What now?

With Baghdad in US hands, the days of Saddam's tyranny are over. Anarchists feel no need to revise our opposition to this war. It was and is an imperialist war, fought for reasons of state and empire rather than any concern for the Iraqi people. But we are as glad that Saddam is gone as anyone. We never supported Saddam or his regime. Which is more than Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush Junta cronies can say.

What now? We can expect the Iraqi conflict to drag on a bit more, but the "official" war will soon be ended. Now the "unofficial" war can start in earnest -- the war to secure the country and its resources for US corporations rather than the Iraqi people.

Right now the Iraqis are seizing what that has been denied to them for decades. In the north, this will include the freedom to secede from Iraq, something neither Turkey nor the US will allow. Freedom in the south will mean a move closer to Iran, something the US will not allow. It means everywhere the freedom to control the countries natural wealth, something the oil companies will not allow. Bush made all this clear before the invasion started. By "regime change" he meant "personnel change." So in the weeks ahead the new regime will try to keep people under control. We know what methods are used by US client regimes to do this. We need only look at Saddam.

Despite opposing the war, anarchists hope this will not happen. We do not want a new dictatorship to confirm our opposition to the war. We hope Iraqis will be able to win real freedom. But looking at the history of US intervention, we fear that this will happen. Neither corporations nor the imperialist powers can afford to allow the Iraqis any real freedom.

Yet the people of Iraq do have a chance to win real freedom. But they have to win it in opposition to the US. One dictatorial regime is finished. While the US plans to impose another, it will take weeks for them to do so. In that space the Iraqi people can organise themselves to resist this. There is an opening here, as there was at the end of the last Gulf war. Then the Kurdish uprising saw dozens of 'shoras' (workers councils) being created. The shoras called for self-determination, bread, work and freedom (including freedom to strike), for women's equality and that people should control their own economic and political destiny. The classic anarchist slogan "all power to the councils" was raised. A revolution that began as a nationalist one was being taken further by working class fighting for a social revolution.

This was part of the reason the US allowed Saddam to crush those uprisings. Today, real democracy is being deterred in Iraq by invading it, by giving the population a taste of what to expect if they resist their "liberators." However, it would be hard for Bush/Blair to sell militarily putting down a similar popular rising. They of course would move against it anyway, labelling it pro-Saddam, but would anyone believe them? So, perhaps, the Iraqi people can liberate themselves in spite of US imperialism.

Who knows? But one thing is true, only a revolutionary struggle against the imperialists and their own rulers can really create freedom in Iraq and defeat imperialism as a force. Only through fighting for real, libertarian, socialism can meaningful freedom be secured in Iraq and elsewhere. Today, as in 1991, working class people must assert their own interests and boot out all the Emirs, Sheikhs, petty dictators and imperialist stooges. This will not be easy, but the alternative is to expect the impossible to happen: an imperial power imposing a regime that does not pursue its interests and a benevolent dictatorship.

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