The Guardian 1 February, 2006
Letter from Iraq:
Iraqi Communist Party
discusses political complexities
after 3 years of occupation
The situation in Iraq has continued to be an international issue throughout the year 2005, even becoming a predominant national issue in several countries. It has also been the subject of debate among popular, progressive and democratic circles, especially because of the continued instability and extreme violence that has resulted in the death of scores of innocent civilians every day. All this is taking place with the presence of more than 140,000 foreign soldiers. At the same time, a political process continues to advance in a climate of sharp sectarian and ethnic/national polarisation and struggle around different political and societal visions and agendas.
Now that nearly three years have elapsed since the war, the occupation, and the downfall of the dictatorial regime, and in view of the recent general elections for a full term parliament and permanent government institutions, we think it is important to inform fraternal and friendly parties and forces about the theoretical and political analyses that were the basis of policies and positions adopted by our Party, both during the period preceding the war and following the occupation and the collapse of the Iraqi state.
In order to focus attention on principal issues, we shall solely concentrate here on the main political and theoretical themes that are currently debated.
The situation that has emerged in Iraq after the war and collapse of the dictatorial regime is characterised with by almost unprecedented features and complications. It is different from the familiar historical cases of occupation in past decades, connected to colonial wars and the Nazi occupation of Europe.
Analysing the situation in Iraq as being the case of an occupied country that necessitates supporting the national liberation struggle of its people with the aim of expelling the occupiers and achieving independence, entails a diminution and disregard of other important factors in the situation that need to be taken into consideration.
Such analysis ignore not only the responsibility of the dictatorial regime in creating the conditions that facilitated foreign intervention, but also the attitude of the vast majority of the Iraqi people, who welcomed the collapse of the regime, but did not welcome the invaders with flowers. Above all, such an analysis does not fully grasp the implications of the complete collapse of the Iraqi state resulting in, on the one hand, the ensuing institutional and security vacuum, and, on the other, the active involvement of the Iraqi people, in all its social and political constituents, in the sphere of political action.
Hence, it is no longer possible to deal with the issue of ending the occupation and the restoration of full national sovereignty, which is a principal objective of the current stage, without due consideration to the stipulations of the internal situation and the ongoing struggle over the form and content of the process of rebuilding the Iraqi state and civil institutions. Our aim is to ensure that such a state will be national and democratic, both politically and socially.
Role of foreign intervention
As to the controversy about foreign intervention and its ability to establish democracy, we would like to refer to our party’s positions prior to, and especially on the eve of the war. We rejected then that war would be an instrument of change, considering it to be the worst option. We repeatedly stressed that war, military invasion and occupation were unacceptable as means for salvation from the dictatorial regime. We pointed out that the war option would not lead to genuine democracy, as it involves enormous dangers and unpredictable and hazardous repercussions. The experience of Iraq since the fall of the dictatorship provides ample proof for this.
Democracy as a historical process
We are fully aware that democracy is a historical process of multi-sided dimensions: political, social, economic and cultural. No doubt, all the institutional prerequisites for democracy have not matured or fully developed within Iraqi society. However, instituting democracy, in all its aspects, is a long-term and complex process. We consider that this process has already started in Iraq, and we have no illusions as to its completeness and shortcomings. But we are fighting to create the broadest alignment of forces possible in favour of pursuing this process, and fulfilling and consolidating the conditions for its success.
Such a process may start under occupation, indeed it has, but cannot achieve all its requisites without regaining national sovereignty whose sole source is the free will of the people. Therefore, it is not right to invalidate all that has been achieved under this process, owing to the presence of foreign troops in the country. On the contrary, the struggle for consolidating democracy with all its constituent components is not only closely intertwined with that of ending occupation, but is considered as a supporting lever for the latter.
Position after occupation
The war took place in the context of a global strategy of the US pursuing its own interests and aiming at establishing hegemony in the region and worldwide. The doctrine of "pre-emptive war" is the concrete embodiment of this strategy. The war sought to reshape the political map of the region, and was related to the Plan for the Greater Middle East. Our Party is well aware of all these aspects and has a clear view in this respect. That is why it opposed the war.
However, in the aftermath of the war and following the collapse of the regime and the Iraqi state, new elements emerged in the internal situation that the Party had to deal and interact with, aiming to influence them in favour of its national democratic project. With this in mind, we exerted the greatest effort throughout the early months following the collapse of the regime in order to mobilise the Iraq patriotic forces to fill the ensuing political vacuum and build up the best possible national balance of forces vis-ŕ-vis the occupation powers in order to impose the national will of the people.
However, for various reasons, this objective was not achieved. When we were approached to take part in the Governing Council and the political process as a whole, we decided, after carefully studying the situation and consulting a wide circle of party cadres and members, to join the Council, emphasising at the same time the need to combine the struggle within emerging institutions with that outside these institutions, in the various fields of the mass action.
Our evaluation then, which still holds now, is that in the prevailing circumstances and balance of forces in Iraq, there is no alternative process, other than the existing one, that offers a political prospect of restoring security and order in the country and puts it on the path of reconstruction and development.
Resorting to armed action may succeed in obstructing some aspects of the political process, causing hardships, and providing bargaining cards to secure additional stakes and positions for those who adopt this course of action. But it holds no political prospect for solving the problems of the country, whether ending occupation or rebuilding the state, let alone establishing democracy. This lack of a political prospect of armed action has been confirmed by the progress of the political process and the holding of general elections in January 2005.
Owing to the grave legacy of the previous regime, the way that change took place, and the changes in the world, the political and social forces committed to the national democratic agenda are not in their best state; they are in a weaker position than the forces based on politicising religious, sectarian or ethnic identities. The latter were not as adversely affected by the tyranny and repression as civil organisations and democratic forces. They benefited from the fact that because places of worship provided sanctuary they could be used as avenues for indoctrination and political mobilisation. This situation, however, is not static.
The US and their allies are a major player in Iraqi affairs. However, it is wrong to overlook the role of the internal factors and the Iraqi actors. Events and developments in Iraq show that the latter can effectively influence the direction, content and pace of the development of the political process. This influence grows stronger the more the Iraqi forces succeed in unifying their ranks and act together on agreed upon national objectives.
Therefore, we consider developments and their course as the outcome of a struggle, rather than being merely an implementation of a preset plan laid down by the occupation forces. There is no doubt that these forces have their own agenda and plans, but these can be foiled or changed by the Iraqi forces. We conceive the political process as an arena of struggle, with a view to orientate it closer to the national democratic agenda.
Resistance is a legitimate right of the people
Resistance against an invading force is a legitimate right that is universally acknowledged. However, we think it is wrong to reduce the resistance to armed struggle, which is but a form of struggle that is resorted to when the other forms are either exhausted or not feasible. Since the collapse of the regime in Iraq, there have been, and there will be in the foreseeable future, quite a variety of possible forms of political struggle. We, and the political forces in general, are not near to exhausting them entirely, especially in the spheres of mass struggle, trade union movement, civil society organisations, etc.
On the other hand, contrary to all past examples that we know, the forces which claim armed resistance against the occupation, have not presented a political and social program and have not put forward their own political representatives. In fact, their real project is a despotic and viciously anti-democratic one.
Although we believe that resorting to arms is counter-productive in the current Iraqi context, we are ready to engage in dialogue with forces that really fight occupation but refrain from resorting to terror and targeting civilians and the infrastructure. While not denying the existence of such forces, they do not constitute the main element in the armed action which is generally dominated by extremist Islamists and supporters of the previous regime.
Position on withdrawal of foreign troops
We struggle for creating the conditions for the withdrawal of foreign troops at the earliest possible time. However, we believe that calling for their immediate withdrawal does not take into consideration the sharp current polarisation in our country, the existence of paramilitary organisations, and the insufficient preparedness of the Iraqi security forces. Hence we call for a timetable for withdrawal together with doubling the efforts to provide the internal political, institutional and security conditions for this withdrawal.
As was evident in the statement of the National Accord Conference held in Cairo last November, there is an Iraqi consensus regarding such a withdrawal timetable in order to avoid chaos and additional suffering. This is a realistic agenda and can be implemented in a relatively short period.
We hope that the anti-war forces take into consideration the complexities of the situation in Iraq. At the same time, we respect the right of all parties and organisations in the countries that have sent troops in Iraq to call for their speedy withdrawal. It is their own internal affair, while we too reserve the right to formulate our own position in accordance with what we consider to be in the interests of our country. Such an approach can provide an effective and practical basis for joint action that would serve the noble cause of world peace and the struggle for freedom, democracy, human rights and social progress.
We welcome an enhanced UN role in this transitional period, towards achieving full national sovereignty, ending the presence of all foreign troops as soon as possible, and providing support for the country’s reconstruction. We also call for activating the role of the UN to enable Iraq and our people to complete the political process, build democratic constitutional institutions, and set up a fully legitimate elected government, as well as ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process.
International Relations Committee
Central Committee — Iraqi Communist Party
Baghdad, 15 January 2006-01-30
Abridged — full text at http://www.iraqcp.org/members3/0060125icpr.htm