The Guardian 5 July, 2006
The situation in Iraq
In an interview with the Morning Star newspaper Salam Ali, a member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), outlined the situation in Iraq.
He said that the major problems facing the people of Iraq are:
the sharp deterioration in the security situation;
the economic crisis gripping the country;
the urgent issue of ending the foreign military presence and eradicating the consequences of the occupation;
restoring the country’s sovereignty and independence and overcoming the legacy of the Saddam Hussein regime;
the struggle over the character of the new Iraqi state.
Salam Ali said that civilian deaths have sharply increased, including the killing in cold blood of many workers and those seeking employment. Particularly worrying is the growth in armed militias that are beginning to seize the powers of relevant bodies in the state. Many acts of assassination and kidnapping have taken place without proper response by the government. The terrorist operations against civilian is now covering a bigger geographical area and targets are being selected with greater accuracy with the aim of influencing the political process and intensifying sectarian polarisation. Nothing has been spared including places of worship.
The security issue should be tackled by adopting an integrated approach, including political, social and economic measures rather than resorting to direct military force alone. As part of this approach, the Iraqi government must develop its own military and security forces that are based on national unity — that is, forces which represent all Iraqis irrespective of their ideological and political affiliations, ethnic origins or religious beliefs.
Salam Ali said that there has been a dramatic deterioration in the economic situation. This is particularly so for public services and the supply of water, electricity and petrol products. Twenty percent of the population is living in absolute poverty. Between 30 and 50 per cent of the labour force is unemployed, especially youth. Inflation has risen over 30 per cent.
There were big demonstrations across Iraq against the price increase of refined petrol products in December. There have also been demonstrations on pay by health workers and by the unemployed seeking work.
A big protest movement has been developing against a government decree that enables the government to exercise detailed control over non-government organisations — including trade unions. It includes the power to freeze their assets and to disband them. As an indication of the dangers to come, this month saw the arrests of striking dock workers in Basra.
The ICP Central Committee sees this movement of protest and resistance as critical for the future and the movement needs active support and development.
The foreign military presence constitutes a violation of national sovereignty and the government’s capitulation to external economic pressures and the diktat of international financial institutions is one continuing facet of that violation.
The party has already called on the government to work for the withdrawal of occupation forces from the cities and for it to create the material, political and security prerequisites for the ending of the foreign military presence.
The biggest internal obstacle is the growth of sectarianism and sectarian conflict.
There remains, however, level of popular commitment to an Iraqi national identity and the creation of an Iraq that is home to all Iraqis irrespective of ethnicity and religion. The ICP seeks to develop this commitment. It is a key to the recovery of national sovereignty.
Salam Ali said that the Central Committee decided to take part in last year’s election as part of a coalition of progressive democratic forces. The Iraqi National List included a range of political parties, individuals and movements that were generally non-sectarian, liberal and democratic.
The elections were marked by widespread violence and malpractice, but the outcome was positive in that the level of participation was high and no single sectarian-based political group was able to dominate the new parliament
The Iraqi National List ranked fourth in the elections with 9 per cent of the vote and includes the Communist Party.
Eventually, the Iraqi National List was allocated five ministries including Justice, Communications and Human Rights. Raid Fahmi, a member of our Central Committee, became Minister for Science and Technology.
Combined with struggles outside parliament, the ICP sees its role in parliament and the government as bringing together those forces that will advance national sovereignty, oppose externally imposed neo-liberal policies and defend the needs of working people.