Wednesday, March 14, 2007
What is happening in Iraq
One of the indispensible reads for socialists is the American paper "Socialist Worker". In the 9th March edition there is a brilliant interview with Iraq expert Michael Schwartz.
Read it here
He convincingly decsribes how the US is operating a policy of ethnic cleansing as a form of state terror to force the Sunnis into capitulation.
What’s new about this is that the operations the United States is mounting now are much more ferocious than what they have done in Baghdad before. They’re modeled after the offensives in Falluja and Tal Afar.
They’re going into these communities, and they literally go door to door, and do damage to every building. You don’t walk in the front door, because that might allow the insurgents to shoot you when you’re knocking on the door. So you blow open the front door or the side of the building, and you go in and terrorize whoever is in there.
You do give the community a chance to evacuate, but the way you do it is to first surround the communities, and as the evacuees come out, you don’t let any of the men out, because all of the men are considered suspects to be insurgents. Which is not such an unlikely suspicion, because the entire community is on the side of the insurgency.
So the idea is to drive everybody else out of the community, leave only the men there, and then kill or capture all of them. And any time you receive fire, you use overwhelming firepower--either from the ground, using artillery or tanks, or from the air, using gunships and fighter-bombers that come in and drop 500- and 2,000-pound bombs on the most recalcitrant areas. You leave the community in a state of destruction.
In this case, they by and large evacuate the community by doing this--and in the context of current Baghdad politics, that means ethnic cleansing.
The Iraqi military comes in with the United States, and the Iraqi military controls and contains the death squads. So they drive all the Sunnis out of these rebellious communities, and they take displaced Shia--and there are plenty of displaced Shia from all the ethnic violence--and re-colonize that area.
All of the Sunni leadership is saying that the Haifa Street offensive is an exercise in ethnic cleansing--in which the U.S. military has come in and cleaned out the area, and now, Sunnis are being replaced by Shia.
In this context, you can see why the guerrillas are fighting so ferociously. They don’t really have the chance to melt into the community, and then melt back in after the U.S. leaves. This new clear-hold-and-build strategy implies that the guerrillas have to fight. Otherwise, they and their families and their neighbors and their friends lose their communities.
So the fighting has been ferocious--even a month later, it’s still going on in Haifa Street. This looks like it will drag on, in the way that the offensive in Ramadi dragged on. This is the nature of the new offensive.
If we step back from this for a moment, it can’t be the policy of the U.S. to remove all the Sunnis from the city of Baghdad. That’s not really a viable policy.
So what we have to assume is that they’re trying to use these initial battles of this surge as a form of state terror--to be so incredibly brutal and thorough in their violence that the other Sunnis will give up and stop fighting. The U.S. is saying, “Give up or look at where you’re going to be: dispossessed, your community destroyed, and then taken over by Shia, and you homeless--or dead, if you fight.”
the rest of the article is equally informative about the US strategy for dealing with the shia, the prospects of war with iran, the new iraqi oil law, and the misconception that Presidential hopeful Obama is really against US occupation of iraq.