As humanity has neared the edge of moral suicide, Iraq's hopes lie with the nation's youth
23 - 29 March 2006 Issue No. 787
The carnage doesn't change the truth: the US lost before it invaded Iraq, writes Hana Al-Bayaty*
Three years have passed and the world continues diving into ever obscurantist times. On 15 February 2003, collective humanity felt it so deeply that it used every available tool to get organised against power, taking to streets simultaneously across the planet to oppose this terrifying war. Three years have passed and as we sensed pre-emptively, it's a massacre; a bloodshed of unspeakable brutality. Three years have passed and Iraq has been destroyed as a state and as a nation. Its natural resources have been plundered, its civilisational and cultural heritage looted, its religious heritage desecrated, its people raped, tortured, drilled, murdered and even melted. Cynicism nowadays refuses the call for an immediate and complete withdrawal of occupation forces for fear of civil war.
Since the very first day of this occupation we have witnessed the development of a two-sided power system. One side is the occupation and its stooges; the second is the Iraqi people and its various forms of resistance. Even if some part of the population might have been inclined to welcome an occupier, temporarily, the methods used by the occupation, along with its ultimate end, are contrary to the interest of the Iraqi people, therefore challenged and blunted by an ever- increasing number.
The US strategy in Iraq has been to destroy its Arab- Muslim identity and partition it into a minimum of three weak and conflicting protectorates, along sectarian lines, in order to ensure American political, economic and military domination. The invasion of Iraq was and remains an illegal war, a crime of aggression. Iraq and Iraqis are protected by international law -- by the founding Charter of the United Nations as well as the Geneva Conventions and the Hague IV Convention. By recognising UN Security Council Resolution 1533, in which the US is described as an occupying power, the US bound itself to inalienable obligations, stated under international humanitarian law. These treaties stipulate that an occupying power cannot change the social, economic or political make-up of the occupied country and cannot link this country to any agreements or treaties that exceed the occupation. This includes the constitution, elections and all contracts that have been created.
The US-led political process was and remains illegal. However the Bush administration will attempt to disguise it -- "liberation", "nation-building" or "transitional period" -- this political process is illegal and illegitimate. The "liberation" of Iraq did not result in any kind of sovereignty for the Iraqi people. All primary state powers remain in the hands of the occupation. To achieve their plan the US fomented sectarian and civilian strife among the Iraqi people by promoting secondary identities such as Sunni and Shia, in grand tradition of the divide to rule strategy of empire. It supported, financed, trained and recruited sectarian militias, death squads and all sorts of mercenaries. It has resorted to outrageous disproportionate use of force against entire towns and cities, resulting in the destruction of the holy city of Najaf, martyred Falluja, Tel Afar, Al-Qaim, Haditha, Baquba, Samaraa, Ramadi, among others and the death of tens of thousands of Iraqis, and detention of tens of thousands more. Occupation is the highest form of dictatorship as it intends to dictate the laws of a country by military means.
While it is true that this policy creates local corrupted individuals, feudalisms and warlords who profit from the occupation, the majority of society itself -- especially the marginalised and impoverished educated middle classes, the working classes, which lost the benefit of state services, and the youth, which suffers from unemployment and the absence of civil liberties -- reject US policy in Iraq. This will be the source of the never-ending social struggle against the occupation and eventually its defeat, and the defeat of its policies.
Since the very day the occupation forces came to Iraq and the Iraqi state collapsed, there has been an uprising by all Iraqi movements and organisations; including those defending women, or unemployed youth, human rights organisations, trade unions, professional syndicates, agencies defending environmental issues and the rights of prisoners, and all other cultural and political organisations, side-by-side with provincial and tribal communities and peaceful and armed resistance groups. A national movement, which opposes occupation and sectarianism, has developed. It took various forms, from civil to armed resistance. One does not contradict the other but rather supports the other in its own choice of struggle.
The methods used by different Iraqi forces to oppose this occupation depend on their specific situation. They form a second power and live in pain and solidarity with one another. The civil and armed resistance recognise the necessity, legality and legitimacy of each other. They have a common struggle to defeat the occupation, its stooges and its criminal plans. Like the civil resistance, the Iraqi armed resistance defends the independence, sovereignty over national resources, territory and future of Iraq. Unlike Germany and Japan, Iraq has a sovereign army that did not surrender, sign a treaty or capitulate to the aggressor. In rising up against occupation, in its struggle to warrant Iraqis their sovereignty, the Iraqi resistance is the legal continuity of the Iraqi state.
Throughout the history of the Iraqi patriotic movement, since the 1920s until now, it has been clear that the main criterion for true patriotism was to confront the "hegemony" of foreign powers in Iraq. Iraq's nationalisation of its oil wealth, and its success in investing oil revenues in economic development and infrastructure projects, has demonstrated Iraq's ability to build its own cadre for the proper administration of oil industries, making the ultimate end of such industry serving the interests of Iraq. Even when expertise, capital or any sort of foreign assistance was required, Iraq could get it through contracting and cooperation. It has always insisted there is no justification for rendering ownership of its oil fields to any other party but the state.
For the past 4,000 years, Iraq has been a social and economic entity. This comes from geopolitical considerations. Iraq is a basin in which several civilisations and peoples settled, the latest being the Arab-Muslim civilisation. The Iraqi people are the expression of the heritage of these civilisations and peoples, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Never in history could two states cohabitate in this area. Always one state had to surrender to the other, because it is the geopolitical interest of these peoples to organise together in a common state of its citizens. There have been many unsuccessful imperial attempts to divide the Iraqis. It would take more than a century to destroy the Arab-Muslim identity of Iraq by force.
The present uprising of Iraqis is not merely a part of the wider struggle against savage globalisation and "free" capital; it is its forefront battle. It is because the Iraqis refuse to surrender their sovereignty to multinational corporations that Iraq is being destroyed so blatantly. We should all be humbled by the loses this people has been prepared to endure for our sake and demand the complete, unconditional and immediate withdrawal of occupation forces from Iraqi soil, along with the cancellation of any law, treaty, agreement or contract passed under occupation and the fair payment of reparations and compensations for the human and material loses the Iraqis have suffered.
The US plan has already failed -- politically, morally, economically and even militarily. There are two types of strategy in warfare: either you have the ability to destroy your enemy or you have to destroy his will to fight. The US has failed in the first attempt, and can only completely eradicate the Iraqi population to succeed in the second. The Iraqi people's right to resist is the basis of, and is protected by, the Charter of the United Nations. This people's struggle will be our future pride if it is not already. Supporting the Iraqis in their legitimate and heroic fight does not mean supporting the return of any previous order. Iraqis have proven their determination in defining their fate and future. They have taken it into their hands and will not and cannot accept any kind of future tyranny.
The Iraqi youth will refuse any occupation, foreign interference, one party state, despotism, or authoritarian rule. It holds the heritage, technical skills and modernism to defend the separation of religion and state, equality between men and women and sovereignty over Iraq's natural resources. This youth will not accept selling short the rights of the country and nation. While humanity has neared the edge of moral suicide, the success of their struggle is our salvation. My heart is Iraqi.
* The writer is a member of the Executive Committee of