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Issue #1654      September 3, 2014

No Australian forces to Iraq!

Once again Australians have been dragged into armed conflict in the Middle East by the Abbott government’s sycophantic subservience to the United States, which is now conducting air attacks against the fundamentalist “Islamic State” (IS – formerly ISIS) forces that have conquered much of Iraq and Syria. The Abbott government initially expressed caution about getting involved, but then without even waiting for an official request from the US volunteered Australia’s services.

Instead of getting the pre-approval from or even consulting Parliament first, the government rushed in with the support of Labor’s Opposition leader Bill Shorten. The Abbott government refused requests from the Australian Greens for the government to give an explanation to Parliament.

The Greens have deep misgivings about Australia’s involvement in Iraq, as does independent Andrew Wilke, and will give notice of a bill requiring parliament to debate and approve Australia’s participation in armed conflict overseas.

Australia, Britain and the US plan to use military aircraft in humanitarian rescue exercises and weapons supply, with the support of US allies Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Referring to the persecution of religious minorities by IS, Tony Abbott hypocritically declared: “… no human being anywhere would wish to stand by and watch the preventable slaughter of innocent people”. If he really meant that, why is he sitting by and watching the massacre in Syria or Gaza? It all comes down to supporting the pro-US forces even if they are terrorists.

IS has certainly committed terrible atrocities. However, Iraq could be saved without the commitment of Western troops, by providing material and financial support for an anti-IS united front of Iraq’s national groups.

“In the difficult circumstances caused by this ordeal, our party calls upon all the political and social forces, parties, blocs and organisations, and in particular the forces that are in power at the level of the federal government, the Kurdistan Regional Government and the local authorities in the provinces, to unify their stance and efforts in the face of terrorism and the gangs of ‘Isis’ and their barbaric acts,” the Iraqi Communist Party said in a statement from its Political Bureau.

“The recapturing of the areas seized by ‘Isis’ and eliminating it are urgent and immediate objectives that require mobilising all national efforts. This necessitates accelerating the efforts to overcome the existing differences between the Federal [Iraqi] Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and to achieve the broadest possible cooperation and coordination at both the political and military levels to ward off the dangers threatening Iraq,” the statement concluded.

To achieve this, the new Prime Minister needs to set about forming an all-encompassing national unity government that is able to address the daunting tasks facing the country at this historic juncture.

But religious divisions fostered by the US and others in Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations have been critical in defeating attempts by left and progressive forces to unite citizens of those countries in opposition to US interference in their affairs. Moreover, where it stood to benefit, the US has previously supported forces based on religious fanaticism (including the Taliban in Afghanistan).

The US claims to have persuaded the new government that all national groups should have parliamentary representation for IS to be defeated. But the West (including Australia) is now arming the Kurds as a separate heavily armed pro-US entity, which could invite resentment, division and conflict, not unity.

The war behind the wars

But the wars in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria are linked because they have all resulted from US plans to retain its position as number one superpower, to control global oil supplies (most of which lie within Russia and the Middle East), and continue as world banker for oil transactions, with the US dollar as the trading currency.

The US currently rakes in more than US$1 billion each day as a result of the international agreement to denominate oil exclusively in US dollars, and to recycle surplus oil proceeds into US Treasuries. (See “My money’s on Putin”, Guardian #1653, 27-08-2014)

But the petrodollar arrangement is under threat. China and Russia have been trading oil in euros and more recently in their own currencies. If the other oil-producing nations follow their example and dump the US dollar as the international oil trading currency, the US would suffer a financial catastrophe. One of the main reasons for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was the former Iraqi government’s plan to abandon the petrodollar arrangement and set up a multi-currency oil trading scheme.

Syria and Iran have already discussed joining China and Russia in establishing multi-currency regimes. And that makes all of them potential targets for open US military intervention.

The US has refused to discuss with Syria joint action to defeat IS, even though Syria is under siege from the IS. The US plans to attack IS targets within Syria without the permission of the fiercely independent Assad government, and if the government resists the US may seize the opportunity to try to eliminate it.

Syria and Iran also plan to supply oil via a huge pipeline to Europe, as Russia currently does. That will lessen US influence in Europe, as well as promoting the development of the European Union (EU).

The US fears competition from superpower rivals, including the EU and Russia. The US is determined to destabilise the EU’s relationship with Russia, which has ample gas and oil reserves to assist economic development.

The integration into the EU of Ukraine (formerly a Russian ally) would not only heighten tensions between the EU and Russia, but would provide a “jumping off” point for US forces on Ukraine’s border with Russia. The EU package, that the previous Ukrainian President refused to sign, included a military section that would have permitted NATO forces along the border with Russia.

The US therefore promoted the overthrow of the former pro-Russian Ukrainian government (with the assistance of neo-fascist organisations), installed a government heavily influenced by fascists in order to sign up Ukraine in the EU as an anti-Russian US ally.

This government has led an all-out offensive against the Russian speaking population of Donetsk as well as attacks on communists, trade unionists and progressive forces. The US and its allies, including Australia, have falsely accused the Russian government of orchestrating and assisting their demands for independence.

As a result, the world now faces the horrifying possibility of a military clash between two nuclear-armed nations.

Looming threat to civil rights

The Abbott government is attempting to overturn the long established legal principle of onus of proof, by introducing legislation to prevent people travelling to Middle East war zones unless they can prove they won’t fight for terrorists.

ASIO has warned that involvement in another conflict in Iraq would increase the chance of terrorist attacks on Australian soil, but the government wants to become involved as soon as the US gives the word.

Labor has raised no objections to the government’s plans concerning Iraq. In 2003, Australia’s participation in the war in Iraq had bipartisan support, as did Australia’s involvement in the long and terrible war in Vietnam almost 35 years earlier.

Later Labor withdrew support and brought Australia’s troops home. It should withdraw its support again. But the Abbott government now has little support from the public, and its plans to commit Australian troops to fight for US interests in Iraq could be defeated by mass protests.

It is crucial for the Australian people to defeat the government’s plans for military involvement in support of US interests in Iraq and Syria and to support the Green’s call for Parliament to debate and decide on any military involvement.

Within Iraq attempts are being made for a peaceful solution.

The Iraqi Communist Party held a successful meeting with President Dr Fuad Masum on August 17, emphasising the party’s support for the sincere efforts exerted by the President to form a national unity government with broad representation. The President welcomed the proposal put forward by the Communist Party for holding a National Conference, as a contribution to ideas and initiatives that help to launch and organise the process and mechanisms of dialogue and consultation among the various political forces and blocs, and to overcome the state of division and estrangement that prevailed during previous periods.

No Australian forces for Iraq!

Even with Parliamentary support.

With Anna Pha and Bob Briton

Next article – Editorial – Action to save women’s refuges

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