The Guardian November 5, 2003


Political Developments in Iraq:
Letter from the Iraqi Communist Party

During the past six months, Iraq has witnessed exceptional 
developments giving rise to a totally new situation. It is 
extremely complex, and fraught with enormous dangers, as well as 
holding real potential for leading our country out of its 
prolonged ordeal towards the democratic alternative our people 
aspire to.

Saddam had to go

We had been fully convinced that there was no way out of the 
comprehensive crisis engulfing our country and people, no end to 
catastrophes and tragedies, and no hope for any reconstruction 
except through achieving internal change and getting rid of 
Saddam's dictatorial regime.

That regime had long exhausted any justification for its 
existence, with its social base shrinking, turning into the 
biggest obstacle preventing our people from breaking out of its 
crisis. Its sole aim had become to stay in power at any cost.

We also recognised the exceptionally repressive nature of 
Saddam's regime and the abnormal growth of the totalitarian state 
it had built, oppressing society and depriving it of all forms of 
independent and free organisation and expression.

This was demonstrated by its abhorrent violations of human rights 
and bloody repression of all opposition forces, over three 
decades, in addition to the human and material devastation caused 
by three destructive wars and the unjust international economic 
blockade which lasted more than 12 years.

Opposed war

Our Party opposed the war, considering it to be the worst 
alternative. While joining in the worldwide anti-war movement 
under the slogan "No to War. No to Dictatorship", Iraqi 
Communists stressed the need for distinguishing between the 
people and Saddam's regime, warning against one-sided positions 
which overlooked the regime's responsibility for the dangers and 
tragedies suffered by our Iraqi people.

When war loomed and became the most probable outcome, as a result 
of Saddam's utter disregard for the fate of the people and 
country, and also the determination by the US administration to 
pursue its policy, our Party called upon democratic and 
progressive forces, and the peace movement, to support the 
alternative we favoured most.

It was a national democratic and patriotic alternative, which 
relies on the struggle of the Iraqi people and their armed 
forces, as well as the unity of patriotic opposition forces, 
backed by legitimate international support. Such an alternative, 
supported by pressures to force the dictator to step down, would 
have averted war and its tragic consequences.

The outcome of the war, the speedy collapse of Saddam's military 
institution, and even the whole Iraqi state, exposed the 
bankruptcy of the regime and its hollow claims. Furthermore, all 
this revealed our people's overwhelming desire to get rid of the 
regime.

Thus in an unprecedented development, of enormous significance 
for Iraq and the region, the people chose to stand aside, 
watching a fight between a foreign power, which they knew only 
too well, and a deeply hated regime.

The 9th of April, the day when the dictatorship eventually 
collapsed, has come to embody the complexities and contradictions 
of the new situation. Deliverance from brutal dictatorship was 
achieved, but the reality of occupation has replaced it.

Occupation

The overwhelming majority of our people were overjoyed at the 
regime's shameful collapse. But it did not bring about the 
emergence of the democratic alternative they desired. A dangerous 
political and security vacuum resulted, with serious political, 
economic and social consequences that are still with us today. 
Tackling this situation is a top priority at present.

In order to confront the new situation, our Party called upon all 
Iraqi patriotic forces to convene a broadly based National 
Conference representing the political, social, national and 
religious spectrum of Iraqi society.

Such a conference would have formed an Iraqi transitional 
coalition government with full powers, to administer the country 
during the transitional period, prepare a draft constitution and 
an election law, and embark on negotiations with the US to end 
the occupation.

But this legitimate demand, that had received wide support from 
the people, and also regionally and internationally, was rejected 
by the occupation powers. The US and Britain received further 
support with Resolution 1483 adopted by the UN Security Council, 
effectively conferring international legitimacy on their 
occupation.

Furthermore, some Iraqi political parties, pursuing narrow 
political agendas and displaying a hegemonistic tendency, also 
contributed, as well as other factors, to preventing the 
establishment of a broad alliance that would have enjoyed 
internal and external support, and could have exerted pressure on 
the US and won the support of the UN.

Attempts by the US to impose an Iraqi "Political Council" of only 
a consultative nature were firmly rejected by the people and 
political forces. Eventually a compromise was reached in mid July 
2003, with active mediation by the late UN special 
representative, Mr Sergio Vierra de Melo, by setting up a 
Governing Council, with limited but important powers.

Our Communist Party participated in the final round of 
deliberations with the American and British sides, at their 
invitation. Attempts, ideologically motivated, to sideline the 
party and exclude it from these discussions failed. This result 
was a reflection of political reality and our Party's position in 
the current balance of forces.

The outcome of the process, with the occupying American power 
being forced at the end to accept an Iraqi governing body with 
powers, has revealed the potential for expanding these powers, as 
part of its natural struggle with the occupying powers.

Our Party, which decided to join the Governing Council, along 
with the majority of other political forces, has regarded the 
Council as an arena of struggle rather than being a final, fixed 
and definitive authority.

The Party took into consideration the following facts when it 
decided to join the Governing Council:

* The majority of other political parties and forces, and 
national and religious groups in the country, agreed to join the 
Council. The Council includes most of the forces our party could 
be allied with to achieve its democratic and patriotic program.

* The general desire which could be sensed among party 
organisations and supporters that it should act positively in the 
current sensitive and complex phase our country is going through, 
and should not give any pretext to those who want to entrap, 
isolate and even subject it once again to repression.

* Participating in the Council in its present form does not mean, 
in any way, accepting it as an alternative to the desired Iraqi 
transitional coalition government. It is seen instead as a step 
in the direction of achieving an independent national Iraqi 
government, with a patriotic democratic program, to rid the 
country of its present plight and move ahead towards building a 
unified democratic and federal Iraq.

* The Council represents one of the main elements of the 
political process with the final objective of achieving the 
country's independence and putting it along the path of 
democratic development.

Role of Party

Our Party can play a more influential role from within this 
process, to push in the required direction, while struggling, 
from without, to mobilise the people to effectively ensure that 
the process develops in the right direction. It is, in this 
sense, an arena of struggle because diverse forces and sides are 
influencing the political process both inside and outside the 
Council.

Resisting occupation is a right enshrined by the UN Charter. The 
Iraqi people, therefore, have a legitimate right to resort to 
various forms of struggle to end the occupation and restore 
national sovereignty.

The lessons of history teach us that peoples only resort to armed 
struggle when they are forced to do so after exhausting peaceful 
means.

Today, various possibilities and options are available to our 
people to exercise political struggle. ... the Iraqi political 
forces, including our Party, are in almost unanimous agreement 
that violent means are not the most appropriate and effective, as 
long as peaceful means have not been exhausted.

Armed ... operations actually provide the pretext for the 
occupying forces to prolong their presence, as well as 
perpetuating the state of tension, concern and fear among the 
people.

Acts of sabotage against basic services, electricity networks, 
gas supplies and oil pipelines only aggravate the suffering of 
the people. Such armed operations, including criminal acts of 
assass-ination, are exploited by remnants of the ousted regime to 
nurture their hopes for regaining power.

Violations and violent acts against the people by the occupying 
forces have also led to violent reactions by the latter, giving 
rise to spontaneous armed operations.

Speedy handover to Iraqi people

Tackling the security situation, however, requires urgent 
political, economic and social measures. First and foremost, 
prerequisites must be provided for a speedy handover of power to 
the Iraqi people and building a democratic regime in Iraq.

Developments in our country since the collapse of the dictatorial 
regime have also emphasised the importance of activating the role 
of the United Nations and expanding its direct participation in 
supporting and guiding the on-going political process in Iraq, as 
well as its role in relief operations and reconstruction.

This is an increasingly urgent matter.

Furthermore, enhancing the UN role will provide an international 
legitimacy now lacking and preventing the participation of many 
world powers in the process of reconstruction, as well as 
obstructing the return of the situation to normalcy.

Iraq is witnessing today an extremely complicated political 
process.

It has become a volatile battle front, where regional and 
international interests and strategies interact with the internal 
situation, pushing it in directions against people's interests 
and their aspirations in restoring security and stability, 
retrieving their national sovereignty, achieving the democratic 
alternative and speeding up comprehensive reconstruction.

During this transitional period, when contradictions and struggle 
over the future direction of development intensify, it is 
essential, more than ever before, to have multifarious 
international solidarity by the forces of peace, and progressive 
and democratic movements, to support and consolidate Iraqi 
patriotic and democratic forces in their struggle to foil 
attempts to sabotage the political process and push the country 
towards chaos and internal strife.

This solidarity is also essential to enable the Iraqi people to 
bring about a speedy end to occupation and open up prospects for 
democratic development in Iraq, empowering them to decide their 
political future and social system in accordance with their own 
free will.

The future of Iraq, and the whole region, depends to a large 
extent on the outcome of the on-going political process in our 
country.

International Department
Central Committee
Iraqi Communist Party

18th October 2003

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[Abridged for reasons of space]

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