The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 11th February 2005
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PEACE OR CRUEL HOAX?
by our Arab Affairs correspondent
Mahmoud Abbas last Tuesday shook hands with Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on a declaration
of a truce.
This marks an official end to four years of intifada and Sharon said:
“We agree that all Palestinians will stop all acts of violence against
all Israelis everywhere and in parallel, Israel will cease all its
military activity against all Palestinians anywhere.”
He said Israel would transfer security control of West Bank
cities to the Palestinians and implement other “confidence building”
measures, including the release of hundreds of prisoners.
The western media have hailed this as the dawning of a new era of
peace. But many experts see this a part of Sharon’s long-term plan to
appear to be making concessions to the Palestinians but still retaining
The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will leave Israel still in
control of all border crossings and it will have a complete
stranglehold on the economy there. And the West Bank, which has
suffered so many incursions, land grabs and settlements, is likely to
end up as a series of “Bantustans” – small vulnerable enclaves.
The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad last Wednesday said they
were not bound by the ceasefire, though the have recently been
observing an unofficial truce.
The signing in Egypt follows the visit last weekend of United
States secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, who was spearheading
American diplomacy in Europe and the Middle East.
But the message from the newly appointed US Secretary of State
has been received with distrust and suspicion by the Arabs and in some
Rice was clearly following the line charted by Bush in his
inaugural address with some sops for the Palestinians mixed with the
usual threats against Syria and Iran. The Palestinians were promised
some $40 million in aid, a summit with Bush in Washington and the usual
platitudes about an end to the conflict with Israel.
Syria and Iran received the usual venom reserved for those
American imperialism call the “axis of evil – particularly Iran which
has enraged the White House by insisting on developing an independent
nuclear energy programme with Russian assistance.
Though the American foreign minister was at pains to stress that the
United States was not contemplating an Iraq-style invasion at the
moment, there is no doubt in Tehran that this is precisely on the
agenda in the not so distant future.
But Iran has warned that it would retaliate and accelerate their
drive to master nuclear technology if the Americans or Israelis
attacked their nuclear research centres.
Iran says there was nothing the West could offer that could
persuade them to scrap their atomic energy programme that is entirely
civilian in nature. Defence Minister Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani told
the Iranian media last week that possession of nuclear weapons was not
in Iran’s interests nor were they pursuing this objective.
“We have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the additional protocol
to it and we respect the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA). All our nuclear sites are open to the IAEA inspectors.
Strategically we renounce nuclear arms. We want the Middle East to be
free from nuclear arms”.
But that, of course, includes Israel, which Iran and many of the Arab
states have long suspected of possessing an illegal nuclear arsenal for
“The United States has violated international law by providing Israel
with nuclear arms. We seek disarmament and the Israeli nuclear arms
pose a threat to Iran,” Admiral Shamkhani said. “Our concern about
Israeli nuclear arms has been put on the agenda with the European
partners (Britain, France and Germany).
American threats are clearly linked to the crisis facing the
Anglo-American occupation army in Iraq. Though Bush and Blair are still
trying to paint the January sham election as some sort of victory, the
results, even under the guns of imperialism, were none too pleasing.
When elections were first mooted the Americans expected the poll to be
dominated by a number of stooge parties drawn from the different
communities in the country. They knew the abject puppets –
émigrés with little or no support in the country – would
be overshadowed by the parties backed by the powerful Shia Muslim
clergy of southern Iraq.
But the Americans hoped that this Shia constituency, which
traditionally looks to Iran for protection, could be countered by a
significant Sunni Muslim vote from central Iraq. But they’ve become the
backbone of the resistance either supporting the secular Baathist Party
partisans or the new mujahadin militias and the major Sunni party and
religious movements backed the resistance call to boycott the vote.
Stooge premier Iyyad Alawi has been working for months to get turncoat
Baathists like himself to form a secular movement that would support
the puppet regime but without success.
The Americans are now in a quandary. Their Arab dependencies – Egypt
and the feudal oil princes – are fearful for the future. The presence
of American bases in Egypt and the Gulf enrages public opinion. The
brutal Zionist persecution of the Palestinians fires anti-American
feelings and the spectacular success of the Iraqi resistance is
lighting the fires of rebellion on the Arab street.
It has certainly forced the Americans back to the old carrot and stick
approach. Palestinian peace talks are on the agenda again and Mahmoud
Abbas’ new Palestinian administration has been given a modicum of
recognition. But the promises are vague and the stick against Iran is
very, very real.
Don’t let the racists set the agenda
HOME SECRETARY Charles
Clarke last week unveiled his new proposals for restrictions on
immigrants wanting to come and settle in Britain. He wants a points
system, with only those who have useful skills allowed in – or so he
says. His ideas follow the Tory Howard’s equally obnoxious proposals –
and Kilroy Silk’s one-man band is trying to get on the act as well.
It’s like a contest between them in the run-up to the general election
– who can come out with the harshest policies without actually
acknowledging the racist agenda behind them.
The Government is not really bothered about illegal immigration.
If it was it would stop cutting the coast-guard service and the numbers
of immigration officials. Every country needs a basic immigration
policy but what we have is racist, divisive and inhumane. It is
unacceptable. The economy of this country needs more young people of
all skill levels. We have a falling birth rate as women wait longer
before starting a family and more choose not to have children at all.
The Government has used this demographic argument as an excuse to
attack retirement pensions – though this is a red herring. This country
generates enough wealth to keep pensioners, immigrants, asylum seekers
and all in reasonable living conditions.
But we have an ageing workforce. Many of our doctors and nurses
came here as immigrants. Many of them are now approaching retirement
age and a dire shortage looms – worse than our current situation.
We will need more healthcare workers, teachers, electricians,
plumbers, carpenters, engineers, bricklayers and all sorts. We will
also need those who operate tills in shops, who cook, clean, labour,
drive buses and trains and do the hard labour on farms – all the
unglamorous occupations that keep our society going, and also make a
vital economic contribution and pay taxes.
The Government does not really want to stop unskilled immigrants
coming to Britain. It wants them to come illegally so they have no
status. This means they are easy prey for the gangmasters. With no
legal status they cannot demand a minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay
or any of the basic rights that the unions have won for legal status
workers. They can be used to undermine hard-won workers’ rights.
This is why the trade unions are starting to recognise that this
growing army of immigrant workers controlled by gangmasters need to be
recruited and their terms and conditions of employment defended.
The Government knows we need these workers but that doesn’t stop
Charles Clarke descending into the gutter of racism with the Tories.
It’s not as if Labour is in danger of losing to the Tories if it fails
to placate Daily Mail racist scaremongering. This approach only gives
credence to racist myths and encourages the out-and-out racists like
the British National Party.
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