THE International Committee of the Red Cross has issued a damning report that millions of Iraqis’ lives are threatened by foul water and diseases such as cholera and dysentery, five years after the 2003 US-UK invasion of that country that carried through a regime change after a shock and awe bombing campaign killed tens of thousands of people.

Previously the Western Powers had attempted to destroy the entire Iraq infrastructure during their bombing campaigns against Iraq and had used the UN to impose draconian sanctions on Iraq in 1990.

These caused the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis, many of them very young children, who died from lack of medicines and foodstuffs.

Since 1990, that is for the last 18 years, the western powers have been attempting to destroy Iraq as an advanced country, in order to pillage its vast oil resources.

Now the American generals are threatening even their puppet government with horrible consequences if they do not agree to an unequal treaty between Iraq and the US which will allow the US combat troops to withdraw from Iraq in 2011 but leave behind thousands of troops manning half a dozen major bases, equipped with a variety of weapons of mass destruction, to be used by combat troops, who can be flown in if and when the situation is felt to demand it.

No wonder when Iraqis are told of the benefits of western democracy they laugh, they know that its content is the death and destruction of Iraq’s sovereignty and its very existence as a modern state, leaving a huge oil-bearing desert behind.

But Iraqis have refused to die to order. They live and they fight, and they are determined to see to it that every US soldier quits their country, along with their British allies.

Meanwhile, five years after the end of the 2003 war, Iraqis are being threatened with cholera, since the water-bearing infrastructure smashed by the US and the UK over 18 years has never been repaired.

The ICRC says that the situation has not significantly improved since March 2008 when it published a wide-ranging report, ‘Iraq: no let-up in the humanitarian crisis’. This report called Iraq’s humanitarian situation among the most critical in the world.

It adds: ‘Since then, the water supply has continued to deteriorate, with millions of people relying on insufficient and poor quality supplies due to poorly maintained water and sewage systems and a shortage of sanitation engineers.’

Millions of people are at serious risk of water-borne diseases, with children particularly vulnerable.

Cholera cases peaked in a number of provinces during the hottest months of August and September.

‘Iraqis urgently need access to clean water. They try to get it from rivers and wells but these sources are contaminated throughout the country so many people become ill,’ says Patrick Yussef, Head of the ICRC sub delegation in Baghdad.

In the poorer areas of Baghdad, the streets are flooded with sewage, which seeps into the walls and under the floors of people’s houses causing them to collapse.

Now the US is seeking to export these benefits of the democratic way of life, as usual by force of arms to Syria and Iran.

Eight Syrians have just been murdered in a US raid, and yesterday hundreds of thousands of Syrians marched in Damascus, vowing to drive US troops out of the region.

Iranians feel exactly the same about the situation that faces the masses of the Middle East at the hands of US imperialism.

British workers must lend them a hand. They must make the trade unions take action against the British government until it withdraws all of its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The trade unions must be prepared to use industrial action to fight for what is right, and to help save the lives of millions of people, who are in the gunsights of US imperialism.