When President Bush stated on May 1 that combat operations had ended in Iraq, for most of the American people it seemed the war was over. It is not. The behaviour of the US forces is looking increasingly like that in Vietnam. Villages and towns are raided, where every one is considered an enemy and a potential target for besieged troops in a foreign and hostile country.

The situation in Iraq and the whole of the Middle East is far from being stabilised. The very fact that there is an army of occupation right in the heart of the region has opened up a completely new scenario. But is not just in the Middle East that the occupation of Iraq is having widespread repercussions. In the USA and the UK, the two countries that are occupying Iraq, the situation is getting worse for their respective governments.

Apparently as one enters Baghdad from the west there is graffiti on the walls that says "Welcome to the Republic of Darkness and Unemployment". The devastation of Iraq's economy and infrastructure makes that statement literally true. The war in Iraq has solved nothing from the standpoint of US imperialism, instead it has ushered in a period of even greater instability throughout the Middle East and on a world scale.

Sometime last May a triumphant George W. Bush hired an aircraft carrier (at the tax payer's expense) to announce to the nation that the war in Iraq was over and America had won. Just four months later a more sober George Bush, his feet now firmly on dry land, faced the television cameras to inform the American public that they were in for a long, hard haul in Iraq, that they would have to put up with a lot of pain and expense before the show was over.

The robbery of Iraq's national assets was formally legalised last Sunday. The American-appointed Iraqi National Council has opened up all sectors of the economy to foreign investors. From now on, all the strategic sectors of the economy can be sold off completely to foreign buyers.

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