Iraqi communists have faced grave difficulties opposing a U.S. war against Iraq, while at the same time fighting for democratic alternatives to a repressive government headed by Pres. Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi Communist Party has rejected the false claims by the Bush Administration that war for a “regime change” is in the interests of the Iraqi people. At the same time, they argue, democratic change must begin and be led by the Iraqi people themselves, not the Bush Administration.

The following article is excerpted from the British Morning Star newspaper, Jan. 16 edition. – PWW ed.

Iraqi communists are warning that the Iraqi opposition should not pin its hopes on “American war, American invasion and American ‘liberation.’”

The party is calling for equality and mutual respect in line with Iraqi peoples interests, rather than “subservience to the U.S. Iraq liberation Act and American schemes.’

Explaining his party’s refusal to participate in the “opposition conference” in London Iraqi Communist Party Central Committee Secretary Hameed Majid Mousa said the proper way to convene such conference is “through direct consultations among Iraqi patriotic opposition forces, without interference or patronage from any foreign quarter.”

He adds: “We have always considered our principal objective to be getting rid of the dictatorship and establishing a democratic alternative, which embodies the people’s will and interests – a unified democratic Iraq, in which the Kurdish national question would be resolved on a federal basis.”

Nevertheless, the party highlights the ambiguities in the conference. It questions where the conference stands on the war. It points out that the public division of Iraq’s oil resources among foreign imperialist interests, with the open endorsement of pro-U.S. “opposition” forces, makes it more difficult to unite the patriotic Iraqi Opposition.

Traditionally a mass party, with wide support inside Iraqi society, the Communist Party works in extremely difficult circumstances.

For decades, it has borne the brunt of repression by Saddam Hussien’s state machine.

At the same time, it has maintained a principled opposition to foreign interference in Iraqi affairs. Its forces inside Iraq operate in condition of extreme secrecy – at the same time, it maintains a powerful presence in the mainly Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, which are outside the control of Saddam’s regime. An Iraqi Kurdistan Communist Party minister serves in the local government, which is led by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Mustafa Barzani. Indeed, the autonomous Kurdish communists have played a key role in defusing the rivalries between the two main Kurdish nationalist parties – the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is led by Jalal Talabani.

Iraqi communists exiled in London are a vital conduit for accurate information from inside the country. The party has established a formidable reputation for being exceptionally well-informed about developments inside Iraq, among the military and security apparatus and among opposition groups.

Welcoming [Jan. 11] conference of the Stop the War coalition, Iraqi CP central committee member Salam Ali said, “the aspirations of the Iraqi people for change and democracy cannot be safely left to the U.S. and British governments. There is no question that Saddam Hussein’s continued rule has served U.S. strategic interests in the region. In the 12 wasted years since the end of the Gulf War, the U.S. and Britain have contrived to keep the regime externally weak, but internally stronger relative to the people and the opposition forces. This is because they fear the democratic expression of our people’s will. Lifting the economic blockade will help our people and enable them to fight the dictatorial regime more effectively.”

The Iraqi communists are optimistic, but brutally realistic. War is not inevitable, they say. It can and should be averted. They argue that there is an internationally agreed framework for bringing about democracy and human rights in Iraq – including a federal solution to the Kurdish national question. This is embodied in UN Security Council resolution 688 (April 1991), which deals with the situation of human rights in Iraq.

But they fear that, faced with end of its power, the regime will turn its military machine on the people, especially the areas outside its control in Iraqi Kurdistan.

They worry that a missing or weak aspect of the campaign against the war is a focus on human and democratic rights in Iraq. And their experiences teach them not only that they cannot rely on foreign forces but that whoever brings about changes in Iraq will determine the nature of those changes. War and foreign military intervention can only bring further death and destruction and will not bring about a real democratic alternative. Salvation from dictatorship is a task for the Iraqi people and their democratic forces – with legitimate international support and solidarity.