General Federation of Iraqi Workers —
Against the Occupation of Iraq?
by Michael Letwin
One of the featured speakers represents the Iraq Federation of Oil Workers, which spearheads opposition to privatization of Iraqi oil and demands immediate U.S. withdrawal.
However, the tour also includes a representative of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (GFIW). The GFIW (formerly IFTU) is sponsored by the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) and former U.S.-installed Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. These parties oppose immediate U.S. withdrawal, support Bush’s “surge,” and demand that the Iraqi puppet regime crush Iraqi resistance — positions that are echoed by the GFIW.
Inexplicably, U.S. tour organizers deny these well-documented facts (see, e.g., “Trojan Horse in the Antiwar Movement: Facts About the IFTU,” New York City Labor Against the War, June 20, 2005, <groups.yahoo.com/group/LaborAgainstWar/message/2264>), which are confirmed by recent evidence (below).*
NYCLAW believes that such support for pro-occupation forces undermines genuine solidarity with Iraqi workers, weakens the fight for immediate U.S. withdrawal, and has no place on an antiwar platform. We also believe that tour organizers owe an explanation for their continuing misrepresentation of GFIW’s true position.
We urge those who attend these public meetings to question the sponsors and GFIW representatives on these issues.
Political Affairs, November 25, 2006
As Iraqi Minister of Science and Technology, Raid Fahmi is also a member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist party. . . .
We think that it’s not possible to call for an immediate withdrawal. The country is united on this front. . . . At this point, we can say that the maximum period for withdrawal should not surpass three years. As for the military bases, the Iraqi government has not yet dealt with this question.
People’s Weekly World, November 30, 2006
Iraqi Communist Party viewpoint
A national consensus is emerging in Iraq, among the major political forces, that there should be a clearly defined objective timetable for a speedy withdrawal of the occupying forces, linked to rebuilding the Iraqi armed forces. . . . [A]n immediate withdrawal is widely seen by Iraqis as not feasible.
Philadelphia Citypaper, January 31, 2007
While [antiwar] protesters would applaud [U.S. withdrawal], Abdullah Muhsin, international representative of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), says the prospect of a U.S. withdrawal is to be feared. . . .
“[T]he removal of foreign troops should happen at a time when the Iraqis have security forces which are fully loyal to Iraq and its constitution, and a police to maintain law and order. . . . If the American troops leave, Iraq will become a bloodbath and turn toward the dark ages.”
An official with the national oil union in Iraq who identified himself as Abdull-Latif during a telephone interview last week has a different perspective. “We are against any occupation,” he said in Arabic. “It was imposed on us and we want Iraq to be completely sovereign so we can make our own decisions.”
Deutsche Presse-Agentur, February 25, 2007
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Saturday . . . praised the results of a newly implemented security strategy [Bush’s “surge”], in which he claimed that Iraqi and coalition forces have killed 400 terrorists and detained more than 400 others. . . .
Hameed Moussa, head of the Iraqi Communist Party, also described the plan as ‘positive,’ and called ‘comforting’ the initial indications.
‘It will succeed despite of challenges and difficulties,’ he added.
Arab News, March 31, 2007
In Iraq, the two Communist parties, along with the Social Democrats and other center-left groups, supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and continue to play a significant role in shaping the new pluralist system. . . .
[S]ays Awad Nasir, one of Iraq’s best-known poets and a lifelong Communist. “We heard from the US and Western Europe that being left meant being anti-American. So we were anti-American. And then we saw Americans coming from the other side of the world to save us from Saddam Hussein, something that our leftist friends and the Soviet Union would never contemplate”. . . .
“We had hoped that with a party of the left in power in Madrid we would get more support against the Islamofascists not a withdrawal,” says Aziz Al-Haj, the veteran Iraqi Communist leader. . . .
Reza Khosravi, a veteran of Iran’s Communist movement, cites history as justification for the left’s rejection of “banal anti-Americanism.”
GFIW, April 19, 2007
Wishyaar Hamad Haji, a member of the secretariat of the [GFIW-affiliate] Iraqi Kurdistan Teachers’ Union. . . . was on a whistle-stop tour [of the UK]. . . .
[H]e argued that troops out now would be a “catastrophe” without first building up the capacity of the Iraqi security forces, for which he wanted training from British troops. If only more people on the left would heed what trade unionists like Wishyaar are asking for.
Michael Letwin, Former President of UAW Local 2325/Assn. of Legal Aid Attorneys, is a co-conveners of NYC Labor Against the War.