You have been persuaded by the leaders of the so-called anti-war movement and Respect that those who fight the US and British forces in Iraq are bona fide anti-imperialists who fight for national self-determination.
That was never true. The results of the recent election in Iraq show how untrue it is.
Iraq is not a national state, but an old British-colonial unit in which a number of disparate and sometimes antagonistic peoples live. Power has been held for many decades by the leaders of the Sunni Muslim Arabs, who number not more than about one in five of the population.
The big majority, Shia Muslims and Kurds, were kept down by the ruling elite, and were victims of vicious state repression when they expressed their dissatisfaction, as in 1991.
The insurgents, the “resistance”, has various elements, but they are heavily concentrated in the Sunni Arab majority areas.
For the Saddamites, whose Sunni-based state power the invaders destroyed, but also other Sunni Arab political forces, their alienation from US plans for a new political system in Iraq is first and foremost the alienation of a long-entrenched ruling caste. They opposed the elections because any halfway democratic elections would inevitably spell the end of their minority rule and put them in a position subordinate to the Shia majority and the Kurds.
That has been the fundamental driving force of the “resistance” which you have been supporting. To a very considerable extent this Sunni Arab “resistance” has consisted of sectarian attacks on Shias, including the bombing of Shia mosques.
the effective strategy of the “resistance” is to prevent the new elected government gaining any stability, to force the US to “scuttle”, and to hope that its military force will be sufficient to bring it to power in the ensuing conflict.
Such are the “anti-imperialists” behind whom your leaders have lined you up by lies and misrepresentation! Such are the “resistance fighters” who your leaders told you were more important than the reviving Iraqi labour movement, a labour movement whose members have been attacked and killed by the “resistance”.
But the “resistance” fights the US/UK forces? The whites in Zimbabwe moved against Britain in 1965, by a “Unilateral Declaration of Independence” to become independent under white rule and forestall moves by Britain to edge the country towards independence under majority rule. Was that progressive?
The forces that would set up the OAS organised an attempted military coup against the French government in 1961, and then went underground, waging war against both Algeria’s majority and the French state which was making concessions to that majority. Were they progressive?
If the Sunni supremacist militias are anti-imperialists, they are reactionary anti-imperialists.
59% of Iraq’s population voted in the 30 January elections, which means 70-odd per cent in the Shia and Kurdish areas. Only a tiny fraction of the Sunni Arabs voted - the “resistance” threatened to kill those who did.
Nobody with any sense will place confidence in either the occupation forces or those who came out best in the election. The biggest block of seats in the assembly goes to the Shia clericalists. They have affinities with the Iranian regime, and some of them would, given a chance, try to impose a similar clericalist dictatorship in Iraq.
For now, they present a “moderate” face. Efforts are to be made, under the aegis of the occupying powers, to bring in Sunni representatives to exercise their share of power under a new constitution.
We do not know whether, if the “resistance” militias came out of the shadows, the dominant political force within them would prove to be Ba’thists who have “grown their beards” to take up an Islamist banner, but could easily shave them again, or “genuine” Islamists. We do not know whether, if the USA did scuttle, the Sunni militias would stick together, or fall out with each other and eventually be defeated by the Shia and Kurdish militias.
We also do not know whether Shia militias like the Mahdi Army, at present mostly on ceasefire, will return to military action when the new elected government disappoints the Shias (as it will do, to some extent anyway). Those militias too are reactionary, because of their intense Islamism and advocacy of clerical rule.
What the facts do allow us to know - and we urge you to think about it - is how utterly false has been the picture given to you by Respect and by the leaders of the SWP of what is going on in Iraq, and where progress, or possible progress, lies.
We say it lies with the Iraqi labour movement, and therefore with whatever best allows that movement to survive and develop.
Some variety of a pluralist, bourgeois-democratic system would allow the labour movement to develop. The victory of the Sunni-supremacist, Saddamite and Islamist, “resistance” could not but spell death for the Iraqi labour movement and many of its militants.
The occupying US and British forces are perfectly capable of destroying the prospect of a bourgeois-democratic Iraq, and they have already done much damage to it. But they have not destroyed it yet, and in terms of immediate prospects, they have made no public moves to do so.
You, comrade, have been misled into supporting forces of regression and reaction in Iraq — the “resistance” — in the name of an imaginary anti-imperialism. The reactionary “resistance”, which is more akin to the Nazi “resistance” to the occupation forces in Germany in 1945 than to a liberation movement, has been presented to you in an entirely false light.
Progress lies with the Iraqi labour movement and with the attempt to create some species of bourgeois democracy in Iraq. An immediate Iraqi working-class offensive to take power would be better, but for now the politics of the dominant forces in the working-class movement — in the first place the Communist Party of Iraq — rule that out.
The Iraqi working class can learn, and outgrow such politics. If the reactionary “resistance” wins, the working-class movement will be drowned in blood.
We urge you to study the results of the election. We urge you to support the Iraqi working class and its movement!
Yours, Martin Thomas