Contribution of the Iraqi Communist Party
International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties
Lisbon – Portugal (8-10 November 2013)
I convey to you the wholehearted greetings of Iraqi Communists, and their best wishes for the success of the 15th International Meeting of Communist Worker Parties, so as to contribute to developing the role of our movement in building a global front against neo-liberal globalisation and imperialism, for peace, democracy, social progress and socialism.
We express our thanks to the fraternal Portuguese Communist Party for hosting this International Meeting, which will also provide an opportunity for strengthening the relations between Communist and Workers’ parties, exchanging views and analyses, determining the tasks facing our movement, and developing initiatives for joint action.
We are also honoured to attend the celebration of the centenary anniversary of Comrade Alvaro Cunhal, the outstanding Portuguese and internationalist communist leader.
We also seize this opportunity to express, from this international forum, our gratitude for the international solidarity extended to our Iraqi people, democratic forces and Communist Party in the ongoing struggle against sectarian politics and anti-democratic policies, to defeat terrorism, reactionary forces and external interference undermining national unity, and to build an independent and unified democratic and federal Iraq.
No country in the Middle East has been immune to the impact of the storms of change that have swept the region since early 2011. The broad movement for change has demonstrated once again that the big, radical and fundamental events and transformations are made by peoples with their own free will, when they become aware of their interests. People were, and shall remain, the makers of history.
The popular uprisings in the region, as demonstrated more recently by the heroic uprisings of the Egyptian and Sudanese people, are not “an external conspiracy”. They are dictated by the desire and the will of peoples to put an end to their multi-faceted suffering and tragedies, and to regain control over their enormous natural resources which are plundered by despotic regimes, representing parasitic and bureaucratic strata that are in alliance with capitalist monopolies. These mass uprisings express the legitimate aspirations for a dignified free life, democracy and social justice. The internal factor is therefore decisive.
But there is no doubt also that the popular mass action and uprisings were not in isolation from the crises caused by the policies of economic "openness" and neo-liberalism, and the running of the economy according to the recipes of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which have produced the phenomena of polarization of wealth, the marginalization of millions of people, the spread of unemployment and deteriorating living conditions.
The mass popular uprisings and movements in the region have undoubtedly achieved successes and have overthrown regimes that had seemed well entrenched. It is now certain that the situation will not return to what it was before January 2011. But there is still a long path ahead for the popular masses that have risen up. It is a difficult path, full of confrontation between those (such as some religious political forces) who want to usurp, parasitically, the fruits of the people’s struggle, and those who want to lead the mass popular movement to its victorious end, and achieve the alternative desired by the people: democratic civil regimes in which the people enjoy social justice. This is clearly borne out by the recent uprising (on 30th June) of the Egyptian people against the rule of the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood.
As pointed out in discussions and joint positions adopted by fraternal parties in the Middle East during the past two years, utmost vigilance is required towards the schemes of imperialist, Zionist and reactionary quarters which aim to sabotage the revolutionary upsurge of Arab peoples. It is of utmost importance to reject and resist all the efforts by US imperialism and its allies, through NATO or other means, to ignite wars and military interventions in order to achieve their objectives to dominate the region and subjugate its peoples.
In this context, we draw attention in particular to the developments of the Syrian crisis and its serious repercussions on the whole region, including Iraq. The issue is no longer confined to the just rights and aspirations of the Syrian people for political reform, freedom, democracy and social justice. Blatant external, regional and international, interference has turned the crisis into a grave danger, with thousands of terrorists (so called Jihadists!) and militias flooding into the country. As a result, the Middle East is facing the danger of sliding along the path of sectarian wars and other options against the fundamental interests of peoples and toilers.
The forces of the Left in the Middle East are therefore facing the challenge of the need to increase their influence over the process of building the societal and political alliances that are essential to tilt the balance of forces in favor of national democratic plans.
As well as combating the plague of sectarianism, the main tasks of the Left movement include struggle for the closely interconnected aspects of democracy: political democracy and social democracy. Achieving democracy and building a civil democratic state, with institutions based on the principles of citizenship, is the guarantee for averting sectarian divisions. In this respect, defending human rights, especially women’s rights, and fundamental democratic and trade union rights, is of great importance for the Left, as they are part and parcel of the big national issues.
As part of exchanging experiences and developing the potential for greater joint action, internationally, among Communist and Workers’ parties, we draw attention to the initiative taken by the 4th Arab Left Meeting, held in Beirut last June, to develop coordination between participant Left forces. Particular attention was given to developing the role of trade unionist, youth and women frameworks as a first step towards mobilizing all those suffering under the oppressive rule of dependent regimes and the economic and social policies of Arab reactionary rulers.
In line with this initiative, the Iraqi Communist Party, along with the Kurdistan Communist Party – Iraq, has recently hosted the first “Trade Unionist Seminar of the Left in Arab Countries”. It was held in the city of Erbil during the period 24-26 October, and was attended by representatives of Communist parties and Left organizations from: Palestine, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Kuwait, as well as Iraq.
In this brief report, let me say few words about the situation in Iraq and the efforts of Iraqi Communists and democrats, who are continuing their relentless struggle under the most difficult and complex conditions. They are also facing the enormous legacy of US occupation, as well as the legacy of decades of fascist dictatorship, leaving behind a fractured society.
The ending of the American military presence in our country, almost two years ago, was a victory for the will of the Iraqi people. It was an important step along the path of regaining full independence and national sovereignty. It came about as a result of a unified popular stance and national consensus. Our Communist Party had rejected all attempts to maintain foreign military presence on Iraqi territory, under any pretext or title. We also believe that one of the prerequisites for full sovereignty is to end Iraq’s subjugation to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, and to stand firmly against the covetous designs of some of the neighboring countries that are exploiting Iraq’s difficult situation and chaos.
Iraq has been engulfed in a deep political crisis that has continued since the parliamentary elections in March 2010. Its roots lie in the sectarian-ethnic power-sharing system that has existed since 2003. The crisis has opened up the door for increased interference by external forces, especially the US and regional forces. It has also exposed the agenda of the ruling political forces and their fighting to maintain positions in political power and privileges, while the people’s suffering and anger intensify as a result of the rampant unemployment, corruption, poor public services, health and education, in addition to the deteriorating security situation.
It is important here to highlight briefly the socio-economic nature of the present regime. Iraq has a rentier economy that is heavily dependent on oil revenues, with marginalized productive sectors, and is highly consumerist, relying heavily on imports. As a result, there has been a growth of comprador and parasitic strata accumulating enormous wealth from public money grabbed through corruption, big contracts with the state, in collusion with influential officials, as well as speculation, smuggling of funds and other parasitic activities. There is a tendency, which is becoming increasingly obvious, of the tangling of interests between influential political forces in power and the growing parasitic and comprador strata. These forces as whole, with support from international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, organisations of the UN and others, stand for transforming the Iraqi economy to a total market economy and breaking up what is left of the public sector through privatization and other measures that are inspired by the ideological arsenal of neo-liberalism. The Iraqi Communist Party firmly stands against these policies, puts forward its alternatives and works to develop alignments bringing together those have an interest in resisting this neo-liberal orientation.
Our party has been actively involved in organizing and supporting mass popular protest movements that have called for radical reform and were characterized by active participation of youth. These movements exposed the anti-democratic policies of the rulers and the bankruptcy of the sectarian-ethnic power-sharing system. They also demanded firm measures against the scourge corruption. Our party strongly condemned government interference in the affairs of workers’ unions, professional associations and civil society organisations. Thousands of workers participated in free trade union elections in late 2012, despite the provocations and threats by influential ruling groups that attempted to falsify the will of workers and impose their hegemony over the unions. These elections were culminated by holding a national conference of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers.
The Party has also warned in recent days against the danger of the country sliding once again into sectarian strife, and has called for urgent action by the democratic forces, and for popular initiatives, to safeguard Iraq’s national unity.
Iraq has witnessed a new episode of the political crisis, posing a grave danger that threatens civil peace and Iraq’s national fabric. Our Party has called upon the government to respond, in a speedy and serious manner, to the just and legitimate demands of the people, and warned against resorting to violence against peaceful demonstrations. The infighting among ruling groups, over power and privileges, has provided a fertile ground for extremist Islamist and shadowy groups to intensify acts of terrorism, carrying out heinous atrocities, with the aim of pushing Iraq into sectarian strife and civil war. More than 7000 people have been killed so far this year, by waves of car and suicide bombings. The victims are mainly innocent civilians, including workers and the unemployed in poor districts. These barbaric crimes and the perpetrators must be unequivocally condemned by all progressive forces, with effective support and solidarity extended to the Iraqi people.
Our party, which represents the main force of the Left in Iraq, has exerted relentless efforts to achieve unity in action of the democratic forces. It has played a leading role in setting up a broad coalition called the “Democratic Current”, which was launched in Baghdad in October 2011. The party is striving to transform it into an effective principal force in the ongoing intensified struggle over the future of Iraq. This vision requires greater efforts to involve the trade union movement and democratic organizations, especially those of women, youth, students and other civil society organizations, in mass struggles to defend human and democratic rights of workers and people.
The party, along with the Democratic Current, was actively involved earlier this year in setting up broad democratic civil electoral coalitions in Baghdad and other provinces which contested the provincial elections in April 2013. These coalitions achieved a modest but politically significant success that provides a good basis for developing a broad democratic civil coalition to contest the forthcoming parliamentary elections in April 2014.
We believe that overcoming the crisis of the sectarian-ethnic power-sharing system in Iraq can only be achieved by changing the political balance of forces in society, in favour of the supporters of a national democratic plan that calls for establishing a democratic civil state on the basis of the principle of citizenship, freedoms and social justice.
While wishing this International Meeting every success in its deliberations, our party reaffirms its determination to continue its efforts to strengthen internationalist ties and relations with fraternal parties, and with all peace loving, progressive and democratic movements in the world, in the joint struggle for freedom, democracy, social progress, and socialism.
Long live International Solidarity!