Labor Advocate Online
Solidarity—Trying to Sort Out Iraq
by Bill Onasch
Jiji Mansoor, in an excellent short article on Occupation Watch, examines the difficulty of understanding all the forces at work in Iraq.
"Any social scientist who hopes to study the Iraqi resistance faces a difficult and complex challenge to determine the ideological and political positions of the resistance for a number of reasons:
of a unified, political and public face of the resistance.
•Field or political leaders wanting to hide their identities from the occupation forces
•The resistance arming itself to oppose the occupation before it was able to develop a social or political platform."
Mansoor notes "The lack of a unified political and social platform has made it possible for a few terrorist groups to operate within the ranks of the resistance and muddle its goals. This has made it easier for the US occupying forces and the interim Iraqi Government to perpetuate the idea to the rest of the world that the fighting in Iraq is against terrorist groups."
In other words, while rejecting Bush/Blair’s phony claims of fighting a war on terrorism we need to understand there are terrorists in Iraq promoting various unsavory causes while masquerading as popular resistance. While most of the resistance focuses on attacking military targets there are also cowardly thugs who kill unarmed Iraqis to incite terror and who assassinate Iraqi political, religious, and trade union leaders they oppose. Such gangs didn’t amount to a hill of beans in Iraq before the war. Now such bad guys–including al Qaeda, whose main accomplishments have been limited to killing large numbers of civilian workers–are thriving in the chaos and fury generated by the U.S. war/occupation.
Last week eighteen poor workers from the Iraqi village of Bayda, ages 16 to 42, were lured to Mosul by bogus promises of good-paying jobs at U.S. bases. Each of them, with hands bound behind their backs, was killed by a single bullet to the back of the head--presumably by "resistance" fighters sending a message not to collaborate with the occupation.
At about the same time, Hadi Salih, International Officer of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), one of the two major union federations in Iraq, was assassinated.
The other major union, the Federation of Worker Councils and Unions of Iraq (FWCUI)–a bitter rival of the IFTU–set aside their important political differences:
"Despite of our difference with IFTU, we strongly condemn all attacks on its activists and members. These brutalities are part of the terrorist war between the USA and its allies and the Islamo-ethnocentric resistance in Iraq and show the anti-human essence of this resistance."
Commenting on the killing of the eighteen the FWCUI sad:
"Tens of civilians are falling dead on daily basis because of this war without having anything to do with it....We condemn strongly the series of killing, assassination and terror against Iraqi workers and we express our condolence to all families and relatives of these workers. Down with terrorism--Immediate end of occupation of Iraq"
Attacks on armed forces and police in a country under foreign occupation can be called resistance. Killing poor workers trying to feed their families is murder. Killing trade union leaders is murder.
From some news stories recently posted in the Daily Labor News Digest:
of Chemical and Plastic Industry in Baghdad concluded their strike successfully
after the administration accepted 7 of their 8 demands....hundreds of workers
¶"400 Textile Workers in the city of Sanadaj have started a strike action against wide-scale dismissals and for achievement of their demands which are ; hygienic workplace, prevention of work-related illnesses and access to medical treatment for workers fallen ill due to work conditions."
¶A "Broad Workers Conference" in Basra demanded:
"1. Immediate and unconditional end of the occupation in Iraq through the strengthening of the front of civil resistance against occupation of Iraq. The workers should stand in forefront of this massive movement and they should strengthen it.
2. The real and active participation of workers in the determination of the structures, labour laws and constitution of the Iraqi future government.
3. Abolishment of any administration and structures based on tribal system and discrimination according to religion or Ethnicity."
¶"Railway Workers in Basra have been engaged in continuous, all-out strike action since the beginning of January 2005, resulting in the cessation of all Rail Transport from Basra. The strike began as a result of the previously reported attacks on Transport workers, including the recent kidnaping of 7 train drivers and the beating and harassment of others by criminals, terrorists and brigands. The IFTU has issued a statement (29 December 2004), which:
A) condemns these criminal acts and supports the demands of the transport workers for adequate security protection on all land transport, especially rail transport;
B) calls on the government to carry out its duty to protect workers from attacks and to provide a safe working environment;
C) urges the government to take urgent steps to secure the immediate release of the kidnapped workers and their safe return to their families and workplaces."
American workers cannot be indifferent to these struggles. American workers in uniform are dying in them–seven National Guard "citizen soldiers" from the same town were killed in an incident last week. Nearly 150 billion of our tax dollars have been drained away to create this nightmare and another 100 billion is being demanded by the Bush administration.
We should demonstrate solidarity by giving political and material support to the heroic Iraqi trade unions battling both the U.S. occupation and terrorists.
Above all, we must demand to get our GIs out of harm’s way and let the Iraqi people determine their own destiny.
Now is the time to join and rally around US Labor Against the War in the campaign to Bring Our GIs Home Now!