A passionate speech by an Iraqi trade unionist helped to sway Labour delegates from voting to withdraw British troops from Iraq at last week’s Labour conference.
Abdullah Muhsin of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) said premature withdrawal would “lead to a bitter civil war”. Muhsin has addressed meetings of British trade unions, many of which are anti-war. The British and US governments are attempting to use the IFTU to divide the trade unions and the anti-war movement.
HANI LAZIM, a member of Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation, told Socialist Worker about the IFTU.
THE IFTU claims that it speaks on behalf of Iraqi trade unions. This is not true. They are self appointed leaders.
There are four trade union movements in Iraq. The first one was a coalition of the left. The US, backed up by the interim president Iyad Allawi and his entourage, went in and smashed it.
Abdullah Muhsin lives in Britain. He is a political refugee and a leading member of the Iraqi Communist Party, a party that is collaborating with the occupation. The Communist Party has ministers in the interim governing council.
These people collaborated with Saddam in the 1970s, using violence against anyone who resisted his rule. They shouted their heads off in support of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. When the Soviet Union went, they jumped to the CIA.
Some trade unionists have officially invited Muhsin here. There is a question mark over some of the people who are promoting him and the sincerity of their stand on the war. The IFTU has to be opposed.
If you are part of a government that allows the US to bomb towns like Fallujah and the al-Sadr area of Baghdad, don’t tell me you oppose the occupation. It has allowed areas like Tal Afar to be emptied, and people are forced to live as refugees. Most parts of Iraq are very angry. People have had one and a half years with no chance of a job.
The IFTU hardly exists. There are hardly any factories in Iraq. They have been dismantled and sold as scrap. Why doesn’t the IFTU demand employment for Iraqis? Unemployment is running at 60 to 80 percent in some areas.
US companies like Halliburton don’t trust Iraqis so they bring in Indians, Filipinos and workers from other poor countries. These poor bastards are getting killed in Iraq.
Where does the IFTU stand on that? Instead of providing a figleaf of cover for Blair and the occupation it should be making demands for the Iraqi working class.
The new US ambassador to Iraq is John Negroponte. He specialises in guiding gangs of killers and kidnappers. Since he came to Iraq at the end of June kidnappings have increased. He is the real ruler of Iraq.
The IFTU and the Iraqi Communist Party don’t represent the working class or Iraqi society. They are a gang of the worst kind of traitors.What happened at the Labour Party conference was a big con.
The US is building bases to stay in Iraq for 50 years, until the last drop of oil is gone.
They are talking about elections in Iraq. The Iraqi people would throw out Allawi and all these collaborationist groups if there was a free vote.
The Labour Party motion said that troops will leave Iraq if asked to do so by an elected government. But the US is creating the conditions to stay in Iraq forever.
KEN COATES, the former Labour MEP (right), told Socialist Worker:
THE MECHANISM for representing Iraqi people is not one which any structured political party could accept.
I don’t know who these people represent. Iraq hasn’t got any structure which elects people.
We have got to take these Iraqi people as individual spokespersons and judge them by what they say. I don’t think anyone can claim that the Iraqi trade union movement wants this or that.
The reconstitution of the Iraqi trade union movement is needed, but it probably lies in the future after the immense struggle against the occupation is resolved.
The one thing that the trade union movement here shouldn’t do is the wrong thing. I can see no good reason for taking up the views of this Iraqi trade union federation. It is a mistake.
Labour delegates didn’t hear the voices of ordinary people
SHANAZ RASHID was another Iraqi trotted out by Labour’s leadership to swing the conference vote.
Rashid won a standing ovation when she said, “For the great majority of Iraqis, WMD was never the issue.
“We don’t understand the criticism of your prime minister. All we wanted was to be free.”
Shanaz Rashid is not an “ordinary Iraqi”. She is a high-ranking member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which has close links with the US and supported the invasion of Iraq.
She has attended the Socialist International, which includes the Labour Party, congress several times for the PUK.
There are many different political groups organising among the Kurds. Shanaz Rashid is associated with a pro-US faction.
One of her relatives is married to the Iraqi deputy prime minister. Her husband, Latif Rashid, is a minister in the Iraqi government.
Kurdish activist Sait Akgul told Socialist Worker, “Her appearance at the Labour Party conference is another example of Blair’s double standards.
“No Kurds were allowed to go to the Labour Party conference to plead the case of our leader Abdullah Ocalan, who was captured by Turkey, or for our political prisoners.
“Why is this woman a hero and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) group, which has millions of supporters, described as ‘terrorist’?”