The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16th April 2004
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IRAQ: US GRIP SLIPS
by our Arab Affairs correspondent
TROOPS are massing outside the Shia holy city of Najaf while thousands
more are besieging the defiant city of Fallujah as the national revolt spreads
like wildfire across occupied Iraq.
Western countries are urging all their nationals to get out of Iraq immediately
and US President Bush has vowed to use “decisive force” to crush the Iraqi
uprising. He summoned Tony Blair to the White House for a cosmetic summit
designed to boost Bush’s flagging popularity at home while in the shadows
US diplomats are working to try and defuse the crisis that threatens to destroy
what credibility the United States and Britain still have in the Middle East
American artillery is pounding Fallujah despite several statements by US
High Command in Baghdad confirming that a “ceasefire” was in place. And crack
US troops have ringed Najaf – the stronghold of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr,
now wanted dead or alive by the US military authority in Baghdad.
Last week’s spiralling violence has shaken the Americans to the core. The
battle for Fallujah and resistance attacks all round the country have led
to the deaths of at least 87 US troops – many of them Marines – and nearly
600 more wounded. A further 80 odd mercenaries – hirelings of the predator
transnationals and the occupation army – have also been killed.
Several US helicopter gunships have been shot down and many of armoured vehicles
including tanks have been knocked out in the fighting.
The resistance claims to hold some 30 US Marines who surrendered at
Fallujah and numerous foreign workers have been taken hostage by the guerrillas
though those from countries that opposed the invasion like Russia and People’s
China have been quickly released. Hundreds of Iraqis have also died at the
hands of US imperialism.
Most of them were civilian victims of indiscriminate US fire or terror attacks
by American aviation. And taking a leaf out of the Americans’ book the Fallujah
resistance has put a $7,000 price on the head of Mouwafak al Rubaie, the
quisling “national security adviser” who called on the people of Fallujah
to hand partisans over to the United States.
In British occupied southern Iraq al Sadr’s Mehdi Army has withdrawn from
Basra on terms agreed with the British military administration that leaves
the hub of the mainly Shia south entirely in the hands of the local puppet
police. But elsewhere his Shia militia is locked in combat against the Americans,
often fighting side-by-side with Sunni militias and units of the Saddam youth
Al Sadr has vowed to continue the fight to end the US occupation and says
he’s ready for martyrdom. “I fear only God. I am ready to sacrifice my blood
for this country. But I call on the Iraqi people not to let my killing put
an end to their rejection of the occupation,” he declared.
But the junior Shia cleric has held talks with his much more cautious superiors
in the Iraqi Shia hierarchy who hold seats on the puppet council. They would
largely agree with al Sadr’s demand for the US to cease fire throughout the
country, withdraw their troops to barracks outside the cities and release
all the detainees.
General John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command in Iraq, has publicly
called on the Pentagon to send 10,000 more troops to quell the uprising while
bitterly complaining at the collapse of the puppet police and army in the
face of the partisan onslaught.
Most of the puppet police ran away but others have joined the resistance.
A 600-strong unit of the puppet army refused to fight en masse saying they
hadn’t joined to fight their countrymen and others have responded to the
resistance appeal to join the fight against the occupation.
Behind the scenes American diplomacy is working to try and put a lid on the
fighting. Though Arab League offers to mediate were predictably ignored Washington
has formally asked Iran, a member of Bush’s “axis of evil” hit-list, to help
ease the growing violence. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi confirmed
this on Wednesday in Tehran. Speaking to the media after a Cabinet meeting
Kharazzi said that the American appeal had come via the Swiss embassy in
Tehran. “There was a request for our help in improving the situation in Iraq
and solving the crisis, and we are making efforts in this regard,” he said.
An Iranian Foreign Ministry delegation has flown to Baghdad for talks with
Shia religious leaders and members of the puppet “governing council”. But
Kharazzi was less than optimistic about the success of the mission. “We have
had negotiations in the past but they were stopped. We are of the sentiment
that these negotiations are pointless because the Americans make promises
but do not keep them”.
As the body-bags pile up the extent of the crisis is now apparent to the
American public long duped by the lies of Bush’s “neo-conservative” advisers.
The US peace movement warned from the very beginning – when Afghanistan was
invaded – that Bush was dragging the States into another Vietnam. At the
time this was dismissed by the war lobby as scaremongering. Now it may have
been an understatement.
Get out of Iraq
THE HEROIC people of Fallujah have fought the US Marines
to a standstill, forcing them to accept a cease-fire. Throughout Iraq the
people are taking up the gun to drive the invaders out of their country.
The flames of resistance are spreading as the masses defy the might of imperialism
to demand freedom and independence.
The anti-war campaign and the labour movement as a whole must mobilise to
unite the largest number of people behind the greatest possible protests
against Blair and the war camp that he serves.
The Blair leadership has aligned itself with the most reactionary and aggressive
elements within the British ruling class. These people, who see their imperialist
interests served in slavish alliance with American imperialism, threaten
to plunge the world into chaos and war with their plans for world domination.
They believed they could terrorise the Iraqis into submission. They thought
their armies were invincible. Now they are learning the old lesson that oppression
It can only end one way: with the defeat of Anglo-American imperialism.
The question is how many will die before they realise that their neo-colonialist
dreams were based on ropes of sand.
Get rid of Blair
Labour Party membership has hit an all-time low.
Tens of thousands of members have deserted, according to the official Labour
figures that do not take into account those who left over the Iraq crisis.
Labour’s national membership at the end of 2002 stood at 248,294, well below
the 405,000 plus membership when Blair won the 1997 election. And the actual
membership may well be even lower as the official figures do not take into
account recently lapsed members or those who tore their cards up in disgust
at the lies about the Iraq war.
Fifty years ago the Labour Party was over a million strong. Until recently
it had the wholehearted support of millions more of union-affiliates.
Peter Kenyon, the chair of the Save the Labour Party ginger group, said:
“the latest figures are a crushing indictment of the latest generation of
British political leaders and New Labour under Blair in particular”.
All the more reason for dumping Blair. The unedifying spectacle of a British
Prime Minister crawling to George W Bush in the White House would be disgusting
if it wasn’t so boringly predictable.
Blair claims to be a man of the people but dares not show his face on the
streets of Britain. Blair flaunts his piety but ignores Christian leaders
when they call for peace. Blair dismisses union leaders as “wreckers” when
they fight for higher wages and workers’ rights but he is the chief wrecker.
Blair has lied to the people of Britain and betrayed the party he claims
to lead. He’s plunged Britain into the quagmire of the war in Iraq and he’s
leading the Labour Party to disaster.
Opposition to Blair and his cronies in the Cabinet is growing within the
Labour Party and the trade union movement. The first step must be to remove
him from the leadership of the Labour Party.
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