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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

British Double Agents & Other News From Iraq


Autonomy & Solidarity has an interesting article on just what those British undercover agents in Iraq might have been up to when they were apprehended by Iraqi police after a mob attacked them. Were they tracking jihadist cells - or were they participating in or even setting up terrorist groups? The article delves into the history of British intelligence double agents in the IRA to point out that there is at least precedence for that kind of thing.

The always interesting AsiaTimesOnline website has a provocative article on the Iraqi Insurgency, in which a Lebanese journalist asks the obvious question:
"Why are Americans condemning foreign fighters in Iraq? Are they including themselves in this category, or considering themselves native fighters of Iraq?"
It delves into the nature of the insurgency and the strategies involved. Particularly of interest to those involved in anti-war organizing should be the message that Iraqi insurgents don't just want the US to leave; they want it to leave on their terms. Said in a way that has meaning for us in the anti-war movement, the US could very well leave Iraq entirely absent domestic pressure, as long as it can do so on its own terms. But insurgents don't like those terms (nor should they). Anti-war folks can learn from this one simple thing: if we want to make sure that the US is not able to win some or all of its war-time goals through withdrawl, we need to make that option impossible. The conditions of the withdrawl are at least as important as the withdrawl itself.

Currently, the US is trying desperately to transition to Iraqization, which, as the article points out, essentially means substituting Iraqi casualties for American. But the Iraqi forces are no where near ready to take on this task, which, it's worth noting, would only amount to accomplishing US goals by other means. Which explains why insurgents are so keen on killing Iraqi security troops. A recent Washington Post article reported that Iraqi forces have taken casualties of about twice that of US forces, which is quite amazing given that their numbers are so small. Remember, of the 100 Iraqi battalions the US is standing up, only one is currently rated ready for combat on its own. One battalion is 750 men.

Meanwhile, in a surprising case of American car culture coming back to haunt us a world away, the Boston Globe reports that the government is investigating car theft rings in the US that might be linked to the Iraqi Insurgency. It seems that a surprising number of autos used in carbombs in that country have come from the United States. Iraqi bombers like them because American cars in the US are better able to sneak up on American convoys without arousing the suspiscion that the smaller cars more popular in Iraq do. Plus, gargantuan American domestic cars, once stripped of their non-essential parts, can hold more explosives.

But irony is never far from a warzone, and Iraq is no exception. The Iraqi Parlaiment acted today to reinstate the death penalty for "those who commit...terror acts," and "those who provoke, plan, finance and all those who enable terrorists to commit these crimes." Those with longer memories might recall that the former American governor of Iraq, Paul Bremmer, abolished the death penalty after the invasion. Of course, Bush's pro-death penalty position only heightens the irony.

Beyond the military situation in Iraq, Corpwatch reports, in depth, on the situation of non-Western foreign workers in Iraq. The massive low-wage army has gone mostly unremarked on by American journalists. Unlike American contractors, for instance, these third world workers get lousy pay and suffer terrible conditions, including death by American or Iraqi fighters. For instance, despite a Philippines government ban on travel to Iraq, there are an estimated 6000 Filipino workers in Iraq. While the US government admits there is no way to know exactly how many foreign workers are in Iraq, it isn't reluctant to point out the benefits of the low-wage labor force. They're much cheaper than American troops. With large amounts of US trickle-down dollars funnelled through top-down government agencies and US corporations, it's no wonder that billions of dollars have turned up missing and yet so little of it has made it down to the workers?

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