In his much-hyped recent address, President Barack Obama solemnly declared that U.S. combat operations in Iraq had ended, and the countdown to a full assertion of Iraqi sovereignty had begun. ‘Operation Enduring Freedom' had given way to ‘Operation New Dawn,' a phase of transition that would wind up at the end of 2011. All American troops would then head home from Iraq, which would be free to run its affairs in accordance with the wishes of its people. The home of the world's most ancient civilisations, crushed under the weight of its tyrants but now liberated by the good Americans, would have a chance to regain its lost glory. This was political theatre and it was lapped up by the gullible round the world. Through his televised address, President Obama attempted to obscure the ugly truth with his trademark eloquence. But for the less gullible, it was clear that under the cover of Iraq's liberation, the U.S. President had unrolled a road map for entrapping for the foreseeable future oil-rich Iraq as America's prized new satellite state. The mechanics of cloning Iraq into a twenty-first century banana republic are in place. Fifty thousand American troops, including Special Forces teams, remain deployed in Iraq to undertake “stability operations.” Thousands of “security contractors” with a mercenary core, increasingly outsourced from the developing world, are being pumped in to push the privatisation of the occupation to a new level.

All key Iraqi institutions are being packed with civilian “advisors,” many of whom will be stationed across the Tigris in the gigantic U.S, embassy, whose 21 buildings are spread across 104 acres. Mr. Obama himself acknowledged that “our dedicated civilians — diplomats, aid workers, and advisers — are moving into the lead to support Iraq as it strengthens its government, resolves political disputes, resettles those displaced by war, and builds ties with the region and the world.” As the Americans gear up for post-war stabilisation and consolidation in Iraq, positioning a suitably pliable government in Baghdad remains the next major undertaking. Here again, they have a head start. The Iraqi constitution, drafted under U.S. tutelage, is a deeply flawed document. It has inbuilt provisions to prevent the emergence of a strong central executive capable of reinforcing Iraq's national sovereignty. The Iraqis now have a hard choice: either surrender to Washington's diktat and witness the emergence of their country as a full-blown American satellite state in the heart of West Asia, or revive at all levels a sophisticated anti-occupation resistance that steers clear of al-Qaeda terrorism and Iraq's sectarian fault lines.

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