Reply-To: "pedro martori"
From: "pedro martori"
Subject: Iraq's Communists Want Take over
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Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 01:01:21 -0500
NNTP-Posting-Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2003 01:01:17 EST
Organization: Bell Sympatico
Iraq's Communists Want Take over
By SLOBODAN LEKIC
.c The Associated Press
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's largest leftist party - which battled Saddam
Hussein's dictatorship and now holds a seat on the U.S.-picked Governing
Council - blames Washington for the upsurge in armed resistance and wants
U.N. peacekeepers to replace American troops in the near future.
Salaam Ali, a member of the Iraqi Communist Party's Central Committee, told
The Associated Press that the slowness of the occupation authorities in
devising a viable plan for the transfer of authority to an Iraqi government
had emboldened ``defeated elements'' of Saddam's regime and religious
``If the Americans had listened to us back in May and allowed a national
conference to pick a legitimate government, there would never have been this
level of instability,'' Ali said in an interview in his office, where a
small, gold colored statue of Lenin stood on the mantle.
Still, the party - Iraq's oldest and broadest secular political grouping -
intends to stick with the 25-member Governing Council and to cooperate with
L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in the country, during the
upcoming transition. The party's secretary general, Hamid Majid Moussa, will
continue to serve on the body, Ali said.
Despite the ideological differences between the communists - who still
stress their Marxist roots - and the coalition, officials say the two sides
have cooperated surprisingly well over the past several months.
Much of this is due to the fact that the communists and other secular
parties serve as a political counterbalance to the dominant, but fractious,
Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups and the ethnic-based Kurdish parties.
Historically, the party has drawn support mainly from the impoverished
Shiites of southern Iraq. In the 1960s, with the help of money from the
Soviet Union, its influence gradually spread to rural communities and middle
classes in the Sunni-dominated central part of Iraq. Despite its secular
roots, the party's program calls for respect for Iraq's Islamic and Arab
``The Communist Party probably has the broadest geographical representation
in the country, it's the most national of the parties,'' said a coalition
official who asked not to be identified. ``We get along fine with them and
they've behaved responsibly in terms of the redevelopment of Iraq.''
But, the official said, it was difficult to gauge the extent of influence
and public support that a secular and nonreligious party can garner in
``It's hard to predict how they will fare in free elections particularly if
these are going to be on sectarian, tribal or ethnic lines.''
According to a Nov. 15 U.S. blueprint for transferring power to Iraqis,
nationwide caucuses to elect members of a transitional legislature will be
held in spring. A provisional government is to be named by July 1, when
occupation authorities will turn over power and sovereignty to the new
The provisional government would run the country until a general election is
held and a new constitution adopted before the end of 2005.
``We are encouraging the masses to get involved in this political process
and in the creation of new democratic institutions,'' Ali said in an
interview at the Party's downtown headquarters.
But if the security situation still requires the presence of foreign troops
next year, the communists will demand that the new government invite the
United Nations to take over that role.
``We have always believed that the U.N. has a central role to play.
International forces should be under the auspices of the U.N. Security
Council with full agreement of the Iraqi government,'' Ali said. It's known
that the United Nations always has favored leftiest governments.
This flies in the face of Washington's plans - U.S. officials want the
provisional government to conclude a new status of forces agreement that
will allow the American forces to remain in Iraq.
The communists have already crossed swords with the United States in the
past. In 1960, they supported the nationalization of Iraq's vast oil
resources, infuriating the Eisenhower administration.
After the Baath Party overthrew the communist-supported government of Gen.
Abdel Karim Qassim in a CIA-backed coup, thousands of communists and other
leftists were executed by Saddam.
The party eventually regrouped and established a presence in Kurdistan in
northern Iraq, where its armed militia fought alongside Kurdish resistance
groups against Saddam's army. Clandestine cells also operated elsewhere in
Iraq despite being hounded by the secret police.
The communists say that after 40 years in the political wilderness, they now
want to stage a major political comeback.
The party publishes its own newspaper - Tariq al-Shaab (The Peoples' Road) -
and is starting a weekly magazine and a radio station.
With a core of committed activists and a growing network of party cells,
they intend to re-establish influence in their traditional constituencies -
workers, peasants, and educated professionals, Ali said.
But the coalition forces want for a free and democratic Iraq, not a
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