‘Re-colonizing Iraq’

‘Re-colonizing Iraq’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, May-Jun 2003

On 15 February 2003, over eight million people marched on the streets of five continents against a war that had not yet begun. This first truly global mobilization—unprecedented in size, scope or scale—sought to head off the occupation of Iraq being plotted in the Pentagon. The turnout in Western Europe broke all records: three million in Rome, two million in Spain, a million and a half in London, half a million in Berlin, over a hundred thousand in Paris, Brussels and Athens. In Istanbul, where the local authorities vetoed a protest march in the name of ‘national security’, the peace movement called a press conference to denounce the ban—to which ten thousand ‘journalists’ turned up. In the United States there were mass demonstrations in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and LA and smaller assemblies in virtually every state capital: over a million people in all. Another half a million marched in Canada. The antipodean wing of the movement assembled 500,000 in Sydney and 250,000 in Melbourne.

On 21 March, as British and American forces headed across the Iraqi border, the long quiescent Arab street, inspired by these global protests, came to life with spontaneous mass demonstrations in Cairo, Sanaa and Amman. In Egypt, the mercenary regime of Hosni Mubarak panicked and arrested over 800 people, some of whom were viciously maltreated in prison. read more