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Occupied Iraq Will Never Know Peace

by Open-Publishing - Saturday 30 August 2003

Wars and conflicts International Tariq Ali

Tariq Ali

The Age

August 27, 2003

The recolonisation of Iraq is not proceeding smoothly.

The resistance in the country (and in Palestine) is
not, as Israeli and Western propagandists like to
argue, a case of Islam gone mad. It is, in both cases,
a direct consequence of the occupation.
Before the recent war, some of us argued that the Iraqi
people, however much they despised Saddam Hussein,
would not take kindly to being occupied by the United
States and its British adjutant.

Contrary to the cocooned Iraqis who had been on the US
payroll for far too long and who told George Bush that
US troops would be garlanded with flowers and given
sweets, we warned that the occupation would lead to the
harrying and killing of Western soldiers every day and
would soon develop into a low-intensity guerilla war.
The fact that events have vindicated this analysis is
no reason to celebrate. The entire country is now in a
mess and the situation is much worse than it was before
the conflict.

The only explanation provided by Western news managers
for the resistance is that these are dissatisfied
remnants of the old regime.
This week Washington contradicted its propaganda by
deciding to recruit the real remnants of the old state
apparatus - the secret police - to try to track down
the resistance organisations, which number more than 40
different groups. The demonstrations in Basra and the
deaths of more British soldiers are a clear indication
these former bastions of anti-Saddam sentiment are now
prepared to join the struggle.

The bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad shocked
the West, but as Jamie Tarabay of the Associated Press
reported in a dispatch from the Iraqi capital last
week, there is a deep ambivalence towards the UN among
ordinary Iraqis. This is an understatement.
In fact, the UN is seen as one of Washington’s more
ruthless enforcers. It supervised the sanctions that,
according to UNICEF figures, were directly responsible
for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children and a
horrific rise in the mortality rate. Two senior UN
officials, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck,
resigned in protest against these policies, explaining
that the UN had failed in its duties to the people of

Simultaneously the US and Britain, with UN approval,
rained hundreds of tonnes of bombs and thousands of
missiles on Iraq from 1992 onwards and, in 1999, US
officials calmly informed The Wall Street Journal that
they had run out of targets.
By 2001, the bombardment of Iraq had lasted longer than
the US invasion of Vietnam.

That’s why the UN is not viewed sympathetically by many
Iraqis. The recent Security Council decision to
retrospectively sanction the occupation, a direct
breach of the UN charter, has only added to the anger.
All this poses the question of whether the UN today is
anything more than a cleaning-up operation for the
American Empire?

The effects of the Iraqi resistance are now beginning
to be felt in both the occupying countries. The latest
Newsweek poll reveals that President Bush’s approval
ratings are down 18 points to 53 per cent and, for the
first time since September 11, more registered voters
(49 per cent) say they would not like to see him re-
elected. This can only get worse (or better, depending
on one’s point of view) as US casualties in Iraq
continue to rise.

In Britain more than two-thirds of the population now
believe that Tony Blair lied to them on Iraq. This view
is shared by senior figures in the establishment. There
was open disquiet within the armed forces before the
war. Some generals were not too pleased by the sight of
their Prime Minister, snarling at the leash like a
petty mastiff, as he prepared to dispatch a third of
the British army to help occupy one of the country’s
largest former colonies in the Middle East.

After the capture of Baghdad, Sir Rodric Braithwaite,
the former head of the joint intelligence committee and
a former national security adviser to Blair, wrote an
astonishing letter to the Financial Times in which he
accused Blair of having deliberately engineered a war
hysteria to frighten a deeply sceptical population into
backing a war. Fishmongers sell fish, warmongers sell
war, wrote Braithwaite, arguing that Blair had oversold
his wares.

This anger within the establishment came to a head with
the alleged suicide of the Ministry of Defence’s
leading scientist, Dr David Kelly, and forced a
judicial inquiry, a form of therapy much favoured by
the English ruling class.
This week Blair will be interrogated before Lord
Hutton, but already the inquiry has uncovered a mound
of wriggling worms.

There is talk now that New Labour will offer the
Defence Secretary, a talentless mediocrity by the name
of Geoff Hoon, as a blood sacrifice to calm the public.
But what if Hoon refuses to go alone? After all, he
knows where the bodies are buried.

And Australia? Here the Prime Minister - a perennial
parrot on the imperial shoulder - managed to pull his
troops out before the resistance began. They were badly
needed in the Solomon Islands. Like Blair, John Howard
parroted untruths to justify the war and, like Blair,
he’s lucky that the official Opposition is led by a
weak-kneed and ineffective politician scared of his own

And one day, when the children of dead Iraqis and
Americans ask why their parents died, the answer will
come: because the politicians lied.
Meanwhile, there will be no peace as long as Palestine
and Iraq continue to be occupied - and no amount of
apologetics will conceal this fact.

Tariq Ali has been in Australia as a guest of the Age
Melbourne Writers’ Festival. His next book, Bush in
Babylon: The Recolonisation of Iraq, will be published
by Verso in October.