Jul 2, 2007
At the end of June, the U.S. military reported that it had around 160,000 troops in Iraq, that is, as high as at any time since the invasion. These troops have gone on the offensive in Baghdad, in the region near it, Anbar and Dyala province, which the U.S. calls the Sunni Triangle.
The U.S. began its big offensive about four months ago in Baghdad, isolating neighborhoods, and then “clearing” them, that is, trying to impose U.S. control by literally going door-to-door, killing civilians as they go. According to the U.S. military, the U.S. is currently carrying out military operations in about 36% of Baghdad’s neighborhoods.
In one of its biggest campaigns since the invasion in 2003, U.S. military forces have moved into Baquba, which is just north of Baghdad. The operation involves some 10,000 troops – around 6,000 U.S. and 4,000 Iraqis – lifted in by helicopters and backed by massive firepower in the shape of tanks, artillery and close air support.
U.S. helicopters are shooting up civilian areas with rockets and cannon fire in an outright campaign of terror against the Iraqi population. Such missions have more than doubled from two years ago. The head of Baquba’s emergency services told the BBC that in the first day of U.S. operations, at least 12 civilians had been killed, including three women. He said that there were certainly more civilian casualties, but ambulances were being prevented by U.S. troops from going in to evacuate them. A number of houses had been destroyed, and there were fears that civilians might be trapped in the rubble. And the U.S. imposed a severe curfew on civilians. Iraqi army loudspeakers were telling people to keep off the streets and stay indoors, even while attacking their houses with heavy ordinance.
U.S. forces have also been laying siege to two big cities in Anbar province, Samarra and Fallujah since May 22. Those cities had been largely destroyed in previous U.S. battles. Now what is left of their populations, have been deprived of most food, water, sanitation, electricity and medical care under a broiling sun when temperatures regularly reach over 120 degrees. The U.S. has also imposed a punishing curfew on them, not allowing them to go into the streets for big stretches of time.
In Falluja, 55-year-old Hajji Mahmood told an Iraqi reporter, Ali al-Fadhily, “U.S. snipers on rooftops are enjoying themselves watching us walk around to find a bite of food for our families. They laugh at us and call us names. They should know Fallujah is still the same city that kicked them away three years ago.”
In Samarra, Majid Hamid, a schoolteacher, told another reporter, “We are being butchered here by these Americans. People are dying because we lack all of the necessities, and our government seems to be so happy about it.” An employee in the electricity service office of Samarra added, “There is no life in the city because of the collective punishments. Depriving people of electricity means depriving them of water, health-care and all of life's maintenance necessities, especially with such hot temperatures now.”
“This is not the first siege that we have suffered,” said Nahla Alwan, a pharmacist. “The Americans have done this so often and they will keep doing it since we do not accept their occupation and all the disasters it has brought us.” She added, “They should know that we resent them more now, and we will teach the future generations to take revenge for the innocent souls killed by the American criminals.”
No, U.S. troops are not “peacekeepers” as the U.S. officials and the news media try to portray them. Yes, there is a lot of sectarian violence, as various Iraqi war lords try to snatch power. But the war is being driven by the U.S. occupation, an occupation that is against the Iraqi people themselves. The surge in U.S. troops only means one thing: a worse war, taking a toll in life that has been stupendous. The level of casualties among Iraqis as well as among U.S. troops was greater over the last three months than in any other three-month period.
Not only have hundreds of thousands, if not a million Iraqis, been killed since the U.S. invaded. There are now also more than four million Iraqi refugees, with about half still living somewhere in Iraq, and the other half in the surrounding countries. In both cases, the people are living in even more awful conditions, on practically nothing.
This refugee crisis is unprecedented in scope, actually twice as bad as the barbaric refugee crisis in Darfur. Yet, U.S. officials and their flunkeys in the U.S. news media barely even mention it. It would be one more indictment of this brutal war they are leading.
The U.S. war in Iraq is first of all a war against the Iraqi people, but also against the sons and daughters of the U.S. working class being thrown in to fight it. It is a war through which the U.S. is still trying to impose its control over the Middle East and demonstrate its power. American workers have every reason to oppose this war as strongly as possible.