The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 6th April 2007

Fighting modern slavery - Muhktar Rana

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by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

Eastern diplomatic efforts paid off this week with the ending of the crisis over the Royal Navy crews held in Iran and the warm welcome given to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she arrived in Damascus for talks with the Syrian leadership.

Oil prices dropped on Wednesday following the news that Iran had agreed to release the 15 British naval personnel accused of entering Iranian waters and reports that Israel was now ready for talks with Syria.

Divisions within the American ruling class are now become more open. Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic Party, who won the majority in both houses of Congress at last year’s mid-term elections, are now publicly calling for an American dialogue with Iran and Syria to help US imperialism extract itself from the quagmire of Iraq.

And only last week Senate majority leader Harry Reid said he will propose legislation to cut off funds for US combat operations in Iraq, and provide money for only three missions: targeted counter-terrorism operations, training and equipping the Iraqi security forces, and to provide security for US personnel and infrastructure.

 Predictably Pelosi’s visit provoked a sour response from President Bush who called her trip “counter-productive” and one which would “lead the Assad government to believe they’re part of the mainstream of the international community, when in fact, they’re a state sponsor of terror”.

Nancy Pelosi is the highest ranking American politician to meet with a Syrian leader since former President Bill Clinton met Al Assad’s father, the late Syrian President Hafez al Assad in 1994. In her talks with Assad she raised the question of the Israeli soldier captured by the south Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, last year and told him that Israeli premier Ehud Olmert was “ready to engage in peace talks”.

President Assad of Syria assured her that his country would respond positively but whether this will kick-start the stalled Middle East “peace process” still largely depends on Bush, whose  neo-con war lobby within the Republican Party still dream of victory in Iraq and  imposing American hegemony over the entire Middle East. 


But American imperialism’s hold over Iraq is weakening by the day. No one talks about the “surge” offensive anymore because it has clearly failed to drive the partisans out of Baghdad or anywhere else in Iraq for that matter.
In Mosul, on the fringe of the Kurdish autonomous area, the resistance won a stunning victory when they seized control of most of the city last Sunday. The partisan offensive began Sunday afternoon with the detonation of three explosives-packed vehicles.

Two truck bombs targeted the headquarters of the 3rd Regiment of the puppet army and then violent fighting erupted between resistance men and puppet troops.

 One truck bomb blew up by the 3rd Regiment headquarters in the industrial zone of the city.  That blast was followed by the explosion of a second explosives-packed truck by the same target.  The explosions inflicted a number of dead and wounded and it is believed that the second truck bomb had also been packed with toxic chlorine gas.

 A third truck bomb went off near the headquarters of the pro-American Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani, the US-installed puppet “president” of the northern Iraqi Kurdish enclave. The guerrillas then attacked numerous puppet army patrols and checkpoints in the city, many with their faces exposed – an indication of their relative sense of security.

In Kirkuk, a town on the fringe of the Kurdish enclave that the Kurdish feudal chieftains hope to annex, partisans rocketed the international airport hitting one runway and a building used by the American garrison as a rest area and internet centre. Resistance sources claim that three US troops were killed and 12 more wounded in the attack.

Back in Baghdad a US base was set ablaze when it was rocketed last week. Flames six metres high could be seen as the fires raged through the American camp and unconfirmed reports say that an American cargo plane was shot down in a remote area in eastern Dalouiya as it took off from the US Anaconda air-base.

Bush and his cohorts are indifferent to the suffering of the Arabs or the hardships of their own troops sent to Iraq on a fool’s mission to seize the oil the big oil corporations want. But millions upon millions of people around the world and in the United States are demanding an end to the war and the withdrawal of all imperialist forces from the country they invaded four years ago. They cannot be ignored.


Sailing into troubled waters

THE SAGA of the 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines held in Iran since 23rd March continues with still no end in sight. Behind the scenes diplomatic moves to reach an end to the crisis, involving Russia, Syria and Turkey, continue. But their efforts have not been helped by the Blair government, which stirred up an anti-Iranian media frenzy last week to back up failed attempts to get forceful support from the United Nations and the European Union for the crew’s immediate release.

The fact that all the detained naval personnel, including their officers, have admitted to illegally entering Iranian waters has clearly embarrassed the Government and the Admiralty. The fact that the Iranian authorities made no secret of the arrests contrasts sharply with the treatment of the six Iranian diplomats arrested by the US army of occupation and its pawns in Iraq. And the fact that they have all, apparently, been well treated contrasts sharply with the fate of the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay or in the American concentration camp in Abu Ghraib.

The detention of the crews of two patrol boats seized in disputed waters ( a dispute that led to a ferocious war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980s) would be hard to resolve quickly at the best of times. Taking place while Iran is under threat of imminent attack by US imperialism makes it ten times worse.

The release on Monday of one of the Iranian diplomats seized by Iraqi puppet army troops in February helps. So would the release of the other five held by US forces since January. Meanwhile the Government’s offer to discuss ways of avoiding territorial disputes in the Persian Gulf could provide the mechanism for a diplomatic resolution of the stand-off.

But none of this would have happened if the British forces weren’t there in the first place and that’s another reason why we demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British forces from Iraq.


Wales takes the lead

THE DECISION of the Welsh Assembly to scrap all prescription charges is good news for everyone who lives in Wales. All the three million or so patients in Wales are now entitled to free prescriptions while the cost rose by 20p to £6.85 for the rest of us on 1st April.

The move by the Assembly in January was undoubtedly taken to boost the Labour-led minority administration in the run-up to the assembly elections in May. The Welsh Labour Party and the nationalist Plaid Cymru— Party of Wales voted for it. The Tories and Liberal Democrats dared not oppose. But they pointedly abstained. The chair of the Welsh General Practitioners’ Committee of the British Medical Association said it was good news for those who found paying for their vital medications difficult, while the drugs manufacturers bleated that abolishing the charges could lead to medicines going to waste and funding for new drugs being lost.

Labour’s Grandees in London are saying little and the Tories are bleating that the Welsh move will create a “two tier” National Health Service.  The remedy is easy. Scrap the charges in England, Scotland and northern Ireland as well.

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