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Published in the 1-15 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Iraqis stand united against American imperialism

By Karamatullah K. Ghori

The Milli Gazette Online

American spin doctors of the Bush administrations have been churning their propaganda mills at a ferocious pace since the Iraqi general election of January 30 to the effect that democracy has 'arrived' in Iraq. Their media wizardry has become even more hectic since the formal election of a new president and a transitional prime minister of Iraq to steer the country toward a secure and legally anchored democratic government.

However, what the Washington propagandists are not talking about at all is the equally ferocious resistance of the Iraqis-not violent but peaceful-to the U.S. imperialism trying to dig itself deep into Iraq in the cover of 'their' installed democratic dispensation in their country.

This message was sent to the world, robustly, from Baghdad recently by the largest gathering of the Iraqi citizens demonstrating against their country's unrelenting and oppressive occupation by the Anglo-Saxon imperialists.
April 13 marked the second anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to the 21st century Mongol hordes. The Baghdadis observed this dark day with a huge demonstration that brought over 300,000 Iraqis to the center of Baghdad, chanting slogans against American imperialism and toppling a statue of Saddam Hussain in a symbolic re-enactment of the April 13, 2003 toppling of the Iraqi tyrant's statue by the invading American troops. 

But the similarity of that symbolic action ended there. Unlike the well choreographed American toppling of Saddam's statue-for which clapping gangs were transported from Kuwait-this second flogging of Saddam was genuine and spontaneous. 

More significantly to the spirit of the moment, the huge crowd of demonstrators also burned effigies of Bush and Blair, thus telling the outside world in categorical terms that they were not prepared to live under a new set of tyrants after getting rid of one two years ago.

Significantly, the Baghdad rally was sponsored jointly by Moqtada Al Sadr's followers in collaboration with the National Foundation Congress of Iraq, a political group representing both Shiia and Sunni political activists and nationalists whose platform is animated by their common resolve to rid their country of the bane of foreign, imperialist, occupation. Even the Group of Sunni Scholars that had boycotted the January 30 election asked its followers to participate in the demonstration to mark their solidarity with its aims and objectives.

The remarkable success of this peaceful Baghdad rally nailed a number of lies being routinely recycled by the American spin- doctors and their obliging cohorts in the news media.

It nailed the blatant American lie that opposition to their continued occupation of Iraq is a problem fueled only by a disgruntled 'minority' of Sunni factions, principally the Baath cadres loyal to Saddam and fundamentalist terrorists. The fact that Shiias from Baghdad's Al Sadr city organized and led the rally was sufficient proof that Iraq's majority and minority segments were at one in their opposition to American occupation.

The second nail in the coffin of the Bush word merchants is that the peaceful rally that brought in both Sunnis and Shiias spilling into the streets was evidence enough that there is no likelihood of a civil war in Iraq because of conflicting political interests and goals of the two main segments of its population. The rally was a categorical affirmation of Sunni-Shiia unity, as far as the need to throw out the alien invaders was concerned.

Bush and Blair are not prepared to give a date for the eventual withdrawal of their occupation forces from Iraq on the plea that if they did so Iraq would be plunged into a civil war. Nonsense, said the demonstrators, giving the lie to the Anglo-Saxon propagandists and their tribunes. 

The truth of the matter is that Bush has no plans, at all, to withdraw his occupation troops from Iraq. The best the Pentagon has to offer on the subject is that one third of its forces may be out of Iraq by the end of the year, still leaving at least a hundred thousand occupation troops deployed on active duty in Iraq. Instead, there are plans to deploy the Americans on permanent bases that Rumsfeld has seen built in Iraq since occupation. 

The third nail in the propaganda coffin comes from the fact that Moqtada Al Sadr is still a powerful voice in Iraq and his followers are still ready to heed his call, even at short notice.

The American propaganda machines had been churning out reports, in spades, since the last standoff with Moqtada, in Najaf in September last year, that he was finished and was as good as a spent bullet. The April 13 rally debunked that claim in spades.

What has happened is that Moqtada has, since, radically transformed his movement in the interest of both the fusion of Shiia ranks and the unity of Iraq. Credit, in large measure, for this shift in Moqtada's political persona and proclivity, goes to Ayatollah Sistani who brokered a peaceful end to last year's standoff. But Moqtada too deserves accolades for the new moderation now distinctly visible in his attitude and policy on the sensitive question of standing united against American occupation of his country.

The success of Iraqi political factions in overcoming their inherent differences and discords is a welcome development in the context of the viability of the system forged under the American heels. But it must, conversely, be a source of great discomfort to the imperialists in Washington whose dream of truncating Iraq, and then devouring its natural assets, has clearly been dashed. An arch imperialist and cold-warrior like Henry Kissinger is still harping on his sick mantra that Iraq is unlikely to remain united and must be "Balkanised" to safeguard American and Israeli interests.

It was precisely the fear of their Machiavellian designs for the future of Iraq coming unstuck because of the Iraqis standing united that brought that one of the prime architects of the Iraqi invasion, Donald Rumsfeld, scurrying to Baghdad, on the heels of Ibrahim Al Jaafari's nomination as Iraq's 'transitional' Prime Minister. This was the 9th visit of the notorious warmonger to Iraq since the Americans occupied the country two years ago.

Rumsfeld's cloak-and-dagger visit to Baghdad was in the mode of knocking into the heart of Ibrahim Al Jaafari the fear of what might result if the new government didn't take its lead on issues of sensitivity from him and his other hawkish comrades in Washington.

Weighing heavy on Rumsfeld and others of his ilk in the imperialist league in Washington is the nagging concern that the new Iraqi government, led by the Shiias, might purge the ranks of the Iraqi bureaucracy of the erstwhile Baathist cadres. The outgoing interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, had bent over backwards to bring back into sensitive government ranks the former Baathists. The new Iraqi security apparatus is teeming with the Baathists who had manned these positions under Saddam.

Notwithstanding Bush's nauseating crowing for democracy in Iraq-which he has been parroting with increasing élan since his second term began in January this year-the priority concern for the American imperialist objectives in Iraq is to have a government, and machinery, in hock to them and ready to do their bidding at the expense of the Iraqi people. They can rely on the former henchmen of Saddam to pull their chestnut out of the fire because they are used to obliging tyrants and oligarchs. For them the demise of Saddam and his replacement by imperialists from afar is just a cosmetic change.
But for Ibrahim Al Jaafri to bend to American pressure and buckle under crude arm-twisting would be a formidable challenge. More than that, it could be suicidal for him, politically, to rely on the Saddam loyalists of yesteryears to implement his democratic agenda of reforms for the Iraqi people, those who've elected his party and reposed trust in them.

Rumsfeld's interest would, of course, be best served by the tried and tested Saddam loyalists used to wielding the tools of repression with relish. This exposes in its blatant perplexity-if any exposure was, indeed, still needed-the hypocrisy of Bush & Company as far as their policy on Iraq is concerned. They have been beating the drums since the Iraqi insurgency began that it was the work of Saddam loyalists and non-Iraqi 'terrorists.' But here they are now putting all their eggs in the basket of the very same Saddam loyalists to do their dirty work in occupied Iraq. 

But letting the old Saddam cronies and loyalists run the show in supposedly democratic Iraq would be the very antithesis of the programme that the United Iraqi Alliance (IA) of which Al Jaafari's Daawa party is a component, chalked out for the emancipation of the Iraqi people in general, and the Shiias of Iraq in particular.

The Shiias of Iraq, in particular, have no illusions at all about the 'efficacy' of these old guards of the much maligned and discredited Saddam regime.
These were the Praetorian guards that were unleashed by Saddam against the Shiias of Southern Iraq in 1991 with the blessings of Papa Bush. Bush Elder was the one who initially instigated the Shiias to rise in revolt against Saddam after his humiliating defeat in the First Gulf War. But when the uprising reached its peak, Papa Bush had cold feet and somersaulted because he feared the Iranians getting the upper hand over the Shiias of Iraq. So, with unabashed hypocrisy, he winked at Saddam to crack down on the insurgents with his characteristic barbarity. What followed is history. Tens of thousands of Shiias were butchered by the Iraqi regular forces, with the Iraqi mukhabarat leading the charge.

It's the very same agents of Saddam's mukhabarat who have now, suddenly, become the apple of Jr.Bush's eye, so much so that he dispatched his major domo, Rumsfeld, to Baghdad to warn Al Jaafari not to touch his Iraqi agents and let them re-enact their demonic tactics of torture and repression against the citizens of a supposedly 'free and democratic' Iraq.
Ibrahim Al Jaafari has, himself, suffered immensely at the hands of these Saddam loyalists.

Jaafari was hounded out of Iraq by Saddam, early in 1980, when he was a young and rising star in Al Dawaa, founded in 1958 by a grand uncle of Moqtada Al Sadr, Baqar Al Sadr. Baqar was murdered by Saddam in 1980 on the trumped up charge of plotting to kill Saddam's loyal Christian, Tariq Aziz.
Ibrahim Al Jaafari initially sought refuge in Iran but moved out to Britain a year or two later. That is the reason why the Americans trust him more than Abdel Aziz Al Hakim, leader of the largest Shiia group, the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq( (SCIRI ) who should have, in normal course, been elected to head the transitional government. But the Americans have their doubts about Al Hakim, only because of his old association and links with Iran.
Ibrahim Al Jaafari may, in the words of a White House spokesman, be "America's boy' as compared to Hakim, debunked as "Iran's boy" in Iraq. But Jaafari has a real tightrope walk to perform in the weeks and months ahead. He cannot, simply, afford to ride roughshod over the clearly pronounced demands and priorities of the majority of Iraqis-Shiias and Sunnis alike-who want an early end to the oppressive American occupation of their land. They would expect Jaafari to negotiate an early and categorical timetable of withdrawal of their troops with the Americans.

The Americans, on the other hand, think they have cut out Jaafari's job for him. Their expectation from him is that he would allow them to determine their own pace of withdrawal, give them a free hand to loot Iraq's oil assets to their heart's content, and draft a permanent constitution of Iraq in which Islam should have no, or bare minimum, role to play.

Jaafari, the untested and untried politician simply has too many masters to please. What he has inherited from his predecessor, Iyad Alawi-a flunky par excellence of the Anglo-Saxons-is a real can of worms. His mettle will be tested, and tested severely, as to what ability he has to ensure that these worms don't spawn an epidemic for the fledgling democracy of Iraq, with the potential to spread to other countries in the region like a real contagion.
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