Thursday, October 19, 2006

They must go, and soon

By Haifa Zangana
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Johnson knew it was the right advice to follow, but he chose to stay the course. It took the US another 10 years to withdraw its soldiers from Vietnam. Three million Vietnamese were killed, 15 million were displaced, over one million persons had to flee the country, infrastructure was destroyed and 58,000 Americans killed, and far more injured.

The same is happening in occupied Iraq now.

The latest study by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health published in The Lancet, estimates that a total of 654,965 Iraqi people -- nearly one in 40 -- have died violently since the American-led invasion of the country in March 2003. Maliki's government, though, was keen to discredit the report and its conclusions. While Iraqi morgues, hospitals and streets bear witness to the daily carnage, Ali Al Dabagh, spokesperson for the government, stood, shamelessly, in the fortified Green Zone to argue "methodology". He did not argue responsibility or the morality of the killings.

The pre-planned descent into hell is so rapid that no fatwa can stop it.

The reason is not difficult to extrapolate. The last few months witnessed a surging escalation in targeting journalists who work for organisations considered relatively independent. The attacks are seen by Iraqis as means to intimidate journalists and prevent independent reporting of the scale of the carnage unfolding in Iraq.

Parliament spent some time arguing how to punish Al-Sharqiya television and Azzaman newspapers for reports considered unacceptable by the "democratic" government. Ruling groups objected to the suggestion that their voting for "federalism" under occupation amounts to fragmenting the country and encouraging sectarian and ethnic civil war.

Politically, Maliki's government is totally isolated from the people and unable to provide what any government should: security, basic services, and dignity to people in their daily lives. With no real power, it is consumed from inside, like an old wooden ship eaten by termites, by sectarian, ethnic division, but above all by corruption, militias and death squads.

No wonder that support for the popular national resistance is increasing with most Iraqis celebrating the success of attacks on occupation forces.

In the last year, the so-called "Sunni triangle" has expanded to defy any geometrical definition. Occupation forces and their camps have been under attack in the north, centre and south of the country daily.

The neocns have failed in Iraq. A poll conducted for CNN suggests support among Americans for the war in Iraq is declining to an all-time low. Just 34 per cent say they support the war, while 64 per cent oppose it. On the other hand, polls in Iraq, like the one conducted this month by a University of Maryland team, show the hardening of Iraqis across all provinces against occupation. Seventy-eight per cent across Iraq's 18 provinces now find the presence of US troops the main cause of the bloodletting with over 60 per cent openly telling pollsters that they support attacks on occupation forces.

Like in Vietnam, Algeria and South Africa, the only option for occupation forces is to negotiate their exit with the Iraqi people and the resistance. Indications are that that is what is happening. Yet the US stalled the Vietnamese for years before leaving. Let us hope they learn from experience and take their cue soon."

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