Occupation Fuels Resistance
Occupation Fuels Resistance
HOW DO conditions in Iraq today compare with what Bush and Blair promised? ALL MY Iraqi contacts in the country bear out what is being reported in the European press. The country is a complete mess. The situation is much worse than it was under Saddam. There is no reconstruction. There is mass unemployment. The U.S. doesnâ€™t trust Iraqis to even act as cleaners, and so South Asian and Filipino migrants are being used. This is colonialism in the epoch of neo-liberal capitalism, and so U.S. and "friendly" companies are given precedence. Under the occupation, Iraq will become a crony oligarchy. Daily life is a misery, and the occupation and its puppets cannot even provide the basic amenities of life. This fuels the resistance and encourages many young men to fight. Few are prepared to betray those who are fighting, and that is important, because without the passive support of the population, a resistance becomes very difficult.
HOW DO you see events unfolding? For example, Bush has gone to the United Nations (UN) to ask for support for the occupation. Is he trying to get a multilateral facade for U.S. control? THE UN Security Council has disgraced itself once again. It should be renamed the Satraps Council. Here they are on their knees before the Empire. The Germans and French and Russians (like some U.S. liberals) who opposed the war are now saying that there is no option but to back the occupation. They won't send troops or money, but give it "moral" support. The Japanese had earlier said that that they couldn't send troops until their soldiers had learned Arabic (i.e., never), but if they cave in to the United Nations of America, one hopes an antiwar movement will emerge in that country. The Turks are still negotiating as to which part of Iraq they will police. They want to occupy the Kurdish areas and settle some old accounts, while the U.S. wants them to take a few hits in the Baghdad region. If and when Turkish troops arrive, it could turn some of the Kurdish groups against the occupation. UN multilateralism will be no different from what already exists. One should never forget how much the UN is hated in Iraq, as the administrator of the killer sanctions, and the backer of weekly Anglo-American bombing raids.
WHAT DO you think the impact of this occupation will be for Palestinians? And do you think Syria and Iran next? IF INITIALLY the Palestinians were demoralized by the fall of Baghdad, the emergence of a resistance has encouraged them. After Baghdad fell, the Israeli war criminal Ariel Sharon told the Palestinians to "come to your senses now that your protector has gone." As if the Palestinian struggle was dependent on Saddam! Well, he's got his replies. What people in the U.S. have to understand is that in the Arab world and elsewhere, the suicide bombings canâ€™t be dissociated from the occupation. Even senior Zionists like Avraham Burg have said as much in recent weeks. Nor is it the case that only Palestinians or Muslims are prepared to sacrifice their own lives. The Vietnamese employed similar tactics in cafÃ©s frequented by U.S. soldiers in Saigon. There is now a dual occupation of the Middle East--the U.S.-Israeli occupation of Palestine and Iraq. If they're crazy enough to go for Syria and Iran, they will overstretch themselves militarily and politically. My own view is that the Iraqi resistance has temporarily stopped all plans regarding Syria and Iran.
WHAT SHOULD opponents of war and occupation be doing today? BUILD THE widest, broadest possible antiwar movement. Some of the statements from the soldiers and their families have been very moving. These U.S. soldiers are learning fast--and realizing that what they were told was a bunch of lies. The movement will only be successful if it wins over undecided citizens. This means that some of the leaders of the antiwar movement must break the habit of speaking to themselves and learn a new language.
TARIQ ALI is a veteran political activist since the 1960s. He is a filmmaker, novelist and author of numerous books, including The Clash of Fundamentalisms and, most recently, Bush in Babylon: Recolonizing Iraq