Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan: capitalism kills

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Iraq

The credibility of the US forces as protectors of the Iraqi population took another hammer blow with the allegations of an ‘Iraqi My Lai’, in which US marines are accused of running amok after a roadside bomb attack in Haditha last November, slaughtering 24 defenceless Iraqi men, women and children. On top of which there appears to have been a cover-up of the whole incident involving (at least) senior marine officers. The Haditha affair is already being described as “more damaging than Abu Ghraib”. The ‘humanitarian’ pretexts for the US invasion are being exposed as worthless lies.

The claims of Bush, Blair and Co. that the invasion would install a prosperous and stable democracy in Iraq have also been shot to pieces. The country is already in a state of low level civil war. The massacre of Haditha was shocking, but it is only one incident in a daily litany of murder. A day in the life of present-day Iraq:

“At least 40 corpses, shot in the head and showing signs of torture, have been found in different locations around Iraq, an interior ministry official said.

The largest cache of 16 bodies turned up in Baladiyat in the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, while five were found in Husseiniya, northeast of the capital where a car bomb killed 22 people on Tuesday.

Another four were found in Baghdad’s impoverished Shiite district of Sadr City, three decapitated bodies were discovered in Muqdadiya, northeast of the capital and another 12 around Baghdad.

All bodies had their hands tied and showed signs of torture, the official said.

The sudden flood of corpses comes after a comparative hiatus in night-time killings believed to be carried out by armed gangs on sectarian grounds following the destruction of a Shiite shrine in February.

Monday and Tuesday saw an explosion of violence and bombings around the country, mostly focused on Baghdad, that claimed the lives of over 100 people.

In other violence Wednesday, a bomb went off against a police patrol in the northern city of Mosul, wounding five policemen and 12 civilians.

Clashes also erupted in Baghdad when insurgents assaulted a police station in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Adhamiyah with explosions audible across the city, but no reports of casualties.

A joint Japanese-Australian patrol was attacked by a roadside bomb in Samawa, south of Baghdad. and a civilian was injured.

The former governor of the southern province of Qaddisiyah was shot dead in Diwaniyah, also south of Baghdad, on Tuesday.” (AFP, 31 May)

An interview with a Sunni fighter, published in the Guardian on 20 May, gives us an insight into the increasingly irrational and chaotic nature of the conflict taking place there, and completely exposes the so-called ‘Resistance’ as an instrument of imperialist war:

“‘Look, a full-scale civil war will break out in the next few months. The Kurds only care about their independence. We the Sunnis will be crushed - the Shia have more fighters and they are better organised, and have more than one leadership. They are supported by the Iranians. We are lost. We don’t have leadership and no one is more responsible for our disarray than [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, may God curse him,’ he said.

The logic of Adel The Patriot’s new sectarian struggle against the Shia is driving him and his fellow Sunnis into radical new directions. Asked what will save the Sunnis, he replies almost instinctively.

Our only hope is if the Americans hit the Iranians, and by God’s will this day will come very soon, then the Americans will give a medal to anyone who kills a Shia militiaman. When we feel that an American attack on Iran is imminent, I myself will shoot anyone who attacks the Americans and all the mujahideen will join the US army against the Iranians.

Most of my fellow mujahideen are not fighting the Americans at the moment, they are too busy killing the Shia, and this is only going to create hatred. If someone kills one of my family I will do nothing else but kill to avenge their deaths.’”

Such is the insane logic of imperialist war in a society in full decomposition. 

Palestine

With the suspension of financial aid to the Palestinian Authority by the US, Israel and the EU following the electoral victory of Hamas, the ‘humanitarian’ situation in the Gaza strip is going from bad to worse. At the same time, there has been an explosion of tensions between different armed factions inside this vast open-air concentration camp. The prisoners number a million and a half people, half of them under 15 years old, and they have little hope of finding a way out. “Imagine a slum 30 kilometres by 10 with one of the highest population densities on the planet” (Le Courrier, Switzerland, 23 May). There are incessant missile and shell attacks from the Israeli side, sometimes with an explosion every five minutes. The economic blockade imposed by Israel as a political measure against the Hamas authority is making the population pay a very heavy price. Karni, the only outlet for goods between Gaza and Israel, has been closed for 60 days out of the last three months. As a result not only are basic provisions in short supply, but the prices of things like milk, bread and fish are skyrocketing.

Thus, the ‘Road Map’ which Bush tried to impose in 2004 is not only a dead letter but has actually resulted in an aggravation in the situation in the occupied territories, with sharpening tensions between Palestinians and Israelis but also between different Palestinian factions. After months of settling scores in a more covert manner, Fatah and Hamas are now in a situation of open armed confrontation. The ‘national dialogue’ which was supposed to take place between the two factions has given way to shooting on the street. The perspective of a stable Palestinian government is just a vague memory. The Palestinian population is offered the choice of tamely submitting to the exactions of both factions, or siding with one against the other.

Meanwhile the Israeli state is conducting an increasingly aggressive policy towards the Palestinians, stepping up the number of rocket attacks and making bellicose statements towards the Arab countries and towards Iran. And this in turn exacerbates anti-Jewish feelings which are fuelling an increase in suicide bombing inside Israel.

As for America, the utter failure of its adventure in Iraq, and the growing threat posed by Iran, give it little choice but to give unconditional support to Israel’s imperialist policies.

Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan has also continued to deteriorate since the US invasion of 2001 and the fall of the Taliban regime. The post-Taliban regime, a mish-mash of extremely backward factions who live mainly off the proceeds of the drug trade, has created all the conditions for a resurgence of the Taliban, despite the US occupation.

The USA has now launched a massive military offensive in response to a growing number of Taliban attacks on foreigners, aid workers, or schools which dare to teach girls, but also on government and occupation troops. This operation, begun on 17 May, has been one of the most murderous since the invasion in 2001. As in the latter, the civilian population has suffered the consequences. Thus, in the village of Azizi in the south of the country, American bombardments of the Taliban resulted in 30 to 60 Taliban deaths but also wiped out scores of civilians. Tom Collins, the spokesman for the US command, justified this massacre by saying that “the real reason why civilians have been wounded or killed is that the Taliban quite deliberately decided to occupy the houses of the victims; it is they who have no consideration of civilians”. Collins added that his air forces were “using precision weapons” against houses “without knowing whether there are civilians inside” (AFP news service). These cynical declarations were echoed by the governor of Kandahar province, Asadullah Khalid, who said that “this kind of accident does happen in combat, especially when the Taliban hide in peoples’ houses. I really call on people not to shelter them”. In sum, the massive slaughter of the civilian population is just an ‘accident’, and in any case it’s their own fault for ‘volunteering’ to shelter fighters.

Little wonder that feelings against the Americans are running high. At the end of May, massive riots broke out in Kabul itself:

An early morning traffic accident in Kabul involving a US military vehicle rapidly degenerated yesterday into the worst upheaval in the Afghan capital since the fall of the Taliban, as angry protesters burned vehicles and buildings, ransacked shops and aid agencies and hurled rocks and invective at American soldiers.

By the time the authorities imposed a rare night-time curfew in the normally peaceable capital, eight people had been killed and more than 100 injured. The upheaval was a shock to a city long considered an oasis of security, and a serious blow to the authority of the president, Hamid Karzai, who is struggling to contain an escalating insurgency in the south”. (Guardian, 30 May)

From the very beginning revolutionaries have insisted that the US military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq would only succeed in bringing further chaos and destruction to an already war-ravaged region. And the massacres in the Middle East are also being played out in Sudan, Chad, Niger, Chechnya, Sri Lanka or Indonesia, just as they were in Europe’s south eastern flank during the 1990s. War and chaos may currently be restricted mainly to the most impoverished regions of the planet, but they indicate the future capitalism has in store for all of us if we don’t destroy this rotting system first.   Amos/Mulan 1/6/6

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