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.