(en) Workers' Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan & Middle East (2/3)

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Mon, 24 Mar 1997 23:03:12 GMT


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WORKERS' MOVEMENT IN IRAQI KURDISTAN & MIDDLE EAST by Raouf Fatah (ITUSC Committee) in his personal capacity. (continued from yesterday)

STRENGTH In Kurdistan in 1961 the feudal and imperialist forces gathered strength against the Iraqi government under the name of Kurdish national revolution. This movement was defeated, firstly because it did not have the support of the people, and secondly, because the Iraqi government sent troops to Kurdistan under the command of very reactionary, bloodthirsty and nationalistic Arab commanders.

YOUNG CONSCRIPTS The Iraqi government tried to conscript boys of 17 or 18 from poor peasant and working-class families into the army. Usually the rich could save their sons from military service by paying a compensation fee or by sending them to college. The young conscripts had no training. They came from very warm areas and had no experience of mountains like those in Kurdistan. They had never seen snow, ice or cold weather before. They did not know how to use the modern Russian Kalashnikov rifles with which they were equipped.

AMBUSHED AND KILLED The army command deliberately sent these boys in big open lorries, up the hard winding roads into the high mountain ranges. They were frozen within minutes and could not move their hands or feet. They flew like birds into a trap. They were ambushed by the feudal lords' guerrillas, who called themselves peshmergas. Within half and hour the Iraqi soldiers were dead. The guerrillas took all their weapons and ammunition and travelled through the villages, celebrating, making propaganda for the nationalist movement and terrorising all who opposed them.

CONTROL On the other side, the Iraqi side, the Arab nationalists who dominated the army and controlled the media too began a huge propaganda campaign against the Kurdish people. They claimed that the Kurds were foreigners, terrorists, wild people who knew nothing of city life. They said the Kurds needed control and discipline.

SOLIDARITY BROKEN peoples in the region broke down. Divisions grew wider. The relations of solidarity between people were broken. The Arab nationalists took the bodies of the young Iraqi soldiers back to their homes and used these bodies as propaganda against the Kurdish people. The KDP, for its part, used the captured Russian weapons as propaganda. They said the use of these weapons by Iraqi troops showed how the communists wanted to annihilate Kurdish people. The capture of these weapons was an important source of arms for the Kurdish feudal guerrillas, and an indirect means by which the Arab nationalists actually helped them.

MASSACRES A few days after the first battle, Iraqi troops went into Kurdistan and concentrated their attack on the civilian poor in defenceless villages. Special troops went in, killing women, children, elderly people and even domestic animals. People were slaughtered in the streets, in the fields, in the mosques, even in the school classrooms. These troops massacred civilians but avoided confronting the guerrillas directly. The murderous and divisive intentions of the nationalists on both sides were clear. But Kasm, the Iraqi government's radical leader, and the radical left generals, were completely confused and disoriented. So was the ICP. For this reason, the imperialist conspiracy against the revolution achieved great success.

COUNTER REVOLUTION This conspiracy came to a head in March 1963 in a counter-revolutionary coup, supported by all the Nationalist groups including the Baath party. Behind these groups stood imperialism. The ICP had repeatedly insisted that there was no danger of such a coup, that the radical government was very strong. So when it took place, their members and the large numbers of people who supported them were unprepared. They were very shocked. The forces that came to power in the coup killed Kasm, all the radical left generals, the leaders of the ICP and about 10,000 ordinary people, mostly the Baghdad poor and the Faily, a Kurdish ethnic group from Baghdad.

DEFENCE ORGANISATIONS Some ICP members and other left-wingers escaped from Baghdad to Kurdistan, where they tried to get back in touch with their surviving comrades and rebuild their party. In a state of panic, the communists and those who supported them tried instantly to form military defence organisations. But it was too late. The new regime was firmly in power.

NEW PROBLEMS Now two new problems emerged. First, the communists faced a fierce attack from the KDP, who were supported in this by the new regime and by all the reactionary religious forces. Secondly, the leader of the ICP's section in Kurdistan sought compromises with the KDP leader, Mustafa Barzani.

ICP LOSES INFLUENCE The ICP was losing its influence and losing the people's trust. When, through their alliance with the radical left generals, they had had enough power and opportunity to take action against the people's enemies, they had not done so.

(To be concluded tomorrow in Part 3) ____________________________________________________________________ This is from the International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC) at:- e-mail: itusc@gn.apc.org website: http://www.itusc.org.uk 'snail' mail: PO Box 18, Epsom, Britain, KT18 7YR Tel/Fax ++44 (0) 1372 817 778 The ITUSC is an international and internationalist association of organised workers and communities, dedicated to rebuilding the workers' movement and to overcoming sectarianism and division in working class organisations. It was founded in 1991 on the following principles: 1) trade unions independent of the state and employers; 2) democracy within trade unions, and; 3) workers' internationalism. Any individuals or organisations that accept these principles and are prepared to work for them, are regarded as comrades by the ITUSC. ____________________________________________________________________

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