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[casi] Bill Vann: "US prepares military repression in Iraq"

Job-less and money-less Iraqis have now also been
'liberated' from their food rations. Bremer has just
put 30,000 government workers out of a job, and
disbanded Iraqi soldiers are still left in limbo.

Hospitals are filled with sick children suffering
from diarrhea. Typhoid is becoming epidemic. And
antibiotics and other drugs are running out. Sewage
plants, patched together after US bombings, can't
operatate because there is no power.

Tension is mounting. Resistance if growing...

We must do something from outside,



Faced with growing resistance
US prepares military repression in Iraq

By Bill Vann
30 May 2003

Backing off from earlier promises to quickly scale back
the US military force presently occupying Iraq, the
Pentagon has announced that it will instead increase the
number of troops deployed in the country and
indefinitely postpone the scheduled departure of key
combat units.

The decision was taken in the face of mounting Iraqi
guerrilla attacks on US forces that have claimed the
lives of as many as a dozen American soldiers over the
past week and left dozens more wounded. In response, the
Pentagon is preparing a military campaign aimed at
suppressing resistance to the US occupation.

US military commanders have blamed the mounting wave of
attacks on what it claims are "holdouts" from the Saddam
Hussein regime, thereby setting the stage for a ruthless
crackdown. Independent observers inside the country,
however, have reported broad popular support for the
resistance and link it to intensifying anger over the
disintegration of Iraqi society in the wake of the
illegal US invasion.

"The war has not ended," Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the
commander of US-British forces, said at a press
conference in Baghdad Thursday. "Decisive combat
operations against military formations have ended, but
these contacts we're having right now are in a combat
zone, and it is war, and they are members of (Hussein's)
regime that must be removed."

On the day that the US commander spoke, another US
soldier was killed, this time by a rocket-propelled
grenade fired at a convoy traversing one of the main
US supply routes.

McKiernan announced that the Army's Third Infantry
Division, which had been scheduled to return to the
United States in June, would remain in Iraq
indefinitely. "If we need to apply some of the combat
power of the Third Infantry Division elsewhere in Iraq,
we will certainly not hesitate to do that," the US
commander said.

He indicated that the combat unit, which played the lead
role in the murderous race to Baghdad, will likely be
sent to Fallujah, 45 miles west of the Iraqi capital,
where US occupation forces have faced growing
resistance. Two US soldiers were killed and nine others
wounded there early Tuesday, when Iraqis opened fire on
a US checkpoint. The city of more than a quarter million
people has been seething since American troops gunned
down demonstrators protesting the commandeering of a
local school for a military headquarters. At least 18
unarmed civilians were killed in a pair of back-to-back
protests last month.

During the attack on Tuesday, a helicopter brought in to
evacuate the wounded was badly damaged. The army claimed
that this was the result of an accident, but the Al
Jazeera television network interviewed witnesses who
said that the aircraft was shot down by the attackers.

In two incidents the day before, two US soldiers were
killed and four wounded in attacks in Baghdad and north
of the city. And on Sunday a soldier died when the
Humvee in which he was traveling was hit by an explosive
placed along the highway. Two US military policemen were
badly wounded on Tuesday when the Iraqi police station
they were manning was struck by a rocket-propelled

Al Jazeera, meanwhile, reported that four American
soldiers were killed when gunmen shot down a helicopter
in Al Anbar province. The Pentagon has denied the

Bush's image vs. Iraqi reality

A full month after President Bush strutted onto the deck
of the USS Abraham Lincoln in a navy flight suit to
announce that "major combat operations in Iraq have
ended," and proclaim the US military's "mission
accomplished," there are growing indications that the
US is on the brink of a ferocious colonial-style war in

Last month, the Pentagon outlined a plan for a rapid
scaling back of the US military presence, reducing it to
70,000 troops by September. It now appears that at least
three times that many US soldiers will be kept in the
region for the foreseeable future. At least 160,000 US
and British troops are now deployed in Iraq, with
another 90,000 support troops operating out of Kuwait
and Qatar.

Reports from Iraq indicate broad popular support for the
acts of resistance against US occupation forces. The
Washington Post quoted the leader of the local mosque in
Fajullah praising the attack there and predicting more
such acts. "We're all with the resistance against the
occupation," said the religious leader. "The Americans
are occupiers. Occupiers cannot come and provide people
with happiness and freedom."

Similarly, a report by the Post's Scott Wilson cited the
case of Eman Mutlag Salih, a young woman shot dead by
US troops Sunday after she attempted to throw a grenade
into a US military command post in Baquba, a city of
half a million people 30 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Wilson writes that "rising frustration among millions of
Iraqis over the US occupation is beginning to produce
the desperate foot soldiers of resistance like Salih,
who left her father a brief letter the day she died that
bluntly stated her intention:--I will be martyred
for the sake of Islam.'" The report states that Salih
has been hailed as a heroine by the city's inhabitants,
who are chaffing under an occupation that has left them
without jobs, incomes, food, electrical power or clean water.

These desperate conditions characterize the entire
country in the wake of the US war. Rory McCarthy of the
British Guardian cites the desperate plight the 40,000
inhabitants of Khalis, a provincial capital some 50
miles north of Baghdad. At the local hospital, he
writes, "doctors are now seeing 200 new patients daily,
all suffering from severe diarrhea.... In addition, each
day they see at least seven new typhoid patients." The
hospital, he reports, has run out of essential supplies,
including oxygen and antibiotics. Other medicine stocks
are expected to run out next week, and supplies of
diesel fuel needed to run the hospital's generators are
dwindling. Doctors have not seen a paycheck in over
three months.

The city's sewage treatment plant was bombed during the
US invasion and looted afterwards, McCarthy reports.
While patched together since, it cannot operate because
there is only an hour of electric power each day. The
result is sewage contaminating the local water supply
and a hospital filled with sick infants and children.

"If Khalis is anything like the hundreds of other small
towns and villages across the country, then postwar Iraq
is already in a far deeper crisis than its military
occupiers will ever admit," writes McCarthy.

An "ideological process"

In a report published on Tuesday, the Guardian quoted
the United Nations top humanitarian official in Iraq
accusing the US occupation authority of attempting to
"force through an ideological process" in Iraq. Ramiro
Lopes da Silva, who was named the UN's humanitarian
coordinator in Iraq last year, characterized the first
several weeks of the occupation as consisting of "talk
about grandiose plans and a lot of promises, but there
were no decisions."

Since the shakeup in the authority earlier this month
and the installation of former counterterrorism official
L. Paul Bremer as the US proconsul in Baghdad, decisions
have been taken, but Lopes da Silva said the UN
"disagreed" with many of them.

In particular, he cited the decree disbanding the Iraqi
army, with no provisions made for reintegrating hundreds
of former soldiers into civil society. "The way the
decision was taken leaves them in a vacuum," the UN
official said. "Our concern is that if there is nothing
for them out there soon this will be a potential source
of additional destabilization."

Sitting in Saddam Hussein's former Republican Palace in
Baghdad, Bremer has issued other decrees, including the
banning of former members of the ruling Ba'ath party
from serving in any new government, effectively barring
some 30,000 senior and mid-level managers from returning
to their jobs. He has also ordered the disarming of
Iraqi citizens, a move that has evoked intense popular
opposition. US soldiers conducted a house-to-house sweep
of western Baghdad in a search for weapons earlier this

The "ideological" bent perceived by the UN official is
that of the right-wing Republican administration in
Washington. It consists essentially of the conviction
that America's military might must be used to seize
control of vital resources and achieve geopolitical
advantage over American capitalism's principal rivals in
order to defend the interests of a corrupt and predatory
ruling elite. All of the neo-liberal nostrums about the
benefits of the "free market" are being applied to Iraq
to this end.

Thus, the declaration founding the Office of the
Coalition Provisional Authority, the colonial regime now
ruling the country, states in its preamble that it "will
help alleviate dependence on humanitarian assistance"
and "assist in the rejuvenation of a broad-based Iraqi
economy." In plain words, this translates into
"liberating" Iraqis from the state food rations upon
which 60 percent of them have depended for survival. It
also means privatizing the extensive Iraqi state sector
to the benefit of US-based corporations and speculators
and at the expense of hundreds of thousands of state
employees who will lose their jobs.

In an opinion column written for the Wall Street Journal
earlier this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
the ultimate authority over the Iraqi colonial venture,
further spelled out this agenda. Decisions taken by the
US officials ruling Iraq, he said, "will favor market
systems, not Stalinist command systems.... The Coalition
will encourage moves to privatize state-owned

Rumsfeld further declared that the occupation authority
would "promote Iraqis" who share US goals. "In staffing
ministries and positioning Iraqis in ways that will
increase their influence, the Coalition will work to
have supportive Iraqis involved as early as
possible--so that Iraqi voices can explain the goals
and direction to the Iraqi people."

This then is the real face of the US intervention in
Iraq. Its aim is the looting of the economy--above
all through the privatization of its vast oil resources,
already being run by US officials--and the
installation of an Iraqi puppet regime to "explain the
goals" worked out in Washington and in the boardrooms of
major US-based energy giants to the Iraqi people.

The fatal flaw in this ideology, however, is the
illusion that there exists some popular constituency for
this program of reshaping Iraq to serve American
interests--outside of the corporate ruling elite in
the US that hopes to profit from it.

The US occupation authority has been forced to
indefinitely postpone its plan to create some kind of
"interim government" composed of Iraqi collaborators.
The elements upon which it sought to base such a puppet
entity are entirely unstable. On the one hand, there are
pro-US exiles grouped in the Iraqi National Congress
headed by the Ahmed Chalabi, a man convicted in Jordan
for the biggest bank embezzlement in the country's
history. Earlier this week, US authorities announced
that they had disbanded and disarmed the "Free Iraq
Forces" militia connected with Chalabi's outfit, whose
700 members were initially trained and deployed by the
US military. Apparently these armed thugs had criminal
predilections similar to those of their leader.

The other groups that the US authorities sought to draw
into its "interim government" scheme included Kurdish
organizations bent on establishing an independent
Republic of Kurdistan in the north of the country, and
the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an
Iranian-based Shiite group committed to the creation of
an Islamic state and the implementation of Sharia law.
The latter group, which enjoys the allegiance of a
substantial share of Iraq's Shiite majority, appears to
be on a collision course with the US occupation.
Rumsfeld warned this week that the US would
"aggressively put down" any attempt to "remake Iraq in
Iran's image."

The American military, which has been called upon to
realize this criminal looting of a nation, has appeared
less sanguine about the prospects of the occupation
realizing the aims of the right-wing clique in control
of the US government.

Fully a year before the invasion was launched, it issued
a study initiated by the US Army War College's Strategic
Study Institute in conjunction with the senior Pentagon
military leadership entitled "Reconstructing Iraq:
Insights, challenges and missions for military forces in
a post-conflict scenario."

The report warns, "Rebuilding Iraq will require a
considerable commitment of American resources, but the
longer US presence is maintained, the more likely
violent resistance will develop."

Drawing upon experiences ranging from the US occupation
of the Philippines at the end of the nineteenth century
to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s,
the report states that "a mass uprising against
occupation forces is unlikely in the early stages of any
US occupation of Iraq, probably up to at least the first
year." Hopes that American control will bring
improvements in living conditions along with
"uncertainty over the degree to which US troops can be
pushed," the document argues, would initially dampen any

It goes on to warn, however: "After the first year, the
possibility of a serious uprising may increase should
severe disillusionment set in and Iraqis begin to draw
parallels between US actions and historical examples of
Western imperialism."

The report concludes: "Without an overwhelming effort to
prepare for occupation, the United States may find
itself in a radically different world over the next few
years, a world in which the threat of Saddam Hussein
seems like a pale shadow of new problems of America's
own making."

Copyright 1998-2003
[8] World Socialist Web Site
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