IRAQ: Sacrifice & Resistance

At the recent World Economic Forum, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Mohamed Shia Al-Sudani, said that US and allied troops must leave his country, calling it a “a necessity for the security and stability of Iraq.” We can add that ALL US and allied troops should leave their bases abroad, since wherever they go they leave a trail of death and destruction.

Currently, there are (officially) 2,500 US troops in Iraq, with nearly 1,000 in Syria, ostensibly as part of an anti-IS coalition put together in 2014, but in reality, there to protect US interests. In 2020, the US assassinated Iran’s Qassem Soleimani, a key figure in the support for Iran’s allies in the country who were fighting against IS, along with the commander of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. After their assassinations, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel NATO troops from the country. In flagrant defiance of Iraq’s sovereignty, they still haven’t left.

Those forces have used their presence in Iraq to carry out military strikes against so-called Iranian proxies, such as the Popular Mobilisation Forces. However, it should be pointed out that these forces are Iraqi, their members are those who grew up amid US occupation and the resistance to it. In fact, the PMF itself was made a part of Iraq’s armed forces for its role in the fight against IS, being a semi-official militia group.

On February 2nd, US strikes on Iraq killed 16 members of the PMF. The PMF is a part of a coalition called the Islamic Resistance, which has carried out attacks on US bases which are working with the Zionist regime in its genocidal attacks against Gaza. While Western media outlets stick to a simplistic ‘Iran proxies’ narrative about these groups, they never refer to Israel’s military as a US proxy. Neither do they refer to the US proxies in Iraqi Kurdistan as being proxies.

What is clear is that the US War on Iraq never really ended, just as it did not really begin in 2003. The roots of imperialism’s claims on Iraq go back to the then US support for Saddam Hussein in the brutal Iran-Iraq war, and the subsequent turning on their former ally after the war in Kuwait. Nothing can better sum up the role of the US in Iraq than the infamous Highway of Death where US bombing murdered hundreds of civilians.

US sanctions laid the groundwork for the future military invasion of Iraq, with sanctions decimating the public health and education systems. Women and children paid a disproportionate price with over half a million children murdered as a direct result of US economic sanctions. When asked in public whether the deaths of half a million Iraqi children was worth it, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated directly that “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it”.

The First Gulf War also saw the parroting of the infamous “incubator babies” propaganda lie, where Iraqi troops were reported – without evidence – as throwing babies out of incubators to die. How similar is this to the Israeli narrative about Hamas’s supposed atrocities on October 7th, used to justify the murder of children in Gaza? It would seem that Israel has copied its patron’s own tactics.

It is not surprising that those who grew up amidst devastating sanctions, ferocious NATO bombing, massacres, the sell-off of Iraq’s sovereign public wealth, would side with the people of Gaza, and take concrete steps against the forces who act as the biggest backer of the current genocidal onslaught.

As an article in PBS states, “the presence of American forces in Iraq makes it more difficult for Iran to move weapons across Iraq and Syria into Lebanon, for use by its proxies, including the Lebanese Hezbollah, against Israel.”

As Iraq faces internal instability, a public health crisis caused by US sanctions and the US-led invasion of Iraq – where the health service was privatised and handed over to private capital – and climate breakdown leading to hunger across the country, its people have made clear they stand with the Palestinians. It is because of that the US continues its war on the Iraqi people, and indeed, all the people of West Asia.

As the Iraqi Communist Party points out:

“The escalation of Palestinian popular resistance came as a legitimate response to the heinous crimes that Netanyahu’s fascist government, the occupation forces and settler gangs continued to commit against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza.”

– G. Harrington, CPI International Newsletter, Vol. 2 2024