The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 19th November 2004




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Lead

IRAQ: FLAMES OF RESISTANCE 

by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

US MARINES
are fighting in Mosul, Ramadi and Baghdad as the resistance launches wave after wave of attacks to counter and divert the onslaught in Fallujah. But as the battle for Fallujah enters its second week it’s clear that the Americans and their lackeys are still facing fierce resistance despite overwhelming fire-power and numbers.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and many more wounded as the Americans blast their way across the town leaving a swathe of destruction wherever they go. The streets of Fallujah are littered with bodies but the Americans are still denying the Red Crescent access to the town to deliver relief supplies.

The resistance has downed a number of US helicopter gun-ships and knocked out a number of tanks. But they accuse the Americans of using Iraqi women and children as human shields to cover their tanks as they advanced. Reports of US war-crimes were backed up by an NBC camera team that witnessed and recorded the shooting of a wounded and unarmed supposed Iraqi guerrilla in a mosque this week.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the assault has infringed international humanitarian law. Speaking in Geneva, Commissioner Louise Arbour said that investigations must be carried out into abuse cases. She noted that emergency supplies are far beyond the reach of Fallujah residents and that the fighting in the city had caused heavy collateral damage. 

The underground Baath party issued a statement on Tuesday describing the current Anglo-American offensive against Fallujah as a “premeditated criminal act of revenge” adding that the heroic battle would be an “example to be followed in Iraq first, and then in Palestine”.

side-by-side

Baath party guerrillas, together with members of the former Iraqi army and the Republican Guard, are struggling side-by-side with the rest of the resistance in Fallujah and the former ruling party vowed to fight on until the occupation army had been routed and the puppet authority destroyed.

Meanwhile mystery stills surrounds the murder of Margaret Hassan, the 59-year-old director of CARE International in Iraq who was kidnapped by an unknown group in Baghdad on 19 October. Tawid wa Jihad, the Islamic movement allegedly led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, had called for her release on 5 November. Al Zarqawi’s group is the most ruthless and feared resistance group in Iraq, responsible for many suicide bombings and kidnappings that have always ended in beheadings when their demands weren’t met.

But they called for the release of Mrs Hassan, who selflessly dedicated years of her life to helping impoverished Iraqis, demanding to know what evidence there was against her and pointing out that Muslims do not kill women and young children.

Of the 150 foreigners kidnapped by partisans, few have been women and most have been released, including two relatives of puppet premier Iyyad Alawi. None have been killed. Some resistance groups are already saying that they believe that Mrs Hassan, who was married to an Iraqi and had joint Irish, British and Iraqi nationality, was murdered by agents of British imperialism to divert attention away from the American atrocities in Fallujah.

Five thousand US troops have been dispatched to the northern city of Mosul which was seized by the resistance last week. Heavy fighting continues in Baquba, some 65 km north of Baghdad. In the capital partisans attacked the Polish embassy on Sunday and gun-battles continue in the heart of town.

sabotaged

The oil industry has again been repeatedly sabotaged by the resistance. An oil storage tank at a pumping station on the main export pipeline to Turkey – the main artery of Iraq’s oil network now being plundered by American imperialism – was blown up this week. Four oil wells west of the oil-town of Kirkuk, as well as a pipeline carrying oil from Kirkuk to the major refinery in Beiji were bombed and set ablaze. And in Beiji the townspeople have taken to the streets to drive the Americans out and were fighting gun-battles with American and puppet forces.

boycott

Forty-seven Iraqi political and religious parties have now said they will boycott the sham elections due next January in protest at the extended use of force by the occupation army throughout the country. Though the majority are Sunni factions led by the Muslim Clerics Association at least eight Shia parties and one Christian party have signed the joint statement.
 
Up to a 100,000 Iraqis have died since the war began. And 1,356 members of the  US-led army of occupation have been killed and a further 8,900 wounded, according to Pentagon statistics.

 *************
Editorial

Playing the fool

  THE PRIME MINISTER has been blowing his own trumpet again this week, lecturing the great and good at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London’s Guildhall on the benefits of the “transatlantic alliance” with American imperialism and the wonders of democracy that the Palestinians and Iraqis have yet to discover.

Last week Tony Blair rushed to Washington to be the first foreign leader to congratulate George W Bush on his re-election. His spin merchants told us he would be bringing back a renewed US pledge to resolve the general Middle East crisis but all Blair got for his crawling was the usual platitudes that have been used to fob off the Palestinians for decades.

The people of Fallujah, whose city is being systematically destroyed by rampaging American Marines, are told that “when order is taken back, there is money and help ready to give the ordinary people there a better life”. The Palestinian Arabs, who have endured the longest occupation in modern history, are told that “the only viable Palestinian State will not just be based on territory but on democratic values”. Needless to say, these “democratic values” do not seem to apply to Zionist Israel as far as Blair is concerned.

In fact the “special relationship” that Blair elevates exists largely in the minds of its advocates in Britain – the most reactionary and venal sections of the British ruling class who still believe that their role in Europe and their global investments are best preserved by American might.

“Call it a bridge, a two lane motorway, a pivot or call it a damn high wire”, the Prime Minister says. But Blair burnt his bridges with Europe over the Iraq war.

British imperialism has played the role of the “bridge” between the Atlantic and Europe since 1945. Playing off the United States against the European powers is an old game that may have paid off in the past. Now it’s simply playing the fool.

French President, Jacques Chirac, points out that Britain got nothing in return for backing America. “Britain gave its support but I did not see much in return. I am not sure that it is in the nature of our American friends at the moment to return favours systematically” he declared.

Blair may choose to brush off Chirac’s comments but the lesson has clearly been drawn by the British public who, according to the latest opinion poll, believe it is more important to have good relations with Europe than the United States. Despite continuing opposition to the Euro and the structures of the European Union, an NOP poll commissioned the Independent newspaper found that 64 per cent of people think that having good relations with Britain’s European Union partners is more important than with the United States, while only 25 per cent believe the relationship with the United States should take priority.

Tony Blair waffles on about “democratic values” but forgets that they should start at home. Even Tory leader Michael Howard is complaining that Blair has stolen the Tories clothes, claiming that Blair’s ability to “look and sound like a Tory” had made his job harder. The Blair leadership has turned its back on the values of the Labour Party and the millions who put them into office in the hopes of social justice and a better life.

The fight-back that began with the mass movement against the invasion of Iraq is spreading throughout the labour movement. The Government is under fire over its cynical pensions policy. It’s had to back down over the plan to flood the country with casinos. Major unions are calling for the restoration of the “welfare state”.

 And above all, Blair needs to be reminded, again and again, until he is eventually kicked out, that millions upon millions of people in this country want all British troops out of Iraq immediately.

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