[Marxism] Iraqi Communist Party (ICP): "We don't need to be lectured"

Suresh borhyaenid at yahoo.com
Sat May 8 17:17:34 MDT 2004

Though this brand of statement from the Iraqi CP isn't
anything we haven't already heard before, I still
thought it might be worthwhile to reprint some of it
here. It's true enough, that everyone outside of
occupied Iraq needs a dousing of cold water every now
and again, in order not to make knee-jerk assumptions
over the internal politics of that country. So, what
this communist leader says here is sensible - to a
point. But, the dynamics of the resistance in Iraq
versus the more passive elements in the country, like
SCIRI and the Ayatollah Sistani among the Shiites are
interesting. In Juan Cole's web log, he writes how "At
the same time, Shaikh Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, one of
Muqtada's supporters, said in his Friday prayers
sermon... "Where are those who said that an attack on
Najaf is a red line? "..."We have come here to prove
that the forces of evil will never be able to detract
from Sunni-Shiite unity. He added, "Your enemy has
come to sow the seeds of social chaos among Sunnis and
Shiites, but he has failed because Islam is one. After
the Occupiers finished with Fallujah, they headed to
Najaf to attack its symbols and its leadership.
Yesterday they attacked Najaf, the site of Imam Ali's
tomb and Karbala, the site of Husain's tomb." 

Ever since the early April uprising, at least, we've
seen this opposition between those Iraqi's ready to
put aside ethnic and religious differences in the face
of a common enemy, and the traditional leaders who
base themselves on a communally divided country
insisting on caution and negotiation. While the Badr
brigades discussed joining a U.S. offensive against
their own brethren in Najaf and other Southern cities,
Sunni and Shiite Iraqi's joined together to protest at
the Abu Ghraib detention facility. And while the Iraqi
CP organized a few hundred strong May Day rally, the
people of Fallujah turned back the tide of the
American siege of that city. 

In the period following the '67 war with Israel or
Nasser's death, Arab nationalism and secular
anti-imperialism in the Middle East have been
gradually neutralized. In their place, tendencies like
the Islamic Brotherhood and their descendents have
proliferated. Concurrent with this trend, the various
corrupt regimes in the region have solidified their
rule, and the coups and popular revolutions of the
previous era have become a historical memory. But,
now, the United States may have inadvertently awakened
the quiescent Arab collective consciousness. This may
be the frightful consequence of an American pull-back
from Iraq that liberals quake about, when they
sermonize on the need to conciliate the Arab street.
Well, here's what the communist spokesman had to say:

"IRAQI Communist Salam Ali has a simple message to the
anti-war movement in the face of continued violence in
Iraq - "We don't need to be lectured." 
In a wide-ranging interview with the Morning Star, the
Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) central committee member
calls on left critics to "understand the complexities
and forge alliances with the forces that matter." 
The ICP has been criticised by some on the left for
taking part in the 25-member US-appointed governing
Ali describes the governing council as a compromise.
"What we took into account was, first and foremost,
where the interests of the people lay," he says. 
"We took into account the fact that people had come
out of a war and were under occupation. 
"There was a collapse of not only the regime but the
whole state. There were immense difficulties affecting
the lives of people. Another path was possible, but it
would mean more hardship for the people." 
In the light of this, says Ali, the governing council
was seen as a step forward in the direction of
regaining national sovereignty and independence...
"In Iraq, one has to respect the reality of religion
and Islam and the Shi'ite sect in particular," he
But, adds Ali, "the centre of authority in Najaf has
always tried to distance itself from being directly
involved in politics, political life and the affairs
of state." 
The highest Shi‚ite authority in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani has refused to endorse calls for an armed
uprising and, while refusing to negotiate with the
Coalition Provisional Authority, has entered into
discussions with UN representatives. 
"Until this recent escalation, al Sadr was isolated
and weakened in the Islamic Shi'ite camp," says Ali. 
"Many Islamic parties and groups and even the main
religious centre in Najaf led by Sistani would like
very much to have Sadr defeated. 
Ali says that Sadr should "disband his group and work
as a political group like others, rather than resort
to intimidation and violence which was directed mainly
against his political opposition." 
He sees the US stance towards Sadr's militia and other
forces in Fallujah as inflammatory. "Really, they
don't command much support, but the way that the
Americans have been dealing with them has been giving
them more weight than they deserve." 
To Ali, the last few weeks serve as ample evidence of
the folly of an armed strategy in the current
"The biggest losers are the Iraqi people who are
caught up in between, like the hundreds who were
killed in the fighting in Fallujah...
He addresses the nature of violent forces in Iraq
other than Sadr's militia: "Yes, there is a patriotic
element, we fully understand that. But, on the other
hand, there are forces carrying out sabotage simply to
destabilise the situation and to maintain the
privileged position that they had before. 
"There are remnants of the old regime. The
dictatorship at the time had a sophisticated system of
repression. They didn't just vanish," says Ali. 
"They carry out operations in return for money paid by
leading figures of the old regime, as well as tribal
elements. Certain stratas thrived under the sanctions
through the smuggling of oil. 
"Of course, there are other forces which jumped into
the situation to settle scores against the Americans. 
"The Americans actually allowed the borders to be open
without taking any action. Whether deliberately or not
we don't know," he says. 
One thing of which Ali is certain is that the US has
been dragging its feet on the training and equipping
Iraqi security forces. 
"This escalation of violence - whether by design or
default - could play into the hands of those in the
American establishment who want to sabotage or delay
the transfer of power to the Iraqi people." 
He compares the potential situation in Iraq with that
which now exists between Israel and the Palestinians,
such as the US use of collective punishment...
Rather than criticising the democratic forces in Iraq
for entering into discussions with the occupying
powers, Ali believes that the left needs to engage
with them and help ordinary Iraqi people take centre
stage in the political process. 
"One aspect which has not been given sufficient
attention by the peace movement, not only in Britain
but internationally, is solidarity with the democratic
forces inside Iraq. 
"They need to develop links with democratic forces.
I'm not only talking about political parties - I'm
talking about democratic organisations and social
"We see it as unthinkable to imagine any advance, any
social progress without political and social
It is important, he says, "not to think of Iraq and
the Iraqi people simply as a means to achieve an end
but as equal allies in the fight to gain an end to the
policy of pre-emptive war. 
"The Iraqi people don't need lectures in how to
conduct their affairs. The people, from bitter
experience, know their enemies very well. 
"Some of the analysis on the left - I don't think it
has been intentional - gives the impression that there
are some who want to dictate and to lecture. We don't
need to be lectured. 
"Only democratic regimes representing the will of the
people can stand up to imperialism. Saddam ended up
being a paper tiger. He collapsed after two days. 
"Unless people understand the complexities and forge
an alliance with the forces that matter - with your
allies in the struggle - it will always be a one-sided
struggle, to the detriment of both us in Iraq and you
in Britain." 


Do you Yahoo!?
Win a $20,000 Career Makeover at Yahoo! HotJobs  

More information about the Marxism mailing list