The Guardian May 7, 2003


Communists in Iraq mark May Day

For the first time in decades communists wearing red scarves and waving 
red flags took to the streets of Baghdad to mark May Day. Men, women and 
children took part. They carried banners calling for peace and for a 
united, democratic and independent Iraq without foreign occupation. The 
Iraqi Communist Party issued a statement saying: "Our people's joy at the 
fall of the tyrant and his rule did not mean in any way that they are happy 
with the invasion and occupation. It is evident that military rule and 
occupation in general will not receive approval and support from our 
people.

"Our people have fought to get rid of Saddam's oppressive dictatorial 
regime so they can build on its remains a democratic rule which expresses 
their independent will and fulfils their legitimate demands, and not new 
oppressive military rule."

The civilian death toll is now at 2500, and health care, water and 
electricity remain in disarray. Medical Aid for the Third World said 
ambulances and civilian cars have been hit by US troops, patients and 
health workers have had difficulty getting through US military checkpoints, 
and hospitals and other medical facilities are plundered and neglected.

"Without electricity, safe water supply and the provision of medicines and 
other medical supplies, many patients are simply left to die", the group 
said.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is developing "an ambitious plan to 
remake [Iraq] in the image of America's free-wheeling system of 
capitalism", the Chicago Tribune reports.

"US officials are aiming at nothing less than ending Hussein's legacy of 
state-controlled industries including oil", says the article. "The Treasury 
Department, responsible for developing an economic reform plan, would like 
to see the oil sector privatised so that US oil companies would be 
permitted to bid on drilling rights."

Also, according to The New York Times, the Bush administration is 
planning "a long-term military relationship with the emerging government of 
Iraq" that would give the Pentagon access to military bases and project 
American influence into the heart of the region.

"If the ties are close enough, the military relationship could become one 
of the most striking developments in a strategic revolution now playing out 
across the Middle East and Southwest Asia, from the Mediterranean to the 
Indian Ocean", the Times said.

Joe Gerson, director of the Peace and Economic Security Program at the 
American Friends Service Committee, commented: "Behind the rhetoric of 
'liberation' and not staying 'a day' longer than needed, the Bush 
administration is clearly working to create a client government which will 
allow the US to maintain military bases for the long term."

The US government, in effect, will be transforming Iraq into an "unsinkable 
aircraft carrier for the United States", Gerson said. "The unprecedented 
network of US bases is the basis of a global empire, there's no way to 
avoid that term."

The installation of former US General Jay Garner as head of the US 
occupation "embodies the Bush administration's short sightedness and moral 
bankruptcy", William Hartung of the World Policy Institute said.

Garner has interests in companies like SY Technologies which stand to 
profit from the war in Iraq. He is also a long time associate of the Jewish 
Institute for National Security Affairs, which has close ties to Israel's 
right-wing Likud Party and has long supported "regime change" in Iraq.

Mustapha Tlili, also of the World Policy Institute, told the People's 
Weekly World no one in the Arab world will believe Bush administration 
spokespeople like Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talking about 
democracy.

"The level of anger is beyond mistrust. The US has never before been seen 
as negatively as today."

Noting concerns that a UN role in post-war Iraq could throw a cloak of 
legitimacy over the illegal US military action, Hartung said peace 
activists "can't afford to 'take a pass' and stand back" from the process 
of meeting Iraq's massive economic, humanitarian and security needs, 
"whatever their cause may be".

Peace activists must demand "widespread, full internationalisation of the 
rebuilding process and . treat the unilateralist nature of the intervention 
itself as an aberration not to be repeated", he said.

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Acknowledgements to Susan Webb People's Weekly World, Communist Party USA

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