The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 28th September 2007

Discussing the struggles in South Asia

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by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

an Arab leader warned about a new Cold War at the United Nations and said Iraq could no longer remain the responsibility of one country.

The ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the only Arab leader to speak at the UN General Assembly’s annual session, said: “It has been proved that Iraq can no longer remain the possession of one country, or of a coalition of countries that share common interests”. Sheikh Hamad called on the UN to play a greater role in Iraq and his comments are seen as an oblique criticism of the United States, which props up his government and has a huge military base in his oil-rich Gulf state.

But back in occupied Iraq the war goes on as resistance fighters target collaborators and the oil industry in the battle to drive the American invaders out of their country.

Some 20 collaborators, including four local puppet police chiefs, were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a meeting of tribal chiefs in Baquba on Monday. Thirty others were wounded, including two US soldiers, in the blast in the courtyard of the mosque where the meeting was taking place.

A top collaborator was wounded on Wednesday when a partisan smashed his explosives-packed car into the house of a tribal chief in the north-western town of Sinjar, killing eight and wounding ten others. Sheikh Kanan al-Juhaimur, a Sunni tribal leader, had recently thrown his weight behind a new puppet police drive against the resistance.


Last week partisans blew up the home of another traitor in the provincial capital of Mosul. Guerrillas in some ten cars surrounded the house of Sheikh Fawaz al Jarba in broad daylight and completely demolished the home with explosives. Sheikh Fawaz was the leader of the Mosul “salvation council”, one of the fronts the Americans are sponsoring to do their dirty work in the provinces. The house was empty at the time and no one was injured in the attack.

Just after midnight Monday morning a bomb ripped open the oil pipeline that runs from Beiji oil refinery in the north to Baghdad.  On Tuesday the main pipeline transporting natural gas to an electric power generating station in al Dibis in northern Iraq was sabotaged. Partisans planted a bomb under the main pipeline that runs from the Kirkuk gas fields, some 250 km north of Baghdad, to al Dibis, cutting the line and sending natural gas pouring into the atmosphere. While villagers fled to escape the fumes the fire-service struggled to extinguish the blaze. Repair work is expected to last a week.

Working in Iraq’s oil industry, now under the control of US imperialism, is a risky business –  especially if you get in the way of the Americans.  And the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) has called on the puppet regime to protect the lives of their members following the killing of a field engineer earlier in the month.

Chief Engineer Talib Naji Abboud was shot when US troops opened fire on a crew of workers in the Rumaila oilfields in Basra on 17th September. It was an unprovoked attack that the IFOU condemn as “premeditated murder”.

“They treated him as if he was an animal, they shot at him and kept on moving,” IFOU General Secretary Faleh Abood Umara, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, said. Umara was working with the slain man when the incident occurred. “I saw the troops passing and a car being shot at,” he said. Abboud died two days later from a head wound.

a martyr

“This person who died was a field engineer and he was in his government vehicle going to work in the field and was shot by US troops,” Umara said. “We had a widespread funeral ceremony for him where we wrapped the coffin in an Iraqi flag because we consider him a martyr”.

The union has called on the puppet regime to intervene to “end this behaviour” and for the Americans to punish the troops involved and pay compensation to the dead man’s family. But their demands have been ignored.

“It looks like the Iraqi government is on the US side that even the minister of oil didn’t condemn or send us any letter or a message of sympathy for the incident,” Umara said. “And as a result we are going to continue demonstrating until we hear something.

“We are against carrying weapons. We want to do things and solve problems in a peaceful way,” Umara said. “We are more likely going to hold a strike and stop working. Meetings are continuing to decide the next step”.


Brown’s usual platitudes

IN THAT DIM and distant land that was the Labour before the Blair era, Party conference was the high-spot in Labour’s calendar. Labour leaders, in and out of office, could talk about “socialism” while justifying pay restraint, job losses and all sorts of class-collaboration as “pragmatism” and “realism”. Delegates from the unions or the constituencies reflected the whole spectrum of British social-democratic life, moving robust motions demanding real change and debating the future of the labour movement.

Now we have to make do with a stage-managed platform for Gordon Brown and put up with the sickening spectacle of union general secretaries falling over themselves to praise the Labour leader whose only “commitment” to the movement has been to stifle debate and disenfranchise further the rights of the affiliated union members who keep the Labour Party afloat.

Though the Iraq war was the biggest single factor in bringing down Tony Blair, Iraq got the briefest of mentions from Brown who managed to devote his bit on “human rights” almost exclusively to Darfur.

Brown’s purpose was to reassure the middle-strata and the ruling class that here was another safe pair of hands at the helm while making it clear to working people that they can expect no special favours from the party that was originally established to represent the political aims of the trade union movement.

Brown’s succession, blocked for years by Blair’s clique, reflects the growing strength of the pro-European wing of the ruling class opposed to the one-sided alliance with American imperialism. The Prime Minister is enjoying a honeymoon in the pro-EU media because they know that he is the only man who can get the new EU Treaty through Parliament without a referendum. The pro-EU camp within the ruling class know that the Liberal Democrats cannot replace the Tories and the Tories are as Euro-sceptic as ever – a factor that has made them unelectable for the past 10 years as far as they are concerned.

Millions of working people vote Labour because they believe it is still an instrument for social change. Some still think it can be an engine for what social-democrats once called “socialism” and under mass pressure from the unions the Labour Party can indeed be the driving force for social justice, as it was in the past.

When the next election comes the Brown leadership will tell us that the alternative – a Government led by David Cameron – would be much, much worse for working people. There can be no doubt of that. But working people will not indefinitely cross their ballot papers simply on the basis of the lesser of two evils.   

Brown talks about “change” but all he means is modernisation and rationalisation, which over the past decade has been achieved largely at the expense of the working class. Brown brags that 10 years ago “we were 7th  in the G7 for income per head. Now we are second only to the US  –  above Germany, above France, above Italy, above Japan, above Canada – with the longest uninterrupted period of economic growth in the history of our country”. Sure it’s “success” but for whom? Certainly for the rich, who’ve grown even fatter on their tax-breaks and privatisations but not for the masses who work longer hours for less pay to maintain their living standards and service their debts.

Labour is now the “party of progressive change” whatever that means. And it means very little for working people judging from Brown’s address to delegates which was just a reworking of his usual platitudes about his own “achievements”; education and “Britishness”; people he’s met and some maudlin remarks about his father, who was a minister of the church.

At least we were spared the sanctimonious “Christianity” of Tony Blair and for that we can  all be truly grateful.

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