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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 71/No. 12      March 26, 2007


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(lead article)
Iraq war escalation to last into next year
Washington ups pressure on Iran, Syria
AFP/Getty Images/Wissam Al-Okali
U.S. soldier on March 13 at military outpost in Sadr City, a working-class neighborhood of northern Baghdad, where Shiite militia led by Muqtada al-Sadr has its strongest base.

WASHINGTON, March 13—The U.S. military’s head of operations in Iraq recommended March 7 that the increased numbers of U.S. troops now flowing into that country stay through February 2008. The proposal came just a few days after U.S. president George Bush approved sending 8,200 additional soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. These troops are in addition to the 21,500 soldiers Bush announced in January he would dispatch, in the biggest escalation of the imperialist war since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

At the same time, U.S. diplomats used a March 10 “regional summit” in Baghdad with representatives of neighboring states, and of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, to press Washington’s charge that Tehran and Damascus are aiding Shiite- and Sunni-led militias fighting for a bigger share of power in the Iraqi government.

Here in Washington Democrats continue to posture in “opposition” to the war. Their latest charade is to attach amendments to a $100 billion supplemental bill on war spending that would also set Sept. 1, 2008—two months before the next U.S. presidential election—as the date for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq. As with previous proposals of this type, it faces substantial opposition from within both parties.

Bush approved the additional troops to Iraq and Afghanistan during his Latin America tour. They include 4,700 "support troops" to Iraq, of whom 2,200 of these are military cops in anticipation of more arrests of Iraqis. A brigade of 3,500 will go to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to 145,000 and in Afghanistan to 30,000.

At the regional summit in Baghdad, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki urged neighboring states to stop financing attacks and funneling weapons across their borders to Iraqi militias. Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, said the states Maliki was referring to were represented at the summit. Only the governments of Iran and Syria have been accused by Washington and Baghdad of interfering militarily.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, most of them workers, have been killed in the tit-for-tat factional fighting by militias loyal to various Shiite- and Sunni-led factions of the Iraqi capitalist class vying for power and control of the country’s resources.

Meanwhile, the bill being crafted by House Democrats provides nearly $100 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including more than what Bush requested for Afghanistan. It says that Bush would have to certify that Baghdad has met security and other “benchmarks” by the end of this year, and that U.S. troops would begin to pull out of Iraq next spring. The bill proposes that the remaining troops be out of combat roles by September 2008. Bush has said he would veto any plan that sets a timetable for troop withdrawal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also dropped efforts to attach a provision that would require congressional approval before any military attack on Iran. Widespread opposition was expressed to tying the president’s hands on Iran during a closed-door meeting of Democratic politicians, reported the Associated Press.
Related articles:
More Australian troops head to Iraq
U.S. out of Iraq, Afghanistan now!

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