“The Coalition” Keeps Getting Smaller
While President Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing,” or “the Coalition of the Coerced” as it came to be known in the antiwar movement, was never particularly large, it was dealt another blow this week when Hungary announced that it is pulling its troops out of Iraq. Hungary’s commitment can be seen as typical of coalition members as they only had 300 troops in non-combat roles. For the most part the war and occupation have been fought by soldiers from the United States and Britain.
Fallujah, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the Iraqi Resistance
With the United States preparing for a massive assault on Fallujah, a certainty now that Bush has been elected, air strikes have begun and already civilians are being killed. The assault on Fallujah last April had a devastating effect on the civilian population with both the bombing of the main power plant, cutting off the population from hospitals, and denying people the right to leave. Six-hundred civilians were killed in the April assault on Fallujah, an assault in which the United States was effectively stopped by the Iraqi resistance.
The pretext for going into Fallujah continues to be that it is a “hotbed” of the Iraqi Resistance movement, a significant portion of which the United States believes is led by al-Zarqawi. However, Jordanian analysts familiar with the Jordanian al-Zarqawi as well as many Western diplomats point out that al-Zarqawi only has a small role in the resistance and that his efforts are convienent for the United States because it allows them to blame the resistance on a particularly gruesome individual rather than understanding that it is, to a large extent, ?ordinary? Iraqi people who are participating in and supporting the resistance. Whereas the United States assigns a great deal of legitimacy to al-Zarqawi by giving him an undue amount of attention, al-Zarqawi is trying to foment a civil war in Iraq by targeting Shiites rather than resisting the occupation. Moreover for antiwar and anti-imperialist movements in the Western world, the fixation of both the United States government and the corporate media on al-Zarqawi makes it difficult to support the legitimate portions of the Iraqi resistance.
Massive Attack on Oil Pipeline Indicative of Flawed Reconstruction Plan
Four oil pipelines in northern Iraq were attacked in a coordinated assault that cut off some exports to Turkey. Oil pipelines have long been legitimate target of the Iraqi resistance movements, no doubt encouraged by the privatization of oil and the Coalition Provisional Authority’s (CPA) taking oil production out of the hands of Iraqis. While the United States should have been preparing for a plan that would both make a serious effort to secure the basic safety of Iraqis as well as rebuild Iraq?s infrastructure, the United States was instead developing elaborate plans to create a sort of “free-market fantasy world” in Iraq where most industries and services were up for privatization and corporate tax rates were low, and perhaps most shocking, this restructuring of the economy was written into the Iraqi constitution by former CPA head L. Paul Bremer.
As a by-product of the effort to create a perfect climate for foreign corporations, the reconstruction of Iraq suffered. Of the $21.4 billion allocated by the US Congress for reconstruction, $13. 4 billion has been obligated to rebuilding contracts although only $5.2 billion has been spent. Similarly, there has been little aid from other countries, with only $2.7 billion of a pledged $13.5 billion delivered to Iraq, where it must go through a complex contracting process before work actually begins. Much of the funding has also been mismanaged through widespread fraud, waste, and corruption, as well as outright theft.