People of good will all over the world hope for a peaceful future for the people of Afghanistan, but the only legitimate role the USA can play there now is to pay reparations, in whatever form, for the damage it has done and the pain and deaths it has caused.

Speculation in the U.S. political class and corporate media about how the USA can keep bombing and killing Afghans from “over the horizon” should cease. The US regime and its corrupt puppet government lost this war. Now it’s up to the Afghans to forge their future.

The Taliban are rapidly expanding their control over hundreds of districts, usually through negotiations between local elders, but also by force when troops loyal to the Kabul government refuse to give up their outposts and weapons.

A few weeks ago, the Taliban controlled a quarter of the country. Now it’s a third. They are taking control of border posts and large swathes of territory in the north of the country.

These include areas that were once strongholds of the Northern Alliance, a militia that prevented the Taliban from unifying the country under their rule in the late 1990’s.

Afghan scrap merchants are already picking through the graveyard of US military equipment that was until recently the headquarters of America’s 20-year occupation of their country.

Afghan officials say the last US military forces slipped away from Bagram in the dead of night, without notice or coordination.

So what about America’s other endless crime scene, Iraq?

The US corporate media only mention Iraq when our leaders suddenly decide that the over 150,000 bombs and missiles they have dropped on Iraq and Syria since 2001 were not enough?

And dropping a few more on Iranian allies there will appease some hawks in Washington without starting a full-scale war with Iran.

But for 40 million Iraqis, as for 40 million Afghans, America’s most stupidly chosen battle field is their country, not just an occasional news story. They are living their entire lives under the enduring impacts of the neocons’ war of mass destruction.

Young Iraqis took to the streets in 2019 to protest 16 years of corrupt government by the former exiles to whom the USA handed over their country and its major oil revenues.

The 2019 protests were directed at the Iraqi government’s corruption and failure to provide jobs and basic services to its people, but also at the underlying, self-serving foreign influences of the USA and Iran over every Iraqi government since the 2003 invasion.

Recent US airstrikes have targeted Iraqi security forces called Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), which were formed in 2014 to fight ISIS, the twisted religious force spawned by the US decision, only ten years after 9/11, to unleash and arm Al Qaeda in a Western proxy war against Syria.

The PMF’s now comprise about 130,000 troops in 40 or more different units. Most were recruited by pro-Iranian Iraqi political parties and groups, but they are an integral part of Iraq’s armed forces and are credited with playing a critical role in the war against ISIS.

Ever since the US assassination of Iran’s General Soleimani and PMF commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in January 2020, the PMF’s have been determined to force the last remaining US occupation forces out of Iraq.

After the assassination, the Iraqi National Assembly passed a resolution calling for US forces to leave Iraq. Following US airstrikes against PMF units in February, Iraq and the United States agreed in early April that U.S. combat troops would leave soon.

So, in the interest of survival, PMF commanders have become more independent of Iran, and have cultivated a closer relationship with Prime Minister Kadhimi.

This was evidenced in Kadhimi’s attendance at a huge military parade in June 2021 to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the PMF’s founding.

The very next day, the US military bombed PMF forces in Iraq and Syria, drawing public condemnation from Kadhimi and his cabinet as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

After conducting retaliatory strikes, the PMF declared a new ceasefire on June 29th, apparently to give Iraqi PM Kadhimi more time to finalize a withdrawal agreement. But six days later, some of them resumed rocket and drone attacks on US military targets.

The further this escalates and the longer it takes to negotiate a genuine withdrawal agreement, the more pressure Kadhimi will get from the PMF, and other sectors of Iraqi society, to show US invasion and occupation forces the door out.

But the USA clearly has another reason for keeping military forces in Iraq, as a forward base in its simmering war on Iran.

That is exactly what Kadhimi is trying to avoid by replacing U.S. forces with the Danish-led NATO training mission in Iraqi Kurdistan. This mission is being expanded from 500 to at least 4,000 forces, made up of Danish, British and Turkish troops.

The US withdrawal from Iraq and the JCPOA are interconnected, two essential parts of a policy to improve U.S.-Iranian relations and end the USA’s antagonistic and destabilizing interventionist role in the Middle East.

The third element for a more stable and peaceful region is the diplomatic engagement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in which Kadhimi’s Iraq is playing a critical role as the principal mediator.

While Afghanistan is portrayed as the “longest war” the USA has fought, the US military has been bombing Iraq for 26 of the last 30 years.

The fact that the U.S. military is still conducting “defensive airstrikes” 18 years after the 2003 invasion and nearly ten years since the official end of the war, proves just how ineffective and disastrous this US military intervention has been.

The same lessons of history apply to Iraq. The USA has already inflicted so much death and misery on the Iraqi people, destroyed so many of its beautiful cities, and unleashed so much sectarian violence and IS fanaticism.

Just like the shuttering of the massive Bagram base in Afghanistan, Biden should dismantle the remaining imperial bases in Iraq and bring the troops home.

The Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali and Syrian people have the same right to decide over their own future as the people of Afghanistan.

And all the countries of the Middle East have the right and the responsibility to live in peace, without the threat of American bombs and missiles always hanging over their and their children’s heads.

Global Research / ABC Flash Point News 2021.

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13-07-21 22:50

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