.... Following the 1991 Gulf War, under the cover of U.S. and British imperialism's no-fly zone, the Iraqi Kurdish region functioned more and more as a separate country. Leaders of the Kurdish area, which has its own government and the best trained and most disciplined indigenous armed force in Iraq—the pesh merga—are determined to claim a substantial share of control over any revenues from the oilfields along the perimeter of the region. And they are demanding reversal of the Baathists' "Arabization" of Kirkuk and other cities and towns in Kurdish areas.
With the U.S. presidential race safely behind it, the Bush administration in November relaunched the war in Iraq to consolidate power over the Baathist strongholds in the center of the country, beginning with the swift and brutal takeover of Fallujah. Washington had originally stopped short of carrying through to the end this fight following the taking of Baghdad in April 2003. Forces from Hussein's elite Republican Guard and secret police used the time to regroup as well-financed Baathist irregulars and to link up with groups such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's "Al-Qaeda in Iraq."
U.S. forces conducted this stage in the war with little opposition among the Shiite population, who have themselves been targets of the Baathist terror, bombings, and assassinations. Washington has also received substantial support in the Kurdish regions.
Despite deep wells of hatred among the Iraqi toilers for the imperialist occupiers, the detested Baathist forces and their allies who are waging the war they didn't fight in 2003 are incapable of mobilizing and leading a revolutionary national liberation struggle in Iraq. None has a class interest or program to unite the workers and peasants of Iraq to advance their national sovereignty.
A telling confirmation of this reality has been the stunning absence of any broad outpouring of opposition to the imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq anywhere in the Middle East, or in any predominantly Muslim country. To the contrary, governments from Morocco to Jordan and Indonesia have been under little pressure at home to pull back from their course of lining up behind Washington and Baghdad to legitimize, however "critically," the U.S.-installed regime and the January 30 elections. Reactions to the recent Iraqi elections from government officials and most media from Egypt to Saudi Arabia and Lebanon are another affirmation of this fact.
The unintended effect of the imperialists' course, however, is to open up space in Iraq and throughout the region for the working class and peasants to organize and fight to advance their interests; to open up space for oppressed nations such as the Kurds; to open up space for the fight to advance women's equality; to open up space to advance the separation of religious institutions from politics and the state; to open up space for the circulation of propaganda popularizing and explaining proletarian politics.
The bold move by Kurdish groups on election day to organize outside polling stations in northern Iraq a mock referendum for the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan—which is opposed by virtually all other political forces in Iraq, Washington, London, and all the regimes in the region—is a stunning illustration of this reality.
The unintended consequences of U.S. imperialism's course throughout the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa, and beyond will continue to unfold. That is the future the imperialists can do nothing to avoid.