Expectations of an early withdrawal from Iraq are premature. Only broader resistance is likely to break the American grip
Thursday August 9, 2007
".....What is clear is that the US has already suffered a strategic defeat in Iraq. A flagrant act of aggression intended to be a demonstration of untrammelled US imperial power to impose its will on the heart of the oil-producing Arab and Muslim world has instead demonstrated a fatal vulnerability to "asymmetric warfare". It's also true that, as a senior US intelligence officer told the Washington Post this week, "the British have basically been defeated in the south". Far from keeping rival militia from each other's throats, over 80% of violent attacks in the area are directed against British troops.......
The greatest danger to both the resistance and the wider campaign to end the occupation remains the Sunni-Shia split, fostered since the invasion in classic divide-and-rule mode. Throughout the occupation, armed resistance has been concentrated in mainly Sunni Arab areas. Whenever it has spread to the Shia population - as it did in 2004, when Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi army fought the Americans - the potentially decisive threat to US control from a genuinely nationwide resistance movement has become clear. Now armed resistance by the Mahdi army has re-emerged, against the British in Basra and the Americans in Baghdad, where the US lieutenant general Raymond Odierno has claimed that most attacks during July were by Shia fighters.
But while acutely aware of the need to make common cause with Shia groups and the danger of the breakup of the country, the new Sunni-based resistance front refuses to have anything to do with the Mahdi army because of its role in sectarian killings and on-off participation in the floundering US-sponsored government. Meanwhile, the US is seeking to draw some on the margins of the Sunni-based resistance into the orbit of its anti-Iranian, anti-Shia regional alliance.
The history of anti-colonial and anti-occupation resistance campaigns shows that success has almost always depended on broad-based national movements. But the embryonic resistance front has got to be a positive development if it holds together. Not only could the creation of an alliance with a common programme help open up cooperation with Shia anti-occupation forces now, but if there is going to be a stable post-occupation settlement in Iraq, that will have to include all those with genuine support on the ground. Sooner or later, the Americans are going to have to negotiate with these groups. "