Saturday, March 27, 2004

The Empire Demands West Country Blood

"I'm quite excited about going and helping the Iraqi people get their country back.." Says a private to The private is one of 70 from the west country's Territorial Army units going to Iraq: "We are going there to stabilise the country such that the Iraqi people can take over. From what we have heard the people of Basra are quite welcoming."

The day before this interview, four of the 14 British soldiers injured in Basra during riots were flown to a hospital in Selly Oak, in the Midlands. This riot is an omen of what is to come for these west country lads. Basra is smoldering. The riot began as a peaceful demonstration about jobs, but dramatically changed tone when the news that Israel had assassinated Sheikh Yassin filtered through the city. The angry demonstrators turned on the nearest face of the US Empire to vent their fury - a group of British soldiers.

But this is not just about blood. It's also about money. In July the £3.8 billion Iraq war fund is going to run out, and yet we are still sending more bodies into the grinder. How friendly is Basra if we are still sending troops? Sending the 70 West Country privates and the rest of the troops to Iraq is costing us £125 million per month. To put this in perspective, in the time it will take me to research and write this article, the war will have cost a further £100,000. Coincidently, this is the same amount of money Bristol council is intending to reduce its daycare budget to (down from £800,000).

The anger in the Muslim world is rising. From Iran to Turkey, many Muslims are on the streets and are angry. In Baghdad follows of the Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr are shouting, "No, no to Israel. No, no to occupation." They see no difference between the British troops in Iraq and the occupation of Palestine. They see an empire. An empire they, and we, are paying for in blood, gold and oil.

No comments: