[Marxism] Moving on - Thoughts on Iraq

g.maclennan at qut.edu.au g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Fri May 7 19:07:13 MDT 2004

We should not let the Abu Ghraib scandal even though it is of 
absolute importance; draw attention away from what is 
happening on the military front.  We are witnessing, or at 
least we should be, the killing fields around Najaf and 
Kerbala.  The al-Sadr militia is being caught out in the open 
and it is being slaughtered with helicopter gun ships etc.

The war for territory cannot be won by the present tactics of 
the Mahdi Army. Information is sketchy at best, but the 
picture emerges is of young men rushing to confront the 
Americans and being caught out without cover and being 
massacred.  This would seem to reflect a lack of military 
know how in comparison to the mujhadeen who successfully 
defended Fallujah.

The capture of Muqtada himself would appear to be imminent.  
Especially as he has been fingered by the "moderate" al-
Sistani and the other Ayatollahs.

So the Shiite rebellion is being put down.  It will now have 
to morph into a low intensity operation and I have no doubt 
it will.  But it will also have to develop a political 
program beyond the vague Shia utopia of a clerical 
dictatorship based on the Iranian model.  The Shiites, and 
Muqtada in particular will have to reach out to the Sunnis 
and join in their guerrilla war.  To do that they will have 
to break with the al-Sistani, al-Jafaari and the al-Hakim 
clans. Perpetuating illusions in al-Sistani will get Muqtada 
killed. Simple.

It is early days and very difficult to call what is happening 
from here.  But I am wondering if we are not also witnessing 
a return to the favoured formula of Imperialist powers in 
Iraq.  This would put a Sunni strong man in charge and keep 
the Shia heavily suppressed. This also means abandoning the 
neo-con dream of a heavily garrisoned Iraq, firmly within the 
American camp in political, cultural and economic terms.  But 
the Americans lived for a long time in happy cooperation with 
a Sunni lead dictatorship and they might return to that.  

I call this the "Mobutu solution" based on the Congo crisis 
of the 60s. As Phil has tirelessly pointed out dictators are 
out of favour within this latest phase of imperialism, but if 
the crisis is deep enough, and it is in Iraq, then we might 
see a return to the old formula of a corrupt right wing thug 
who uses clientage and patronage and torture to rule on 
behalf of what used to be called the "free world".



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