Iraq - towards another quagmire?

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8 October 2014

British bombers are back over Iraq. With Labour's help, Cameron won the Commons' support for joining this new US-led war in the Middle-East.

Miliband joined the ConDems' warmongering, lock, stock and barrel, conveniently forgetting his alleged opposition to Blair's 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Only 43 MPs have opposed Cameron's new war, including 24 from Labour benches, with another 69 not taking part in the vote. Cameron got the blank cheque he was demanding.

Significantly though, some of those who voted against, including on Tory benches, had been part of the army personnel involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They opposed this new military venture on the grounds that it can only generate more chaos in the region. And they should know!

A blowback from the western invasion

They should know, because the ISIL Islamist militia is a by-product of twenty years of western aggression in the Middle East. Its owes its success in recruiting its volunteers, to the brutal bombings carried out by US and British forces in northern Iraq, during their occupation of the country.

During the "battle of Fallujah", in 2004, most of the city was reduced to rubble, for the sole purpose of terrorising the Iraqi Sunni minority into submission. Artillery rounds containing phosphorus were used. So much for the West's subsequent exposure of the Syrian regime's alleged use of "chemical weapons" - when this is precisely the same kind of weapon they have used themselves in the region.

In addition to the thousands of civilians who were killed and the many more who were jailed in the occupiers' prison camps, 200,000 Iraqi Sunni were displaced. This, together with the subsequent repression carried out by US-British forces, their use of torture to break prisoners and their reliance on Shia militias, forced many of the displaced Sunni to flee into neighbouring Syria.

Surviving in the harsh conditions of refugee camps in Syria, these Iraqi Sunnis had nothing to lose - and they became easy prey for the Islamist militias which were promising them revenge. It was out of this thirst for revenge that today's ISIL militia emerged and grew.

Then came the "Arab Spring", in 2011, in which the Iraqi Islamist militias joined ranks with their Syrian counterpart to launch a civil war against the Assad regime. The western leaders wanted Assad out and, despite not intervening directly, they turned a blind eye when their regional allies flooded the anti-Assad forces with weapons - assuming they did not initiate this support themselves! And this was how ISIL turned into the military force it is today.

It was therefore only a matter of time before ISIL went back into Iraq to challenge the rule of Baghdad's pro-western Shia-dominated regime.

Western forces out of the Middle East!

Today Cameron has the nerve to justify his new war by claiming that the existence of ISIL is a direct threat to Britain and that if nothing is done to eradicate it, no-one will be safe here.

Except that every bomb dropped by the West in the Middle East, every village destroyed, every civilian killed, brings new recruits to ISIL and its emulators. Gruesome as ISIL's methods may be, the West's so-called "targeted bombings" do not appear less gruesome to those on the receiving end - nor to those who feel alienated by Britain's past and present wars of aggression.

The truth is that the West's bloody enforcement of its imperialist order, to protect the profits of the big multinationals, is the best recruiting sergeant for ISIL. As long as the rich countries' armies protect the looting of the region's resources and repress its peoples, their despair and suffering will swell the ranks of the likes of ISIL.

This war goes against the interests of the populations, whether in the Middle East or here. Behind the cover of the "war against terrorism", it only reflects the state terrorism of the world's rich countries against these oppressed populations.

This is why it is in the interest of the working class of this country to oppose this war by all possible means. If the British working class movement was worth its salt, it would be leading protests in the streets to stop it. But the leaders who claim to speak in our name are just as spineless when it comes to fighting the capitalist sharks in their bloody military ventures, as they are when it comes to protecting our material interests against their profiteering.

For us, workers, opposing this imperialist war and opposing the bosses' offensive against our conditions, is one and the same task. It requires that we build our own party to represent our political interests and lead our fights.