BRITISH troops have just scuttled out of Basra, leaving the various militias of the city in full control.
They have settled down at Basra airport, where the troops are not protected by the hardened defence structures of the Palace, but live in very exposed tents.
However, the mortaring of the airport has halted, as a result of a secret deal made with the Mahdi Army.
The Brits have assured the Mahdi Army that British troops are on their way out of Iraq, and in return have won an agreement that the Mahdi Army will not rain down mortars on their unprotected tents, but will allow them to get out of Iraq, avoiding what is being termed as a ‘Saigon’ moment, when panic stricken imperialist troops are forced to flee in disarray for their lives. The British command must be praying that the deal holds.
Britain has been defeated in southern Iraq and no amount of spin can deny the fact. That this defeat has put the US forces further out on a limb is also undeniable, since, in the event of the need for a rapid withdrawal, US troops will have to run a 700km gauntlet from Baghdad to Kuwait.
What undermined the British presence was the determination of the insurgents to liberate southern Iraq, and the fact that the pro-Iranian militias and political parties who returned to Iraq after May 2003 from Iran and were allowed to run southern Iraq on behalf of the British, turned nasty once the US began to go for war with Iran.
The US forces have also been defeated in northern, western and central Iraq.
Initially, they had installed a sectarian government in Iraq at the centre of which are politicians and militia leaders that spent the 20 years before Saddam was overthrown in Iran.
This government and its militias and death squads have driven two million Iraqis into exile and displaced another two million internally.
Every ministry has its own militia and torture chambers where accounts are settled.
And now the government led by Maliki is tottering while an alternative CIA agent Allawi is canvassing the US for the forces to organise a military coup to establish an alternative puppet regime.
The US military surge has won nothing. Baghdad has been flooded with troops and walls have been built in every area, similar to the wall that the Israelis have built in the West Bank, to forcibly separate the Sunni and Shia communities.
This has led to demonstrations by sections of these communities declaring that this sectarian approach is preparing the way for the splitting up of Iraq, and demanding the walls be demolished.
The US army meanwhile is breaking apart at the seams, with even General Petraeus saying that it cannot take very much more, and with other generals saying that the Iraqi occupation is breaking the US army.
Everybody knows that Al-Qaeda did not exist in Iraq under Saddam. When Petraeus was asked a question at a senate hearing whether the US occupation of Iraq had helped to make the US safer – the Bush line – Petraeus was compelled to reply that he did not know.
Faced with these massive contradictions the US has begun to withdraw, with Bush saying that 30,000 US troops will be out of Iraq by next summer.
To try and cover its rear the US has been looking for strong figures, mostly ex-Ba’athists or not so ex-Ba’athists, to run western and northern Iraq and to keep Al-Qaeda out. Bin laden was and remains a violent enemy of Arab nationalism and socialism.
The US army has begun to arm the nationalist insurgents in western and northern Iraq telling them that they will govern there, but that they must deal with Al-Qaeda.
The US is now trying to cozy up to the forces that it spent $400 billion and slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to remove from government.
These forces do not support Bush as the assassination of the Sheikh who was unwise enough to meet Bush and shake his hand shows.
This new US policy is just as desperate and bankrupt as the old US policy of supporting the Shia clergy, and just as doomed to failure.
What is required now is the unity of all of the forces of the insurgency to drive all of the occupiers out of Iraq! This moment is not too far away.