|SocialismToday Socialist Party magazine|
LAST MONTH THE leaders of US imperialism made massive tactical blunders in Iraq. By launching a revenge attack on Falluja and attempting to ‘capture or kill’ Moqtada al-Sadr, the US weakened its already crumbling political base and ignited a countrywide uprising, uniting Sunnis and Shias in a nationalist insurgency against the imperialist occupation.
The resistance was already growing in intensity and scope. On 19 January, around 200,000 mainly Shia Muslims demonstrated in Baghdad demanding immediate elections, signalling the growing impatience of the Shia majority. Armed attacks on occupation forces and suicide bombings increased. Frustration at continued unemployment (over 50%) and lack of clean water and electricity intensified.
The killing and mutilation of four US ‘contractors’ (private security guards) in the centre of Falluja led to a brutal revenge attack by over 2,000 US marines on the city of 300,000. ‘We will pacify that city’, threatened Brigadier-General Kimmitt, in the language of colonial conquerors. The barbarous attack, which claimed at least 600 Iraqi lives, provoked mass resistance. Falluja became a national symbol of resistance, bringing support from Shia insurgents throughout the country.
The US authorities also decided to ‘capture or kill’ al-Sadr, leader of the Mahdi brigades, who has a powerful base among the poor Shia population of the Sadr city area of Baghdad. The US assault on al-Sadr’s forces triggered an insurrection not only in Baghdad, but in cities throughout the country.
During the conflict, moreover, over 40 foreign workers were kidnapped. This prompted many foreign contract firms to withdraw their staff. Russia withdrew 800 personnel. Reconstruction work came to a halt, further aggravating the economic and social problems.
The insurgency inevitably subsided after some time. But as we go to press there is still an uneasy stand-off in both Falluja and Najaf, where al-Sadr has taken refuge. US military commanders are still threatening to enter Falluja unless the insurgents hand over their heavy weapons. Fighters, however, are stockpiling weapons in the mosques. Al-Sadr has rejected any compromise with the occupiers. The situation hangs on a knife-edge.
The siege of Falluja
A YEAR AGO, after the smashing of Saddam’s rotten regime, US imperialism appeared to many as an invincible military power. Now, Iraq has once again demonstrated that military power alone is not sufficient to control an occupied country determined to resist. In April alone, the US suffered over 100 military deaths, with over 900 military personnel injured. This is a casualty rate more severe than during last year’s invasion. Military commanders have been forced to request additional troops. US imperialism is now suffering from military overstretch.
"We can beat these guys [Iraqi insurgents], and we’re proving our resolve", a military officer said. "But unless the political side keeps up, we will have to do it again after July 1 and maybe in September and again next year, and again and again". (International Herald Tribune, 13 April) Yet the occupation authority now appears further away than ever from a ‘political solution’. Even some members of the stooge Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) were forced to come out against the US assault on Falluja. Plans for a handover of ‘sovereignty’ on 30 June are in complete disarray. The intervention of the UN representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, at the request of Bush and Blair, actually made the position worse. The subsequent endorsement by Kofi Annan, the UN general secretary, of US plans to postpone elections until after the transition only incensed the Shia leader al-Sistani and further undermined his support.
Bush asserts the US will ‘stay the course’ in Iraq, but has so far failed to give any indication what the course might be. "Bush", says a New York Times editorial, "needs to tell the American people in detail… how he intends to create a strong enough government to at least offer the possibility of ending the occupation some day. Otherwise it is becoming hard to see how to define, let alone achieve, victory in Iraq and to understand why it’s worth the constantly increasing toll of American lives". (International Herald Tribune, 9 April)
Senator Edward Kennedy put it much more bluntly. In a recent speech, he stated that Iraq is ‘Bush’s Vietnam’, and that the US now faces a ‘crisis of credibility’. Comparisons with the Vietnam ‘quagmire’ are commonplace in the US media. Many compared the US offensive on Falluja with the Tet offensive, a military victory for the US but with huge political costs at home and abroad.
The US assault on Falluja, which began on 4 April, was a revenge attack following the killing of four private security guards working for Blackwater Security. Scenes of the four bodies being mutilated evoked US memories of Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. Over 2,000 US marines, supported by helicopters and jet fighters, pounded the city for five days, suspending the offensive only in order to allow leaders of the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), a Sunni group on the governing council, to enter Falluja for negotiations. Militarily, the US could undoubtedly have flattened the city. Politically, however, they were forced to step back because of the strength of the resistance in the city and the widespread support throughout the country.
Hajim al-Hassani, a leader of IIP, said "using force in the way they used it in Falluja made people fight. It isn’t like these people were terrorists. They were normal people and they had children who were dying and so everybody started to fight". Many of the professional strata, who were previously prepared to tolerate occupation for a transitional period, have been pushed into opposition to the occupation.
The brutal US assault on Falluja, in the heart of the Sunni triangle, evoked enormous support from the Shia population. Shia fighters streamed into Falluja to help Sunni insurgents defend the city against the US marine assault. Poor Shia families in Baghdad gave food donations to the besieged Falluja, and then gave refuge to Sunni families fleeing the devastation.
A young member of the Mahdi army, said: "We have orders from our leader to fight as one". Falluja became a symbol of resistance for both Sunnis and Shias: "Sunni, Shia, that doesn’t matter anymore", said a young government clerk who was driving a supply truck to Falluja. "These were artificial distinctions. The people of Falluja are starving. They are Iraqis and they need our help". (International Herald Tribune, 9 April)
There has been an uneasy ceasefire, broken by frequent clashes, as we go to press. So far, the Falluja insurgents have only handed over a few token weapons, not the majority of their heavy weaponry as demanded by the US.
US attack on al-Sadr
US MILITARY LEADERS made a calculated decision to move against al-Sadr and his Mahdi army. This was clear from their move to suppress his paper, the arrest of his deputy, and the call for his arrest under a year-old warrant for complicity in a murder. These moves signalled an attempt to ‘take out’ al-Sadr. Shortly after the confrontation broke out, the field commander, General Sanchez, openly proclaimed that his aim was to ‘capture or kill’ al-Sadr.
The aim of the US exercise was to strengthen the position of the moderate Shia leaders, especially Ayatollah al-Sistani. The US generals evidently believed that they could quickly smash al-Sadr’s forces, and leave al-Sistani in a stronger position for the transition planned for 30 June.
Al-Sistani has been one of the main props of the occupying powers, a key point of support in the attempt to hand over ‘sovereignty’ to a new Iraqi government. While voicing some criticisms, al-Sistani has in effect used his influence to hold back popular opposition to the imperialist occupation, arguing against armed struggle. Al-Sistani no doubt calculated that on the basis of a new Iraqi government and subsequent elections, the Shia forces would be assured of a majority. Within a Shia majority, al-Sistani no doubt hopes that his representatives would play the leading role.
The US military, however, made a huge miscalculation. The frontal armed assault on al-Sadr and his forces triggered a mass uprising among the Shia, coinciding with the Sunni resistance around Falluja. The US triggered an explosion of anger against the conditions of occupation, the failure to improve the position of the poor, the tremendous corruption under the IGC, and military repression by occupation forces.
Incredibly, Rumsfeld and other Pentagon hawks denied that the US was facing a broad-based Shia insurgency. Rumsfeld denounced the insurgents as ‘thugs, gangs and terrorists’. General Myers, chief of staff in Washington, said "It’s not a Shiite uprising. Sadr has a very small following". (New York Times, 9 April) In off-the-record briefings, however, a very different picture was given: "But intelligence officials now say that there is evidence that the insurgency goes beyond Sadr and his militia, and that many more Shiites turned against the US-led occupation of Iraq even if they are not actively aiding the uprising". (New York Times, 9 April)
The extent of the uprising, the fury of those involved, their readiness to sacrifice themselves in a struggle against the occupying forces, demonstrated the strength of the anti-occupation mood. Apart from anger at the lack of jobs and security, there is a growing feeling amongst the mass of the population that the handover of ‘sovereignty’ on 30 June will not improve their position in any real way.
Even al-Sistani was forced to issue a statement supporting al-Sadr’s decision to act against the US forces, while at the same time calling for a peaceful solution. With such a tide of Shia popular feeling, al-Sistani could not come out against al-Sadr and appear to side with the occupation powers.
Far from tipping the balance within the Shia community against al-Sadr, the US attack strengthened his position in relation to al-Sistani. After al-Sadr took refuge in the Shia holy city of Najaf, the three grand ayatollahs, collectively known as the Marjaiah, sent representatives to talk with al-Sadr. They pleaded with al-Sadr to negotiate with the US forces, to reach a compromise, and avoid a US assault on Najaf.
An al-Sadr aide noted with satisfaction that "the Marjaiah came to Moqtada to negotiate; the Moqtada did not go to the Marjaiah". The balance of influence within the Shia community has shifted in favour of al-Sadr. By rising against the occupation authorities in Baghdad and cities throughout the South, al-Sadr became the leader of a mass anti-occupation movement. The grand ayatollahs have been forced to drop their criticisms of al-Sadr and express support. In particular, they have to use their influence to try to prevent a US assault on Najaf, clearly understanding that the destruction of the holy city would provoke an even more profound revolt.
By their assault on Falluja and the forces around Moqtada al-Sadr, the US had managed to bring about a high level of unity between the Shia and Sunni. This was recognised by the occupation commander, Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, who said: "The danger is we believe there is a linkage that may be occurring at the very lowest levels between the Sunni and Shia".
US forces are still surrounding Najaf, threatening to occupy the city. As we go to press the stand-off continues. Al-Sadr has so far refused demands from the US to dissolve his militia. He has denounced the negotiators from the Iraqi Governing Council for selling out to the Western powers. "I say that they are here to stay and will occupy us for many years and, as such, compromise will not work". Addressing thousands at prayer in the mosque, al-Sadr called for an armed campaign in the name of "the revolution of Imam Mahdi".
The de-Baathification mistake
THE APRIL CRISIS has revealed the complete lack of base of the occupation authority. The top US military commanders are now openly admitting that it was a major mistake, from their point of view, to disband the Iraqi army and purge most senior Baath party members from their positions as administrators, doctors, engineers, and other professionals. Major-General John Batiste, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, complained that a ‘huge number’ of former Iraqi military officers had been ‘completely marginalised’ by Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi army. It appears that senior British officers and diplomats made this point at the time of the invasion last year. Over 400,000 officers and ranks were disbanded by the occupying authority, sending them with their weapons into a situation of social disintegration. Abizaid, the regional US commander, is now trying to recruit 500 experienced former Iraqi officers to work with the US military – but it may now be too late to gain their effective cooperation.
At the same time, the occupying powers have come to regret their sweeping purge of Baath party members from their positions in the government machine and civilian professions. Over 120,000 senior party members were barred from government jobs. In something of an understatement, Brigadier-General Carter Han, said that the ‘de-Baathification’ policy had caused many Sunnis to feel ‘disenfranchised’ from the emerging Iraqi government: "That creates a somewhat destabilising effect". (New York Times, 22 April)
The sweeping purge of Baathists was led by Governing Council members around Ahmad Chalabi, the former Iraqi exile with a long association with the Pentagon neo-conservatives. "The fact that the widely disliked and distrusted Chalabi was put in charge of the de-Baathification programme was a mistake that still needs to be corrected", commented senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee).
Chalabi’s drive to purge the Baathist leadership reflected the desire of the exiles, many of whom belong to ruling class families who were ousted when the Baathists came to power, to get their hands on the spoils of office. In the face of the recent crisis, however, Bremer has been forced to change the policy, ordering a relaxation of the ban on senior Baathists and calling for efforts to recruit them into the administration.
It may be too late for the occupation to re-establish any influence through the co-option of the former Baathist leaders. In any case, while former Baathists may have some influence in the Sunni areas, they would face bitter opposition in the majority Shia regions of the country.
US military overstretch
MOST OF THE occupying powers’ efforts to bring about the ‘Iraqisation’ of security has been undone. "Mr Bremer confirmed that a 620-strong battalion of newly-trained Iraqi soldiers had refused to fight after members of the unit were attacked while passing through a Shia district of Baghdad". (Guardian, 12 April) Iraqi soldiers told Major-General Paul Eton, who is responsible for their training, that: "We did not sign up to fight Iraqis".
On 5 April, a newly-created Iraqi army battalion of several hundred soldiers refused to join US marines in their offensive against Falluja. According to Major-General Martin Dempsey, "about 40% walked off the job because they were intimidated, and about 10% actually worked against us". He claimed that about 50% of the Iraqi security forces stood firm. But there was "a form of descending consent" for the US military presence. "There is a point where is doesn’t matter how well we’re doing, it won’t be accepted that we have a large military presence. We are all working very diligently to try to figure out where that point is". (New York Times, 22 April) After the events in early April, it seemed completely fanciful to believe that US forces would be able to withdraw from the major cities to their bases, leaving day-to-day security to Iraqi police and civil defence forces.
When before the US-led invasion General Shinseki, then head of the US army, asserted that the US would need several hundred thousand troops to take control of Iraq, he was severely criticised by Rumsfeld. A Pentagon spin-doctor dismissed his remark as "bullshit from a Clintonite enamoured of using the army for peacekeeping and not winning wars". Shinseki, however, has been proved correct. The US is being forced to maintain 135,000 troops in Iraq, rather than the 115,000 it previously planned. In addition, 20,000 troops who have completed a year’s duty in Iraq have had their tour extended for another 90 days. Moreover, the regional commander, General John Abizaid, has admitted that the army is considering a request for additional forces.
Following the election of the Zapatero (PSOE) government in Spain, Spain’s 1,300 troops are being withdrawn, along with 370 from Honduras and 300 from the Dominican Republic. It is now far from certain whether Poland will keep its 2,460 troops in Iraq after September, when their current commitment ends. The Blair government, which currently has 8,600 troops in or around Iraq, is now reportedly considering sending another 1,700.
The US, despite its superpower resources, is clearly suffering from military overstretch. Out of ten combat divisions, only one is currently available for a new assignment, and that would mean its return to Iraq in less than twelve months, the regulation period for home recuperation. "Military analysts warn that the constant, quickening rotation of army forces risks degrading the army’s capabilities over the long term, compressing the time soldiers have for training and for repairing weapons". (Financial Times, 24 April) This problem has led to calls from some quarters for an increase in the size of the US army. Any such move would completely contradict Rumsfeld’s doctrine of smaller, high-tech military forces. Politically, an expansion of the army would signal an extended involvement in the Iraqi quagmire, and meet with strong opposition in the US.
US occupation forces are increasingly relying on private security firms, an army of around 20,000 mercenaries freelancing in the war zone. Many of the private security guards are ex-military from the US and other countries, some of them costing as much as $1,500 a day.
Military expansion would also add to the mounting economic costs for US imperialism. Emergency, combat-related expenditure in relation to Afghanistan and Iraq has already reached $150bn. US operations in Iraq are costing $4.7bn a month, and the chief of staff, General Myers, has warned that the 2003-04 emergency budget will overrun by at least $4bn. In February the White House said that it would be asking for $50bn to pay for Iraqi operations in 2004-05, but senator Chuck Hagel (Republican, Nebraska) has said that he expects the figure to be nearer $75bn.
Over 700 US military personnel have been killed in Iraq since the war began on 19 March 2003 (569 have been killed since Bush declared the end to ‘major combat’ on 1 May 2003). Over 100 were killed in April alone. According to the Pentagon there are around 1,200 service personnel who were injured in action and withdrawn from Iraq, though many believe the real figure to be much higher.
The Bush regime is going to enormous lengths to enforce the 1991 rule that prohibits the photographing of coffins of members of the armed services being returned to the US. Two US contract workers, Tami Silicio and her husband, were sacked after taking photographs of a cargo plane full of coffins draped in American flags – which was subsequently published in the Seattle Times. The White House claims the ban is to respect the ‘privacy and sensitivity of the families of the fallen’, but their real concern is clearly about the impact on public opinion of large numbers of flag-draped coffins.
The June handover: ‘symbolic sovereignty’
BUSH INSISTS THAT ‘sovereignty’ will be handed over on 30 June. This timetable is determined by Bush’s own election timetable rather than the realities on the ground in Iraq. He is desperate to give the impression of progress towards a new, ‘independent’ Iraq well in advance of the November 9 presidential elections. But the US’s plans, if they ever had any, are in complete disarray. Bremer was asked on US television to whom ‘the keys’ would be handed over on 30 June. He replied, "Well, that’s a good question, and it’s an important part of the ongoing crisis we have here now". (New York Times, 13 April)
The Iraqi Governing Council is completely discredited. Some of its members were forced to come out openly against the US over the attack on Falluja. Now Washington is even moving against Chalabi, for long the darling of the Pentagon neo-cons and previously seen by them as a prime candidate for leadership of a future Iraqi government. Bremer has come to the conclusion that Chalabi is a liability and should be discarded. The UN envoy Brahimi is particularly critical of Chalabi. Chalabi, however, whose Iraqi National Congress is heavily subsidised by Washington and who has his own private militia in Iraq, may not go quietly. He undoubtedly has the potential to cause the US a lot of trouble.
While it is unclear who will take over a new Iraqi government, it is already absolutely clear that ‘sovereignty’ will be completely hollow. US, British and other imperialist forces will remain, and they will retain the real power. Any new Iraqi government approved by the US will have extremely limited authority. The US embassy will have a staff of 3,000 who will, in reality, be the country’s real government.
The US and allied forces currently have 14 military bases in Iraq. Many, if not all of these, will be retained after ‘independence’. A key aim of the invasion of Iraq for US imperialism was to establish a strategic military base in the Middle East. This could mean around 100,000 being permanently based in the country.
The New York Times has been very critical of Bush, and repeatedly called on the US to adopt a multilateral approach, involving the United Nations. But they are quite clear that, whatever the character of the interim governing body, "Bush will not, and should not, surrender command, even if spelling that out further diminishes the symbolic sovereignty of the new government". (Editorial, 19 April) ‘Sovereignty’ is precisely ‘symbolic’, a flimsy camouflage for the continuation of US-British occupation.
Even before any handover, the US is ruthlessly forcing through the privatisation of the economy, opening up Iraq to US multinationals. The lion’s share of reconstruction contracts has already been awarded to US companies. Priority has clearly been given to the neo-liberal restructuring over restoring vital services and reducing unemployment, which is now at least 50%. It is not yet clear what legal arrangements are being proposed for Iraq’s oil wealth. But we may be sure that oil production will also be dominated by the giant US companies.
Testifying to a US senate committee, the under-secretary of state for political affairs, Marc Grossman, admitted that the new Iraqi government would have ‘limited sovereignty’. Asked whether the new government would have any chance to approve US military operations, Grossman said "we would do our very best to consult with that interim government", but American commanders would "have the right, and the power, and the obligation" to decide. (International Herald Tribune, White House Plans Limits to Iraq Sovereignty, 24 April)
Moreover, the national conference of Iraqis, proposed by Brahimi as a consultative body, would not, according to Grossman, have any power to pass or revise laws adopted under the US provisional authority. "We don’t believe that the period between 1 July and the end of December should be a time for making new laws".
Senators expressed some surprise at these limits, which appear to fall short of the measures proposed by Brahimi. Many US and European ‘officials’ are expressing doubts – off the record – whether this toothless interim government would be enough to gain al-Sistani’s support – the main objective of Brahimi’s intervention.
The UN to the rescue?
AFTER THEIR WHITE House meeting, Bush and Blair endorsed the idea of the UN being involved in the creation of an interim governing body to replace the US-controlled Iraqi authority on 30 June. This about turn on Bush’s part was forced on the US by the new crisis in Iraq. In particular, Bush’s hand was forced by the refusal of Ayatollah al-Sistani to negotiate with the US-led occupation forces. Al-Sistani called for UN involvement, while Bush and Blair are desperate to try to give some legitimacy to the occupying authority.
Top UN officials could not hide their glee at the US change of line. A senior aide to secretary-general, Kofi Annan, Edward Mortimer, commented: "It’s quite nice when you’ve been generally dissed about your irrelevancy and then suddenly have people coming on bended knees and saying, ‘We need you to come back’. On the other hand, it’s quite unnerving to feel you are being projected into a very violent and volatile situation where you might be regarded as an agent or faithful servant of a power that has incurred great hostility". (International Herald Tribune, 19 April)
The UN’s top bureaucrats are extremely fearful of taking on ill-defined responsibility in Iraq and then being blamed for any subsequent failure. Their fears are well-founded, given the hostility to the UN for its role in enforcing sanctions on Iraq, which resulted in the death of tens of thousands, especially children. Internationally, the UN is now being rocked by the corruption associated with the oil-for-food programme. Over eight years, $10bn of the $40bn programme was siphoned off by Saddam, much of it being used to bribe those assisting his regime to acquire weapons and other embargoed goods. Many of the corruption allegations come from Ahmad Chalabi, who is no doubt using them for his own political ends. There seems little doubt, however, that massive corruption took place.
The UN’s recent intervention, however, has further discredited the UN among Iraqis. Annan agreed that his special representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, should go to Baghdad to mediate between the occupation authorities and Iraqi leaders on the proposed ‘handover of sovereignty’ on 30 June. Brahimi’s discussions with Iraqi leaders were extremely limited. He was not allowed to leave the ‘green zone’ – the headquarters of the occupation authority – for security reasons.
On the basis of Brahimi’s talks, Annan concluded that the 30 June ‘handover’ date should not be postponed, but that at the same time there was not enough time to hold credible elections. That meant that the new Iraqi government would, in reality, be picked by the Americans. Brahimi claims that the UN (Brahimi) will play a part in picking the new government which, he claims, will exclude present members of the Iraqi Governing Council.
Far from enhancing the legitimacy of the UN, this recommendation was a further blow to its credibility. It was especially a blow to al-Sistani, who had encouraged UN involvement in the hope of obtaining early elections.
The former director of communications for the UN in Iraq, Salim Lone, commented: "It was astonishing the Mr Annan backed the US position on elections and the June sovereignty date when it was so overwhelmingly opposed by Sistani and the majority of Iraqis. There was a strong anti-UN outcry within Iraq, even from the governing council, and Sistani, who rarely departs from his cautious tone, made public his fury and threatened not to meet Brahimi when he returns". (Guardian, 13 April)
Al-Sistani’s prestige, in fact, was undermined by the Brahimi-Annan recommendation. Far from defusing the crisis, as Bush and Blair hoped, the UN intervention actually inflamed the situation. UN support for a handover without elections helped inflame the mass anger which erupted in a nationwide uprising against the occupation.
Ending the occupation
US IMPERIALISM FACES a painful dilemma. If it attempts to prolong the occupation of Iraq, it will face growing resistance in the country and increased opposition at home. If imperialism were to withdraw, however, without establishing a stable, pro-US regime, it would suffer a massive setback to its power and prestige.
There are many parallels with Vietnam. But the US position in Iraq, supported by Blair, is even more problematic for imperialism. The occupation, together with Bush’s support for Sharon’s policy in relation to the Palestinians, continually stokes up outrage and opposition throughout the highly volatile Middle Eastern region. Imperialism faces the opposition of the whole Arab and Islamic world.
But what would be the consequences of an early US withdrawal? Would it result in the disintegration of Iraq and a descent into even more destructive civil war? This is certainly a danger. But the April events show that continued foreign occupation is a recipe for bloody conflict and further enormous suffering of the Iraqi people.
In fighting back against the US attacks in April, there were important elements of unity between Sunni and Shia forces. Most of the fighters come from the working class and the very poor, and there were important seeds of class solidarity in this unity.
But right-wing Islamic leaders will not be capable, in the long run, of achieving national, let alone class, unity. Leaders like al-Sadr and his Sunni counterparts, although fighting imperialist forces, have completely reactionary aims. If they came to power, they would impose an anti-working class, clerical dictatorship, along the lines of Khomenei’s regime in Iran after 1979.
Only a socialist and class solution can offer a long-term solution to the Iraqi people. In the past, there was a tradition of working-class organisation and struggle in Iraq. Organised working-class forces, however, were severely repressed under Saddam’s regime, and further weakened by the rise of right-wing political Islam. Nevertheless, working-class and socialist forces should mobilise for class unity and a programme representing working-class interests.
The demand for the withdrawal of all occupying forces should be linked to the building of democratic, mixed militias, involving Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Turkomen, etc. Democratic committees should be set up, cutting across sectarian, religious and ethnic differences, to organise workers, peasants and the poor in mass opposition against the occupation powers.
The fight is not only against military occupation by imperialism, but also against imperialism’s attempts to plunder the country’s oil resources and impose a neo-liberal economic regime which will open the country to exploitation by the big multi-national corporations. Neither imperialism nor clerical dictatorship on the basis of capitalism has anything to offer for the future. A lasting transformation in the lives of the Iraqi people requires a struggle for socialist aims.