[Marxism] 'Militant' blames "Baathists" for anti-Shia bombings, citing no evidence, and paints colonial elections as blow to Sunni domination

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Dec 25 02:17:38 MST 2004


There are no doubt many views on the list about the Iraqi elections.
But I am pretty sure that noone holds this one -- although some many
feel duty bound to defend it as merely a particular assessment of the
facts and an expression of "workiing class" perspectives on the war.
Fred Feldman



Killings of civilians in Iraqi cities
show desperation of Baathist forces 
(front page)
 
  
AFP/Getty Images/Ahmad al-Rubaye 
 
Damage from December 19 bombing in Najaf that killed 52 Iraqi civilians 
 

BY MICHAEL ITALIE  
Two car bombings December 19 in the majority Shiite cities of Najaf and
Karbala killed nearly 70 people and wounded as many as 175. Iraqi
officials said police have arrested 50 suspects in the baombings, and
banned cars from entering sections of downtown Najaf in an effort to
prevent similar attacks. 
The bombings were aimed at Iraqi civilians, especially Shiites, who were
targets of widespread repression under the former Baathist regime of
Saddam Hussein. The one in Najaf took place in the middle of a funeral
procession and the attack in Karbala occurred at the city's bus
terminal. The nature of the attacks and the reaction to them inside Iraq
indicate the increasing isolation of the "insurgency," which lost its
base in Fallujah since the city's takeover by the U.S. occupation forces
in mid-November. These bombings also show that the attempts by Baathists
and their allies to stop the march toward the U.S.-orchestrated
elections for an Iraqi national assembly are becoming more desperate. 

Statements by U.S. and Iraqi officials and actions by most political
forces in Iraq indicate that the elections are likely to be held as
scheduled on January 30. 

Meanwhile, Washington has stepped up its political pressure on the
Syrian government, charging it with sheltering former officers of
Hussein's regime and becoming a conduit for funding the groups that have
carried out kidnappings and beheadings of hostages and armed assaults on
civilian and military targets. 

On December 21 a mortar and rocket attackbombing at on a U.S. military
facility near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul killed 22, including 13
U.S. troops. and More than 70 were wounded more than 50, according to
U.S. officials. Media reports indicate that Ansar al-Sunna, a Sunni
Muslim group, took responsibility for the attack, whose targets were
U.S. and Iraqi troops, and non-Iraqi "contractors." 

These attacks, and the execution of three employees of Iraq's
Independent Electoral Commission on a busy street in Baghdad December
19, were aimed at disrupting the elections planned by the interim
government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. 

No one has yet taken responsibility for the car bombings in Najaf and
Karbala or issued statements explaining their purpose. 

Those who carried out the bombings were aiming for the maximum number of
civilian casualties among the Shiite population, which makes up about 60
percent of Iraq's population of 25 million. 

The destruction was greatest in the car bombing in Najaf, where 54 were
killed and 142 injured, the Associated Press reported. The bomb went off
during a funeral procession in a central square crowded with people in
this city 100 miles south of the capital. "In Karbala, a suicide bomber
detonated his vehicle amid minibuses at the entrance to the city's bus
terminal," said a New York Times dispatch from Baghdad the next day. The
director of a nearby hospital said 14 had been killed and 52 wounded. 

Haidar al-Ubadi, a top official with the Dawa party, a key component of
an alliance of leading Shiite-based parties, blamed Sunni forces from
the Wahhabi branch of Islam for the attack. "The Wahhabis are being fed
intelligence from the Baathists to carry out this slaughter," al-Ubadi
said. "We will hand them victory if we respond in kind." 

Another Shiite cleric, Muhammad Bahr al-Uloum, charged, "They are trying
to ignite a sectarian civil war and prevent elections from going ahead
on time." 

The Saddam Hussein regime had its main base of support among a wealthy
layer of Sunni Arabs, who recognize that the January 30 elections could
register a crowning blow to their former domination. A new government
brought into office with relatively little disruption of the election
process would have greater authority among Iraqis and internationally
than the one installed by U.S. imperialism more than a year after the
March 2003 invasion. 

The U.S. takeover of the city of Fallujah in November was a powerful
military blow to Baathist groups and their allies. Following the brutal
U.S.-led assault on Fallujah, more evidence has been made public of the
central role played by remnants of the Hussein regime in organizing the
attacks on U.S. forces and the Iraqi interim government. 

Having lost their territorial base in Fallujah, the Baathist-led forces
have tried to regroup in sections of Mosul and other former Baathist
strongholds, and more and more are turning to desperate attacks on
civilians. The isolation of these armed groups is also demonstrated by
the fact that the two largest Sunni-based political parties have decided
to participate in the elections, along with the parties with majority
support within the Shiite population and the Kurdish groups in the
north. 

Washington has taken advantage of these kind of attacks to push ahead
with the January 30 elections as the only "democratic" alternative for
Iraqis, and increase the pressure on the Syrian regime to clamp down on
Baathist forces operating from its territory. 

Washington's imperialist allies in the "coalition of the willing" have
continued to back the U.S.-led occupation-all have maintained their
forces in Iraq since the Spanish government withdrew its troops earlier
this year. British prime minister Anthony Blair traveled to Baghdad
December 21 where he confirmed London's support for Washington's
military campaign in Iraq and for holding the January 30 elections on
schedule. Rome and Tokyo have followed suit. In early December the
Japanese government extended the deployment of its 600 soldiers in Iraq
for another year. Simultaneously, a layer of the Japanese ruling class
is seeking to take advantage of the "war on terrorism" to press for a
new military plan that will increase the size of Tokyo's armed forces. 

At a December 20 press conference, U.S. president George Bush continued
Washington's threats against the government of Syrian president Bashar
Al Assad for allegedly aiding Baathists who are "funneling money to the
insurgents" in Iraq. "We have sent messages to the Syrians in the past,
and we will continue to do so," said Bush. "We have tools at our
disposal, a variety of tools ranging from diplomatic tools to economic
pressure. Nothing's taken off the table. And when I said the other day
that I expect these countries [Syria and Iran] to honor the political
process in Iraq without meddling, I meant it." 

A year ago, U.S. Congress passed the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese
Sovereignty Act, which gives the president the authority to impose a
range of sanctions against Damascus, from banning exports to Syria to
freezing Syrian assets in the United States. The legislation demands
that the Syrian government prevent armed groups opposed to the U.S.
occupation of Iraq from entering its country; shut down the offices of
Palestinian groups that Washington labels as "terrorist"; withdraw its
troops from Lebanon; and halt any development of medium- and long-range
missile systems. 

As a reminder of the "tools" Washington has available, the U.S. military
ordered fighter jets to strike positions of "extremists" along the
Iraqi-Syrian border in early December. 
 
 





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