PRIME Minister Brown was yesterday midway to giving up his ‘there is no timetable for a withdrawal from Iraq’ line – imposed on him by President Bush – when he told MPs that British forces in Iraq will remain at a strength of 4,100 ‘for the next few months’.
In fact he has been repeatedly told by his military chiefs that they want to get out of Iraq at once, since they are adamant that the British army can no longer fight two wars at the same time.
Brown told the House of Commons that he expected ‘a further fundamental change of mission’ for UK troops early in 2009. In other words, the Basra base would be handed over to the Iraqis and outside of a group of trainers, the mass of the British troops will have departed to Afghanistan.
Yesterday the House of Commons Defence Committee was playing at Walter Mitty when it said that the security situation in Iraq had been ‘transformed’.
This ‘vision’ allowed the committee to focus on the maintenance of a training commitment to ensure Britain maintained an influence in Iraq, as the country – ‘potentially one of the biggest oil-producers in the Middle East’ – regained its sovereignty.
It added that the success of an anti-militia operation, largely carried out by the Iraqi Security Forces with British and US support in Basra, had led to a ‘seismic shift’ in the balance of power in the city, which was now controlled by the Iraqi army.
In fact, the major part of the city of Basra remains under the control of the Mahdi army which was able to rout the Iraqi army, despite its backup of US and UK troops, in the recent fighting.
The Mahdi army and the other Iraqi nationalist forces are now preparing for the battle that will take place after the US presidential elections when President Obama begins the withdrawal of the mass of the US forces, over a 16 month period.
As soon as this is underway the Maliki regime will be overthrown.
All movements are now focussing on this situation.
The attempts by President Bush to get the Maliki puppet regime to sign a security deal granting permanent US bases and thus the continuing occupation of Iraq by the US has ground to a halt.
The simple reason is that all sections of Iraqi society, outside the Green Zone government, are determined to see an end to the US-UK occupation.
There is also a massive determination amongst the Iraqi masses not to allow the privatisation of any section of Iraq’s massive oil resources, and to maintain the nationalisation of the oil and gas industry, the jewel in the nation’s crown.
Maliki has had to bow to these pressures and openly declare that he is at one with Senator Obama over the need for US forces to withdraw.
In the course of this struggle the members of the Maliki cabinet who were loyal to Moqtadr al Sadr have left the government, and been replaced.
The US and Iraq will not come to an agreement on a long-term security pact before the July 31 deadline, while the UN resolution authorising the US presence expires on December 31 2008, about when the new US president takes office.
The requirements of the developing struggle will see the Iraqi nationalist forces from the Ba’athists, to the Sunni-led Awakening Councils and the Mahdi army driven together by the need to deal with the pro-US rump ensconced in the Green Zone that has continually displayed its willingness to sell off Iraq to the imperialist powers.
They will also have to deal with the Maliki allies, the pro-Iranian political movements and militias that returned from Iran in May 2003, and allied themselves with the United States, namely the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) and the Badr Brigade.
The current events in Iraq bring to mind the last days of the US occupation of Vietnam and the fate of the ‘much strengthened’ puppet government that it left behind.
There the last US troops (trainers no doubt) had to leave the country hanging onto the rails of helicopters from the roof of the US embassy, while the puppet regime was smashed by a massive upsurge of the masses.
We are not too far away from such a revolutionary moment in Iraq.