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Week commencing 31st October 2003

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Iraqi resistaance fighters

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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 reach.

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 peasants.

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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