The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 27th March 2009


This weeks New Worker front page ...

Lead Article  


by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

IRAQI PARTISANS launched new waves of bombings and attacks on US and puppet government positions across the country this week as the Americans prepare for their much-awaited withdrawal from the Arab country they invaded in 2003.

Some 12,000 troops will leave by September. Some 70,000 more will be recalled next year leaving 50,000 military "advisers" who will remain until 2012. Concrete plans are in place and the Turks say the Americans can evacuate through their territory via the comparatively safe northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous zone.

But though the new Obama administration in Washington wants to pull-out without losing face it still wants to retain Iraq as a protectorate and keep control of its vast oil fields for the benefit of the big oil corporations. At the same time US imperialism Obama-style wants a Shia-dominated puppet regime that can provide a bridge for a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran to allow the Americans to use Iranian territory to re-supply its beleaguered troops in Afghanistan.

It's a tall order even for the dreamers in the Pentagon. First of all the puppet regime is not confident it can remain in control once the Americans leave and it wants a longer time-table. Secondly there is no sign that the Iranians would agree to such a deal because it only gives them what they've already got in Baghdad. And finally it is totally unacceptable to the Baathist and nationalist resistance which is continuing the armed struggle.

Rafidan, the political committee of the Mujahideen Central Command resistance movement, denounced the Obama plan last month. "The Iraqi people are disappointed in your plan. They expect your troops to leave our country in full and not in part," they declared.

no such thing

"There is no such thing as `friendly occupation'", they said, going on to call on the US president to "vacate Iraq at a time suitable for our people and not suitable for your agents in the Green Zone".

This was also stressed by Abdul Jabbar al Kubaysi, the leader of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, a political front organisation of the Iraqi resistance. "We believe that Obama already made a change to his original promise and extended the time for the so-called withdrawal from Iraq. It is clear that his army will stay till the end of 2011 and actually he will find reasons to further extend the period for years and years."

Al Kubaysi said the Americans' partial withdrawal plan was triggered by "economic corruption which we believe is worse than what we thought".

He said "all the resistance groups insist that liberation can only be achieved by continuing to hammer the head of the occupiers. I expect that resistance activities will go up in the coming weeks".

That's also the view of the powerful Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq (AMSI) which calls for continuing jihad until all foreign forces leave. Secretary General Sheikh Harith Sulayman al Dari, who lives in exile in Jordan, says "Iraqi resistance and jihad is the only option".

AMSI called on all Iraqis to "unite around the brave Iraqi resistance" in a statement which said Barack Obama vowed that he would withdraw all US troops from Iraq when he was campaigning for the presidency last November and he shouldn't go back on his word now, warning that "the jihad of the people of Iraq will not stop until the withdrawal and submission of the enemy".

American imperialism's high hopes depend on the continuing loyalty of the Sunni Muslim militias that were bought off with guns and dollars during the "surge" offensive.

At the time it reflected the growing anger within the Sunni community at some of the actions of the Al Qaeda fighters who tried to impose Afghan customs on Iraqis and their version of Muslim law ? and the Americans' money was good.

But they're now under puppet regime control; the money's running out and the militiamen are getting restless.

All but 10,000 of the 94,000 Sunni militiamen ´┐Żare now under puppet government control. Many have not been paid for months and only a tiny fraction, just five per cent, have been integrated into the puppet army.

The puppet government has been hit by falling oil prices and the global economic slump and it can barely make ends meet, let alone finance Sunni militias that fought them only two years ago.

Sheik Awad al Harbousi, who lost a son, a father and four other close relatives in battles with Al Qaeda, and who still leads the town council in Taji, just north of Baghdad said: "We sacrificed to kick out Al Qaeda, and this is their thank you!"


Foundation hospitals set up to fail

THE SHOCKING revelations about the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust hit the headlines last week. We have, over the years, become accustomed to horror stories from time to time from small, privately run health facilities ? mainly those for the elderly, children or mental health patients ? always the most vulnerable. But to read about patients being left unattended in soiled beds, receptionists performing the role of triage nurses in Accident and Emergency and general neglect resulting in possibly 400 unnecessary deaths in a flagship NHS general hospital takes the horror to a new level.

But speaking to health workers and patients in general a picture emerges that the situation in Mid Staffs was just an extreme example of what is going on all around the country. Acquiring foundation status requires meeting various targets: cutting waiting times, infection control but most of all balancing the budgets.

But the budget problems go right back to the early 1990s when the trusts were first set up under John Major's Tory government. The trusts were made to buy the hospitals, with all their contents and the land they stood on from the Government using a mortgage. The trusts were born deep, deep in debt.

And since the mid 90s every rebuilding, refurbishment or extension has been done using the Private Finance Initiative system, adding millions of pounds more to the hospitals' debts. And these debts are negotiated to protect the business interests of the finance companies at the expense of the hospitals; most of the contracts are secret "for the sake of commercial confidentiality".

So the trust managers have a nigh on impossible job; they appear to be getting millions of pounds but a lot of this goes straight to debt repayments. But their wages are good so they seem content to play the role of scapegoat for all the problems.

Three years ago the then Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt ? barely distinguishable from her Tory predecessor Virginia Bottomley ? decided to get tough with those hospitals that had opted for foundation trust status and ordered them all to balance their books or be abandoned to bankruptcy.

There followed a massacre of thousands of NHS jobs at all levels and it sparked a wave of locally-based protest marches throughout the country. But the cuts went through and levels of patient care fell.

To attain foundation status they must also have a business plan so the managers draw up these plans, expecting to do a certain number of operations and other procedures and get paid by the NHS for doing them. Then the Government puts pressures on patients to opt to have their treatments done by the private sector and the NHS hospital business plan is blown out of the water. And of course the private sector hospitals are in business to make a profit and opt for the routine, straightforward operations. Patients who are likely to have complications have to turn to the NHS trusts.

So the managers are faced with a virtually impossible task to meet all the targets balance the budgets but they do their best. Meeting targets takes precedence over all other forms of care. Statistics and paperwork are more important than patients.

Patients come and go as though on a conveyor belt, being chivvied along at every turn. But patient stress levels are not measured and have nothing to do with targets so they are irrelevant.

"You're doing really well" is code for "You've had your share of care from us, now fend for yourself." Patients have to be tough these days. Most aftercare falls on their family.

The ruling class agenda is that the NHS will dwindle and be replaced by private health and the current economic crisis has not changed this. Those who can pay will get all the care they want; those who can't will get less and less care.