US defense chief arrives in Iraq amid renewed assault on Mosul
22 February 2017
Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Baghdad for an unannounced visit Monday, just 24 hours after government forces launched a renewed push to capture the western parts of Mosul from Islamic State. The country’s second largest city has been under ISIS control since 2014, when the US-trained Iraqi army capitulated and fled in the face of the jihadis’ advance.
Mattis held meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the country’s defense minister. Prior to his arrival, he told reporters, “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” effectively disavowing President Trump’s remark last month that Washington should have seized Iraq’s oil in the wake of the 2003 invasion, and could still do so.
Mattis’s remark was a dishonest attempt to cover up US imperialism’s real objectives in the country and the broader Middle East region. Every military attack by Washington on Iraq over the past quarter century has been motivated by the country’s vast oil reserves.
The Bush administration initiated the illegal Iraq war in 2003 with bogus claims about Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” with the aim of installing a puppet regime in Baghdad so as to consolidate Washington’s strategic and economic interests in the energy-rich Middle East region. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis paid with their lives and millions more were forced to flee from their homes due to the death and destruction wrought by the US-led war machine on Iraqi society.
Mattis played a key role in some of the war’s most brutal episodes. As a Marine Corps general, Mattis commanded the vicious assault on the city of Fallujah in 2004, which saw the slaughter of civilians…