Let's turn a dark scenario into a bright future A look at the Iraqi situation
Azar Majedi

It is dark times in Iraq. The country has been ravaged by the USA and Britain. It is been bombarded to the dark ages; no sign of modern society is left, no electricity, no running water; hospitals have been looted and ransacked. People do not dare go to work; there is actually no work to go to. People are still being killed every day, not only from illness and lack of medical facilities, malnourishment, and unsanitary water, but also as a result of shootings, missiles and rockets. This is Iraq after weeks of bombings and attacks by US and British forces.

Contrary to what the Western media has tried to portray, the dictator's fall has not lead to liberty, joy and solidarity as they expected. The reason is simple: the fall of the oppressive regime was not the result of a revolution - the act of organised people but rather through military aggression by a bullying super power. This does not only not encourage people's active participation and their engagement and involvement, but rather pushes them back to the confinements of their homes, to helplessness, and desperation and creates a climate of hopelessness, anxiety and anguish. The dictator's fall and the chaotic situation created by the power vacuum, the absence of organised people in the centre of events, and the resentment of a humiliated and desperate people towards foreign occupation has unleashed the dark forces of reaction, namely, Kurdish and Arab nationalism and political Islam.

One of the disturbing features of Iraqi society now is ethnic fighting, deepening of religious and ethnic hatred, and the gathering momentum of political Islam. The fighting between Kurdish Pishmargas and Arab groups in Kirkuk was most disturbing. Last week's events when thousands of people duped by religious fervour in these desperate times led by mullahs and masochistic men inflicting injuries on themselves marched to Karbala, chanting pro-Islamic slogans in a trance-like state, covered with blood and sand, creating a surreal, claustrophobic and terrifying atmosphere, was a preview of what an Islamic state, or a powerful Islamic movement would bring for the people of Iraq. It is ironic that this orchestrated show of cruelty and masochism was described by the Western media and by the USA government as freedom of religion and was glorified as an indication of the newly won freedom of the Iraqi people. These are indeed alarming indications of a dark scenario unfolding in Iraq before our eyes.

America's scenario

It was announced that USA and British forces would remove Saddam Hussein's regime - 'the forces of evil', by 'surgical' military action and replace it with the 'forces of good' - like a Hollywood action movie. The real scenario, however, was very different. It is true that the fall of the Iraqi regime was relatively quick, yet it fell at a huge human cost. Moreover, the tragedy did not end with the fall of the regime. The immediate aftermath has been chaos and the climate will continue to be one of hatred, oppression and deprivation for the Iraqi people. We are told that a two-stage plan has been set to run Iraq. First, an American general will run the country and then an Iraqi government hand-picked by the US will come to power. There was a meeting in Baghdad today of representatives of different tribes plus some Iraqi opposition on the US State Department's payroll, chaired by General Garner, attempting to set up an interim government. What a mockery of freedom and the exercise of people's will. This is clearly a dark scenario being played by the US in Iraq. Taking Iraq back to the Middle Ages, handing the power to tribesmen and religious mullahs, giving them the green light for tearing the society apart. This has nothing to do with the aspirations and will of the people of Iraq.

The reality is that Iraq is a society, which has been under brutal dictatorship for decades. It has been deprived of political freedoms, freedom of speech and organisation. Political parties were banned and any opposition activities were severely punished. There is indeed a vacuum of political organisations. The conditions under which the dictatorship was overthrown has not led to the flourishing of political freedoms and organisation, but rather led to the unleashing of the most reactionary and backward political forces, namely nationalism and political Islam. The USA's plan is to bring these reactionary forces together and form a government, which fits nicely in the New World Order it seeks to establish. This plan is not acceptable.

What is to be done?

Under the circumstances the aim must be to create a free and safe society in which people can express and organise themselves freely and ultimately choose a government under free and secure conditions. This is the only acceptable option if we are to respect people's will and try and secure a free society. Already in this narrow space that has been created, we are witnessing the coming to the fore of previously banned and persecuted progressive organisations. The establishment of the headquarters of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq in major cities of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Mosul and Nasiriyah, the distribution of their paper, their organising public meetings which address people's grievances and aspirations, and the meeting with the oil workers in Kirkuk regarding their demands are all signs that in these dark times there is room for hopes, provided a free environment is safeguarded and reactionary forces are confined.

The situation is complex and intricate. The society has been torn apart. Opportunistic reactionary movements are making inroads in the vacuum and as a result of people's justified resentment against US and British aggression and occupation. Presently, political Islam is hijacking the movement demanding the withdrawal of USA forces and an end to occupation. This is indeed alarming.

Progressive, freedom loving people and international organisations must join forces to help reach the best possible solution in Iraq under these circumstances. The best practical demand at present is the withdrawal of USA and British forces and the intervention of the United Nations. The UN must try and safeguard free and secure conditions under which the Iraqi people can participate and engage freely in political activities and organisations. After a set period, an election must be organised under the supervision of the UN in which all political parties can take part freely. In the meantime a charter announcing the basic rights of the people must be proclaimed and imposed in the society. This charter must contain:

1. Unconditional freedom of thought, expression, press, association, organisation, political affiliation and strike. 2. The separation of religion from the state and education. Abolition of laws policies, and regulations with a religious basis. Freedom of religion and atheism. 3. Complete and unconditional equality of women and men in civil and individual rights. Abolition of all laws and regulations that contravene this principle. 4. Equality of all citizens irrespective of gender, religion, nationality, race and citizenship. 5. Freedom of all political prisoners. 6. Abolition of capital punishment. 7. General access to media and mass communication for all, in particular political parties and groups.

The USA plan must be stopped and reactionary movements such as political Islam and nationalism must be contained. The only hope for a free, just and egalitarian Iraq is Worker-communism. All freedom-loving people, all humanitarian, left and progressive organisations are duty bound to help end the tragedy in Iraq and work to change the unfolding dark scenario put into action by the US with the participation of reactionary forces in Iraq. Our joint forces and action will not only play a crucial role in the lives of people in Iraq but will have a significant impact in turning the tide against the USA's New World Order, the dawn of which has been so tragic and devastating for Iraq and the region.