Iraqi Elections: “The calm before the storm”

Today they are ringing their bells. Tomorrow they will be wringing their hands.” (Walpole)

The propaganda machine was well oiled and ready to roll into action. The speeches had been written weeks in advance by clever people in Washington. The Iraqi elections were an outstanding success, a victory for democracy; millions of ordinary Iraqis were queuing up to cast their vote for freedom. The rule of the gun had lost, the rule of democracy had won. The future of Iraq was bright, and so on and so forth.

The television screens showed a large number of people displaying every sign of jubilation at being able to cast a vote for one of the hundred or so parties on the electoral list (which was said to have resembled a large table cloth). How different from the bad old days of Saddam Hussein! Old men wept in front of the TV cameras. For the first time in 50 years they had the right to freely decide on who ruled them and the destiny of the country! “We only had military coups and revolutions before. We voted ‘yes’ or ‘yes’. Now we vote for ourselves.”

So much for the official legend: the reality, however, was considerably different. The press commentators boasted that there was a huge turnout that “could be as many as 75 percent”. This is the first lie. Nobody knows the turnout and the results will not be known for days. What is definitely known is that there were whole areas of the country – mainly the Sunni areas – where hardly anyone voted. Heavy insecurity made campaigning almost impossible everywhere outside the Kurdish areas and a few cities in the Shia south. The atmosphere was tense everywhere, the streets deserted, the eerie silence broken only by the occasional thud of an explosion.

In all, almost 50 people were killed across Iraq on Election Day. If this was supposed to represent some kind of “return to normality”, it was a very strange kind of normality. So bad was the security situation that there were repeated calls by Sunni groups for the elections to be postponed. But all were rejected by the Americans and the interim Iraqi government. They feared that if they waited any longer, splits would open up in the Shia camp, where the issue of collaborating with the USA in these elections is very controversial. In an article on January 25 entitled The calm before the storm the Economist warned:

“Militants in Iraq have declared ‘bitter war’ against democracy and are feared to be saving their resources for massive attacks during this weekend’s elections. The insurgency, which shows no signs of abating, is only one of several serious worries about Iraq’s future.”

These dire predictions were subsequently borne out. The article concluded: “Despite the relative lull, there is little cause for optimism that the insurgency is abating, nor that it will do so once a new Iraqi government is in place.”

Although the results will officially not be known for days, everyone knows who will win. Just as the triumphant speeches were written weeks ago in Washington, so the victor was “elected” months ago, also in Washington. The USA requires elections in Iraq, not to give power to the Iraqi people, but to install an obedient stooge in Baghdad and to give a legal cover to their illegal occupation of a supposedly sovereign state.

“Washington’s favourite”

It is clear that not all the enthusiasm was stage managed – though the elections certainly were. After decades of suffering under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, and above all after nearly two years of constant war, chaos, death and destruction, most ordinary Iraqis long for peace and stability. Sometimes, the desire of the masses for a normal life is so strong that they confuse illusion with reality, and, at least for a time, the illusion is stronger than reality. The hopes of the Iraqi people were cruelly manipulated by Allawi and his US-organised propaganda machine. Jonathan Steele in Basra wrote in The Guardian (Monday January 31, 2005):

“In a country of huge unemployment this classic populism [of Allawi seemingly giving some concessions] may have been as significant as his image as a ‘strong leader for a safe country’, as his campaign slogan put it. The prime minister was also helped by huge name-recognition in a field where most candidates had little chance or time to get themselves known, especially in conditions of heavy insecurity which made campaigning almost impossible everywhere outside the Kurdish areas and a few cities in the Shia south.”

Since most of the 111 party groupings contesting the elections were forced to keep secret the names of all but their most senior leaders until election day, those Iraqis who cast their ballots yesterday, will have had little idea whom they are electing for the 275-seat national assembly and 18 provincial assemblies. But there was one candidate whose name was well known and widely publicised. The incumbent leader, Allawi, was heavily financed from the USA and had a virtual monopoly of the media:

“Television coverage became the crucial weapon. Mr Allawi was constantly in the news, and he also dominated the paid advertising on the satellite channels. What funding he had from US sources, official or unofficial, is not clear but he is certainly Washington’s favourite.”

In a country under foreign occupation, a country entirely dependent on the USA for money, “Washington’s favourite” stands an excellent chance of winning! However, given the extremely complex ethnic and religious equation, it is possible that he will not be the front man but will rule from behind the scenes. That is not the main question. The main question is that the elections in Iraq were a gigantic and cruel fraud. Those Iraqis who voted were voting for peace, jobs and houses. They were voting for self-determination and to get rid of the hated foreign occupiers. But they will get none of these things. And whoever is named formally as the president and prime minister of Iraq, Washington will still be in control.

Is this democracy?

“But we must give democracy a chance, even if it is not perfect.” This argument does not stand the slightest scrutiny. Democracy means that the people can freely decide who rules them and determine their own destiny. How can this be the case when a country is occupied by foreign soldiers? The state is essentially armed bodies of men, and the only armed bodies of men in Iraq are American troops and their allies. What power can an Iraqi government have when it is sitting on American bayonets?

The army and police are two fundamental supports for any government. How can a government be said to be free if it has no force to defend it or carry its decisions into practice. And the Americans will make sure that they keep control of “security” firmly in their hands. This means that Washington will hold state power, not the government of Baghdad, no matter how many votes it is supposed to have received.

The US imperialists from the very beginning have played on the national and religious differences that have always existed in Iraq. They have tried to base themselves on the Kurds and Shias against the Sunnis, which were the main base of support for Saddam Hussein. It is true that the Kurds and Shias were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussein, but that does not mean that the American imperialists are their friends, as history shows.

The governments in Washington and London were completely indifferent to the sufferings of the Kurds and Shiites of Iraq in the past. If they are using them now it is only part of a cynical intrigue to split the national liberation movement and thus ensure that they will control the destinies of all Iraqis – Kurds, Shias and Sunnis alike. It is clear that many Shias voted in these elections – under the influence of their leaders – with the intention of making their voice heard after decades of suppression. But their hopes are destined to be dashed.

The Americans wanted these elections in order to elect a puppet government whose first action would be to invite them to stay. But the overwhelming majority of those who cast their vote on Sunday had a very different idea. Robert Fisk commented: “No one I met on Sunday believes the insurgency will end – many thought it would grow more ferocious – and the Shi'as in the polling stations said with one voice that they were also voting to rid Iraq of the Americans, not to legitimise their presence.”

This is the kiss of death for the Americans and their Iraqi stooges. The problem is that they have given the Iraqi people the illusion of power, and the people will not be satisfied with a mere illusion. This is particularly true of the Shias, whom the Americans have been trying to use against the Sunnis to weaken the insurgency. There is no doubt that among a big part of the Shias there were considerable illusions in the elections and their outcome, illusions that have been systematically encouraged by some of their leaders.

Robert Fisk reports the words of some of these Shia voters: “I came here,” said a young man in the Jadriya polling station, “because our grand marja told us that voting today was more important than prayer and fasting.” An older man beamed with delight. “My name is Abdul-Rudha Abu Mohamed and I am so happy today,” he said. “They must elect a president from us and we must be one with all Iraqis – and we must have justice.” But justice is what they will not get from these elections.

Jonathan Steele writes: “Even if the Shia religious parties were to get more seats than Mr Allawi in the assembly, they would probably help to keep him in power as a gesture to the Americans. Mr Allawi is a Shia so from that point of view he is acceptable to the Shia clerics. None of the big religious parties is in a mood to confront the Americans. The best-known radical Shia, Moqtada al-Sadr, was not running.”

The power behind the throne

The new government is supposed to work out a new constitution. The 275 members chosen yesterday for the national assembly will in theory be in charge of this. But in fact the script will be written by the Americans, and in any case if the government controls neither the armed forces, police nor finance, the constitution will just be a useless scrap of paper – yet another cynical lie, like all the others that surround the whole issue of Iraq like an opaque and venomous fog.

Although Allawi will be the power behind the throne, it appears likely that his group will be beaten by the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), a Shia coalition that claims Mr Sistani’s approval (though he has not endorsed it publicly). To dispel fears that the coalition is seeking to make Iraq an Iranian-style theocracy, one of its leaders, Adnan Ali, insisted in Monday’s New York Times that they planned to form a secular administration in which clerics would hold no ministerial posts: there would be “no turbans in the government”, he said.

This would immediately cause a split with one of the coalition’s key figures, Abdelaziz al-Hakim, a cleric who has until now seemed a leading candidate to become prime minister after Sunday’s elections. If the UIA wins, the prime minister’s job is likely to go to a secular Shia, such as Adil Abdul Mahdi, currently Iraq’s finance minister, or Ahmed Chalabi, a former American stooge who has fallen out with his erstwhile friends in Washington. The stage is therefore set for one government crisis after another. The growing fractures in Iraqi society will find their reflection in a fractious parliament and a government of crisis. Along this road no stability is possible.

The outcome of the present situation cannot be a genuine democracy. Allawi is preparing himself for the role of a Bonapartist dictator, whose despotic rule will be camouflaged by the existence of an impotent parliament and an obedient government propped up by American guns and money. Significantly, Allawi, decided to stand on his own ticket rather than seeking to ally himself to the Kurds and Shias with whom he is in coalition in the present government. He is aiming to turn himself into a Bonapartist strong man, manoeuvring and intriguing between the different national and religious factions and parties, while always basing himself on the foreign troops and disbursing money from his rich uncle across the seas to bribe and corrupt his fellow “democrats”. Dollars and guns are powerful arguments! On this basis he can put together some kind of administration. But how long will it last?

The whole thing is being held together by the very feeble glue of promises and secret deals. It will not last long after the elections. All the contradictions will come to the fore. The assembly will have the task of appointing a three-person presidency, which will pick the prime minister. This will almost certainly be Ayad Allawi, or if not, some other American puppet. But in the horse-trading that will commence today, with all the complexity of the Byzantine court, new contradictions will open up that will cause further dangerous instability.

Nobody will be satisfied

In pursuing their vicious game of intrigues, the Americans will have made promises to many groups that they cannot keep. In their indecent haste to hold sham elections, they have aroused unrealistic hopes. The Shias are about 60 percent of the population and will demand the majority in the government. But this will further enrage and alienate the embittered Sunnis and alarm the Kurds. In the end nobody will be satisfied.

By playing with the national question the Americans are playing with fire. If the constitution does not give sufficient rights to the Kurds in northern Iraq, it may provoke them to break away. This would open up a new and bloody chapter and might even lead to the break-up of Iraq with horrific results. This was admitted by the Economist:

“Unless great efforts are made to make them [the Sunnis] feel that their views are being taken into account, the constitution could thus become another spark that helps ignite a civil war. Or several: prolonged chaos across the rest of the country could prompt Iraq’s Kurds, in their relatively peaceful northern provinces, to make a bid for independence, possibly triggering a war over the bitterly disputed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Keeping a lid on all of this, while resisting the temptation to revert to Saddam-era repression, will be a colossal challenge for the new government that Iraqis—or at least those brave enough to vote—will choose this weekend.”

With or without elections and constitutions, the crucial issue for Iraq over the coming months is the development of the insurgency and the question of foreign troops on Iraqi soil. Compared to these questions all the rest are really insignificant. The fact is that the insurgency, far from decreasing, is increasing by the day.

The anger of the masses in the next period will be all the greater because of the illusions that have been spread in the electoral period. The disillusionment will be particularly severe among the Shias, who had the greatest hopes. Allawi (with US money) attempted to bribe the electorate by increasing pensions and salaries for teachers and other government workers as well as the police. “Elect me and there will be more to come!” That was his message. To parts of this war-torn, bleeding and hungry nation, it must have been an attractive one. Unfortunately, it has no more substance than the mirage in the desert that promises water to a man dying of thirst.

Iraq suffers from huge unemployment, especially among the youth, and Allawi’s promise of jobs will have had some resonance. But there is no way to achieve this promise unless some semblance of normal social and economic life is restored and there is no way this can happen until the occupation of Iraq is brought to a close. Allawi’s campaign slogan was “strong leader for a safe country”. But this is just another empty phrase. Allawi the American stooge cannot bring peace and security. The new government will be immediately faced with new uprisings, chaos and instability.

Is Al-Qaeda behind the uprising?

The western media are playing up the role of al-Qaeda in Iraq. This is a bitter irony. Before the Americans invaded Iraq there was no al-Qaeda presence there. All the claims to the contrary were part of the campaign of disinformation to whip up public support for the war. Now, as the result of the criminal occupation of Iraq and the brutality of the occupying forces, al-Qaeda has a base in Iraq – thanks to George Bush! But they are a small minority in the national liberation movement, probably no more than ten percent.

The newspapers exaggerate the role of men like the notorious Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a brutal and reactionary Jordanian fanatic allied to al-Qaeda, who declared “a bitter war against the principle of democracy and all those who seek to enact it” and called on fellow Sunnis to attack “infidel voters”. But in fact many of the Iraqi insurgents are not opposed to democracy. What they are fighting for is self-determination, to free their country from a hated foreign army of occupation and to decide their own future freely.

The western media also exaggerate the degree of division between the different national and religious groups in Iraq. In the short term, it is true that one group – the Sunnis – have suffered more than others. Yesterday’s vote was on a simple system of proportional representation with the whole of Iraq treated as a single constituency. This does not reflect the complex mosaic of Iraq’s population. The big losers were the Sunnis. It is clear that the Sunnis will be under-represented in the assembly. This will give a further impulse to the insurgency in the Sunni areas, already embittered and alienated by the ruthlessness and brutality of the occupying forces.

Robert Fisk asked a Sunni Muslim security guard what he thought would be the future of his country. He had not voted – in many Sunni cities only a third of the polling stations opened – but he had thought a lot about this question:

“You cannot give us ‘democracy’ just like this. This is one of your Western, foreign dreams,” he said. “Before, we had Saddam and he was a cruel man and he treated us cruelly. But what will happen after this election is that you will give us lots of little Saddams.”

The remarks of this man are highly perceptive and describe fairly well the situation that will emerge from the elections. The next Iraqi government is likely to be similar to the present coalition of religious and secular groups, heavily dominated by former exiles. Under the temporary constitution the prime minister picks the cabinet, which is then approved by the assembly. All the different factions will be fighting like cats in a sack to get their interests represented in the new constitution. The Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential Shia cleric, was firmly in favour of participating in the elections. Indeed, issued a fatwa compelling the faithful to cast their ballots.

People like Sistani, it is true, are manoeuvring to increase their power at the expense of other national and religious groups. But the issue of Shia dominance is often exaggerated. They are the biggest population group in Iraq but it does not follow that they would want to enforce Shia domination over other communities. What most Shias want is the right to be accepted as equal citizens in a truly free and democratic Iraq. It is a just aspiration that they share with all genuine Iraqi democrats.

At present it would seem that the insurgents are mainly drawn from the Sunni Arab minority. But that will change. The Shias would naturally like to have a Shia prime minister after decades of rule by leaders from the Sunni minority, whether it was the king imposed by the British or, later, Saddam Hussein. But they do not speak with one voice, any more than any other of the national or religious groups in Iraq. There are rich and poor Shias; there are Shias more inclined to collaborate with the imperialists but they are a minority. The majority of the Shiite population hate the foreign invaders just as intensely as their Sunni brothers and sisters.

This means that splits will soon open up in the camp of the Shias. The truth is that they are already deeply split. The radical wing, representing the majority of poor and downtrodden Shias, will join the insurgents in a few months. They will join hands with the insurgents in the Sunni areas. Robert Fisk was absolutely right when he wrote: “ if this election produces a parliamentary coalition which splits the Shi'as and turns their largest party into the opposition, then the Sunni insurgency will become a national uprising.”

The imperialists seek to sow disunity among the different national and religious groups in Iraq. But genuine democrats and revolutionaries will fight for unity in struggle and a common anti-imperialist front. This militant unity of the national liberation struggle is the best hope for the future unity of a democratic and independent Iraq.

Insurgency growing

President Bush warned Americans recently that the insurgency will probably get stronger. The paradox is clear to all but the blindest of the blind. The elections were supposed to give greater legitimacy to the next Iraqi government, since it will have been elected by Iraqis rather than appointed by Americans. But in fact it has no legitimacy at all and cannot have any as long as a single foreign soldier remains on Iraqi soil.

These elections will solve nothing. In reality the Americans are in an impossible position. The occupation of Iraq is costing them an astronomical amount of money – at least a billion dollars a week. That is apart from the appalling loss of life on both sides. The pressure will be on George Bush to establish a clear timetable for withdrawal. But he is between a rock and a hard place. If he pulls out any time soon, the puppet government will collapse and whatever government replaces it will not be friendly to Washington. This would defeat the whole purpose of the exercise! America would suffer a humiliation in the eyes of the world like that she suffered in Vietnam. On the other hand, if he stays, the colossal drain of blood and gold will continue and become politically and economically ruinous.

Having gotten themselves into a mess, the US imperialists would like to find a way out. They would like their Iraqi puppets to take on the burden of defending themselves against the insurgents. They are trying to speed up the training of Iraqi forces and start the process of handing security responsibilities over to them, so that the American troops can retire to heavily armed camps outside the cities where they hope they are immune to attacks. Alas! This is easier said than done.

Nobody doubts that the insurgency will continue, at an ever higher intensity, for long after the elections. President Bush is expected to ask Congress early next month for a further $80 billion for America’s military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has already approved $120 billion for Iraq (and $60 billion for Afghanistan). The Economist admitted:

“The re-formed Iraqi security forces are still a long way from being able to take on the insurgents without the help of troops from America, Britain and other allies. Earlier this month, the Pentagon sent a retired general, Gary Luck, to assess the state of military operations in Iraq. He has recommended that the training of Iraqi forces be accelerated, and that the number of American military trainers working alongside them be raised sharply. But they are likely to remain weak, disorganised and prone to desertions and infiltration.”

The correctness of this analysis has been demonstrated in action time and again. Hungry and desperate Iraqi youths join the National Guard in order to obtain a crust of bread for their families (they are well paid as long as they stay alive). But as soon as they have to fight, they desert en masse or go over to the insurgents. This was shown in November 2004 when the insurgents took over the key city of Mosul in the Kurdish North of the country and held it for some days while the National Guard fled. The Americans were forced to retake it on their own.

The Iraqi government is weak, corrupt and demoralised. Moreover, it uses the same repressive measures as Saddam Hussein, as the Economist points out:

“Just as worryingly, some Iraqi security men seem to be reviving the sort of torture and abuses of prisoners that were routine practice under Saddam Hussein, according to a report this week from Human Rights Watch, an American group. Its findings will horrify observers from outside Iraq. However, they may not do much damage to the electoral prospects of the interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, and his coalition, the Iraqi List, who have been campaigning on a tough law-and-order platform.”

These words are very instructive! Here we see the real face of the Iraqi regime – not the smiling face of democracy that the saccharine official propaganda wishes to present to the world but a cruel, corrupt despotism that is not qualitatively different from the old dictatorship that it was supposed to have replaced. The Allawi regime combines some of the worst features of the regime of Saddam Hussein with the horrors of foreign occupation and general economic, cultural and moral decline. It is a complete blind ally.

Brutal face of occupation

In a film called Exit Strategy, shown last night (Sunday, January 30) by BBC’s Panorama programme, BBC world affairs editor John Simpson reporting from Baghdad, made a devastating critique of the US policy in Iraq. Answering all the propaganda about the elections, Simpson stated simply: “I have never found a single Iraqi who would agree with the statement that Iraq is better off now, or that it has a bright future.”

He painted a devastating picture of American troops who were in mortal danger the moment they left their well protected bases, of an ever growing insurgency and of an angry and disaffected population.

The BBC has learned that coalition and Iraqi troops may be responsible for killing 60% more non-combatants in Iraq than the insurgents. The civilian death toll for the last six months is contained in confidential records obtained by Panorama and released on the programme.

More than 2,000 civilians were killed by the authorities, while insurgent attacks accounted for 1,200 deaths. The data issued by this programme covers the period 1 July 2004 to 1 January 2005, and relates to all conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries recorded by Iraqi public hospitals. The figures exclude, where known, the deaths of insurgents. The figures reveal that 3,274 Iraqi civilians were killed and 12,657 wounded in conflict-related violence during the period. Of those deaths, 60% – 2,041 civilians – were killed by the coalition and Iraqi security forces. A further 8,542 were wounded by them. Insurgent attacks claimed 1,233 lives, and wounded 4,115 people, during the same period.

These figures are only approximations, of course, but when John Simpson tried to get the US authorities to verify them he did not get very far. Panorama interviewed US Ambassador John Negroponte shortly before it obtained the figures. He told John Simpson: “My impression is that the largest amount of civilian casualties definitely is a result of these indiscriminate car bombings. You yourself are aware of those as they occur in the Baghdad area and more frequently than not the largest number of victims of these acts of terror are innocent civilian bystanders”.

Unofficial estimates of the civilian toll vary from 10,000 up to 100,000. But the prestigious Lancet magazine estimated that the number of civilian deaths could be as high as 100,000. Nobody knows. There are no official records for the numbers of Iraqi casualties since the start of the conflict. Naturally! The Coalition is only interested in giving the (maximum) number of figures for enemy fighters killed and (minimum) figures for US soldiers killed. Civilian deaths (known in the trade as “collateral damage”) are of little or no interest. For the sake of the media circus they always insist that they take the greatest care to avoid such deaths, but, of course, such things regrettably occur.

Simpson was told that the Coalition did not keep any figures on civilian casualties, and he was referred to the Iraqi Ministry of Health. However, the Iraqi Ministry of Health figures are usually available only to members of Iraq’s cabinet. The number of innocent Iraqi men, women and children killed in this dirty and barbarous war are a closely guarded secret! The coalition has yet to respond to the figures.

When one sees the appalling photos of destruction and death in Fallujah, the hypocrisy of the assertions to the effect that the Coalition always respects civilian lives becomes all too clear. When the US forces attacked the town they showed a callous indifference to human lives and property, blasting away at everything that moved. They bombed and shelled houses and shot at refugees trying to escape the mayhem. Paradoxically, most of the rebel fighters got away before the well publicised attack was launched.

Nobody will ever know how many lie dead under the rubble of Fallujah. The big majority of the casualties were ordinary men, women and children. A quarter of a million people were forced to flee, and even now seventy percent of that shattered city is closed to its former inhabitants. The effect of this act of barbarism was predictable. The Americans claimed to have killed 12,000 insurgents. Maybe. But the martyrdom of Fallujah has created ten, twenty or a hundred of new resistance fighters for every one they killed. The masses have come to hate the very name of America. Even those who had previously supported the US invasion have now become its sworn enemies. This is what Bush and Blair have achieved after barely two years in Iraq!

America is facing defeat

There is no way out of the morass except by forcing a complete withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq. Almost 1,400 American military personnel have been killed in Iraq so far. Many more have been injured and more still are having to serve longer-than-expected periods away from home. Troop levels have been boosted from 138,000 earlier this year to around 150,000, to provide added security for the elections. Military commanders’ hopes to bring the numbers back down to 138,000 by the middle of the year now look hopelessly optimistic.

One third of the American troops in Iraq are reservists and National Guardsmen. This fact alone shows a fatal weakness. The American Head of Resources recently admitted that these forces were rapidly degenerating into a demoralised force. This explains the incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners and the systematic ill-treatment of Iraqi civilians. But every incident of ill-treatment and torture, every civilian house shattered by a bomb, every refugee shot whilst trying to escape, is another nail in the coffin of US imperialism in Iraq.

The USA is the mightiest power on earth. But it was defeated in Vietnam by a barefoot guerrilla army, and it will be defeated in Iraq by a ragged army of insurgents. However, in both cases, the real defeat will be at home. Faced with this ghastly scenario, there is a change in the mood of the American people. They have been deceived, lied to and misled from the beginning. But as Abraham Lincoln said: you can fool some of the people all of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

Already 70 percent of US citizens think the war in Iraq has carried an unacceptable casualty cost. For the first time a decisive majority of American people – fifty six percent – have reached the conclusion that the war was not worth fighting – an 8-point increase compared to last summer. The hawks in the White House are losing support, and sooner or later this mood of discontent will manifest itself in a new and massive wave of protests that will shake America to its core.

The situation is quite simple. After almost two years attempting to “convince” the people of Iraq of the blessings of western civilization and democracy with the weighty arguments of rockets, bombs and bullets, they have run out of arguments. They will have to cling on for a time – months, perhaps years, but the final result is already determined.

In the end US imperialism will be forced to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs. It will leave behind a bloody trail of ruined cities, shattered bodies and lives and a never-dying bitterness against imperialism that will sow the seeds of new uprisings and struggles until finally, not just Iraq but the whole of the Middle East will find the strength to throw off the heavy yoke of imperialism and its monstrous twin, capitalism. Only then will the people begin to breathe freely.