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WHAT WE THINK
Iraqi resistance grows as U.S. launches military crackdown
America's iron heel

June 20, 2003 | Page 3

SO WHAT if the justification for war on Iraq was a fraud? Whether or not weapons of mass destruction are every found, Iraqis who resist the U.S. military occupation will be crushed with savage force anyway.

And so what if the "liberation" of Iraq has turned out to be colonial rule under the heel of Washington's overlords--for "several years at a minimum," as Richard Haass, director of policy planning at the State Department, said on ABC television June 15. After all, oil production is set to resume by late June--and reconstructing Iraq is a "gold mine" for American business, as the Wall Street Journal gleefully reported June 16.

Surely, any Iraqis who oppose U.S. rule must be "regime elements" loyal to Saddam Hussein--not people furious over a shattered economy, lack of electricity and water, and the killings of innocent people by U.S. soldiers. It's hard to believe that even the brazen Bush gang thinks it can get away with this kind of propaganda.

Then again, they've got the willing cooperation of the corporate media, which enthusiastically hyped the war and are now ignoring its disastrous outcome. But Bush's biggest help in covering up the weapons of mass destruction scandal is the cowardice of congressional Democrats, who gave him a blank check to wage the war--and whose silence is helping him whitewash it today.

Nevertheless, a massive military crackdown by U.S. forces has exposed the rising popular hostility to the U.S. occupation. After whipping up fears of a pro-Iranian Shiite Islam political takeover based in southern Iraq, U.S. forces find themselves facing a low-level guerilla war waged in the heartland of the Sunni Islam population around Baghdad.

The seriousness of the resistance was clear from the scale of the military's mid-June military sweep, named Operation Scorpion. This operation...is designed to identify and defeat selected Baath Party loyalists, terrorist organizations and criminal elements, while delivering humanitarian aid simultaneously," the military's Central Command announced.

The reality was a house-to-house campaign of violence and arbitrary arrests to terrorize the population into submission. In the town of Duluiyah, north of Baghdad, soldiers arrested 400 people--later releasing all but 60 without charge.

In another incident, U.S. tanks machined-gunned five farmers to death during a shootout. "This is our fortune," said Rassaq Ali Jassam, whose father and three brothers were killed. "First we were persecuted by Saddam Hussein, and now by the Americans."

The sweeps had killed at least 100 Iraqis by mid-June--and given the U.S. plan of conducting such raids every 48 hours, many more will die. Even Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister backed by Washington, called the crackdown "an overreaction."

And Washington's British sidekicks are feeling the heat, too. Some 10,000 people demonstrated in the southern city of Basra June 15 to demand that Iraqis be allowed to run the city.

The Pentagon's brute force further exposes the true U.S. role in Iraq--as a colonial occupier. U.S. officials may try to dismiss the resistance as a rearguard action by pro-Saddam elements, but the reality is that growing numbers angry and impoverished Iraqis are prepared to resist the occupation--including by armed force. Moreover, U.S. soldiers--who were told they would be greeted by Iraqis with flowers and cheers and expected to be home by now--were being killed at the rate of one per day in early June.

There's no predicting how events in Iraq will play out. But just two months after the U.S. declared victory, the antiwar movement has been vindicated about all its arguments--that weapons of mass destruction were simply a pretext for war, and that Washington's real aim was for oil and empire. That's why we need to keep organizing to demand an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq--and build a movement that can stop the U.S. war machine.

FBI's new pals in Afghanistan

U.S. OFFICIALS reportedly tracked down key members of Afghanistan's former Taliban rulers in neighboring Pakistan recently. But this wasn't a high-profile arrest to show U.S. effectiveness in the "war on terror."

It was a secret meeting between Taliban leaders and representatives of the FBI, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, held at a Pakistani air force base, according to Asia Times reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad. According to Shahzad, the U.S. is being forced to seek a power-sharing deal with the Taliban because its Afghan puppet, President Hamid Karzai, barely controls the capital of Kabul and virtually nothing beyond.

If there is a U.S.-Taliban deal, it wouldn't be the first one, of course. Washington tried to broker an agreement for an oil pipeline in the late 1990s--before the Taliban became the "enemy." Such cynical maneuvers are ample evidence that the U.S. war on Afghanistan wasn't about September 11, but establishing a military presence in Central Asia to bolster U.S. imperial power.

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