As part of the decade-long NATO war and occupation in Iraq, led by the U.S., the imperialists conducted a campaign to promote foreign control by sowing and deepening religious and cultural divisions. The Iraqi people have paid a terrible price. More than a million lives have been lost, many from the shootings and bombings instigated by the NATO occupiers that continue to this day.
But since Dec. 25, daily demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have filled the streets to demand an end to all this. Opposing the NATO-backed al-Maliki regime, which Iraqis have called the “second face” of the occupation, these demonstrations have drawn support from all sectors of Iraq — from Sunnis to Kurds and Shia organizations and leaders. () Starting in the city of Ramadi, in cities and towns throughout the country, huge crowds have demanded the removal of the Maliki government.
The protesters are justly demanding:
1. The immediate release of detained protesters and dissident prisoners.
2 . An end to the death penalty.
3. The approval of an amnesty law for innocent detainees.
4. The abolition of anti-terrorism laws (especially Clause 4 used to target them).
5. The repeal of unfair rulings against dissidents.
6. Fair opportunities for work based on professionalism.
7. The end of the use of all military command based on geographic areas.
8. The provision of essential services to all areas in Iraq neglected by the guardian.co.uk, Jan. 17state.
9. The holding of all … governmental officials, army or security units who have committed crimes against dissidents accountable, especially those who have violated the honor of women in prisons.
10. A U.N.-sponsored population count.
11. An end to marginalization, a stop to agitating divisions between ethnic and religious groups, and a stop to the house raids without legal warrant based on the information of secret informers.
12. A stop to financial, administrative and legal corruption.
13. The combating of sectarianism in all its forms by returning religious buildings and all religious properties to their rightful owners, and the abolishment of law No. 19 of 2005.
The Maliki regime has used brutal repression to maintain its grip on power. The Baghdad government has admitted that it is holding 6,500 prisoners whom it accuses of “terrorism,” including 97 women, along with 15,000 prisoners for “civil” crimes, including 500 women. On Jan. 18, Baghdad TV announced that 97,000 people were arrested last November alone in Anbar, Diyalah and Salah-Adedeen provinces. (“Friday No Deception. Protesters to Maliki: Stop Cheating and Go Away,” Eman A. Khamas, Brussell’s Tribunal, Jan. 18)
Iraq government corruption is virtually unmatched. The international organization Transparency International has labeled it among the most corrupt in the world. At the same time, while Iraq contains vast oil wealth, the infrastructure is crumbling and social services, particularly for health, are declining for the Iraqi people.
The U.S. government, which spent $1 trillion and 4,500 soldier’s lives to wage war against and occupy Iraq, has supplied $11 billion in weapons to the Maliki regime, not including billions more for training to the same “security” forces” that have been used against the opposition. (“Sectarian Tensions Are Pushing Iraq to the Brink,” Wadah Khanfar, guardian.co.uk, Jan. 17)
In heavily militarized Baghdad, government forces have prevented demonstrators from massing in the center of the city. But the people have been able to assemble and march in many locations throughout the city.
Of course, it was not the huge banks and giant corporations that bore the cost of the Iraqi war, the occupation and the continued repression in Iraq. Along with the Iraqi people, working people from all of the NATO countries have paid the trillions it cost. And the European and U.S. “austerity” campaigns that have devastated workers from Greece to Portugal to Detroit stem from this global system of imperialist domination and control through war, whose benefits go only to the infamous 1%.