PRIME Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced yesterday the withdrawal of the 600 Japanese troops from Iraq by the end of next month. These ‘non combatant’ forces have been based at Samawa in Muthanna Province, southern Iraq, for nearly three years.
This followed Monday’s report from the US quisling Iraqi government that its forces would take over security in Muthana Province, which has been occupied by a British-led force. Labour’s Defence Secretary Des Browne was in Baghdad for the occasion.
Clearly, the Japanese government is fearful for the safety of its forces after the withdrawal of 800 British troops, with their protection in the hands of the ‘Iraqi security forces’.
The British troops will not be coming home, however, half are expected to be redeployed to Nasiriyah, in Dhi Qar Province, to help plug the gap left by the 1,600 Italian troops that will be withdrawn between September and the end of the year.
This was the first bad news for US President George Bush and his servant Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday.
On top of this, the bodies of the two US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division, captured on Friday near Yusufiya by a force of Iraqi resistance fighters, were found in the street near the town.
Sections of the bourgeois media are now disparagingly describing how the 44-nation-strong ‘coalition of the willing’, put together by Bush and Blair when the occupation of Iraq began in May 2003, has become the ‘coalition of the reluctant’, with few adherents.
In 2004, Spain withdrew its 1,300 troops after the right-wing People’s Party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was defeated by the Socialist Party in the general election.
Earlier this year, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia lost the general election there and the new government is withdrawing Italy’s troops from Iraq. Netherlands, Ukraine, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Honduras have also quit.
So there will be 130,000 US troops, 7,200 British forces, 420 Australians and a few hundred more in the occupation forces.
Bush, Blair, Berlusconi and Aznar spearheaded the imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Now they are down to two!
This is a tribute to the sacrifice, determination and the growth in the number of people actively participating in the Iraqi resistance movements and their level of organisation.
It is also the result of the continuous anti-war mobilisations in the countries that sent troops to aid the US imperialist occupation, the aim of which was to recolonise the country, grab Iraqi oil and and set up strategic bases there to threaten all the peoples of the Middle East.
US-British operations in Iraq are becoming more precarious by the day and, as the Japanese withdrawal shows, nobody believes that the quisling ‘Iraqi security forces’ will be able to maintain order. The grisly imperialist occupation, with its killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, torture and corruption, is being defeated.
The occupation must be ended immediately and the Iraqi people must get their right to self-determination, so they can decide their own future and how they will utilise their oil resources for the benefit of the people.
With the overwhelming majority of working-class and middle-class people in Britain opposed to the occupation of Iraq and with the trade union conference season in full swing, it is time for trade unionists to insist on action to withdraw British troops from Iraq now.
The Spanish and Italian workers have forced the withdrawal of their countries’ troops.
Pious words of protest about the war by union leaders, who refuse to call action against the Labour government’s militarism, amounts to going along with the war crimes being committed against the Iraqi people. Such leaders must be replaced with those who will act.
Trade unionists must mandate their unions to call strike action and insist this is coordinated through the Trades Union Congress so that there is a general strike until British troops are withdrawn from Iraq.
This Blair regime maintains its intransigent position of keeping the British army in Iraq alongside US forces, so it must be forced out of office and replaced by a workers’ government that will withdraw all troops.