The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 18th July 2003

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Palestinian children calling for the release of over 6000 political prisoners held by the Israelis



by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

Tony Blair’s attempts to project himself as an international power-broker took a further dive with a round of pointless talks with Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in London on Monday.

The Blair government had assured its diminishing band of Arab friends that the imperialist attack on Iraq would soon be followed by a dramatic new initiative to solve the Palestinian question.  All they got was a largely meaningless  “road-map” and immense pressure to accept and police a ceasefire in return for the usual worthless platitudes the Arabs have heard for over 30 years.

General Sharon probably got the better deal out of his three days in Britain. He’s got very few friends in western Europe these days so any trip abroad boosts his standing at home – at least with his own supporters. But the hardline Zionist leader saw no reason to go beyond his previous stated position towards the Palestinians in the talks in London – which is to offer them next to nothing on a take it or leave it basis.

What both men would agree on is Iraq – which fortunately for Sharon is not an Israeli problem at the moment. While Tel Aviv did nothing to disguise its delight at the downfall of the Saddam Hussein government, Israel avoided any direct involvement in the invasion and occupation of Iraq – an occupation which is going so badly wrong for British and American imperialism.

Since 1 May, when the Baghdad government fell, the British contingent in Iraq has been reduced by more than half to some 11,000 troops stationed mainly around the port of Basra. American forces have been beefed up to more than cover the deficit and there’s now over 148,000 US troops in Iraq.

And those American troops are increasingly coming under fire from the resistance which has risen from the ashes of the old Iraqi Baath party and its allies.

According to the Pentagon 266 imperialist troops have been killed since the war began in March and over a thousand have been wounded.


This week  the guerrillas have marked the anniversaries of the republican revolution in 1958 and the Baathist revolution of 1968 with deadly attacks on American patrols throughout central Iraq and in the heart of the capital, Baghdad.

Hit and run raids together with attacks by individual snipers and commandos are now routine and the American governor, Paul Bremer, has been unable to stop it.

Last weekend Bremer managed to get his puppet “interim council” up and running – a motley collection of pro-American Iraqi exiles, has-beens and nobodies – which theoretically will provide the basis for a new Iraqi government.  

The “council” which has yet to agree a leader has no real powers and no authority in a country seething with anger at the American occupation. And it will have no legitimacy in the Arab world or internationally. “If this council was elected it would have gained much power and credibility,” Amer Moussa, the head of the Arab League, declared last Sunday.

Most Iraqis, including many who had no time for him when he was in power, believe that Saddam Hussein is still alive and personally leading the resistance.


What is certain is that a determined underground army has been set up along the lines of the FLN which drove the French out of Algeria with the active support of the people in central Iraq.

While no-one knows who is leading the resistance, one partisan leader who called himself “Khaled” told the media that it was a loosely organised front drawn from the Saddam Fedayeen Youth, former soldiers and members of nationalist movements based on underground cells.

“We know each other and we have ways of communicating with one another. The Americans made a big mistake by thinking that we all disappeared after the war,” Khaled said. “The advantage we have over the American soldiers is that we believe in our cause and they don’t. We’re willing to die and they’re afraid of death. That’s why we’re going to win”. 


A poke in the eye for Blair

Tony Blair got a slap in the face this week when thirteen other social-democratic leaders from Africa, Europe and Latin America rejected the Prime Minister’s  attempt to endorse the new imperialist principle of military intervention in “failed” states.

The pompously titled “Progressive Governance Summit”,  which met in Surrey last weekend, brought together the leaders of  Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Sweden and South Africa as well as others from Europe and Africa. And while they all had to put up with the usual New Labour platitudes about “modernisation” and “radical reform”, they firmly rejected Blair’s attempt to get backdated endorsement of the invasion of Iraq and a blank cheque for future acts of aggression. The summit instead inserted a clause upholding the role of the UN Security Council as “the sole body to authorise global action in dealing with humanitarian crises”. The “Third Way” is unravelling internationally almost as quickly as it is at home.

And another

At home Labour MPs have gleefully voted for a complete ban on fox-hunting in England and Wales against the wishes of their leader. The Tories claim this is a class issue and they are right on this occasion.  Blair & Co can bleat on for as long as they like about compromising with a largely mythical “Middle England” and its rural pursuits but the root of the matter is ending a “sport” which should have been banned years ago.

Working class “blood sports” like cock-fighting, bear-baiting and dog-fights were all banned in the nineteenth century  because of the cruelty to the animals involved and the gambling which accompanied it.  Chasing a fox across the countryside and tearing it to bits by a pack of hounds was exempted because this was a sport of the country gentry and the rich and therefore okay.

The argument that abolition would lead to destitution in rural areas is plain nonsense and if it were true the Government could easily remedy it by pumping money into popular sports like horse racing and show-jumping.

A crucial third

The Government’s plans to end the automatic right to trial by jury have be defeated in the House of Lords by a coalition of Labour rebels, Liberal Democrats and Tories all concerned at this threat to basic rights that people have taken for granted for centuries.

The new Criminal Justice Bill seeks to abolish jury trial in complicated fraud cases or where the police believe there is a high risk of jurors being intimidated. Strip aside the Home Secretary’s patronising arguments and what are you left with?

The theory that trials can only be judged by the judge is based on the principle  that certain laws are beyond the understanding of ordinary people and the hidden class logic that while some or all of the jurors can be bribed or intimidated, one judge cannot.

It’s absolute nonsense. It’s a matter for the barristers and the judge to make the issues clear to jurors during the trial.  Once the right to trial by jury for all serious offences goes in one category than it will go in all. The right to trial by jury must be defended. 

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