Iraqi self-determination: Struggling against US-UK occupation

The Worker-communist Party of Iraq is making progress despite the US-UK coalition and the rise of the islamists. Nadia Mahmood of the WCPI spoke to the CPGB's Communist University earlier this month

The WCPI was established in July 1993 to bring into being a socialist republic in Iraq - by organising the socialist tendency within the working class; by escalating mass confrontation of the whole class against their oppressor, whether the oppressor came in the shape of a fascist party like the Ba’ath Party or occupation of any other kind; and by organising many sections of society around the working class political alternative, among, for example, young people, women, human rights advocates, freedom-lovers, etc.

That is the philosophy behind the establishment of the WCPI, and behind our political stand on the various issues and situations that we have been through since we formed our party. In our struggle to achieve our aims, we have always looked at political transformation and any changes or developments from the workers’ point of view.

Before any policy could be made we had to analyse and evaluate whether these shifts would achieve the workers’ aims and demands, whether it would push our struggle forward or not, and whether it would take us to new stage or push us back. That was, and is, our aim.

Dealing with the war and occupation, could they achieve workers’ demands? Is it true that the war was launched to bring to us the freedoms we fought for years to gain? Was the war launched for our welfare, for human rights? Are the workers benefiting from the current situation? The answer is clearly no.

You might ask, what are the workers saying in Iraq, what are they doing? What are their demands and have they a voice? Have they organised themselves? As you know, we have had 35 years of dictatorship under the dominance of the Ba’ath regime. Thirteen years of economic sanctions and three wars have left the workers isolated and deprived them of the opportunity for political intervention to determine their future.

For that reason the US has brought onto the political scene the Iraqi bourgeoisie, islamic leaders, nationalists, heads of tribes, ex-generals, and former Ba’ath Party members. I could say the US has gathered the right wing of Iraqi society and formed from them the ‘governing council’.

The workers and the Worker-communist Party of Iraq are forming the left wing in society. They are standing together. Now after four months of the war and occupation, the whole of society has collapsed. There is no water, no electricity, no communications, no jobs, no security, no education, no health system, no policing - nothing. Most industry and service facilities and institutions have been rendered out of action and thousands of factories and smaller workshops have closed their doors, either due to lack of water and electricity or lack of security. Reports are being widely circulated that the US is thinking of privatising the public sector.

This clearly means an increase in unemployment among workers. Millions are out of work already with absolutely no means of earning a living. They are threatened with hunger, while food rations, which were distributed by the previous regime, are rapidly running out.

Now, in the aftermath of the war, we have started organising workers, the unemployed, talking to women in their own organisations and holding mass meeting. The media gave very little attention to this. Groups of activists in the labour movement, the workers and unemployed founded the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq on May 24. The UUI wanted to bring all unemployed workers together and to push forward their basic demands.

The Union of the Unemployed in Iraq has 85,000 members in Al-Nasria city alone. I don’t have the latest figures from Baghdad and Kirkuk, as they are increasing on a daily basis. Since the founding of the UUI there have been weekly demonstrations to draw the attention of the occupying forces to our conditions, but there has been no response to its demands so far.

These demands are for securing either jobs or unemployment insurance, and also demands for emergency allowances to all those who are unemployed, with full payments to all those who lost their jobs because of the war. On July 29 the UUI organised demonstrations in the three major cities of Baghdad, Nasria and in Kirkuk.

In Nasria on July 29 it was agreed with the Italian forces, who control the city, that the UUI will distribute food to the people there. This will give some power to the workers and UUI. In Baghdad, the UUI organised a sit-in in front of the headquarters of the US civil administration (the former Republic Palace). The US forces arrested 19 members, among them Qasim Hadi, the secretary of the Union of the Unemployed in Iraq. The detained protesters were brutally assaulted and tortured.

There were other demonstrations organised in May, June and July. Yanar Mohamad, along with other women in the Worker-communist Party of Iraq, have established an organisation demanding freedom for women and have taken part in organising women in the UUI and workers’ councils. The women’s freedom activists calls on women to leave their homes and join the workers’ movement. Workers have established the Workers’ Councils and Trade Union organisation.

Other actions have been taken too: for example, there have been demonstrations amongst different sections of workers on the railways, in petrol stations and many other industries. Their demands range from paying the arrears owed to them, to calling for all casual workers to be made permanent, and to stop privatising petrol stations. The workers are sending delegates to negotiate with those administrating their areas of work.

The Worker-communist Party of Iraq believes that the struggle of unemployed people, or workers’ councils, will not only achieve economic gains for those who work in Iraq, but is also a political answer to the current situation. Achieving the demands of the unemployed, the workers and women will elevate the expectations of the masses, and will prevent the reactionary forces like the nationalists (Ba’athist) and islamic groups from exploiting the suffering of the workers and splitting their ranks. It will improve security and political stability and therefore will give the people a chance to return to their jobs.

The struggle of the Union of the Unemployed, workers’ council and trade unions will help the masses to decide their future after decades of staying on the periphery. Our stand is to get the forces of the US out of Iraq. The existence of the US in Iraq will cause insecurity, and has turned Iraq into a field of political liquidation.

With the presence of US forces, the islamists and nationalists will be revived under the flag of ‘Against occupation’. It will raise nationalist and islamic feeling among the most devastated and desperate people. Islamic and nationalist groups will appear on the political stage as ‘liberators’ from the ‘invasion’, which is not the case. They have no brighter agenda than the US has for the Iraqi people. They will hijack the people’s resistance against the occupation and use it for their interests. In the demonstration that took place in Al-Nasria on July 3 the islamic groups attacked the 7,000 demonstrators on the UUI march. They could not bear the idea of political activities organised outside of their mosques.

Moqtada Al Sadir, who was trained by the Iranian intelligence, called for protests against the occupation by forming an Islamic Army. The Al Sadir group kidnapped our comrades on July 22, 23 and 24, and they burned our headquarters in Al-Nasria. So, in addition to the fact that the US occupation will keep the situation on the edge of explosion and exploits human and natural resources in the interests of a few companies, it is also supporting the most reactionary forces in Iraq, the heads of tribes and ethnocentric parties.

Let me say a few words about the situation for women - surprisingly we do not have any records or information about kidnapped or raped women in the days of the war, but now every day we are receiving new reports about the raping and abduction of women, by local people or by American soldiers.

The Worker-communist Party of Iraq and the working class have one aim: to end occupation and establish local councils. We have set up the first local council in Kirkuk city and we want to take this to other cities in Iraq. The occupation, as well as wars and economic sanctions, have been approved by bourgeois parties in Iraq, by nationalist parties and islamic parties, but have been strongly opposed by workers. Workers have no common interests with the puppet ‘governing council’.

Finally I would ask you to support Iraqi people, Iraqi workers, morally and financially. International solidarity will empower workers in Iraq to stand on their feet. Any donations, from individuals or organisations, would be very much appreciated. Visit our website, read our newspaper. If you could arrange to visit Iraq, that would be a great initiative.

I believe strongly we have to end the unipolar world. We have to replace the new world order based on this unipolar world, with another one, and western government with the workers’ council republic and help open the road to communism over the world again.