mostly U.S.—WW.] Would you like to comment on this?

Al-Bayaty: The resistance to the oil law is firm. Even in the parliament, despite the enormous pressure from the Bush administration and the oil companies. For example, the Bush administration has in numerous statements demanded that the Iraqi parliament pass the oil law to give a shred of “legitimacy” to the plundering of Iraq’s oil—which was nationalized more than 30 years ago.

The Iraqi Constitution has been changed during the occupation in violation of existing conventions in order to facilitate the activities of foreign interests. Agreements made during voting on the constitution made new changes in that same constitution. Therefore an important question is—which constitution is valid?

Meder: The U.S. is making great efforts to get its puppet regime in the Green Zone legalized. What are your comments?

Al-Bayaty: There is a diplomatic surge taking place. Jordan and some Arab regimes are considering recognizing the Al-Malaki regime. The pressure by the U.S. to have an illegitimate regime accepted by the international community is part of a diplomatic offensive to assist the U.S. in Iraq and to “legalize” the continued occupation and plundering of Iraq.