Recent days have found a media feeding frenzy at the trough of the “National Reconciliation” plan by the US puppet “prime minister” of Iraq, Nuri al-Maliki. This “plan” was clearly a political move orchestrated from within Pentagon and State Department circles in preparation for the upcoming November mid-term elections in the US and has effectively changed, on the ground in Iraq, approximately nothing.
Broadcast by the corporate media and lapped up by US politicians and other groups, the day after it was announced the “plan” had its key element – that of granting amnesty for resistance fighters, removed. Apparently, the “plan” aimed to show some sort of political progress in Iraq.
It is amazing to witness that people, even many within the anti-war movement in the US, seem willing to believe anything presented by Maliki, including this “plan.” A man who was inserted into his position after Jack Straw and Condoleezza Rice visited Baghdad in order to brush Jaafari, the prime minister chosen by the supposedly-elected Iraqi parliament, aside. Do we need any clearer evidence of who pulls the strings of Maliki?
The aim of the “plan” seems to be to give the impression that the Iraqi resistance should cooperate with the occupiers and their puppet government, a regime which, rather than serving Iraqis, works diligently to serve themselves. This “plan” was offered by an illegitimate government that clearly does not serve the interest of the Iraqi people. For if this so-called Iraqi government truly represented the wishes of the vast majority of Iraqis, the first thing they would have done when they came into power would have been to demand a withdrawal of all foreign occupation forces and demand reparations from the occupiers.
Do we need any more proof after three devastating years of occupation that the “political process” in Iraq has solved nothing and remains a total failure?
Iraqi resistance groups rejected the “plan” because they do not recognize the Iraqi “government” as a legitimate entity. These same resistance groups understand that under international law, the current Iraqi “government” controls nothing outside of the “green zone,” and its existence violates the Geneva Conventions. In addition, the Iraqi government’s “army,” composed of various sectarian and/or ethnic groups, rather than being an effective, cohesive military, is nothing more than a haphazard collage of militias and death squads loyal only to their own various militia or religious leaders.
This “army” has brought nothing but chaos, suffering and death to every city, town, village or institution it has visited, and while sectarian and ethnic politics are played out in the so-called Iraqi government, the agenda of the Bush administration rolls forward unabated.
One must look behind the media frenzy around the “plan” to get a clearer idea of what is actually occurring in Iraq.
I recently spoke with Antonia Juhasz, author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. A foreign policy expert, Juhasz writes, “The corporations, the neoconservatives, and the George W. Bush administration are three interlocking groups with fluid demarcations. Iraq represents several things to these players: oil, wealth, regional power, and global power. Iraq presents them with the first opportunity for a truly imperial invasion [And] as president Bush has repeatedly said, Iraq is only the beginning”
At the World Peace Forum in Vancouver, Canada, Juhasz told me that the Bush/Cheney junta and their cronies are having great success in Iraq. “Iraq is producing and exporting almost as much oil as it was prior to the invasion,” she said, “and Exxon, Chevron, Conoco, Shell, BP and Marathon are all profiting from it.”
Juhasz added that if there isn’t massive change in Iraq soon, all of the US imposed economic contracts (25-40 year contracts), will effectively eviscerate what is left of the demolished Iraqi economy. In two months, laws will be passed by the puppet government, and six months after this the contracts of the Western companies, (read “Big Oil”) will be implemented.
“Production Sharing Agreements (PSA’s) are what the Bush administration and the corporations they serve want,” Juhasz told me, “This enables the US oil companies to have control and access to oil that they didn’t have access to before the war. And as we all know, that is what this has been about all along.”
She added that the permanent military bases in Iraq are to be used for providing security for the oil companies.
When one looks at the tragic situation on the ground in Iraq today, it is and always has been clear that the objective of the US military in Iraq has never had anything to do with providing security to the Iraqi people.
In contrast to the seemingly rosy “plan” presented by Maliki, I offer an update from my friend in the Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya in Baghdad:
I’m still living alone at home, with everybody in my family out of the critical area. For the 5th day the black crows (Al-Mahdi Army, Sadr’s militia) have been trying to get inside Adhamiya, in vain, from all directions. The fighting has been continuous, from 8 o’clock at night until early in the mornings.
Last night, the fighting was from all directions and started at 11:30 p.m. and ended at 3 o’clock in the morning. Six were killed yesterday in the southern part of our neighborhood. Anter Square, the main part of the city, is guarded by the Iraqi National Guard (Sunni Personnel) who were using heavy machine guns to defend the people of Adhamiya. In the other parts of Adhamiya, the river side was guarded by civilians of the Mujahedin. The fighting has been very severe, but the Shia militia did not get inside the area.
Why do the Americans and the militias they are backing cut the wires of our electricity every day? Isn’t it sufficient to have electricity less than four hours per day? Is that not enough suffering to please them? For the fifth time we have repaired the wires.
The Mehdi and the Americans want people to leave the area but they will not succeed. We are ready to repair our electricity at any time and the transformers have been changed twice this month. We will not give up, no matter what. We will not give up our way of living. This is just a small part of the reality the people of Adhamiya are living.
Meanwhile, a refugee from Ramadi recently found his way to Baghdad. Imagine coming into a city seeking refuge where large districts, like the aforementioned, are under siege. The man, Ahmed, reported the following to my colleague Nora Barrows at KPFA radio about the condition in his city, which is being assaulted by US forces:
There were many helicopters, and the market area was burned while the helicopters were shelling. For instance, there were clashes in the main street of Ramadi by the mosque. Most of the bullets and bombs were coming from the sky, and they burned many stores and cars that used to belong to civilians. When they attacked the market area, there was a car parked close by and it was shot and bombed. People said, “My life is worth more than a car,” so they tried to stay indoors or they tried to take shelter inside a mosque. Anything that moved – cars, people, anything – they got bombed and shot at.
The weapons of the American troops were very hard to identify. They have everything and they carry all kinds of weapons with them. You can see them carrying every kind of weapon they can, such as grenades, M-16s and many other kinds that we have never seen before. They use tear gas and grenades very often. For instance, there were two big tanks entering a very narrow street shelling everything: cars, houses, generators. They shot at whatever they could target. People could not look from the windows because of the [American] snipers. I saw the Americans in their tanks checking the areas. They were very hesitant and scared to leave their tank. They didn’t even look from the tankís window because they were afraid of being attacked or shot at. Fighters were everywhere.
Things have grown so terrible in Baghdad that my friend whose neighborhood has been under attack by one of the Shia militias went to the main bus station in the capital in order to look into leaving. This is a man who when I’ve requested he leave for his own safety told me, “Mr. Dahr, I cannot leave. My heart is in Baghdad.”
This is what he wrote me about his trip to the bus station:
Hafidh Al-Daqi is a square in Baghdad where the buses leave towards Amman and Damascus. It’s in the middle of Baghdad near the broadcasting station. The area received attacks from personnel from the Interior Ministry for the third time, and the most recent attack (last week) was followed by twenty workers there being kidnapped. They were kidnapped by the Interior commandos while officials from that ministry denied any relation with it.
Yesterday the area was attacked once more, and today I was there to see what was going on. I found hundreds of people from all generations with their bags ready to leave for Amman or Damascus. I was shocked to see all of these Iraqis leaving. I asked a 40-year-old man who sells tickets, Abdul Sattar Aboud, what it cost to ride on a bus of 40 people. He replied, “It’s 120,000 Iraqi Dinar ($80 – The average monthly wage in Iraq is $150.) for a chair in an air conditioned coach, but people are ready to pay whatever is necessary in order to escape, since they are very eager to leave. There are no people coming back to Iraq, so that’s why the prices are of little concern to them. My office was smashed ten days ago in the last attack. I lost three of my workers. I don’t know who took them or where they are now.
The mother of one of those detained by the Interior commandos, 65-year-old Um Abass, was there looking for her son. She told me, “My son Abbas was working with this office for three years. He is in his middle thirties, married with three kids, and he was very satisfied to work here so he could feed his wife and three kids. Only God knows how they are going to live with no supporter now. I won’t leave this office unless my son comes back. Our neighbors are looking for him every day. They go to the morgue daily, and whenever they hear a body has been found anywhere. All we have is God to look out for us now. I blame the government for this lack of security. Why do the commandos come with their official cars and kidnap those who are not responsible for any of the violence?”
She started to cry. She was moaning for her son.
A manager at the bus terminal, 70 year-old Ahmed Alwan told me there were no vacancies. “You cannot find a seat now, and reservations for them for the next ten days on all our vehicles are impossible,” he told me when I asked about buying a ticket. “Come back in a week and then we will give you the prices.”
I asked him if there was any way to find a seat if I came back tomorrow. “No way,” he replied. I asked what a seat cost now if one was available. “125,000 Iraqi Dinar ($83), and within a week it might be increased. Yesterday here the shootings were everywhere and scared the passengers. Everybody hid wherever there was a place to hide. Two of the passengers were injured and taken to the hospital. Yet still you see, despite the threat of being killed here, everyone is trying desperately to leave.”
Meanwhile, the oil companies and other corporate cronies who the Bush cabal represents are making great progress in solidifying their presence in Iraq.