Iraq: "There is a political system which is a reality... but very crisis-stricken"

Submitted by martin on 4 January, 2010 - 7:09 Author: Muayad Ahmed

Muayad Ahmed, a leading member of the Worker-communist Party of Iraq, spoke to Solidarity in November, while the Worker-communist Party was still planning to contest the election.

There was a lot of pressure for "open lists", so that the names of the candidates are known to the people. That has been agreed on: open lists. And voters can now do their own lists when they tick this person from one list and that person from another list.

The electoral law decided that representatives will be elected on a local level, rather than the whole of Iraq being one constituency. The problem with this is that in Iraq that leads to sustaining and encouraging the sectarian and ethnic divisions.

Some of the other parties have companies running their campaigns. They pay money to these companies to arrange meetings, interviews on satellite TV, and son. But we will work through our own organisation and our own supporters.

In each city and each locality we will try to establish committees to support our candidates. They will distribute leaflets, newspapers...

There is only one month during which we can distribute leaflets and so on for our election campaign. We will distribute leaflets as you do here, and we will have meetings in the local areas. We want to have a very active and engaged campaign.

Our demands are the demands of the people.

Each Friday, already, we go to Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad. We put out our leaflets and newspapers, and usually we distribute a couple of thousand copies of our newspapers each Friday. People get used to us being there, and they come and ask us for our literature.

We can do the same thing in other areas.

Among the other parties, the old alliances have been destabilised a bit. The Maliki bloc in the government and in the Dawa party is the main force now.

The Islamic Supreme Council have their own alliance with other people. There are others, like Allawi and other secular, nationalist, pro-Western, pro-American people, who are trying to make their own alliances.

The Sunni parties have been affected too. For example, Tariq al-Hashimi [the current vice-president, and former leader of the Iraq Islamic Party, Iraqi offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood] says that he will not make his alliances on the basis of Sunnism.

All the bourgeois parties in Iraq - the Islamic and the nationalists... they don't have a horizon for establishing a state which can unify Iraq. There is a deep crisis as regards establishing a functioning state in Iraq.

There is a sort of freedom at present. There are deep divisions between different sections of the bourgeois parties, and they are moving, shifting, changing alliances. It is all about how to give shape to the state.

My opinion is that this period is transitional and provisional. I think for the bourgeois parties there are two possible outcomes. Either they can establish a despotic state, Islamic or Islamic-nationalist; or this whole political process will be destabilised and take us to open civil conflict, although not exactly as before.

This transitional period of relative political freedom may not last for a long time. Maybe six months, maybe two years, I don't know.

The main parties are all bourgeois, but they are divided and struggling. In this transitional period it is our duty as a worker-communist party to make a big effort to bring in the masses, the working people, to have their say in the process and strengthen their position.

For America, and for the states neighbouring Iraq, stabilisation in Iraq has a definite meaning. It means the sort of state that we have in the region. Iraq is not in outer space. It is in the region.

Also, on a world scale, Iraq is not a metropole. It is in the periphery, and needs to offer cheap labour. A stable state has to be one which can sustain cheap labour in Iraq, and consequently a despotic regime is likely to be maintained.
In our region, we also have Turkey, which is a semi-democratic state.

But in Iraq there are so many divisions and conflicts between the bourgeois parties that the prolonged existence of a semi-democratic parliamentary system in Iraq, like Turkey, is doubtful.

Our aim is to bring the working people into this process. If we can do something in that regard, that will affect the kind of parliamentary system they might get in Iraq.

If we can manage to bring working-class people into the political arena, then we can organise real pressure against the bourgeoisie moving to despotic measures.

In Iraq, every political party is linked with the interests of some other state or states in the region, or the interests of America, or the interests of international political Islam. Every one.

And we are an internationalist party - we have our links with working-class people all over the world.

So there is an intensified political process. I can't be very optimistic that something like the regimes in South America, or Turkey, will come. But it might be possible.

The Shia parties used to want to have a fully religious state. Then Maliki took, in some ways, another route. He wanted to create an image of himself as representing Iraq and establishing a state based on law.

The Ba'thist regime was based on an Arab nationalist movement that was very strong. For many years pan-Arabism was a very strong movement. Iraq was part of that. The despotic regime of the Ba'thists was based on that. But they imposed themselves as a fascist party, with the support of the West and the oil companies.

The liberals in Iraq - the moderate nationalists like Adnan Pachachi - are very weak. Can that sort of liberal bourgeois party become strong, have a mass base? I doubt it.

The economic basis for reproducing strong liberal democratic parties in Iraq is doubtful.

In the election one of our main themes will be social security and the payment of unemployment benefit. We will call for freedom of assembly and freedom for the unions.

We are for a system where religion and nationalism are separated from the state and from the education system.

As communists, we say that the only alternative is a workers' state. We don't have another alternative as far as the state is concerned.

I think the idea of establishing a provisional government as a precondition for having a political system within which the class struggle goes on in a favourable environment is an error now. We have a political system which is a reality. A bourgeois political system has been established in Iraq. It is a very crisis-stricken system, full of contradictions and conflicts, transitional and provisional, but it is a political system, a “state”.

The experience of founding states or re-establishing the states in crisis-ridden and war-torn countries in the so called third world countries, in the last two decades show that Iraq is not very exceptional in that regard, i.e in building crisis-ridden capitalist states.

The Islamic Republic of Iran as a counter-revolutionary government was not and still is not a free-from-crisis state, it is not and will not be a proper and normal state; but none can deny that it is an Islamist capitalist state.
The Islamo-sectarian and ethnical features of the present Iraqi regime should not prevent us from seeing the capitalist essence of the state that they give shape to in Iraq. It is vital for us as a working-class party to be clear about this in order for us to adopt the correct and effective tactics.

In that political system, we have to stress our class-based views regarding the state. We want a socialist republic. I can't formulate another political agenda instead. We can't have another political system and wait until society is stable.

But people do have a great interest in having a state where religion and nationalism have been separated off, and which is a state like in other parts of the world, where most of the states are secular and not nationalistic in that sense.
I'm not talking now about whether the Iraqi Freedom Congress approach was right or not. For a specific period of time I supported the idea of having a sort of political initiative for six months to establish a provisional government, and that provisional government to implement a set of reforms.

The idea behind that project was for us to be engaged in the resistance of the people. The country was going through a civil war. It was what we called the dark scenario.

We wanted to establish ourselves as being for the people's rule in the districts. For people being armed and defending their rights, to save the country from the dark scenario.

In fact we couldn't do that. We couldn't organise a mass movement of armed resistance and civil resistance in the districts.

In my personal view the error of thinking about establishing a provisional government as a prelude to a political system is ended. I do not think that is workable.

We have to go forward independently and separately as a political party of working-class people. The Iraqi Freedom Congress, in my view, is not any more a political answer to the current political situation and political reality of today’s Iraq. Iraq’s political reality is that it is highly polarised on class basis, though the bourgeois camp is dominated by the Islamo-sectarian and nationalist forces, and the working class camp is politically weak.

I don't think the Iraqi Freedom Congress is going to participate in this election. But that is their own decision. The Iraqi Freedom Congress is a separate organisation from our party.

Some people say the bourgeois political parties in Iraq are just spies of other countries. I don't believe that. These parties represent their own specific political interests. They can form alliances with other countries, but it is a matter of mutual interests.

Maliki is linked to Iran but also to American strategy. He plays many cards. Iranian influence is large with many groups. But in the last analysis the political parties in Iraq have their own interests.

Since 2003 every step we have taken has had some effect in the working-class movement. On 6 October there was a demonstration in central Baghdad of at least two thousand workers, protesting for wage increases and other demands at the Ministry of Industry.

Troops shot in the air and threatened them for a long time, but they stayed there. Some of the leaders and activists on that demonstration were members of our party.

I don’t say that the trade union movement is a very strong one. After the collapse of the old regime the working class saw for the first time that they could organise, that they could have their own trade unions. We spread the word among them. It has brought results.

The trade union group linked to the Iraqi Communist Party, the General Federation of Iraqi workers - the TUC is hugely supporting it. We have an independent organisation. We are trying to make it stronger. It is our duty to support our trade union movement. If it has weaknesses we have to overcome them. It is the only way. There is no other way. To defend the demands and the rights and the interests of working-class people you have to have an independent, radical, and very active trade union movement.

Anyone who wants to destabilise that trade union movement, or to make schisms in it, is doing a bad thing. The bourgeoisie is trying its best to take away the content of the trade union movement, and to give it the direction they want. We want to give it another direction.

If we cannot empower the struggles of the workers and the unemployed people and the women and the young people, we can do nothing.

We have many weaknesses. But the movement we have built is still very important.

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