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Thursday, February 22, 2024

How much worse can it get in Iraq?

CSMS Magazine staff writersThe bombing inside the Iraqi parliament last Thursday confirmed to many observers that the quagmire is far from over, despite the new “surge.” Today alone 177 people died when two bombs exploded in the middle of a market place. Four years after American troops entered Baghdad, it is clear to everyone that nowhere in the country—including the heavily fortified and guarded Green Zone where the huge US embassy and Iraqi government offices are also sited—is invulnerable to attack.It was not the first time the Green Zone was attacked. As a symbol of the detested US occupation, insurgent groups have previously attacked the Green Zone many times before. Late last month, a mortar round that landed inside the Green Zone near the building, where he was holding a press conference, shook UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. On March 23, Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie was hospitalized after a bomb exploded near his compound at the edge of the Green Zone.The US military quickly moved to play down the spectacular attack, claiming that the Bush administration’s “surge” strategy in Iraq is working. Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno told the media that progress is “not about one or single events; it’s about an overall feeling of security in your neighborhood.” He highlighted the fact that the US military had established 26 joint security stations and more than 21 combat outposts across the capital to provide “a continuous presence.”If the Green Zone, commonly called the “ultimate gated community”, is not secure, it is hard to imagine how the new surge will eventually bring about the stability that US officials have been talking about.As always, president Bush immediately denounced the parliament bombing as an attack on “innocent people and a symbol of democracy.” But the claim is absurd. The fact that Iraqi parliamentarians are only able to meet behind layer upon layer of US security testifies to their lack of popular support. The main qualification for the job is their willingness to accept the ongoing US occupation, which is opposed by the vast majority of Iraqis who blame the US for the systematic repression, sectarian warfare and nightmarish social conditions.

Muqtada al-Sadr on the offensive

 In a huge demonstration last week marking the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to US invasion forces, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis marched in the city of Najaf Monday to demand an end to the American occupation of their land. They were responded to a call from Muqtada al-Sadr, the young Shiite cleric that many observers say he is one of the most powerful Iraqis in opposition to the US occupation.On the eve of the demonstration, al-Sadr issued a call for Iraqi soldiers and police not to fight on the side of the Americans against their co-religionists in the Mahdi Army, the Shia militia that is loyal to him. In an apparent indication of the potency of such an appeal, soldiers and police in uniform joined the demonstration in significant numbers.The appeal came in the midst of the fierce fighting that erupted Friday as US and Iraqi forces laid siege to Diwaniya, a city of over 400,000, and 110 miles south of Baghdad. Large crowds of men, women and children waving Iraqi flags—signaling an appeal to national unity against the occupation—marched behind banners reading “Down with Bush, Down with America.” Others burned American flags or stomped them with their shoes.The huge Shia demonstration was the largest seen in Najaf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Marchers chanted, “No, no, no to America … Muqtada yes, yes, yes,” “Yes to Iraq, Yes to sovereignty, No to occupation” and “The terrorist Bush should leave.” The massive march began outside a mosque in Najaf’s twin city of Kufa and proceeded to the center of Najaf, considered a holy city by the Shia community.“In four years of occupation, our sons have been killed and women made widows,” 39-year-old Ahmed al-Mayahie, a Shia from the southern city of Basra, told a news agency. “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 land.”Al-Sadr was nowhere to be seen, and US officials claim he is in Iran, although his supporters insist he is still in Iraq. Nonetheless, a statement from him was read to the demonstrators. In it, he described the US occupation as “48 months of anxiety, oppression and occupational tyranny” that had brought the Iraqi people only “more death, destruction and humiliation.” He continued, “Every day tens are martyred, tens are crippled and every day we see and hear US interference in every aspect of our lives, which means that we are not sovereign, not independent and therefore not free. This is what Iraq has harvested from the US invasion.”Many interpreted Al-Sadr’s call for the massive demonstration as a calculated move designed to capitalize on the growing anger of his supporters and the Iraqi people as a whole against the four-year-old occupation. The 30,000-troop escalation ordered by Bush earlier this year has only fueled their anger, ushering a new kind of resistance against the occupation. Al-Sadr is also trying to redeem himself before the Iraqi people, promoting Sunni/Shia cooperation at a time when growing disquiet over his apparent decision not to resist the US military’s entry into the sprawling slums of Sadr City and the attacks and arrests carried out against elements of the Shia militia. But before that unity can happen, Sadr will have to rein in his militia members blamed for much of the sectarian death squad killings that have claimed thousands of lives among the Iraqi Sunnis.In 2004, al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia forced the US occupation forces to beat a tactical retreat when it resisted their attempts to gain control of Najaf, Karbala and Sadr City. The Shia uprising coincided with fierce resistance to US attempts to dominate the predominantly Sunni city of Fallujah, which was only conquered in a murderous siege launched later that year, after a truce was concluded with the Shia forces.In CSMS Magazine, we, as most observers (including the 9/11 Commission), truly believe that there is no military solution in Iraq. No one can rule a country that does not want to be ruled. The longer the US army stays in Iraq, the more suffering will be inflicted up on not only the innocent men, women and children of Iraq, but also upon our innocent soldiers parachuted in foreign land to fight a war at the interest of the US elites.Also see The Execution of Saddam Hussein. Click here: https://csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20070105I393

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