The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 31st October 2003
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SHOCK WAVES IN IRAQ
by our Arab Affairs Correspondent
IRAQI RESISTANCE FORCES have launched a major offensive
against imperialist troops in Iraq in a wave of attacks against American
troops and Iraqi collaborators throughout the country.
An American Black Hawk helicopter gunship was shot down on Saturday in Tikrit.
And US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz narrowly escaped death
when his hotel in Baghdad was rocketed on Sunday rapidly followed by devastating
suicide-bomb attacks across the Iraqi capital and the destruction of an American
tank in an ambush.
Paul Wolfowitz, a leading Washington war-monger who had gone to Iraq to boost
the flagging morale of the US occupation army, got some Iraqi “shock and
awe” when the Rashid Hotel was hit by a barrage of Katyusha rockets early
Sunday morning. Fifteen people were killed in the attack, including 11 American
military and civilian personnel – one an army colonel.
The following day the Iraqi capital was rocked by a series of explosions
outside puppet police stations and the International Red Cross compound.
Ambushes and bomb attacks have continued throughout the week with a
ferocity unseen since the country was invaded last March.
One of Baghdad’s three stooge mayors was shot dead in an ambush on Tuesday.
That day the editor of a collaborator newspaper was shot dead in the northern
city of Mosul.
The partisans’ onslaught, timed to co-incide with Wolfowitz’s inspection
tour, demonstrates that no road is safe in Iraq and no target is beyond their
In Washington President Bush gave one of his rare press conferences to counter
gloomy forecasts in the American media of another “Vietnam”.
His ludicrous claim that the resistance upsurge was an act of desperation
because the situation was improving in occupied Iraq was greeted with derision
by some of his Democratic Party rivals, including Democrat Senator John Kerry
who said:. “Does the president really believe that suicide bombers are willing
to strap explosives to their bodies because we’re restoring electricity and
creating jobs for Iraqis?”
Kerry is a decorated Vietnam War veteran who has made criticism of the Iraq
war part of the platform for his bid to get his party’s nomination to challenge
Bush for the presidency next year.
Though there is no direct comparison with the Vietnam war – a conflict largely
fought in forests and vast rural areas of Indo-China — the Iraqi resistance
is fighting along the lines of the Algerian resistance that drove the French
colonialists out after a long and bloody struggle.
Meanwhile Bush is trying to blame the violence on the work of “foreign fighters”
– an imperialist term for Arab volunteers — infiltrating from Syria and Iran.
There are clearly some Arab volunteers fighting in Iraq and the suicide attacks
have all the hall-marks of Islamic fundamentalist groups.
But the daring ambushes and raids can only come from former members of the
Iraqi army, its special forces and the Saddam youth movement. And they can
only succeed with the support of the Iraqi masses who are protecting them
and supplying them with information.
The real source of the violence that is wracking Iraq comes from the American
and British “foreign fighters” who are occupying the country. The sooner
they leave the better.
Putin flexes his muscles
FEW WILL SHED any tears at the news of the arrest of the
richest man in Russia. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the 40-year old boss of
the Yukos oil corporation and the biggest oligarch in the Russian Federation,
is said to possess a fortune in excess of $8 billion. The former head of
the Moscow Komsomol communist youth league soared high after the counter-revolution
and made rich pickings during the corrupt Yeltsin era that followed. Now
he faces charges of fraud and tax evasion.
Russia’s oligarchs – a tiny clique who used their connections built up during
the last days of the Soviet Union to plunder Russia’s state assets during
the free-for-all privatisations under Yeltsin – are probably the most hated
men in the whole of Russia. Khodorkovsky’s arrest, clearly done with the
approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will certainly boost the Russian
leader’s domestic standing in the run-up to the presidential elections next
year. But though the arrest is meant to demonstrate that no-one is above
the law these days in Russia it is unlikely to herald a sweeping curb on
the oligarchs and the rest of the spivs and profiteers who have bled Russia
white over the past decade or so.
The new Russian bourgeoisie covers the entire span of capitalist relations.
At one end are the oligarchs and their dependants - mainly former Communist
Party bosses and technocrats. At the other are the drug-lords and the heads
of organised crime. Between them is a small army of senior executives, civil
servants and petty exploiters that emerged from the ruins of the socialist
system. All of them live off the backs of Russia’s impoverished workers and
Putin and his political machine represent the interests of this class as
a whole. He was Yeltsin’s chosen man and he inherited the shambles left when
Yeltsin shuffled off the political stage. Putin, a former colonel in the
old KGB, represents a Russian national bourgeoisie that wants to restore
the country’s standing as a major power. That can only be done in concert
with France and Germany, the dominant forces in the European Union, and in
contradiction with Anglo-American imperialism.
The oligarchs profited from Yeltsin’s slavish support of US imperialism.
They welcomed the plunder of Russia’s natural resources by American big business
and got their cut out of it. Many of them have stashed much of their loot
in the “safe-havens” of Britain and the United States. Few of them want to
see Russia at loggerheads with America and none of them will willingly pay
the taxes needed to restore Russia’s armed forces to the level Putin requires.
When Putin took office he told the oligarchs he would draw a line under their
past record providing they kept out of party politics. Khodorkovsky crossed
that line by buying the political support of two right-wing parties together
with some sections of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation (CPRF), the heir of the old revisionist CPSU. Now he’s in jail.
The communist movement is divided and split and the CPRF, which does enjoy
mass support, is essentially a social-democratic movement that seeks to win
office through parliamentary elections.
The struggle within the Russian ruling class is not over by a long shot.
Neither side has any interest in improving the lot of working people. Only
a resurgent and militant communist movement based on the fighting traditions
of the Bolsheviks can defend the interests of the workers.
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