The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Iraq:
Bush will have his constitution and the Iraqis ... a civil war

Sep 26, 2005

The Bush administration has its constitution. After months of negotiations and several fruitless attempts, the draft Iraqi constitution was finally presented to the Iraqi national assembly on September 17. This time, the occupation authorities didn't take any chances: there was no vote or even debate in the assembly!

What does the White House care if behind this "democratic" travesty, Iraq each day sinks a little more into a blood bath. Or that the week before the final constitution was turned over to the national assembly there were terrorist attacks that killed more than 350 Iraqis, half of them on September 14 alone, when 14 attacks in Baghdad killed 167 and wounded 570! There is the same silence on the endless war, like the attack on the city of Tal Afar, on the Syrian border, first by heavy bombs and then by 5,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. Or when the British army in Basra smashed open the prison of the Iraqi government it is supposedly there assisting, to rescue two British soldiers who had been undercover dressed as Iraqis. The Iraqi government defended the police in arresting the British soldiers, and criticized the British rescue. They might as well have spoken to the wind.

According to U.S. propaganda, the main reason the situation in Iraq is deteriorating is the presence of al-Qaeda. Others say the reason is a religious conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. But these convenient explanations hide the real responsibility for the mess in Iraq.

The U.S. and British invasion caused the Saddam Hussein regime to collapse, leaving a gaping vacuum in the state which is being filled by many rival reactionary factions fighting for power. The arrogance of the occupiers, the miserable conditions of existence that they imposed on the population and their attempts to support themselves on a Shiite majority against a Sunni minority – all this stirred up divisions between communities, while doing the recruitment work for factions who don't shrink from demagogy.

Today, besides the occupation troops, the reality of power on the ground is exercised by the armed militias of these factions, each striving to increase its influence at the expense of its rivals.

Besides competing for power, these factions have their own ambitions. The two Kurdish nationalist parties, for 15 years now solidly installed in power under the protection of imperialism, primarily want to preserve the status quo, provided that they exercise a monopoly over the Kirkuk oil fields – which is contested by the other factions.

The Shiite factions are divided. Some of them, like that of Prime Minister al-Jaafari, aim at an Iraqi federation, with a vast southern region under Shiite control centered around the Basra oil fields, which would be a counter-weight to the Kurdish area. Others, like the faction of the religious leader Moktada al-Sadr, following the example of the Sunni factions, are opposed to any form of federalism and advocate a centralized power, in the name of Iraqi nationalism.

What all of these factions have in common, whether or not they take part in the democratic travesty orchestrated by Washington, is the willingness to use their arms not only against their rivals in the struggle for power, but also if necessary to impose themselves by terror on the population. For example, the fact that some of them justify their terrorist attacks against Iraqi construction workers by the fact that they "collaborate" with the occupier, changes nothing of the disgusting character of such actions.

These are all the ingredients for a civil war, which is not a new development but dates back to the first months following the collapse of the Saddam Hussein regime. Now, in the two and a half years of the occupation, not only hasn't imperialism defused this powder keg, it has stoked it. For several months there has been an increase in brutal terrorist attacks affecting practically every part of the Iraqi population. There is every reason to fear that Bush's "democratic" travesty will only hide the transformation from a latent civil war into an open one, in which the population finds itself caught in the trap between the bombs of the imperialist armies and those of different local militias fighting for power.