The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 9th December 2005

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by our Arab Affairs correspondent

WHILE IRAQI resistance guns blaze across the land of the two rivers the trial of captured Iraqi president Saddam Hussein continued with the former Iraqi leader dismissing one witness as in need of “psychiatric treatment” and telling the chief judge to “go to hell” before withdrawing in protest at the conditions of his detention and the status of the court.

Earlier, two senior members of Saddam’s defence team, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ex-Qatari Justice Minister Najib al-Nueimi questioned of the legitimacy of the tribunal and safety of the lawyers.

“Reconciliation is essential,” Clark declared. “This trial can divide or heal. Unless it is seen as absolutely fair, it will divide rather than reconcile Iraq.”

Saddam Hussein and senior members of his government could face the death penalty if convicted of charges of torture and murder that allegedly took place after an abortive assassination attempt on the Iraqi president in 1982.

The defiant Baathist leader told the chief judge that he understood the pressures on him. “I am not afraid of execution,” Saddam said. “I realise there is pressure on you. But I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it for Iraq. I am not defending myself. But I am defending you”.

kangaroo court

The kangaroo court sits in the comparative safety of the US “green zone” military compound in the heart of the Iraqi capital. Outside the zone is another matter. Resistance rockets hit buildings inside the “green zone” on Sunday and partisans mortared the puppet Interior Ministry in central Baghdad on Tuesday. Two female suicide bombers destroyed the police academy, killing and wounding scores of puppet cadets, the same day.

Outside Baghdad the resistance is keeping up the fight in all the major towns and cities of central and western Iraq. A puppet regime colonel and his driver were shot dead on the road from Baghdad to Baquba. In the western town of Hit US troops have imposed a curfew and rounded up 500 civilians in an effort to drive the partisans out.

 The American occupiers threatened “harsh punishments” such as cutting off the water supply, electricity and all forms of communication if local people failed to stop resistance attacks. In Fallujah, the city stormed by the Americans last year, the resistance has returned with a vengeance. Ten US Marines were killed and another 11 wounded in a bomb attack on the outskirts of the city last week.

Meanwhile General Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the leader of the Baathist underground, has dismissed reports of his death that appeared in the resistance media two weeks ago.

In a message released this week al Duri said: “The US administration is trying to deflect public attention from the failure of the American project and its defeat at the hands of the soldiers of justness, the heroes of the Iraqi national resistance,” adding that said he would soon release an audiotape to prove he was still alive. It was “not possible until now because of known circumstances”, he said. Al Duri was Saddam Hussein’s deputy and the Americans have put a $10 million price on his head.

Israeli mercenaries are operating in the northern Iraq training the security services of the feudal Kurdish chiefs who control the region under imperialist protection. According to the Israeli daily, Yediot Aharonot, a secret training camp was set up 18 months ago in northern Iraq as part of a multi-million dollar project with the Kurdish regional puppet government. The mercenaries, hired by private Israeli security companies, enter northern Iraq via Turkey and specialise in weapons training and counter-terrorism.

jump ship

What’s left of the “coalition of the willing” is getting ready to jump ship by Christmas. Bulgaria, Poland and Ukraine have signalled that they going to pull out after the elections for a new puppet government take place next week. Hungary and Moldova withdrew earlier in the year.

Sending token forces to Iraq to curry favour with Anglo-American imperialism was massively unpopular at home from the very beginning. Now, the leaders of these countries are eager to build closer links with France and Germany, the dominant forces in the European Union who opposed the Anglo-American invasion in the first place.


Rice in Wonderland

  US SECRETARY of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Europe has already got bogged down over allegations that the CIA holds alleged terrorists in secret concentration camps in eastern Europe and regularly flies some of them out to other countries for questioning under torture.

Human rights activists have highlighted the cases of suspects blindfolded, shackled and sedated for their journey. Some believe at least 76 torture flights have used British airports for stop-overs. Others reckon that over 200 of these “ghost flights” have used British facilities including RAF bases and regional airports.

A number of torture victims have later proved to be innocent like  Khaled al Masri, a German citizen, kidnapped by the CIA in Macedonia and flown to Afghanistan because his name resembled that of an associate of one of the 11th September hijackers.

Al Masri was held for five months in Afghanistan and he claims he was subjected to torture by local and possibly American interrogators. When it was evident that he had nothing to do with terror gangs he was dumped in Albania and then flown to Lebanon to rejoin his family. Masri is not the only one. At least three other victims, kidnapped by the CIA and taken to the American concentration camp at Guantánamo Bay, have been eventually released without charge.

The new German government has raised the Masri case and the general issue of rendition with the American foreign minister and the human rights group Liberty has called on Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to seek assurances that the United States is not using British airports to transport CIA captives to secret torture centres in other countries.

US imperialism uses a number of antiseptic terms to mask its most hideous crimes. “Collateral damage” is a euphemism for indiscriminate civilian casualties. “Executive action” and “neutralisation” mean political assassination. “Extraordinary rendition” means the transportation of suspects to countries in which torture is routinely used in interrogation. It is essentially torture by proxy and it is deemed necessary because torture is forbidden under US and international law.

Condoleezza Rice admits that some rendition flights have taken place in Europe but claims the United States neither condones nor carries out torture. Significantly she has still to confirm or deny the existence of secret prisons in Eastern Europe or German claims that over 400 rendition flights have taken place on German soil.

Blair & Co assume the moral high-ground in their sermon-like addresses to the public they so very rarely meet. They like to talk about “human rights” when it suits them. Socialist countries like People’s China, Cuba and Democratic Korea are regularly singled out for alleged human rights abuses by bourgeois mouthpieces who now are as predictably coy about challenging the Americans over the rendition scandal as they were over Guantánamo Bay and the sexual abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.  

They must be put on the spot now. Britain is party to the Convention Against Torture which imposes an absolute prohibition on torture, without exceptions. The ban on torture applies not just to the act itself but also prohibits sending people to countries where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being tortured.

The police must investigate allegations that local British airports have been used by US torture transport planes and the Foreign Secretary must give an unequivocal pledge that Britain will honour its international commitments and not allow the use of its territory for the landing or refuelling of any CIA rendition flights.

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