by Stephen Rigney
Had General David Petraeus, US Military Commander in Iraq, lived in the Middle Ages, he would no doubt have rode a horse and worn shining armour, at least in the eyes of the Bush regime, if his high-profile report to the US Congress is to be believed. Commissioned to report on the effectiveness of the “Surge” operation this year and the current situation in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus speaks a lot of rhetoric but not much about reality.
As predicted, his report argued that the additional 30,000 troops sent to Iraq by Bush, has played a decisive role in increasing stability in the country, citing a decrease in terrorist attacks and a drop in the number of civilian casualities since the beginning of the year. The sucess of the “Surge” campaign has been enough that “the United States will be in a position to reduce its forces in Iraq in the months ahead”.
Yet, you have to wonder where the General gets his figures from, with both the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s civilian death toll of 428 and Associated Press’ figures of 1,809 greatly contradicting official US figures of 165 deaths.
Petraeus’ testimony will come as a great surprise to the vast majority of Iraqis who have to deal with the day-to-day realities of what the war has unleashed since 2003, the destruction of homes, infrastructure and lives by the US military on one hand and increasing sectarianism on the other.
Those lucky enough to avoid being one of the 60,000 new refugees per month would have had their television coverage of Petraeus’ report cut short by the constant electricity blackouts, with some cities lucky to have an hour of electricity per day.
In a country with the second largest oil reserves , households are currently only receiving 43% of their necessary fuel supply. And for the five million Iraqis living on food rations, fuel is becoming less of a concern as two million of them no longer receive any food that they could cook.
Sectarian tensions are on the rise, even if the number of attacks has dropped, as areas become more and more polarised, as minorities are forced out of their homes, joining the ranks of the refugees.
This is the real face of the “stability” that Petraeus talks about. As a result, it’s no surprise that in recent polls, 79% of Sunnis and 59% of Shias have said they have no confidence in the UK and US forces to bring stability to the region. They are daily facing the realities of what the continued occupation and exploitation of Iraq by US capitalism means for them, increased poverty and misery, while the oil multinationals and the arms companies profit at their expense. The despair caused by these conditions is increasing support for the insurgency and opposition to the US presence.
At home, the Democrats have been trying to score political points off the Petraeus report, hoping to gain the support of the growing anti-war movement in the 2008 elections. They are fundamentally no different to the Republican party and have already exposed themselves, breaking their pre-election promises to end the war and in fact, have already voted for increased budget expenditure for the war.
The solution to the crisis in Iraq cannot be resolved by capitalism, who’s single minded search for profit comes at the expense of the masses of ordinary workers and young people. Nor do the sectarian militias and clerics offer a solution. The exploitation of Iraq can only be ended on a socialist basis, through unity of all ordinary Iraqi workers and the nationalisation and democratic control of the vast wealth and resources of their country for their own benefit and not the mulitnationals.