The Iraqi 'Resistance' - A Closer Look at the Forces Fighting the US in Iraq in 2005

George Bush declared major combat operations to be over on May 1st, 2003. 139 US soldiers had been killed by that date. Two years later over ten times that number have died. No one knows how many Iraqis have been killed, as the Americans aren't even bothering to count. Estimates like that published in Lancet last October suggested a likely death toll of around 100,000.

The Socialist Workers Party leadership of the official Irish Anti-War Movement have become very excited by this - to the point of putting 'victory to the resistance' stickers all around Dublin.

There is a logic to this as any military defeat for US imperialism will reduce the ability of the imperialist powers to engage in future interventions. The intensity of the resistance in Iraq has almost certainly prevented or slowed down the Bush administration moving on to its next target whether that be Iran or Syria. And if the U.S. ends up being driven out of Iraq as it was driven out of Vietnam, then the willingness of the US public to support interventions elsewhere would collapse. So from the point of view of the western left simply cheering on the resistance might make a certain sense.

But for those interested in freedom for the people of Iraq rather than simply giving the US army a bloody nose the question is much more complex. It is clear that there is no single 'resistance' in Iraq but rather a network of organizations often with conflicting end goals once you look beyond the question of removing the US presence.

Few if any of these represent anything that would bring freedom to the people of Iraq. The worst, including those Islamists grouped around Al - Zarqawi, openly look forward to creating a theocratic state where women would be oppressed, where there would be no democracy and where the majority Shia religion would be suppressed. This 'faction' of the resistance is not waiting to take power, they have already carried out car bombings against Shia religious events in a bid to stoke up a sectarian civil war.

Over 1,000 Iraqi women have abandoned their university studies. Hinadi, the star dancer of the group 'el-Portoqala' was killed by Islamists while visiting her family. Apparently "el-Portoqala sings modern songs, which outraged some Islamists who said the songs were pornographic, liberal and 'alien to conservative Iraqi society'. In reality the songs merely showed women dancing and posing as lovers"1

The other major factor of the resistance built around the Ba'athist party would seem to offer nothing but a return to dictatorship - and the sort of dictatorship that in the past was more than happy to become a regional ally of the US. At the end of February, Time magazine revealed that there have been at least two secret meeting in the 'Green zone' between US military officials and a 'senior insurgent negotiator'. Presumably the US is trying to ensure that if they are forced to withdraw they can hand over power to their preferred faction of the resistance - probably the Ba'athists whom they previously supported for the decades before the 1991 war.

The role of activists in the west has to be to undermine the war effort of our governments and thus force an end to the occupation. In Ireland this means concentrating on the ongoing vital support refuelling at Shannon plays for the US army's supply chain. But rather than blindly cheering on a resistance in Iraq which includes elements that have nothing to offer the Iraqi people we should offer concrete solidarity to those in Iraq who oppose the occupation and are struggling for freedom for Iraqi workers and women.

Although it has not received much coverage in either the left or mainstream press there are significant workers struggles taking place within Iraq. There is a real attempt to put forward a progressive agenda in the interests of Iraqi workers. Independent unions like that of the oil workers in Basra are being built as are organizations of the unemployed and women. Any real post-occupation hope for the people of Iraq lies in these sort of projects. 1. It is not just the armed resistance which is behind these acts, the finger also points at some of the Shia religious parties that did very well in the elections.

From 'Workers Solidarity' No85 published in March 2005

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


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