The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 20th June 2014
THE ADVANCE of a sectarian Muslim militia and the collapse of the Iraqi army has plunged the ruling circles in the imperialist world into confusion. In Britain the Cameron government is waiting for a lead from US imperialism while that pathetic old war-monger Tony Blair uses the crisis to justify the lies he told to send British troops to fight America’s dirty war in Iraq in 2003.
The Americans are in a dilemma because the very forces they armed in their bid to overthrow Syria’s popular front government are now turning on the Iraqi leader who was once thought to be a safe pair of hands for imperialism. And all of this is happening with the apparently blessing of America’s greatest Arab ally, the feudal tyrant who sits on the throne of Saudi Arabia.
It is, of course, a dilemma of their own creation. When the imperialists invaded and occupied Iraq they provoked a ferocious resistance that briefly united Iraqis from all classes and religious communities in the liberation struggle. To break the resistance the Americans turned to bribery and sectarian politics to buy off some and turn others against themselves.
The Kurdish nationalists were bought off with autonomy that had originally been granted by Saddam Hussein’s secular Baathist government. Ousted president Saddam Hussein, the leader of the underground Baathist resistance, was captured and handed over to his enemies for trial and execution.
Shia Muslim politicians and clerics were bought off with a sectarian constitution that gave them control of the puppet government and Sunni Muslim leaders were bought off to end the resistance with cash and false promises of more in the future.
At the same time Sunni and Shia sectarian politicians were elevated and encouraged to fight amongst themselves for a bigger slice of whatever the Americans chose to give them, after taking all Iraq’s oil wealth for themselves and the big oil corporations. It barely worked even with 150,000 US troops on the ground. It was bound to fail when the Americans pulled out in 2011.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is, of course, a reactionary movement that incites bigotry and uses open terror to achieve its aim, which is to establish a Sunni theocracy based on medieval obscurantism throughout the Middle East. But it would be wrong to assume that they are the only driving force behind the new upsurge in Iraq. It is clear that the Baathist resistance and the old Iraqi army soldiers’ movements have also joined the revolt.
Awni al Kalemji, the leader of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA), an anti-imperialist front which tried to become the political voice of the resistance to the US occupation, calls it a “popular revolution”. The IPA was composed of Baathists, patriotic communists, Arab nationalists, former members of the old Iraqi army and leaders of small Sunni and Christian religious groups. “Certainly there are Islamists,” he said. “But they are only one force among many others. At the core stands the old Iraqi army.”
The imperialists are now considering whether to intervene directly to bail out the Maliki regime, possibly in collusion with Iran. Some are even talking, like Blair, of restoring the US occupation “protectorate” — though the chances of getting another invasion mandate through the United Nations or past American public opinion is zero at the moment.
Whatever happens, no sectarian Shia or Sunni movement can hold Iraq together, least of all ISIS, whose leaders cannot even claim to represent mainstream Sunni Arab opinion let alone those of the Kurds. Nor can any new Nato intervention help the people of Iraq.
Without imperialist interference the Iraq people would be perfectly capable of organising free elections and establishing a democratic constitution that would guarantee the rights of all the people of the country. We must oppose any new imperialist intervention in Iraq and support the right of the Iraqi people to independence, to choose their own government and social system and control their own resources.