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(en) Britain, *Organise! #63* - The resistance in Iraq

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 13 Apr 2005 08:32:04 +0200 (CEST)


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The United States and its allies have become bogged down in Iraq.
The "mission accomplished" boasts of Bush now seem extremely hollow.
The numbers of fatalities incurred by the US military are well
over a thousand and they have lost control in some areas. In fact
some areas are no-go. The American policy of capturing the Iraqi
oilfields and just as importantly, their hopes of controlling the
whole of oil-rich Central Asia from their conquest of Iraq and
Afghanistan have gone terribly wrong Saddam was overthrown, but
instead of strengthening the US grip on the world, the forces of
Islamic fundamentalism have been seriously strengthened. Saddam,
previously a useful client of the West, kept both working class
revolution AND fundamentalism under control in his secular State.
Now Iraq might disintegrate into several different pieces.

The coalition that the US cobbled together in
the wake of the September 11th attacks and the
start of the "war on terror" are also showing
signs of great strain. There are large anti-war
movements throughout the world and anti-war
sentiment has resulted in the withdrawal of
Spain from the occupation. Support for the
occupation is increasingly shaky in other
countries, with nervous governments worried
that they might be voted out on a wave of
anti-war sentiment.

The armed resistance against occupation is
made up of two main currents- the Baathist
party of Saddam, and different Islamic
fundamentalist factions. Part of the Baathist
forces are made up of Saddam's elite Republican
Guard, which was his main arm of repression
inside Iraq and on whose loyalty Saddam and
his family could count. (about 25,000 men
and women) Another section of the Saddamist
resistance is made up of the Fedayeen
Saddam. This formation was set up by Saddam's
son Uday, as a counterweight to his
brother Qusay, who controlled the Republican
Guard. It is trained in urban combat and
undercover work.

Saddam's regime lasted 40 years and in true
totalitarian fashion, it planted itself deeply in
every aspect of Iraqi society. That is why,
despite the capture of Saddam and the death of
his sons, it is proving difficult to uproot. A
whole social layer, the bureaucracy and the
higher ranks of the military are totally
identified with Saddam For them to retain or claw
back their privileges, and there were many, they
must either return to power through armed
struggle or integrate themselves into the new
regime set up by the US.

Originally the US planned on deBaathisation
of Iraq. A number of workers strikes broke
out in summer 2000 calling for wage rises
and violently opposing themselves to the corrupt
Baathist factory directors. The urgent need
to put the Iraqi economy back on a firm footing
meant this was soon forgotten and a number of
Baathist officials, bureaucrats and military
leaders have been put back in the saddle,
headed up by Alawai, dissident Baathist and
loyal accomplice of the CIA.

Splinter

The splintering of the Baathists, with some rallying to the new
regime and their failure to mount an effective armed resistance,
meant the emergence of political Islam as a dominant trend within
the resistance.
The Baathists reinforced religious identities with their
persecution of the Shiite Moslems and the expulsion of one of the
oldest Jewish communities. Ethnic and religious identities were
strengthened, whilst dying institutions were reinforced. The
Baathists gave a role to tribal leaders, which caused derision in a
population that is 70% urban and considers them as archaic. The
chaos in Iraq is now in fact unleashing a process of
retribalisation. The Americans have entered into this with their
exploitation of tribal relations and which sheikhs could be
supported.

Combatants

Many of the Moslem combatants fighting in
Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia and
Bosnia are young people from countries
who are glad to see them go off to fight. For
example Saudi Arabia is happy to finance
Islamism internationally in order to fight it
internally. The exodus of many young
Islamist militants means less of a threat at
home. Those Jordanians, Saudis,
Palestinians, Syrians who came to support
Iraq against the Allies were stranded there
and had no alternative but to carry on armed
struggle. These fighters have brought the
most intransigent forms of Islam with them
like Wahhabism and Salafism. The

similarity between the communiqués of the
Armed Islamic Group of Algeria and the
Islamic Army in Iraq are not a coincidence.
The Islamist internationalists are a minority
in Iraq but their fanaticism and their
networks and their training represent a force
to be reckoned with.
Abu Rashid, Wahhabist militant and ex-
member of the Saddam guard, is now one of
the "emirs" of Fallujah. The Taliban is
represented by the Army of the Companions
of the Prophet, who declared jihad on the
feminist leader Yannar Mohammed because
of her opposition to the sharia. And of
course there is the organisation led by the
Jordanian Abu Moussab Zarkaoui, the
notorious beheader, who has pledged
allegiance to Osama bin-Laden.
Al-Qaeda is hostile to all the Arab
nationalisms and Arab "socialisms" and
wants to create a vast Moslem Umma
(community) founded on sharia law and the
most advanced capitalism. It is a pure
product of capitalist globalisation and it is
not for nothing that bin-Laden, a Saudi
millionaire, heads this movement.
Whilst the Baathists can only rely on vast
stockpiles of arms, the Islamists can count
on the backing of the financial networks of
Islamism. The Saudi monarchy has not the
slightest intention of letting Iraq return to a
leading role in petrol production. Iran for its
part is financing the Shiite section of the
resistance.
Some Islamists have done like the Baathists,
integrating themselves into the provisional
government, like the Supreme Council of
the Islamic Revolution, whose several
thousand militia are now in the new regular
army in Iraq.
Even Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Shiite
resistance, is ready to turn his Mahdi Army
into a political party and participate in the
2005 elections.
ALL the Islamist groups, despite their
differences have the same aims, to establish
a regime founded on Islam and sharia law,
with strict sexual apartheid. They hate
atheists and secularists, other religious
groups, feminists, organised workers,
socialists and communists and they devote
columns to denouncing them in their papers.
The poet Mohammed Abdul Rahim, who
recently joined the Worker-Communist
Party and openly campaigned against
political Islam in the town of Kut, was
murdered, probably by troops of the Islamic
Council of the Islamic Revolution, which is
part of the new provisional government.
In Sadr City, the stronghold of al-Sadr, the
local population have supported his Mahdi
Army. But in Nassiriyah, the workers of the
aluminium factory saw off his troops, which
had attempted to occupy and turn it into a
military base. In Basra, the different
Islamist parties have set up an "emirate"
where women are no longer seen in the
street and where alcohol and nightclubs and
even picnics are forbidden. In Mosul,
women working in hospitals or universities
have been shot and beheaded.
One could argue that there must be more to
the resistance than the Baathists or the
Islamists. If it does exist, it has not made
itself known. The Iraqi Communist Party
has participated in the new government,
giving it a certain legitimacy within the
working class, and has played an important
role in the reorganisation of industry,
controlling a powerful trade union central,
the Iraqi Federation of Unions. This has not
always been appreciated by ordinary
members of unions. This has resulted in a
split called the Communist Party (Cadres)
who have joined the armed resistance.
Whilst it might criticise the religious
leaders, it makes common front with the
Islamists and Baathists in the name of
patriotism!!

Mobsters and mullahs

A section of the Communist Party has lost
some of its members to the Worker-
Communist Party whose opposition to both
the occupation and Islamism has attracted
an increasing number. This party does not
participate in the resistance and criticises it
for its nationalist and religious character. It
organises in the areas where it has strength-
principally refugee camps and squatted
buildings- armed groups to protect the
population from Islamism and gangsterism.
One of its leaders has declared that its aim
is to arm the masses and their organisations,
to kick out the occupation troops, diminish
Islamist influence and to develop the power
of the masses. However, they remain
trapped within Leninist ideology, and it
remains to be seen whether such a mindset
will effect their practice as regards real
autonomy for the working class.
Why is the resistance overwhelmingly on
the right and extreme right, with sections of
the left pulled into its orbit and with
admiration from a section of the extreme
left?
Many were favourable to autonomy for the
Kurds, they were weary from the years of
war, embargoes and sanctions. The
appalling behaviour of the occupation
armies and the rise in unemployment has
now turned this weariness into hostility.
Some of the poorest sections of the masses
have been drawn into the struggle against
the occupiers. The Islamists, with their
well-funded networks have benefited from
this.
The workers movement and the women's
movement in Iraq does not have large
resources. They can only count on
themselves, and international solidarity, to
develop their workers councils and
neighbourhood councils. The resistance
only offers an ultrareactionary Islamic
regime.
=============================
* Organise! #63 - Winter 2004 FOR REVOLUTIONARY ANARCHISM -
the magazin of the anarchist federation


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