The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 7th October 2005

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by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

AMERICAN and puppet troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, are sweeping through western Iraq in a new offensive against the resistance. A suicide bomber got past the security in the heavily-guarded “green zone” US military compound in Baghdad. He detonated his car when halted at a second check-point inside the US military and administrative enclave in the heart of the capital.

The British and US consulates in the southern port of Basra were rocketed on Sunday evening. The puppet regime has withdrawn last-minute changes to the electoral rules covering the forthcoming referendum following UN complaints and their stooge oil minister narrowly escaped with his life when his convoy was ambushed on the road some 35 km north of Baghdad.

Thousands of civilians are fleeing towns and villages in central and western Iraq as US troops embark another drive to crush the resistance. Though operation “River Gate” is officially aimed at “wiping out” what the Americans call Al Qaeda “terrorists” it looks much more like mass collective punishment against the people of a region that is a stronghold of resistance activity.

Partisan units have withdrawn from the city of Hadithah to avoid a head-on confrontation with the US Marines and to spare the residents from suffering the destruction that would have inevitably have followed.

American troops and their local lackeys have moved into a number of other towns along the Euphrates River valley and the resistance has reverted to hit-and-run attacks to harass them. But further down the river partisans swept through the town of Ramadi forcing the Americans and their puppets to flee after fierce fighting on Monday.

Simultaneously the Americans are making another push to control the towns along the frontier with Syria. Once again al-Qaim has borne the brunt of the fighting. A resistance commander was killed on Saturday in fighting on the outskirts of the city but most of the casualties have been civilians hit by US fire. Dr Ali al Rawi, the director of the emergency ward of al Qaim’s general hospital said that 80 per cent of the dead and wounded taken to his facility so far have been women and children.

The new US onslaught, the tenth major offensive in western Iraq since 7th May, is plainly aimed at cowing the largely Sunni Muslim population in advance of next week’s “referendum” that the Americans hope will partition the country into three sectarian statelets, leaving Iraq a US protectorate for years to come.

The underground Baath party, the rest of the resistance and a number of Sunni Muslim clerics have called for a boycott of the vote, arguing that it’s going to be rigged anyway. Others across the political spectrum are campaigning for a “no” vote as a two-thirds “no” vote in three provinces is enough to veto it.

The prospect of the “constitution” getting rejected even under their own rules clearly frightened the puppets. Last Sunday the Baghdad “parliament”, an assembly dominated by feudal Kurdish chiefs, senior Shia Muslim clerics and collaborators, tried to solve the problem by  approving changes that would allow the “constitution”  to be endorsed by a simple majority of all registered voters. But this was reversed on Wednesday following     UN concern at the amendments, which it said did not meet international standards.


Meanwhile speculation about Abu Musab al Zarqawi grows. Al Zarqawi is the man who the Americans claim leads the al Qaeda movement in Iraq. But many others believe he died three years ago. They argue that Zarqawi’s anti-Shia statements and the spate of sectarian bombings targeting the Shia community are part of a covert CIA operation designed to drive the Shias into the collaborationist camp.

Baghdad University Professor Jinan Ali told the Egyptian Al Ahram daily that there was more to the “Zarqawi threat” than meets the eye. “The so-called war against Shias began after Muqtada al Sadr announced his opposition to drafting the constitution,” he said. “Most of the Shias targeted are Muqtada’s followers with the intention of forcing them to cast a “yes” vote in the coming referendum”.


Urban intellectuals and the war

  THE DEFINING moment of last week’s Labour Party Conference has to be the manhandling of an 82 year old man by Blair’s goons for daring to heckle Jack Straw over Iraq. When the veteran peace campaigner Walter Wolfgang tried to get back in he was held by the police under the terrorism Act. Now it transpires that some 600 other protesters were detained by the Brighton police during conference using legislation that we were told was needed to combat violent fanatics and terrorists. Needless to say none of the delegates, anti-war protesters or pension activists were charged.

On four key issues; housing, pensions, secondary strikes and NHS reforms the Labour leadership’s line was overturned. Blair & Co will naturally ignore the four major defeats their clique suffered at the hands of the union-led defence of workers’ rights at this year’s conference. But they can’t ignore the war in Iraq no matter how much the Blairites try to keep it off the agenda.

The Labour leader’s minions may dismiss the anti-war protesters as “urban intellectuals” but that is precisely what Blair and his cronies are – intellectuals of the worst order: those who crawl to their masters in return for the crumbs from the rich man’s table.

But the rich, the ruling class, are bitterly divided over Iraq and Europe. Though the most venal and aggressive sections of the bourgeoisie remain dominant, those who see their interests best served in partnership with Franco-German imperialism within a European super-state are keeping up the fight to force the Government to change course.

At the moment the focus is the struggle for the Tory leadership. Ken Clarke, the leader of the pro-EU Tories will have an uphill struggle to defeat the die-hard Euro-sceptics. Clarke’s dropped his long-standing support for the Euro for tactical reasons. But he’s continuing to oppose the war and he can rely on the backing of the liberal bourgeois media that has kept the Iraq war top of the agenda for the past three years. He can also count on support from other quarters.

Disgust at the downgrading of the Army to little more than American sepoys in southern Iraq comes from elements of the ruling class who have little sympathy for the European project but are enraged at the Blair’s surrender of British sovereignty to US imperialism. It is inconceivable that the Military Families Against the War movement could have been set up without the blessing of senior serving officers.

Only last week retired Colonel Tim Collins, who led the British troops into Basra in 2003, made a blistering attack on the Blair government, accusing it of having “blundered” into the war and warning that the consequences could ultimately lead to the Army “being chased over the border into Iran”.

 Collins, who resigned his commission last year, is by no means a liberal or an “urban intellectual”. The Tories and the Ulster Unionists have both asked him to stand for election on their tickets. He may be a reactionary but he is clearly not a fool.

Earlier in September he said: “One cannot help but wonder what it was all about. If it was part of the war on terror then history might notice that the invasion has arguably acted as the best recruiting sergeant for al Qaeda ever; a sort of large-scale equivalent of the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry in 1972, which in its day filled the ranks of the IRA. If it was an attempt to influence the price of oil, then the motorists who queued last week would hardly be convinced. If freedom and a chance to live a dignified, stable life from terror was the motive, then I can think of more than 170 families in Iraq last week who would have settled for what they had under Saddam. UK military casualties reached 95 last week. I nightly pray the total never reaches 100.”

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