Iraq: Defend the Sunni Rebellion against the Maliki Regime and US Imperialism!

Down with all Reactionary Religious Sectarianism! For a Workers’ and Peasants’ Republic!

Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 22.6.2014,


1.            A mass rebellion of the Sunni population has swept away government control over most of the Sunni areas in Iraq. This rebellion has sounded alarm bells not only among the bourgeois-Islamist Shia sectarian regime of Nouri al-Maliki, but also among the ruling classes in Washington and Teheran. The resulting destabilization of post-occupation Iraq signals a major defeat for US imperialism. As a result, the US has begun a new military intervention in Iraq. In light of these developments, the central task of socialists is to defend the uprising against the attempts of the Maliki regime, as well as of Washington and Teheran, to crush it. At the same time, reactionary forces like the arch-reactionary Salafist group Islamic State in Iraq and Levante (ISIL – often also abridged as ISIS) must be driven back, since they represent a major obstacle to the building of a non-sectarian resistance of workers and peasants in the Middle East against imperialism and reactionary dictatorships. The task is to transform the current rebellions in the Middle East into a region-wide class struggle for a socialist federation of workers’ and peasants’ republics.

2.            A broad coalition of Sunni resistance organization has launched a major insurrection which successfully drove the army of the pro-US Maliki regime out of nearly all major towns in the north and west of Iraq. In a few days, the insurgents conquered cities like Mosul, Tikrit, Tal Afar, Baiji, and Rawa. As early as January of this year, these forces had taken over Falluja – the center of an heroic popular insurrection against the US occupation in March 2004 – and Ramadi. Their easy victories are the result of mass support for the insurrection, on the one hand, and of the highly demoralized Iraqi army whose soldiers were not willing to fight for the thoroughly reactionary and corrupt Maliki regime which was imposed by the US occupation forces before their withdrawal from the country.

3.            Contrary to how theses latest developments are depicted in many Western media outlets, this is not an insurrection led solely by the reactionary Salafists of ISIL. It is a popular insurrection of the Sunni workers and peasants, albeit led by various petty-bourgeois nationalist and Islamist forces. Besides ISIL these are mainly the Baathist Jaysh Rijal al-Tariqa al-Naqshbandia (JRTN, led by the former Saddam Hussein deputy Izzat al-Duri), Harith al-Dhari's Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, the Islamic Army, the Rashidin Army, the Iraqi Hamas, Abdullah al-Janabi's Fallujah-centered Mujahidin Shura Council, the Anbar Tribes Revolutionary Council, and the Army of Pride and Dignity. While these forces are all Sunni-centered, many of them reject the sectarian hate-propaganda and actions against the Shiite population purported by ISIL.

4.            The present insurrection is the legacy of the US conquest and occupation of Iraq between 2003 and 2011. Since its inception, the Maliki regime has been discredited by its collaboration with the US occupation forces. This regime has conducted a policy of brutal suppression against the Sunnis and has excluded them from employment in the public sector. This suppression escalated dramatically during the past year and a half, after the outbreak of the Iraqi Spring in Anbar province in December 2012, from whence peaceful mass demonstrations and sit-ins soon spread to other provinces. Protesters demanded the resignation of the government, jobs for the unemployed, higher wages, the release of political prisoners, etc. Instead of offering any concessions, the government chose to brutally smash the peaceful mass demonstrations of mostly Sunni workers and peasants. The result was a mass radicalization of the resistance and the formation of a military coalition which is now leading the present insurrection.

5.            Like Maliki’s government, the exacerbation of sectarian divisions is the direct results of the country’s occupation by US imperialism. Faced with mass resistance against the occupation, the US colonial administration encouraged indiscriminate sectarian terrorist attacks between the Shiite and Sunni populations. By such a “divide et impera” policy they hoped to weaken the resistance. While indeed this policy of divide and rule resulted in a temporary weakening of the anti-imperialist resistance, due to Obama’s promises to the American public, the US occupation forces couldn’t postpone leaving the country in 2011 before managing to politically stabilize the country under their control. Instead the Maliki regime is ignored by the Kurdish people, who have established a kind of semi-autonomous area; it is despised by the Sunni population, which has now rebelled en masse; and it is also discredited among the Shiite population. In short, the present rebellion is a major defeat for US imperialism and demonstrates the bankruptcy of its colonial plans for the Middle East.

6.            The RCIT calls for socialists to support the Sunni insurrection. This insurrection is just because the Sunni people have been discriminated and brutally suppressed since the beginning of the US occupation in 2003. It is just because it is directed against the reactionary Maliki government, a lackey of US imperialism. However socialists must not lend any support to the (petty-)bourgeois leaderships of the Sunni forces. In particular they must encourage the formation of self-defense groups against the arch-reactionary ISIL. Socialists should oppose any advance of Sunni insurgents into Shiite territories, which would only terribly inflame sectarian tensions. Socialists should fight against sectarian divisions and call for the formation of joint action councils and militias of Sunni, Shiites, and Kurdish workers and peasants.

7.            US President Obama is now attempting to save as much as possible the stakes of the largest imperialist power. He has already ordered 300 troops as “military advisers” to Baghdad in addition to the 5,500 (!) strong personal already stationed at the US embassy. He has also deployed the aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush and two guided missile ships into the Persian Gulf. He is forced to negotiate with the bourgeois-Islamist regime of Iran which, for years, the US government has declared as being part of the “Axis of Evil.” In the short term, another full-scale invasion of US imperialism involving a large number of ground troops is unlikely, given the high risk of American casualties due to the fierce resistance in Iraq, to say nothing of the tremendous unpopularity of additional foreign wars among a clear majority of the US population. However, there is a real danger that the US will bomb the insurgents with their deadly air force and drones. In addition, a limited intervention by Special Forces on the ground is possible.

8.            US imperialism is faced with a dilemma. Maliki has repeatedly called upon the US and Teheran to lend him more support. He has called for the US to bomb the Sunni insurgents. However, Washington knows that diplomatic moves to integrate sectors of the Sunni leaderships in the Iraqi government are necessary, something which the Maliki government has vehemently opposed doing until now. However, replacing al-Maliki, Washington’s main ally in the country, is no easy task, since there are few other reliable forces amongst the Shiite political parties. Most of them are either close to the regime in Teheran or follow Muqtada al-Sadr, a petty-bourgeois Islamist who led an insurrection against the US occupation in 2004 and who expressed his solidarity with the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Spring.

9.            We in the RCIT consider it as the duty of socialists around the world to oppose any form of military intervention of US imperialism in Iraq. Washington’s wars against Iraq have already cost the lives of at least one million Iraqis and displaced four million people. It is important that the international workers’ movement mobilizes against another US war in Iraq. Socialists should call for the immediate withdrawal of all US military personal from Iraq, as well as of the US navy from the Persian Gulf. In a military conflict, socialists should stand for the defeat of the US forces and for the military victory of its opponents (even if it is such arch-reactionaries like the ISIL).

10.          The bourgeois-Islamist regime of Iran is determined to support the Maliki regime. It hopes to strengthen its influence and to use the present situation to gain recognition by US imperialism. It has therefore already reached out to Washington to coordinate their military activities in Iraq. Teheran’s strategic goal is to come to some accommodation with Washington, which would help it become a major regional power with good relations with US, Russian, as well as Chinese imperialism. This demonstrates once more that the regime in Teheran is not “anti-imperialist” out of any principled considerations. It is a capitalist regime the class interests of which came into conflict with those of US imperialism after the Iranian Revolution in 1979. When the Iranian bourgeoisie spots a chance to come to reconciliation with Washington without giving up its power, it will do so. For this reason, the RCIT has in the past always called for the defense of Iran against sanctions and any military threats of imperialism, because it is a semi-colonial country which is suppressed and super-exploited by the imperialist world order. At the same time, we have always refused to give any political support to the regime and have consistently warned against having any illusions in its “anti-imperialist” rhetorical. We stand for the defeat of imperialism, against any military intervention of Iran in the Iraqi civil war, for a socialist revolution against the Teheran regime, and the establishment of a workers’ and peasant republic as part of a Socialist federation of the people of the Middle East.

11.          The recent developments in Iraq have been a major blow to the myth of the petty-bourgeois pro-Assad left (mostly Stalinists, Bolivarian supporters of Chavez and Morales, various pseudo-Trotskyist groups, etc.). For more than three years now, these forces have been claiming that the reactionary dictatorship in Syria represents an “anti-imperialist camp” while the Syrian rebels were supposed to be pro-imperialist US agents. As it is well known, the Iraqi Maliki regime, as well as Teheran, has been from the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in spring 2011 the closest supporters of Assad – aside from the Putin government of imperialist Russia. These pseudo-socialists ignore that fact that the Syrian Revolution has an authentic democratic character representing the desire of the workers and peasants to get rid of the decades-old Assad dictatorship. They ignore that the Assad regime – which has collaborated repeatedly with US imperialism in the past – is a close ally of Russian (and Chinese) imperialism and is seeking some sort of reconciliation with Washington. The official envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East, Tony Blair – the former British Prime Minister and war criminal of the Iraq War – has already called for a full military intervention of Western imperialism and an accommodation with Syria’s dictator Assad. The petty-bourgeois pro-Assad left entirely ignores that the basic democratic and popular character of the Syrian Revolution is not at all undermined by the reactionary actions of groups like ISIL, nor by the treacherous collaboration of some leaders of the opposition with US imperialism. As we see now, it is the so “anti-imperialist” allies of Assad – Maliki and Teheran – which are calling for the military intervention of US imperialism! The RCIT states that authentic socialists must continue to support the Syrian Revolution in order to bring down the Assad regime without giving any political support to the (petty-)bourgeois leaderships of the rebels like the FSA, al-Nusra, or ISIS.

12.          The Kurdistan Regional Government in the north of Iraq has seized the opportunity created by the present crisis for the Maliki government and has expanded the territory it controls to include the oil center of Kirkuk. For the time being, the KRG has reached a tacit agreement with the Sunni insurgents and refrains from initiating any military attacks against them. The leading forces of the Kurdish government – the two factions of the Barzani and the Talabani clan – are thoroughly bourgeois. Their interest is to establish their own capitalist state and to use the region’s oil reserves for profitable trade. However, given the historic oppression of the Kurds – in Iraq, as well as in Iran, Turkey, and Syria – socialists must defend the Kurdish people’s right for independence. However, we advocate an independent Kurdistan which is not under the control of the bourgeois clans but of the workers and peasants. Hence, the RCIT calls for an independent workers’ and peasants republic of Kurdistan which unites the Kurdish people of all four countries.

* Defend the Sunni popular insurrection against the Iraqi army!

* Down with any military intervention of US imperialism! Support the insurgents against any military intervention of US imperialism! For international mobilizations to defeat the US aggression!

* Down with the reactionary sectarianism! Drive the ISIL forces out of the resistance movement!

* Defend the Kurdish people’s right of self-determination! For a united and socialist Kurdistan!

* Victory to the Syrian Revolution against the Assad Regime!

* No military intervention of Iran! Down with the bourgeois-Islamist regime in Teheran!

* For joint action councils and militias of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish workers and peasants!

* Expropriate the foreign owners of the Iraqi oil industry without compensation! Nationalize all oil companies, large industrial and telecommunication enterprises and banks under workers control!

* For a workers’ and peasants’ government! For a socialist federation of the people of the Middle East!


International Secretariat of the RCIT