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Proletarian issue 4 (February 2005)
Thirty liberated cities: The truth about the Iraqi resistance
Proletarian recently interviewed a Europe-based spokesperson for the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA), part of the national liberation movement in Iraq. The information we received, and which forms the basis of this article, has only confirmed what the CPGB-ML has always insisted, which is that the resistance is much stronger, better organised and more unified than the imperialists would have us believe.
Liberated cities

The reality on the ground in Iraq today is that the US and British occupiers are in control of large amounts of empty desert and a few streets in Baghdad. Up to thirty major towns and cities in Iraq are effectively liberated zones – collaborators and agents of the occupation have been expelled and the resistance is in charge of day-to-day life. Soldiers of the resistance and local residents are working together to organise the resources available to them to try to meet the basic needs of the people – in effect, the resistance is running a parallel state to the one being set up by the occupation and fronted by the puppet Allawi.

Of course, the resistance cannot match the hardware of the US army, which means they cannot physically prevent US tanks from rolling into the areas they control or F-16s from attacking them from the air. Nevertheless, the strength of the Iraqi resistance has made it impossible for imperialist troops to maintain a physical presence on the ground. In Fallujah, Najaf, Samarra, Mosul etc, the resistance has turned the streets and houses into killing zones for the enemy troops. Frustrated in their attempts to subdue the population, the occupiers are reduced to making sporadic raids and retreating back to their desert bases.

Meanwhile, the resistance is free to conduct political agitation amongst the civilian population. Such is the freedom within these towns and cities that fighters and political activists no longer need to wear masks to protect their identities.

It is not surprising that the occupiers have done their best to keep the truth of their position in Iraq a secret, for it hardly accords with their mantra about ‘liberating’ Iraq from ‘tyranny’ and introducing its people to ‘democracy’. Still, it has always been possible to read a certain amount between the lines. For example, if the resistance in Fallujah had been as thoroughly defeated as we were led to believe, why were we not shown pictures of conquering troops in the streets of the city? There was only one reason – because the troops weren’t there. Still, the extent of the deception by the imperialists is only now becoming apparent – along with the imperialist media’s role in this deception. There has been no mention at all, for example, of a three-week-long unsuccessful assault on Samarra by US forces last September.

The role of the imperialist-owned media cannot be underestimated in this war – not for nothing were the propagandists of Nazi Germany convicted of war crimes at the Nuremberg Tribunal. The fact is that the ruling classes of the US and Britain would not be able to continue with the war if the masses in their own countries knew the truth about their motivations and the about real situation on the ground in Iraq.

Imperialist objectives – divide and rule

We have always stated that this is a war for domination and plunder. The US, with Britain as its junior partner, wants easy access to Iraq’s oil wealth and hopes to use the country as a base from which to control the resources, avenues of investment and markets of the entire Middle East. In so doing, it also hopes to maintain the upper hand over its rival imperialists in Europe and Japan, neither of whom is very happy for the US to continue to control the flow of oil that is vital for their own military-industrial complexes.

In order to fulfil these aims, however, the occupiers must first overcome the resistance of the Iraqi people – a task that is impossible while they remain united. Therefore, the US is busy trying to implement the old colonial policy of ‘divide and rule’. Following the example set by the British in India, Ireland, Cyprus, etc, the US hopes to divide Iraq into three weak, warring and dependent ‘ethnic’ states – Kurds in the north, ‘sunnis’ in the centre and ‘shias’ in the south.

To this end, they are doing everything in their power to provoke inter-religious and ethnic warfare within Iraq. The majority of bourgeois journalists are faithfully playing their part, meanwhile, by perpetuating the myth that Iraq is not one nation but a handful of hostile ethnic groups – areas, towns and individuals are unfailingly referred to by some ethnic or religious label (the ‘sunni triangle’, the ‘shia south’, etc) and the idea of three main groupings has been dutifully repeated throughout the media from day one.

Agents provocateurs – the real foreign fighters

Some 58,000 mercenaries are currently ‘working’ in Iraq. They are rarely mentioned and few questions are ever asked about the role they might be performing. So who are they and what are they doing there?

These agents have been trained in such centres of freedom and democracy as zionist Israel, Apartheid South Africa, the US and Britain. Indeed, at least one South African is known to Interpol and wanted in his native country for crimes committed under the Apartheid regime. Other agents have come from the notorious US-backed dictatorships of Latin America. Perhaps Negroponte has been recruiting his old friends from amongst the coup-plotters and fascist paramilitaries of Chile, Honduras and Argentina.

In light of the aims listed above, the presence of these mercenaries makes sense of some of the more unlikely acts that have been ascribed in the imperialist press to ‘insurgents’. For what does the Iraqi resistance have to gain from blowing up mosques and churches? It is clear that these attacks, far from being carried out by ‘bloodthirsty militants’ are in fact the actions of agents provocateurs whose job it is to stir up religious and ethnic conflict.

These barbaric acts, however, while they may convince a few liberals in the imperialist heartlands that the Iraqi resistance is made up of religious extremists and gangsters, are not having the desired effect in Iraq itself, where the people understand only too well who stands to gain from such attacks. Iraqis are also in a much better position to notice that these actions always seem to take place in areas where the occupation is supposed to be in control – ie, mainly around certain parts of Baghdad!

The truth is that the resistance has no interest whatsoever in attacking religious institutions. Iraq has been a largely secular and very tolerant society for decades and christians, shias and sunnis consider themselves Iraqi before anything else.

Character of the resistance

Under a deluge of propaganda about ‘extremists’, ‘fundamentalists’, ‘terrorists’ and ‘foreign fighters’, it has been almost impossible to get information about the real nature of the Iraqi resistance. The reality turns out to be as far as possible from the myths spread throughout the bourgeois media.

According to the IPA, the Iraqi liberation movement is anti-imperialist, democratic and, for the most part, secular, despite the involvement of some religious forces. It is composed of three main parts, the largest of which is the secular, patriotic section, comprising Ba’athists, socialists, patriotic communists (as opposed to the CIA-funded lackeys of the so-called Iraqi Communist Party), pan-Arabists, nationalists and various ethnic groups (Turcoman, Kurd, etc). The second part comprises former officers and men of the Iraqi armed forces, while the third part is made up of various religious groups – sunni, shia and christian.

Contrary to the impression given by western media, members of these religious groups make up no more than 10-15 percent of the total resistance forces. This number excludes the forces of the militant cleric Muqtada Al Sadr, whose organisation was temporarily neutralised when the imperialists jailed and killed many of its members.

Whatever their original background, though, all members of the Iraqi resistance consider themselves Iraqis first and foremost. While the occupation continues, their number one priority is the liberation war, during which time all party political allegiances have been subsumed into a united resistance movement with one goal – an independent, democratic and united Iraq for all Iraqis, as opposed to the ethnically divided and pliant statelets envisaged by the invaders.

A well organised army

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the resistance war was well planned by the Ba’athist regime. According to the IPA, some 45-50m pieces of weaponry were hidden in caches around the country before the invasion and the expertise of the Iraqi armed forces has been well used. The resistance is extremely well armed and well organised, its tactics and intelligence are excellent, and it exploits well its urban advantages. Small, inconspicuous units and a friendly population mean that the resistance regularly carries out the most daring operations. For example, 20 fighters were able to stop a cavalcade of cars in a main street in Baghdad, execute the newly-appointed ‘Governor’ of the city and disappear again in broad daylight right under the noses of the occupation soldiers.

The resistance is determined to preserve Iraq’s integrity in the face of the imperialist’s attempts to split the country, and very keen to stress that their war is not religious or ethnic in character, but a war for national liberation from imperialist occupation that must be supported by all of progressive humanity.

Revealingly, the IPA spokesman told Proletarian that many of the reports of ‘suicide bombings’ in Iraq are also false. The resistance very rarely resorts to such methods, mainly because it has no need to do so! While the occupiers are keen to give the impression of weak, fragmented, unequipped and isolated opponents (not to mention cashing in on the false ‘morality’ issue so beloved of liberals in the imperialist countries), the reality is that the Iraqi liberation fighters are very well equipped and organised and most attacks are carried out using missiles, rockets, grenades or remote-controlled explosives.

Election farce

Although the occupiers have no intention of voluntarily leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, they nevertheless have to maintain the charade of handing over power to the local people in order to propagate the illusion of a ‘free’ Iraq to calm the rising tide of anger amongst the US and British people, the majority of whom are opposed to the war. This explains the US’s insistence on pressing ahead with the much-touted elections, despite a massive boycott by the Iraqis themselves, who quite rightly believe that an election held under the imperialist guns is simply a way for the occupation to legitimise itself by means of a few Iraqi faces. The boycott, combined with targeted action by the resistance, has led to mass desertion by electoral workers, so that even some members of the puppet government have voiced doubts about the feasibility of holding an election whose result will have any credibility.

Still, the imperialists are determined, so in the absence of voters in Iraq itself, they have resorted to opening the polls to Iraqis living abroad in the hope that this will somehow legitimise the result in the eyes of ‘international opinion’. To this end, first and second generation Iraqi immigrants in the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, The Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are being offered the chance to register. There are even rumours that Iraqi jews who moved to Israel in 1948 will be offered a chance to help perpetuate the charade of a ‘new era’ in Iraqi history.

As the election date draws near, however, the governments in the US and Britain have been forced to back-pedal, playing down former claims that an election would provide the panacea to all the problems of the occupation. Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, is on record as saying recently: "The insurgency is not going away as a result of this election. In fact, perhaps, the insurgents might become more emboldened." (Quoted in ‘US lowers expectations for once-heralded Iraq vote’ by Saul Hudson, Reuters, 16 January 2005) Indeed, Colin Powell’s private admission, printed in Newsweek last October, that the resistance is winning the war, led to his unceremonious dismissal from the Bush government, albeit a sacking presented as “retirement” in favour of a “return to private life” and “family commitments”.

Invaders’ morale at an all-time low

Faced with a well-equipped, well-organised and determined enemy, and unable to escape the blatant exposure of the lies their leaders told them about their mission to ‘liberate’ Iraq, the morale of the imperialist troops is collapsing. The army is reporting a growing shortage of officers as career soldiers take early retirement rather than return for a second tour of duty. Meanwhile, large numbers of ordinary soldiers and reservists are deserting or failing to report for duty when called up and an increasing number are becoming conscientious objectors – refusing to serve in what they correctly view as an illegal and unjust war for oil.

The strength of the Iraqi resistance has made a mockery of the US army’s war plans, and this in turn has led to chronic disruptions and shortages in the supplies of equipment and a massive backlog of repairs, all of which further adds to the sense of disillusionment amongst rank-and-file soldiers serving in Iraq, prepared since birth by films and war games to believe in the innate superiority of US soldiers and weaponry, and in the US’s ‘civilising’ mission.

Meanwhile, the scapegoating of individual soldiers for the barbaric treatment meted out to prisoners of war by British and US imperialist forces has led to the further disillusionment of the troops. It is clear from soldiers’ descriptions of the prison regimens at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the many other prison camps in Afghanistan and Iraq that humiliation and torture are a policy of the two governments (and not a new one, either), yet those who make this policy and send the orders down the chain are side-stepping the blame, feigning shock and horror and blaming the actions on a few ‘bad apples’, whilst continuing to implement ever more inhumane practices behind closed doors.

Analysis of the IPA

The Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, despite the former differences of much of its membership with Saddam Hussein’s government, points out that, contrary to the lies of the imperialists, the years of greatest Iraqi development took place under Ba’athist rule, particularly in the 70s when nationalised industry created the basis for a massive expansion of health, education, etc.

Since the imperialists launched their aggression against Iraq in 1991, all patriotic and progressive Iraqis have had a duty to put aside their differences and support the country’s independence from imperialism. Neither the US and Britain nor Nato, the UN or any of the plethora of western ‘NGOs’ (usually spies and agents for imperialism) have any legitimacy in Iraq. Therefore the people of the world must make a choice: either side with the forces of imperialism or support the Iraqi resistance – there is no third way!

Fight imperialist racism

It is a well known fact that imperialism holds the lives of Africans, Asians and Latin Americans cheap – remember Madeleine Albright’s comment that the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children was “worth it” if it put pressure on Saddam Hussein’s government?

This disdain for the suffering of the oppressed is brought into stark relief by a comparison with the value imperialism puts on the lives of its own. For example, if the US and Britain paid the same compensation per head for the 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed since 19 March 2003 as Libya was made to pay to victims of the Lockerbie bombing (despite the fact that Libya was patently not responsible), the cost would amount to $900bn, one tenth of the US’s annual GDP.

Pay similar levels of compensation for all 2m Iraqis killed since 1991 and the US would be totally bankrupted.

Workers in the imperialist countries must consciously fight against such prejudices and learn to see through the cynical manipulation of a media that seeks to reinforce racist attitudes. A case in point was the saturation coverage given to the fate of contractor Ken Bigley last year, when reams of column inches were devoted to every minute detail of Bigley’s life in order that the whole nation might identify with him and feel affected by his fate.

But the Iraqi fighters and civilians dying are no less loved and loving; they too have sons and daughters, husbands and wives. What is more, they have not crossed the seas to make a fortune helping a rapacious power to plunder and oppress.

The racism and double standards inherent in the rhetoric of the bourgeois media become clear when we make a comparison with previous movements against occupation. Would British newspapers have dared to refer to the French liberation fighters under Nazi occupation as ‘extremists’, ‘dead-enders’, ‘catholic fundamentalists’, ‘terrorists’ or ‘insurgents’? Would a French resister have been condemned for taking the war back into Germany by smuggling a bomb over the border and blowing up the Reichstag? Was it considered morally indefensible to send British bombers on suicide missions during the second world war? We may feel pity for the individual German soldiers who died as a result of being sent to France or the Soviet Union, but could we seriously contend that the resistance in those countries was wrong to fight the invaders? What would our grandparents have done if the Nazis had crossed the channel and occupied Britain too?

Conclusion

For the crime of living in an area rich in oil, that vital commodity for the running of modern monopoly capitalism, and the further crime of wishing to control their own destiny independent of the diktat of imperialism, the Iraqi people have suffered immeasurable hardship and born terrible losses.

In the last 13 years alone, Iraq has been the victim of two wars of aggression and 12 years of genocidal sanctions, claiming a total of nearly two million Iraqi lives, at least half of them children, and the killing is continuing under the imperialist occupation. Through all this, the people of Iraq have stood firm, refusing to be bombed or starved into submission, much to the fury of the imperialists.

Imperialism is the final, decaying stage of capitalism. It is a system that long ago outlived its usefulness to humanity. Riven with contradictions, it is incapable of feeding, housing, clothing and educating the people, even while forced to destroy the very food, clothes and other goods that might provide the basis of a decent life. While the technology has long been available to provide a truly human existence for every person on the planet, imperialism, producing only for profit, lacks the ability to organise production and distribution to meet those needs. While the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and more numerous – in the imperialist heartlands as well as in the oppressed and super-exploited countries.

Imperialism is the enemy of the workers in all countries. British imperialism is what stands between the people of Britain and a bright future. Therefore the sacrifices being made in the fight against British imperialism are not the concern of the Iraqi people alone, for the Iraqi people are in the front line against our common enemy and we owe it to them to do everything in our power to aid and hasten their victory.

Long live the Iraqi people’s resistance!

Death to British and US imperialism!
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