The Socialist Unity Network

Strike against the occupation

Andy Newman

Fierce fighting in Najaf between Moqtada Sadr's Mehdi Army militia and the US forces is creating a national focus for resistance aginast the Americans. According to the BBC: "Every day the stand-off continues, Moqtada Sadr and his men gain more support across the country, our correspondent says, not only from Shia Muslims including those who do not agree with his methods, but also from Sunnis."

Handover of power to the Quisling government of Allawi has made little difference to the political situation in Iraq. As the Egyptian weekly, Al Ahram reports: "Politically, the government of Allawi is not gaining any popularity for two main reasons: firstly because of heavy-handed policies -- curfews and clampdowns have alienated many people without making a significant difference on the security front. Secondly, the government has not succeeded in distinguishing itself in any practical way from the regime that was in place before it took charge.". The role of Iraqi forces fighting alongside the Americans has proved very damaging for the new government. Abdul-Karim Al-Enzi, a member of the Al-Dawa Party's politburo, described Al-Sadr as "an Iraqi leader with broad-based support. The role of the Iraqi army is to defend Iraq against external danger and not to fight the sons of the country," Albayt Al-Shii (The Shia House), an umbrella organisation of various Shia political movements headed by Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, threatened to boycott next week's Iraqi National Conference unless the crisis with Al-Sadr is settled peacefully.

The support from Sunnis for the Najaf insurgency is especially significant, and according to Reuters on13th August: "About 3 thousand demonstrators marched in the centre of Falluja carrying pictures of Sadr and placards denouncing the U.S. bombing of Najaf, where the cleric and his followers are surrounded. 'Long live Sadr. Falluja stands by Najaf against America', the demonstrators shouted." Despite US propaganda that Al Qaeda plays a major role in the resistance, Former Iraqi Army General Miqdad Al-Jabburi told Al Alhram "in Falluja, there are hundreds of officers of the disbanded Iraqi army, men who are known for dignity and integrity. No one in their right mind believes that they work for [Al Qaeda leader] Al-Zarqawi or any Arab or non-Arab who has come to this country to settle a score with America or to keep America at bay!"

A new development

A fascinating development is revealed in a report by Erich Marquardt of strike action in support of the military resistance: "Indeed, as U.S. forces prepared for their assault on Najaf, thousands of Shi'a took to the streets in Nasiriyah and set fire to the office of Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's political party. Once U.S. and Iraqi forces began to finally assault Najaf, 5,000 al-Sadr sympathizers marched through the streets of Basra, demanding that the siege end immediately. Also, in Nasiriyah, workers at an oil-pumping station halted operations to protest the government's backing of the U.S. offensive in Najaf. A statement released by the workers explained, "We stopped pumping in protest of the inhuman conduct of the interim government and its cooperation with the occupation forces to ransack the holy city of Najaf and insult the Shi'a, their symbols and holy places."

The war is going badly for the Americans, and according a report in the Orlando Sentinel in November 2003: "
9,675  U.S. troops have been killed, wounded, injured or become ill enough to require evacuation from Iraq since the war began, the equivalent of almost one Army division, according to the Pentagon. Unlike the more than 2,800 American fighting men and women logged by the Defence Department as killed and wounded by weapons in Iraq, the numbers of injured and sick have been more difficult to track, leading critics to accuse the military of under-reporting casualty numbers.".

The war is not yet a catastrophe for the Pentagon, but if Iraqi workers do indeed start using the strikes against the occupation then the prospect of a victory for the resistance becomes more tangible.


August 2004


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