On the situation in Iraq

Written by IWL-FI
Tuesday, 01 July 2014 02:55
The headway made by the militias of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) from the territories controlled in Syria towards the Northwest of Iraq and in the direction of Baghdad configures one of the most acute crises since the withdrawal of the American troops in 2011.

It is an event that, as we shall now see, evidences the depth of the imperialist defeat in the latest war of occupation of Iraq (2003-2011) and it makes their intents at resuming control of the region much more difficult for it is a region shaken by a series of revolutionary processes with the Syrian civil war to begin with.

Due to the geopolitical position of Iraq, this crisis transcends the borders of that country and increases its political and economic instability: it spawns an increase in world price of oil which could make the world economic crisis worst; it opens the possibility of a long inter-bourgeois war in the form of confessional confrontations and may lead to a division of Iraq, stemming out of Shia, Sunni and Kurdish elites; and places the issue of an eventual imperialist intervention no matter how limited it may be by political difficulties of sending land troops. Furthermore, it is a well known fact that any crisis in Iraq affects the direct interests of the neighbouring countries, as Syria, Iran and Turkey (essentially the Kurdish problem).

Finally, it presents the issue of an enormous impulse given to the new configuration of world Jihadism where Al Qaeda is ceasing to be the main reference.

Iraq: never ending hell for U.S.

“We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”With these words pronounced in December 2011, President Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of American troops from that country. In 2003, Dick Cheney, who was the vice-president of George Bush at that moment asserted, “We shall be welcomed as liberators.” “We shall not have to leave many soldiers in Iraq after the invasion”. “Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds will live harmoniously in democracy.” Absolute lies.

The truth is that the USA retreated from Iraq after having suffered a grueling military and political defeat at the hands of the heroic resistance of the Iraqi people who undertook a war of national liberation that turned the lives of the invaders into veritable hell. Actually, Obama got into the presidency as an outcome of this defeat by promising to the American population, fed up with Bush’s military adventures, to put an end to this nightmare that had cost over a trillion dollars and the life of over five thousand American troops.

The current ISIS blitzkrieg, which in a few days managed to get hold of a third of Iraqi territory in the face of the terrified flight of the flimsy army of that country – in which the USA had invested 25 billion dollars for their training and equipment since 2003 – is a conclusive demonstration of the defeat of imperialism and of their total failure at “stabilising” Iraq after their retreat in 2011.

After having announced the end of the war in Iraq and having promised the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan by 2016, Obama is now facing an explosive situation in the old Mesopotamia that challenges his strategy and becomes part of the revolutionary situation in the North of Africa and Middle East.

This combination of military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan, world economic crisis and revolutions in practically the entire region places the USA in a tight spot for manipulating the “putting out fires”.

The refusal of the American population – and that of other allied countries, such as the UK and France – to join new interventions, known as the “Iraq syndrome” makes it extremely difficult for imperialism to send any more troops to Iraq once more, an option that Obama’s administration discarded right from the very beginning.

The Iraq syndrome, in reference to the situation of political crisis and rejection by American public opinion of military interventions after the resounding defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam is a progressive fact of enormous magnitude. It was not until the events of 11 September 2001 that imperialism managed to overcome the “Vietnam syndrome” but only until the new defeat by the Iraqi and Afghan resistance. That imposed great political limitation on the main military power in the world which, in the face of such processes as the Syrian revolution, the Ukrainian revolution and what is now happening in Iraq, cannot simply lead their soldiers into those countries as would be the case if the warmonger Bush had triumphed. Evidently, this does not mean that they cannot use drones or air raids the way they did in Libya. But from the military point of view, this is qualitatively different from being able to rule over a country with their own troops. Within this framework, the crisis of imperialist domination in the region can only be explained by the deep military defeat in the first decade of the XXI century that is still conditioning their policy for political processes that operate in the Middle East.

It is from this point of view that the crisis in Iraq reveals the role of Iran. Unlike what he entire Castro-Chavist propaganda intents to present Iran as part of an “anti-imperialist camp”, the policy of the Iranian government, in spite of all their speeches, fits perfectly well into the general American plan. Actually, both are acting jointly to challenge ISIS and to constitute a “stable” government.

The Maliki administration and the solution of a “government of national unity”

Apart from the withdrawal of their troops in 2011, the defeat of imperialism is evidenced in the fact that they could not even establish an administration that could respond to their prescriptions, for the administration of the Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki is the outcome of a tacit agreement between the USA and Iran drawn up in 2006, within the context of an already complicated situation for imperialism and that at that moment was increasingly cornered by the Iraqi resistance.

At that time, Maliki seemed to be the man who could best warrant some “stability” and could put some limits to the Iraqi mostly Sunni resistance, something that at that time both the U.S. as well as Iran were most interested in.

However, as time went by, Maliki evidenced his own initiatives at the time of defending his “slice” in the oil business, as the exacerbation of sectarian policies against Sunnis and Kurds and this, far from attenuating the conflicts increased the instability that became more marked with the withdrawal of the occupation troops in 2011. This was not the American plan when Maliki got into the office for, within the framework of a defensive situation shifting more towards the defeat, they staked on a “unity” government of the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. It was from this policy that Maliki tried to take a separate stand.

This “space for manoeuvres” of Maliki’s approaching Iran or Americans, does not make him any less submissive to imperialism; this was evidenced in his desperate claims to Obama to bomb his own country when his skin was jeopardised by ISIS.

But as an expression of the defeat within the military scope, the truth is that Maliki did not prove to be the “viceroy” that Bush expected him to be at first. To make things worse for imperialism, Maliki has been shifting closer to Iran who has been supporting it all this time. And this reaches its peak price with the current crisis, when the Iraqi prime minister is more like part of the problems than of the solution in the imperialist point of view.

That is why, within the diplomatic scope, the efforts of U.S. and EU with respect to Maliki – who is now in dispute for a third term after wining the last legislative election of last April – to get him to accept “an administration of national unity” that would integrate the Shiite (60% of the population), Sunni (20%), and Kurds (15%) have so far been a failure for nearly a decade.

This has a lot to do with the sharpening of the existing disputes between different bourgeois factions that exist in the country to see who controls the production and oil revenue – of course within the scenario of being junior partners of imperialism. This is what is really happening under the religious wrappings under which the struggles between “Sunnis and Shiites” are presented.

Maliki, representative of the strongest Shiite sectors appears to be unwilling to have the “negotiated” solution that John Kerry went to give boost to, for he prefers to maintain his despotic rule to take advantage of the deals with oil multinationals and for that purpose the applies a sectarian attitude toward the Sunnis and the Kurds.

Furthermore, the Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, head Shiite clergyman in Iraq, called overtly on his faithful to rise in arms against the ISIS “Sunnis”. Thousands have attended his summons encouraged by the government and supported by Iran who has already sent military counselors as well as weapons to Maliki, his ally [1].

The Sunni capitalists, who used to be dominant in the times of Sadam Hussein, saw their share in the profits shrinking when the former dictator fell and are prepared to snatch back that position keeping their social base by stirring up confessional differences that accrue due to persecutions that come from the Shiite administration after the American occupation.

On the other hand, the Kurdish leaders, representatives of an oppressed nationality that occupies the Northeast of Iraq, do not acknowledge any “government of national unity” for the simple reason that in the crisis underway, they saw an chance to claim their independence and the right to a state of their own.

Since to Iraqi army fled from the Jihadist advance, the Kurds control the oil reserves in Kirkut, second most important in the country because their troops, the “Peshmerges” [2] with 50 000 well trained fighters are the most powerful force on that territory and the only one that prevent the ISIS from obtaining total control in the North of the country. In this way, the Kurds opened a path for themselves to export raw oil directly to Turkey without having to share the revenue with the “Federal State” controlled from Baghdad.

In short, from the military point of view as well as from the political-diplomatic one, the events in Iraq are the proof of total failure of imperialism.

The ISIS headway is reactionary

The ISIS progress is overpowering. As we are writing these lines, they had seized practically the whole strip of the territory in the North and West of the country, which engulf five provinces, including the second most important city, Mosul. They have also occupied Tikrit, the birthplace of the former dictator, Hussein.

They are fighting for the control of the main refinery in the country, in Baiji, which provides a third of Iraq’s refined fuel and that spawned the rationing of gasoline in the entire north of the country. The fight reached Baquba, 60 km away from Baghdad. This offensive, however, has had its more recent antecedents since January, when ISIS seized Faluya and Ramadi, at 60 and 100 km from the capital respectively. Furthermore, they seized control of the frontier paths towards Syria (Al Qaim) and Jordan (Traibil).

This ISIS’ military headway is not progressive at all. This is not a process of popular struggle headed by a counterrevolutionary bourgeoisie leadership but a political-military headway that pretends to grasp hold of the natural resources of Syria and Iraq and for this purpose they will lay their hand on fascist methods within the framework of a theocratic and dictatorial programme.

Consequently, the role of the ISIS cannot be compared to the Iraqi resistance of last decade, which in spite of having bourgeois and theocratic leaderships, played a progressive role of struggle for national liberation for they confronted the troops of imperialist occupation.

The ISIS is a bourgeois organisation with an ultra-reactionary, dictatorial and theocratic programme. It is a front that groups several sectors, including former Baathist military men such as the “Men of the Army of the Order of Naqshabandi”, the armed wing of the outlawed party Baaz, [3] Sunni tribal leaders and other jihadist forces, [4] but its hard core comes from a dissident split from Al Qaeda.

They surfaced in 2004 and two years later they began to refer to themselves as the “Islamic State of Iraq”. In April 2013, they began to operate in the Syrian civil war and added “and the Levant” (Syria) triggering off the conflict with the leadership of Al Qaeda who demanded that ISIS should refrain themselves to Iraq and only acknowledged the Al Nusra as their sole extension in Syria.

This “disobedience” ended in a split and the crisis led to armed confrontations between Al Nusra and ISIS in Syria, that have been occurring since January 2014 in which more than four thousand soldiers have already been killed on both sides.

The declared target for ISIS was to create an Islamic emirate on the current territories of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the historic Palestine.

What they actually try to obtain with this “caliphate” is the direct control by military force of the rich oil reserves in the region, imposing vicious dictatorships based on a literal interpretation of Islamic law (Shiara), more ferocious than their progenitors from Al Qaeda do.

The ISIS claims 15,000 active militiamen, most of them recruited during last three years and this indicates that they are crowding out Al Qaeda Jihadism as an international reference for Jihadism. That may sound as small numbers, but we are talking about highly disciplined, very experienced in combats soldiers and, above all, with a clear political programme.

ISIS is an expression of bourgeois sectors that, in the midst of the chaos of war and instability in Iraq, seek some space of their own and a source of business. According to their own reports, they finance their military and political activities through blackmail, robbery and kidnapping. [5] Together with this there is the financing received – even if not directly from government sources – from powerful bourgeois Sunni sectors from countries on the Arabian Peninsula such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At present, all this increased suddenly due to the control of territories and oil reserves on the Syrian and Iraqi territories.

In Syria, as we have already explained repeatedly, ISIS plays a counterrevolutionary role, more precisely as Al Assad’s “Fifth column” for, instead of fighting against the dictatorship, they confront Syrian rebels. In the Northeast of that country, they control broad areas such as Raqqa and Dir es Zor, the latter with important oil reserves. ISIS is also present in Idlib and parts of Aleppo, where they implant terrible theocratic dictatorships using methods that are meant to inculcate the most complete terror among the civilian population, such as: beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions of activists, FSA (Free Syrian Army) militants and any other person whom they regard as “infidel.”

Their military movements clearly denote their strategy of joining both territories under their domination. The taking over of Al Qaim on the borderline (which is directly connected to Deir Zor) and the struggle to conquer Tal Afar, that joins Mosul and Syria, apart from the towns of Anah and Rawah, along the highway connecting Baghdad with Damascus, confirm this strategy.

From this point of view, any military strengthening of ISIS in Iraq represents the strengthening of a counterrevolutionary sector that acts in Syria against the rebels who are fighting against Al Assad.

Actually, the ISIS is making important headway from this point of view. Apart from “joining” the battlefronts and opening paths in the borderlines, facilitating free supply of weapons and equipment, it is impossible to quantify the tremendous arsenal (mainly American) that the ISIS seized when the Iraqi army fled. All this heavy weaponry and military technology will also be used in Syria in order to annihilate the revolution. And let alone everything that comes from the looting of Iraqi cities that fall into their hands. For example, with a stroke the ISIS got away with US$500 million from a branch of the Central Bank in Mosul. [6]

The cause of the Kurds is just

In the midst of all these disputes the revolutionaries must support unconditionally the right to national self-determination of the Kurds (separation and creation of an independent State for the Kurdish nationality). As we already know, the Kurds, with a population of nearly 40 million people spread all over territories of four states (Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria) represent one of the largest oppressed nationalities without a state of their own.

From this point of view, the struggle of the Kurds against the ISIS and Al Maliki is a just and progressive struggle in spite of their bourgeois leadership, which must be fought against by the exploited classes within the framework for their self-determination not only in Iraq but also in Turkey, Iran and Syria.

Our position

1. The current crisis in Iraq evidences categorically the depth of the military and political defeat of imperialism as a whole during last Iraq and Afghanistan war.

The importance of these military defeats, comparable only to the one suffered in Vietnam, appear in their full extent when we see Obama all but paralysed unable to send troops out into the field to “stabilise” the country and with his diplomatic attempts to build up a “government of national unity” bogged down.

2. Needless to say that we are against and reject any military intervention that imperialism may produce in view of the crisis unleashed in Iraq by the advance of ISIS, whether by land by air or by sea. With this in mind we oppose the 300 “military advisers“ that Obama ordered a few days ago to help the Maliki administration.

3. The Iraqi working class and the toiling masses have nothing to gain from the exacerbation of inter-bourgeois civil war presented as a clash between the Sunni and Shia faiths. This is a struggle between capitalists for the control over the oil business, exacerbated by the political chaos and the imperialist war of occupation. In the confrontation between the ISIS and the Maliki troops the Iraqi working class and the people should not be either politically or militarily lined up with either of them.

4. Both Maliki and ISIS propose solutions that are dictatorial, sectarian and submissive to imperialism. Stoking a civil war, they threaten to bring further hardships to the Iraqi people after having lost over a million lives in the hands of the genocide imperialists and suffering rates of unemployment worse that 60%. [7]

Maliki has proved his dictatorial policies applying his persecution measures against the Sunni and the Kurds. The ISIS did the same thing acting in Syria with summary executions and all kinds of atrocities committed during their progress in the northeast of Iraq, which has already claimed the lives of 1,300 civilians.

5. The only progressive solution to this crisis will come from the independent action of the Iraqi working class and toiling masses taking forms of even self-defence, united in the struggle against sectarian, the corrupt and despotic Maliki administration as well as against the reactionary and theocratic ISIS forces with the perspective of achieving independence from imperialism, resuming control of the natural resources placing them in the service of people. This will only be possible if there is a workers’, peasants’ and popular government serving as a spearhead support for all revolutions in the Middle East, for the Palestinian cause and for the expulsion of imperialism from the area and the construction of socialism in that region.

Imperialist hands off Iraq!

Reject the ISIS offensive!

No military or political support for the Maliki administration!

For the defence of the right to self-determination for the Kurdish people in Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria!

For an independent struggle of the Iraqi people against Maliki, against ISIS in view of a workers’, peoples’ and popular government”

International Secretariat

25 June 2014


1 www.elmundo.es/internacional/2014/06/25/53ab058022601db5658b45a1.html?rel=rosEP

2 Literally: those who follow death.

3 www.abc.es/internacional/20140625/abci-leales-saddam-toman-armas-201406241847.html?utm_source=abc&utm_medium=rss&utm_content=uh-rss&utm_campaign=traffic-rss&rel=rosEP

4 Sunni tribal leaders and other jihadist forces

5 http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/06/19/actualidad/1403210110_042938.html

6 http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/06/16/actualidad/1402946776_690141.html

7 Furthermore, there are the consequences of the 1620 tons of radioactive residues (impoverished uranium) that exploded on the Iraqi soil, which represents approximately 14.000 Hiroshima bombs activated by those who allegedly went there to seek “weapons of massive destruction.”

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