The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 3rd March 2006

Sinn Féin Ard Fheis report

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by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

leader Saddam Hussein has ended his hunger strike and called on all Iraqis to unite to avoid a religiously-motivated civil war that would have unpredictable consequences.

Saddam called on Iraqis to avoid playing into the hands of those who are trying to trigger a war between the branches of Islam, which latest proof was the bombing of al-Askari Mosque in Samara, a Shia shrine known as the Golden Mosque that attracts pilgrims from around the world.

In a statement released by his chief attorney, who met the Baathist leader in his Baghdad cell on Sunday, the ousted Iraqi president called on Iraqis to unite, urging them to tighten their ranks and prevent those who wish to spread strife and division among them from doing so. In a significant gesture to the Shia religious leaders long opposed to the Baath Party, Saddam saluted Shia religious authority Ayatollah Ali as-Sistani for his efforts to end sectarian strife.

Saddam ended his hunger strike on Monday when the American-run tribunal agreed to allow his defence to return to court.


Earlier, his defence team had suspended all its activities in the “trial”, denouncing the pro-ceedings as illegitimate, illegal and based on the rule of force of the occupation and along sectarian, and racist-ethnic lines.

Iraq’s religious, political and resistance leaders have all called for calm following the wave of sectarian violence that has swept the occupied country following last week’s attack on the Golden Mosque. Hundreds of Iraqi civilians have been killed and religious centres bombed in a wave of mysterious attacks that no group has admitted to ordering.

The attack on the Samara mosque was carried out in broad daylight by a well-trained commando unit dressed in black – the colours of the Shia Mahdi Army. But Mahdi Army leader Muqtada al Sadr was one of the first to denounce the bombing and he has now ordered his men not to wear black clothing  “so that people with weak minds might not exploit them”. Even the openly sectarian followers of Osama bin Laden in the Al Qaida movement in Iraq denounced the outrage, accusing the puppet regime of responsibility.

The Baathist underground pointed the finger directly at the Americans stating  “America is the main party responsible for the crime of attacking the tomb of Ali al-Hadi…because it is the power that occupies Iraq and has a basic interest in committing it.”

 In contrast to Iraqi resistance attacks, which have clear and defined targets – occupation troops, collaborators and puppet regime officials – the latest wave of violence appears targeted exclusively on civilians. These mysterious attacks are widely viewed  in Iraq as a part of an Anglo-American effort to rescue their failing fortunes in Iraq by sparking a sectarian civil war in the country, enabling them to fulfill their plans of partitioning the country along ethnic and religious lines.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has immense prestige amongst the Shia community said: “The occupation forces and Zionism, which seeing their plans dissolve, have planned this atrocity to sow hate between Muslims and fuel divisions between Sunnis and Shiites….do not fall into the enemy trap by attacking mosques and sacred places of your Sunni brothers….the enemy wants nothing more than weakening of the Islamic front”.

Sunni Muslims have been mobilised to help rebuild the Samara mosque and Sunni religious bodies are donating millions to help pay for it. Representatives of the Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq, the supreme Sunni religious authority in the country, and the supporters of Muqtada as-Sadr meeting in Baghdad this week issued a statement in which they condemned sectarian attacks on mosques of either side as “terrorist acts”.

Both sides held the American occupation responsible for what is now taking place and demanded an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or at least a timetable for a pullout of its forces.

 Despite the bloodshed and confusion they have caused, and thanks to the firm stance of many Sunni and Shia religious leaders and the Iraqi Resistance, these murderous attacks on civilians have failed to provoke the civil strife they are apparently designed to incite.


An inquiry that’s needed...

THE TORIES are not the best placed to talk about sleaze, given the record of the past Thatcher and Major governments, but that doesn’t mean their call for a public inquiry into the Jowell affair should be ignored.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell’s husband  David Mills, an international lawyer who works for Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, is accused of taking a £344,000 bribe from Berlusconi in return for providing false witness in court for his client. This, Mills denies.

 While her husband’s business has nothing to do with her, the Sunday Times claims that Jowell signed a document to facilitate the transfer of this money to Britain.

According to the paper there is a link between a loan application she signed on the couple’s house and the money that Italian prosecutors allege was a bribe. This loan was then reportedly paid off some weeks later allegedly using money Mills received from Italy. Jowell categorically denies it was paid off with Berlusconi’s money. “I agreed that we would take out a loan on our house. That is not unusual, it’s not improper, and it’s certainly not illegal,” she told the media on Sunday. That being the case there should be no problem in meeting the Tory demand for an independent inquiry to see if the Labour politician has breached the ministerial code of conduct.


...and a panel that’s not

THE DISGRACEFUL suspension of Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London by the obscure and unelected Adjudication Panel of England has been frozen for the time being. But the verdict of this body, on behalf of the Standards Board for England, was unjust, inconsistent and plainly disproportionate to Livingstone’s alleged offence.

Last year a Tory Brent councillor was brought before the board for saying “Jews run everything in Britain and practically run America”. But while the board accepted that he had “expressed a controversial opinion that offended a member of the public”, no action was taken because this London Tory councillor had not committed “a criminal offence” nor had his remarks put “individuals or groups at risk”.

It’s a different tune when it comes to the Labour Mayor of London.

Livingstone claims that the London Evening Standard has pursued a 25-year vendetta against him. That’s not surprising as the paper is a consistent supporter of the Tory party. But celebrities and politicians must expect the attention of the paparazzi whether they like it or not. The Standard reporter who door-stepped a party at midnight to catch Livingstone off-guard was doing his job. Equally Livingstone was entitled to tell him where to get off.

Comparing the reporter, who is Jewish, to a German war criminal and a “kapo”, a term the Nazis used for Jewish collaborators in the concentration camps, was as offensive as it was intended to be. But it clearly wasn’t racist or anti-semitic – a fact the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who made the complaint, recognise.

Nevertheless the three-strong panel asked to consider their complaint, deemed that Livingstone’s conduct was “unnecessarily insensitive and offensive” and had brought his office into disrepute, ruling that the Mayor should be suspended from office for a month.   

Livingstone has quite rightly vowed to appeal and take this case through the courts if the decision is not rescinded. Though the panel has the powers to punish those it decides have breached the standards code, the Mayor points out that the code itself is going to be amended by the Government to restrict it “only to matters which would be regarded as unlawful”.

Ken Livingstone has been a forthright opponent of racism and fascism throughout his political life. No one seriously believes this incident was no more than a storm in a tea-cup inflated by those who seek to discredit the Mayor and the London Labour Party.

The suspension, which cuts across the democratic rights of Londoners who voted Livingstone in, must be dropped.

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