In the last weeks, armed forces calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have seized over ten northern cities in Iraq, including Mosul, one of the most important cities. This conflict is an escalation of the violence inflicted on Iraq by the U.S war of occupation since 2003. The government put in place by the U.S. is based on a divide and conquer strategy has become the basis of a civil war which has increased the horrors of life for Iraqis.
Like every population in the world, people in Iraq are defined by different cultures and religions. In Iraq this includes the two major sects of Islam, Sunnism and Shi’ism. Between 60 and 65 percent of Iraq’s population are Shi’a, and much of the remaining population are Sunni.
The U.S. put in place a government run by Al-Dawah, a Shi’a Islam-based political movement who for decades had fought Saddam Hussein with the goal of establishing an Islamic state in Iraq. The government led by Nuri al-Maliki relies on terror to rule, not only using the guns, tanks, and helicopters provided by the U.S., but also arming and funding militias that carry out mass murder and terror against the Sunni population. In urban centers like Baghdad, neighborhoods that were once mixed ethnic and religious communities have been “cleansed” by these militias, and the Sunni population murdered or driven out.
At the same time the U.S. armed and funded tribal militias in the villages and towns with a Sunni majority. The Sunni tribal and religious leaders accepted weapons and funds with a promise to keep the peace in their regions, and allow the U.S. occupation to continue.
Many media and political commentators say that Iraq has been divided for centuries between Sunni and Shi’a communities. This is a lie. Since the 1920s, Iraqis have fought against imperialism together, first against the British, then against the U.S. Even Saddam Hussein’s regime, for all its violence and ugliness, did not instigate violence among the population along religious lines.
In its efforts to control Iraq, the U.S. has funded and set in power violent forces whose politics are based on religious identity. And now the divide and conquer strategy has led to a violent explosion. In other words, the U.S. government has engineered a civil war.
There can be no question of the origin of this conflict. Since 1991 and the first gulf war, the U.S. has waged war against the people of Iraq. Through both Bush administrations, the Clinton years, and the Obama presidency, the goal of the U.S. government has been the same – to control the oil for the benefit of U.S. banks and corporations. Those who control the banks and corporations always feared that this region and its massive oil resources, would fall under the influence of one of their competitors in Europe or Asia.
In 1991 the U.S. invaded Iraq, destroying its military and infrastructure. From 1991 to 2003 the U.S. imposed sanctions making it impossible for Iraq to trade on the world market. During this time half a million children died from starvation, malnutrition and disease. Meanwhile the U.S. military kept up a constant bombing campaign. Finally in 2003, the U.S. undertook the invasion and occupation, which has led to the death of over a million people and has forced millions of people to flee. The goal of this violence – to either gain control of the oil, or destabilize Iraq so that no one could control it.
It is no wonder that Obama has announced his intentions to intervene militarily. It is a continuation of this same policy. Some 300 so-called “military advisors” are headed to Iraq to attempt to ensure the survival of the Iraqi government and the delicate balance of power they have imposed.
There is no question what the root cause of the violence is – U.S. imperialism’s policy in Iraq. We should not fall for the lies and the excuses of the politicians as they send money, weapons, bombs, and finally troops. The U.S. is the greatest perpetrator of violence in the world, and this is more true than ever today in Iraq. We should say clearly – U.S. out of Iraq!