Thursday 26 June 2003

Bring the British troops home

Resistance to the occupation of Iraq is a response to its tyranny

The long-awaited uprising in Iraq has begun - not to welcome the invaders as some imagined, but to demand their withdrawal. The spread of resistance to the south and the killing of British soldiers around Amara on Tuesday might have come as a surprise to the British public. But such developments have been anticipated within Iraq for several weeks.

The US administration is trying to convince us that it is the "remnants" of Saddam's regime that are resisting the occupation. We are invited to believe that Saddam's "fanatical" supporters, who were not prepared to die for him when he was in power, are engaged in astounding heroics after he has been deposed and the Iraqi state machine crushed. Much of the British media has been willing to go along with this deception, which helps to cover up the truth about the developing dirty war in Iraq.

It doesn't need much investigation to see that Saddam's tyrannical regime is being rapidly replaced by a tyranny of the occupation forces, who are killing Iraqi civilians and unleashing Vietnam-style "search and destroy" raids on Iraqi people's homes. Meanwhile, Iraqis are making it abundantly clear that what they want is freedom, independence and democracy: the same burning desires they had during Saddam's dictatorship. They have been marching in their millions since the downfall of the regime shouting "La Amreeka, La Saddam": No to America, No to Saddam. This call is now uniting most Iraqis - with the notable and I believe temporary exception of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The invasion of Iraq has developed into a colonial war, while popular sentiment is far outstripping the political programmes of the main Iraqi political organisations. That is evident in the way they have rejected the plans put forward by Paul Bremer, the head of the US occupation administration, for an appointed advisory council and called for a speedy transfer of power to Iraqis.

Contrary to the mythology propagated in the US and British media, popular sentiment in Iraq was always strongly against the invasion. With very few exceptions, at no time did Iraqis confuse their hatred of Saddam's brutal tyranny with their opposition to his White House sponsors. And popular opposition to the occupation and its terror tactics is the real force behind the rising tide of armed resistance.

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