More than eight years into the occupation of Iraq, the US is still using the pretext of fighting Al Qaida terrorists to prolong its military presence.
The past few months have seen an intensified US pressure on the Iraqi regime to “ask” to keep some US forces.
Having encouraged the fragmentation, along sectarian and ethnic lines, of the political forces prepared to cooperate with it within and outside the regime, the US is finding it difficult to have them agree to a plan to stay in Iraq.
The biggest obstacle to US desires, however, is the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people.
The US-led war for “human rights” has cost the people a million dead, millions injured, orphaned and widowed, and millions of refugees. The US has destroyed Iraq’s infrastructure and essential services.
The US is trying to sell keeping some forces (as “advisers” and “trainers”) to fight terrorism. But most Iraqis see Al Qaida style terrorism as part and parcel of the US-led occupation.
In Washington, Iraq is still seen as a huge economic and strategic asset. Its value as a springboard for aggression against Iran and Syria is not to be underestimated.
General Wesley Clark, the former supreme allied commander of Nato, revealed the US’s war plan in an interview in March 2007.
He said that a few weeks after 11 September 2001 he was told about a memo describing “how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran”.
The neoconservatives saw in 11 September their Pearl Harbour moment—a historic opportunity for an aggressively expansionist policy.
Now, in response to the great popular uprisings threatening imperialism in the region, the US, Nato and the Arab reactionary rulers led by the Saudi royal family, are launching a massive counter-revolution.
The uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia are unfinished business, with the US-backed military juntas trying to crush the masses and maintain the domination of the ruling classes.
In Libya, Nato has so far succeeded in subverting the people’s demands for democracy and is in control of the motley collection of the leaders of the Libyan “rebels”. They, like some in Iraq, have accepted the leadership of imperialism.
And Syria is yet another reason why the US clings to its military presence in Iraq. Backed by Saudi and Qatari ruling families, the US and Israel are dreaming of another Libya.
The Syrian people’s protest movements and yearning for civil and democratic rights are being actively subverted by Nato states and Arab regimes.
The BBC has even raised the spectre of “Syria’s WMD possession”, while the Qatari-funded al-Jazeera has become a cheerleader for Nato intervention.
Sami Ramadani is an Iraqi socialist