Category Archives: iraq

Troops out of Iraq now!

Paddy Meehan

In just five years, the seemingly invincible super-power of the US and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ has been brought to its knees in a war they thought would last a few weeks. Instead, there is no end in sight to the disaster they have created, not only for themselves, but for the people of Iraq.

In the last few weeks, Iraq has been invaded yet again, this time by the Turkish military in their own local ‘War on Terror’. This incursion was only supported by the US on the basis that it would be short. The fear of US imperialism is that yet another insurgency could develop in what has been up to now supposedly the most stable region of Iraq.

Pressure is continually mounting in the US for withdrawal of troops. Both Clinton and Obama have been forced to deal with the issue of Iraq in their primary campaigns but neither can give a definite date for withdrawal. As 62% of Americans believe the war was a mistake, both candidates are desperate to outdo each other by appearing to call for withdrawal. However, both had their chance in the Senate to block funding for the war and ensure an end of the occupation, but chose not to.

The need to secure Iraq’s oil resources and US imperialism’s interests in the region will be the priority for the next President. Deploying divide-and-rule tactics, the US has leaned on different tribal and religious militias to pit them against each other. This has involved arming and integrating into the army and police the Sunni Awakening Councils, supposedly as a reward for their fight against Al-Qaeda. Instead, this has resulted in the army and police being split along sectarian lines.

Any talk of withdrawal of the US-led occupation is set in the distant future and only on the criteria that a divided Iraq can be controlled from the outside. The prospect of ethnic cleansing and a sectarian war is an afterthought in their thirst to secure the country’s oil resources.

The occupation of Iraq can only deliver more bloodshed, sectarian division and dire poverty. It has been a disaster for the people of Iraq and also threatens to destabilise the entire region. Only the Iraqi people themselves should decide their own destiny. The corrupt warlords and religious fundamentalists who effectively control large parts of Iraq rely on sectarian division and offer no way out of the barbaric conditions most Iraqis have to endure. Capitalism offers no solution for the people of Iraq.

Socialists support all attempts by Iraqi workers, youth and poor to build a movement which fights against the barbaric conditions of poverty, sectarian conflict and the occupation. Such a movement should also fight for a socialist alternative where the resources of Iraq are publicly owned and democratically run to meet peoples’ needs.

Thousands endorse Socialist Youth anti-war campaign

Socialist Youth ran a very successful campaign across Northern Ireland against the occupation of Iraq in the run-up to the 5th anniversary of the invasion. Thousands of signatures were collected from school students calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Dozens of stalls with anti-war leaflets and information about the occupation were held outside many schools in Belfast, such as St. Joseph’s College on the Ravenhill Rd, Ashfield Boys and Girls School in East Belfast and St Malachy’s Grammar on the Antrim Rd.

Hatred for George W Bush has definitely not disappeared amongst young people as was evidenced by our anti-Bush badges being sold out on many stalls. As well as campaigning in schools, Socialist Youth members also organised activity in Belfast Metropolitan College, Queen’s University and University of Ulster Coleraine where we received an attentive responsive from students.

As a result of this campaigning work, the profile of Socialist Youth has leaped and socialist ideas have been introduced to thousands of young people.

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Iraq five years on: End the Occupation – Fight for a socialist solution

By Paddy Meehan, Socialist Youth Regional Organiser

In 2003 Bush’s top commanders met to discuss the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They concluded then it would take four years to “normalise” the country. Yet from this March, US and British troops will have been in Iraq for five years with no end in sight to the conflict.

Bush’s intention is to dump the mess of Iraq onto his successor. It is estimated that the war and occupation of Iraq has claimed the lives of  over one million Iraqis and 4,000 US troops. No US presidential candidate has committed themselves to a complete withdrawal from Iraq. Both Republicans and Democrats represent the interests of companies like Haliburton and Blackwater who have made billions of dollars from the suffering and destruction in Iraq.

The US mission to ‘stabilise’ Iraq has failed miserably as 70% of Iraqi’s are without access to adequate water supplies and in total 4.6 million people have been forced to leave their homes. Living standards in Iraq are getting worse despite contracts of over $20 billion being paid to companies to rebuild Iraq. The US Congressional hearings in February 2007 stated that $10 billion was either “wasted or mismanaged” in Iraq. Along with this hardship, Iraq is descending into sectarian war. US forces lean on different ethnic and religious groups attempting to keep their control of the country. The Sunni Awakening Councils are being recruited extensively into the police and army. This is an attempt to challenge the control of Shia militias such as the Mehdi army by backing sections of the Sunni forces. But the real outcome is a fracturing of the police and army along religious lines, which can increase the likelihood of civil war.

US imperialism’s divide and rule strategy is directly contributing to the increasing sectarian divisions. Imperialism has no progressive role to play in the future of Iraq, and the longer the occupying armies remain the greater the chances of civil war and a break up of the country.   Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party believe that a united movement of working class Iraqis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds could drive out the occupying armies. A struggle by such a movement of the working class against imperialism and for a socialist solution is the only way to guarantee freedom, democracy and a decent life for all.

On 15 March thousands will protest around the world against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the north Socialist Youth is aimimg to collect 5,000 signatures before the anniversary to show the opposition to the war. If you can help collect signatures or can build support for the protest please contact Socialist Youth at socialist.youth@btconnect.com or 02890232962.

In the south Socialist Youth will be participating in protests and also organising a series of “Resistance” meetings around the country at which young people can discuss political issues like the occupation of Iraq, climate change and socialism. You can find out more about Socialist Youth’s “Resistance” and anti-war activities by visiting socialistyouth.wordpress.com or phone us at 01 6772592.

Dublin: Join Socialist Youth on the anti-war demo on Saturday 15th March, 1pm Parnell Square, Dublin. more info – www.bebo.com/Socialist-Youth.

Belfast: Join the Socialist Youth contingent on the protest, Sat 15th March, 2pm Arts College, York St. (beside St Ann’s Cathedral)

Campaigning against the Occupation of Iraq

To mark the 5th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, Socialist Youth is building for a protest on 15 March in Belfast. SY members have been energetically campaigning outside schools and on the streets with an aim of collecting 5,000 signatures of young people against the occupation of Iraq. The Socialist spoke to SY members Leontia Madden and Conor Barr about how their campaign is going so far.

“Over the past five years the arguments of the anti-war movement have been proved correct. Many young people today may not be too sure of all the facts and figures, but when we get talking to them they have strong feelings against the war” said Leontia. Conor added “The war for oil is a terrible example of capitalism’s constant drive for profits. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, all for natural resources.

“We get young people to sign our petition outside schools across Belfast to demonstrate the opposition which exists but also to raise awareness of what is going on in Iraq. We have received an excellent response with most people signing the petitions and buying our very popular anti-Bush badge. The important thing is we get to speak face to face with people on stalls to put forward a socialist solution.” said Conor, who has been organising very successful stalls at his technical college.

Leontia, a school student from North Belfast said “There is still a feeling of anger against Bush and Blair. But with the occupation lasting five years and no end to the conflict in sight people want to do something more than just sign a petition. We’re holding public meetings in the run-up to the anniversary to explain what is going on in Iraq now and how a socialist solution can be found. As well as this, we want to give an opportunity to people to show their opposition by protesting on 15 March.”

Public Meeting: End the Occupation of Iraq
4.30pm Wednesday 13th Feb. SY Offices, 13 Lombard Street, Belfast

PROTEST against the occupation
2pm Sat 15th March, Arts College, York St, Belfast

Iraq: One million dead, $1.5 trillion wasted – Now Turkey threatens to invade!

By Cillian Gillespie

The imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq has had devastating consequences for the Iraqi people. Some estimates now put the number of casualties at 1 million dead since the war began in March 2003.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes as a result of sectarian civil war – a war that is a by-product of imperialist intervention in the region. A recent investigation by the US Congress found that the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when hidden costs such as the rise in the price of oil were included, came to $1.5 trillion. This waste of resources is almost as criminal as the obscene loss of life that Bush’s wars for power and oil have cost.

Now the conflict in the Middle East is set to intensify with Turkey threaatening to invade Northern Iraq, which has a mainly Kurdish population. Turkey, along with Iran, Syria and Iraq, has long suppressed the rights of the Kurdish people and denied their democratic right to self-determination. Kurds are the poorest and most discriminated section of Turkish society, often facing longterm unemployment and repression by the military.

In the past few weeks the Turkish government has placed an army of 100,000 soldiers on the Iraqi border, and has begun attacking Kurdish targets in northern Iraq with aircraft strikes. It wants to smash the resistance of the fighters of the Kurdish nationalist group, the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party). More generally, they fear that the emergence of an independent Kurdish state with oil wealth could be a catalyst to spark off a new wave of struggles by the Kurdish people across the Middle East for independence. The Kurdish “autonomous” region of northern Iraq encompasses Kirkuk, which has enormous oil reserves.

The action against the PKK by Turkey has received the full support of the current US administration. Turkey is a key ally of the US in the Middle East and is the only member of NATO in the region. The majority of US military supplies for its occupation of Iraq pass through Turkey. The Bush administration will do whatever it can to placate the Turkish regime, as it is dependent on its support to further its strategy of dominance over the oil rich Middle East and possible attacks against Iran. US Secretary of State, Condelezza Rice, has even suggested that the US would be prepared to take military action against the PKK.

The Socialist Party is completely opposed to the Turkish and US government’s threats against the Kurdish people. We stand for the immediate unconditional withdrawal of all US and foreign forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and oppose any attempt to attack Iran.

As this region faces further instability, war and chaos, the necessity of building a powerful movement that unites workers and poor people across national and sectarian divides and fights for a socialist alternative has never been greater.

The Petraeus Report: Don’t believe the hype!

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.

‘Strategic failure’ in Iraq and Afghanistan

End the Occupation Now

Editorial from The Socialist

Bush still claims that Iraq under US and British military occupation is making progress towards a stable, democratic society. In reality, the situation is catastrophic.

For most Iraqis, things are much worse than under the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. There are severe shortages of fresh water, electric power and even fuel. Reconstruction of the shattered cities is a sick joke. Every day, hundreds die as a result of the US-British occupation, the insurgency, the sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shia, and sheer gangsterism.

Bush, Blair and now Brown claim they are fighting to establish democracy in Iraq. Yet a section of Iraq’s parliamentary representatives, mainly Sunni, are currently boycotting parliament. There is no agreement on concrete details of new laws to rehabilitate some Sunnis (excluded from public jobs as former supporters of Saddam) or to share out the oil between Sunni, Shia and Kurdish areas. In any case, how can there be democracy under military occupation? Currently, the US is holding thousands of prisoners, without any right to legal process.

‘Surge’

Bush claims that security in Iraq has improved as a result of the ‘surge’, the dispatch of an additional 30,000 US forces to Iraq. The US clampdown in Baghdad and parts of the mostly Sunni Anbar province, however, has simply pushed the conflict to other regions. Recently, for instance, there have been horrific bomb attacks in the majority Kurdish city of Kirkuk.

Bush still claims that the situation can be stabilised by next spring. But it was recently reported that Bush’s director of central intelligence, General Michael Hayden, warned the administration that “the inability” of the Iraqi government of al-Maliki to govern, “seems irreversible”.

Hayden could not see “any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around”. Top US military commanders, moreover, have warned that stabilising Iraq, even if achievable, will take much longer than Bush imagines.

Bush is more and more isolated politically. A number of leading Republicans are calling for a timetable for withdrawal of troops. The midterm elections last November were an overwhelming vote against Bush’s Iraq policy. Since then US popular support for withdrawal from Iraq has strengthened. Significantly, over 50% of military families favour withdrawal.

The Democrats, the second party of US big business, now have a majority in Congress. But while passing symbolic resolutions calling for a timetable for withdrawal, they duck the real issue. In the most cowardly way, they refuse to cut off funding for Bush’s military adventure.

A former head of the National Security Agency, retired General William Odon, called for “a flat refusal [by the Democrats] to appropriate money to be used in Iraq for anything but withdrawal operations with a clear deadline for completion”. He also said that the Democrats should warn Bush that if he tries to continue the war, “impeachment proceedings will proceed in the House of Representatives”.

Despite US imperialism’s overwhelming military power, Bush’s military adventure in Iraq has only served to demonstrate the limits of US power. US imperialism has been defeated in Iraq.

This was starkly pointed out in recent editorials in the New York Times, one of the most authoritative journals of the US ruling class: “It is frighteningly clear that Mr Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.” (The Road Home, 8 July 2007)

“Keeping troops in Iraq,” comments the New York Times, “will only make things worse.” The priority, they say in another editorial (13 July) is “the need to develop an orderly plan to extricate American troops from a lost cause and reposition them in ways that can genuinely protect our national interests.”

Even if US leaders were to adopt such an exit strategy, however, it would be extremely difficult for them to extract their forces without a humiliating rout. As it is, Bush, for his own political reasons, is likely to prolong the agony, inflicting an even more severe defeat on US imperialism. Moreover, the likely implosion of Iraq will intensify the crisis throughout the whole Middle East region.

Here, Gordon Brown continues the Blair policy of clinging to US imperialism’s coat-tails. British forces in Iraq, mainly in the southern, oil-rich province of Basra, have been reduced from 7,000 at their peak to 5,500 currently. However, conflict in the province is more intense than ever, and British forces can hardly leave their base without suffering serious casualties.

Last weekend, two junior ministers, Douglas Alexander, the development secretary, and Mark Malloch Brown, the new Foreign Office minister, commented that the British government should keep its distance from the Bush administration. Britain and the US should not be “joined at the hip”, commented Malloch Brown.

Brown’s new foreign secretary, David Miliband, was quick to insist that there would be “no change” in the relationship between Britain and the US.

Like the US, British imperialism is facing a “strategic failure in Iraq”, according to a senior British military commander. British troops in Iraq are now suffering a higher rate of fatal casualties in proportion to their numbers than their US counterparts.

British forces (currently 7,000) also face a second “strategic failure in Afghanistan”. Taliban forces have become stronger, while the western-sponsored government of Hamid Karzai faces the real possibility of collapse.

In a recent debate in the House of Lords, Lord Inge, former chief of Britain’s defence staff, warned that “the situation in Afghanistan is much worse than many people recognise. We need to face up to that issue, the consequences of strategic failure in Afghanistan and what that would mean for Nato… We need to recognise the situation – in my view, and I have recently been in Afghanistan – is much, much more serious than people want to recognise.”

British and US forces should be withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. The horrendous situation in Iraq can only be made worse by continued imperialist occupation. Resolving the conflicts has to be the task of the Iraqi people.

In the socialist’s view, progress will depend on the re-emergence of working-class forces that can cut across sectarian and nationalist divisions and build united organisations to defend people against violent attacks, political repression and economic exploitation.

Editorial from The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in England and Wales

For recent a campaign leaflet on this issue by Socialist Youth see: www.indymedia.ie/attachments/jul2007/iraq__resistance.pdf

US: Seattle students shut down school board — Demanding military recruiters out of schools

By Dylan Simpson and Marianne Mork and Philip Locker

Below is a report of an important Seattle anti-war action against military recruiters in schools, which Socialist Alternative (the CWI in the United States) played an important role in organizing.

“What do we want? Recruiters out! When do we want it? Now!” chanted over 70 antiwar protestors as we marched into to the Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday night. The spirited protest, called by Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), demanded the school board finally take real action against military recruitment in our schools. As the local TV news King 5 said, it was “intended to be political high theatre, and it certainly was effective.” Another reporter commented: “it was the most dramatic anti-military recruitment rally to date.”

Seattle students stage protest against military recruitment in schools

YAWR is calling for military recruiters to be banned from Seattle public schools. But to stay within the legal paramaters of the “No Child Left Behind” law, we are demanding that all recruiting be done at a district-wide recruitment fair once a semester. This would create equity between the access to students that the military, college, and job recruiters have. Currently, military recruiters have a massive budget and a huge advantage over college and job recruiters. A district-wide recruitment fair would also stop military recruiters from carrying out their predatory tactics within our schools and disproportionate targeting of schools that are predominantly made up of poor and minority students.

Student activist Kristin Ebeling said: “Our public schools should not be military recruitment stations for the Iraq war. Instead of wasting $500 billion on a war for oil and empire, we need money for jobs and education.”

High school students, teachers, parents and community activists rallied outside the school board for an hour. With the start of the meeting the rally moved inside, energetically chanting and sitting in at the front of the room. To bring the reality of the war home, some students enacted a “die-in,” lying across the floor covered in blood, while the school board politicians huddled at the side of the room.

Addressing the board and the whole room, Shanay Salas and Ramy Khalil from YAWR then explained our demands to restrict military recruiters. We urged that the board amend its agenda for 10-15 minutes to discuss our proposed policy. Unfortunately, the board refused to discuss our policy, nor would they start the meeting until we ended the sit-in and moved away from the front of the room.

Board member Darlene Flynn condescendingly lectured the students: “This is what democracy looks like, but it’s not what a school board meeting looks like, and we have to have a school board meeting.” This statement, ironically exposing the undemocratic nature of the board, brought loud jeers from the demonstrators. With the protestors holding their ground, the board hurriedly left and reconvened in a back room closed to the public.

This comes against the background of the board refusing to enforce their own policy to restrict military recruiters that was passed two years ago. After a city-wide student walkout of 800 students on April 18 to protest military recruitment, attending numerous school boards meetings and sub-committee meetings, and still having the board refuse to let us speak, we decided to take matters into our own hands and organize a sit-in. However, the meeting could have easily continued if the school board had simply been willing to grant our modest request to discuss our proposed policy at their meeting for 10-15 minutes.

Since the board refused to listen to the public, we decided to continue the meeting and took public testimony from those who had already signed up to testify. A number of school bus drivers spoke about their struggle to unionize to overcome the terrible wages and conditions they face, which the board is refusing to support. While some members of the audience complained that we had disrupted an official board meeting, an overwhelming majority of the crowd voted to support our decision to continue the meeting in defiance of the board members.

While school board members claim that they cannot implement our policy because it would mean losing $40 million a year in federal funds, the fact is that our policy was carefully constructed to remain within the legal confines of the No Child Left Behind law. By restricting military recruiters to a recruitment fair on equal grounds with college and job recruiters, this policy would have absolutely no effect on federal funding.

Wednesday’s school board action was a major success in bringing real pressure to bear on the board and raising the issue of military recruitment in the public consciousness. All the local TV news gave very prominent coverage to the protest (see list of links below). But to win we will need to keep up the pressure on the school board and build an organized, active antiwar movement. This fall YAWR is organizing a major student walkout, which we are trying to spread nationally, to show that business as usual will stop until the military is out of Iraq and out of our schools.

Get active with Youth Against War and Racism and the fight against military recruiters! Please come to the next YAWR meeting on Sunday July 1, 4-6pm, at Uptown Espresso (2504 4th Ave and Wall St.) where we will be planning our next steps.

We want to thank all the organizations that made this protest possible: Nova High School Peace and Justice, Lake Washington High School Peace Club, Renton High School Youth Against War and Racism, Seattle Central Community College Students Against the War, Team Victory, and Socialist Alternative.

Links to Mainstream Media Coverage

KOMO 4 Video coverage (click ‘Watch the Story’ below the picture)

King 5 Video coverage

Seattle Times report