by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
AMERICAN FORCES ARE advancing on the Iraqi capital while other units of the Anglo-American expeditionary force continue to battle it out with the Iraqi resistance in all the towns along the way. Russia has ordered its Black Sea fleet to the Gulf and Syria and Iran have responded angrily to the latest threats from American imperialism.
Baghdad is coming under relentless air and missile attack as the imperialist forces enter the outer defensive ring some 50km south of the city. Western military experts expect the Iraqis to fall back towards the city itself and see if the invaders dare to try and storm it while running the gauntlet of hit-and-run attacks on their supply lines along the roads to Kuwait.
The Americans still hope for the collapse of the Iraqi government. If that dos not happen, and there is certainly no sign of it at the moment, their alternatives are either frontal assault or lengthy siege. Either way they are readying for street battles. Palestinian sources report that American soldiers are currently training for urban warfare in the hills outside Hebron in the Israeli occupied West Bank.
After two weeks of war the imperialists have failed to capture any significant town along the way. Basra is still holding out against British forces in the south and the Americans have barely secured the vital bridges in the towns along the road to the capital. Iraqi troops rocketed Kuwait City and American-led troops outside Basra last week and more missiles have been launched against the advancing Americans south of Baghdad.
In the northern Kurdish “safe-haven” the Americans parachuted in a 1,000-strong force last week. Their main task at the moment seems to be to reinforce US control of the Kurdish autonomous administration and its militias and appease the Turks who have made it clear that they will move into the “safe haven” in force if the Iraqi Kurds declare their independence or try to take the northern oil-fields still in Iraqi government hands.
The civilian death toll is rising. Many have been killed in the air-raids. Others have been gunned down for failing to halt at road-blocks. But Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people remain defiant. In a speech read out by one of his ministers on Iraqi television the Iraqi leader urged his people to wage a holy war against the invaders comparing them to the Mongol hordes that attacked Baghdad seven centuries ago. And on the Arab street anti-American feeling is growing by the hour, matched only at disgust at the ineffectual and impotent response of the Arab regimes to the crisis.
Fears that the war could spread heightened this week following the threatening remarks of senior members of the Bush administration against Syria and Iran. US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and foreign minister Colin Powell both warned Damascus and Tehran that they would be held to account if they continued to support Iraq. Neither produced any evidence of this “support” but these days everyone knows that evidence is not a requirement as far as Washington is concerned.
The American threats were dutifully echoed by the Zionist entity almost immediately. General Mofaz, the Israeli defence minister said that Tel Aviv and Washington viewed the alleged Syrian assistance as “very grave”. British efforts to downplay the issue, stressing that the US-led “coalition” had not intention of attacking Syria or Iran, are barely noted as every Arab knows that when the chips are down the Blair government will do anything Bush wants.
And no-one knows the Kremlin’s motive in ordering one of its fleets into the conflict zone. The Black Sea fleet is sailing to the Gulf while the Pacific Fleet is preparing for manoeuvres in the Indian Ocean. The smaller Caspian Sea fleet, which operates in the land-locked sea which borders Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia has also been put on alert.
Moscow papers, quoting Russian naval sources, speculate that the Caspian fleet is being readied for possible humanitarian aid shipments via Iran and that the Baltic Fleet may be deployed in co-ordination with the French and German navies in the region.
Last week Russia refused to proceed on the ratification of the US-Russian strategic arms reduction treaty and defence minister Sergei Ivanov publicly inspected the Sarov Federal nuclear centre to review the development of new types of Russian nuclear weapons. Whatever the reason, this unprecedented level of activity reflects Russia’s growing concern over the war in Iraq. It’s a concern felt by millions upon millions throughout the world.
Stop this senseless war
The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is now into its third week and the death-toll is rising on both sides. US reinforcements are being rushed to the front. America has made thinly veiled threats against Syria and Iran. But the American appointed governor of Iraq, General Jay Garner, currently head of the misleadingly named US Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, is still in Washington awaiting the call.
The Bush administration thinks it can ignore the world. The Blair government looks increasingly nervous at the strength of the anti-war campaign at home and its growing diplomatic isolation overseas. Blair’s war party is becoming increasingly hysterical in its attempts to cow the peace movement into silence. Those who oppose the war are branded as “traitors” by the rabid North American owned press in Britain. Third-rate Labour politicians argue that the way to stop the carnage is in fact to step up the offensive using the Nazi logic that the best way to save innocent Iraqis is to kill more of them.
So the armchair generals and the hired media cheerleaders of imperialism are looking for new lies to justify the war for oil.
They told us that the Iraqi people would welcome the Anglo-American troops as liberators. They said the expeditionary force would be greeted with garlands and sweets. They expected a short, swift victory in days.
What we see is innocent Iraqi civilians blown to bits on their way to the market in Baghdad and women and children mowed down by trigger-happy Americans for allegedly ignoring a road-block. What we see is the ferocious resistance of the Iraqi people to the invaders by their regular army, popular militias and guerrilla units.
To rule the world has been the dream of all the great imperialist powers in the past. British and French imperialism partitioned all of Africa and much of Asia in the 19th century amongst themselves leaving a few crumbs for the minor European powers to exploit. German imperialism’s ambitions led to two world wars. The First World War was ended by the revolutionary upsurge in Czarist Russia and the establishment of the first workers’ and peasants’ republic. The Second World War ended with the Red Army in Berlin, the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan and the break-up of the old colonial system.
At the end of the last world war American imperialism tried to impose economic domination on the rest of the world through the Marshall Plan, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund through the instrument of the newly created United Nations. This was thwarted by the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies of Europe and Asia. But the plan was quickly revived when the Soviet Union fell in 1990.
The new world order is nothing but a cloak of US world domination with British imperialism, its chief running dog, barking at its side and hoping to pick up some of the booty on the way. The UN had its uses at first, as a convenient rubber-stamp for imperialist aggression in the 90s. Now that too is being discarded in favour of naked aggression and neo-colonialism led by the United States and a coalition of willing tools.
Richard Perle, who represents the most aggressive and reactionary sections of the American ruling class, spelled this out last week. In an article headed “Thank God for the death of the UN” he predicts the defeat of Iraq and the collapse of the UN system.
“As we sift through the debris”, he says “it will be important to preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal conceit of safety through international law administered by international institutions”.
World-wide anger against this brutal and senseless war is growing together with demands for an immediate end to the fighting. The mass movement in Britain and overseas must mobilise for the global demonstrations planned for 12th April. This war can and must be stopped.
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