Bring Down the Government of Haider al-Abadi! Build Popular Councils! For a Workers and Poor Peasants Government!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 17 July 2018, www.thecommunists.net
1. A spontaneous popular insurrection is sweeping through southern Iraq since 8 July. Starting in Basra, the demonstrations, blockades and occupations have spread to Najaf, Zukkar, Meysan, Misan, Babel, Karbala, Hille and Baghdad. People are protesting against unemployment, the rising cost of living and a lack of basic services. Demonstrators have occupied offices of oil companies, blockaded streets, stormed Najaf's international airport and surrounded the governor's house in Nasiriyah. Protests were also directed against other local government and party headquarters as well as against buildings belonging to powerful sectarian Shiite militias. The struggle has escalated in recent days after police began to brutally suppress the demonstrations. So far nine demonstrators have been killed and more than 250 people (including 30 from the security personnel) injured. It seems that a pre-revolutionary situation has opened.
2. Recognizing the serious state of affairs, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi commissioned a delegation of five ministers to visit Basra city. This commission promised to raise the level of services for citizens and to create 10,000 jobs. As this didn’t calm down the situation, Abadi flew to Basra from Brussels where he had attended the recent NATO summit. However, until now the government failed to pacify the insurrection. Quite the opposite, demonstrators stormed the hotel in Basra where the Prime Minister was residing and bodyguards had to evacuate Abadi in great haste!
3. Abadi’s Dawa party has dominated Iraqi politics since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that resulted in the imperialist occupation of the country. However, the demonstrators do not only resent the domination of US imperialism, they also reject the interference of Iran. People are shouting slogans like “Iran, we don't want you anymore!” They also set fire to office buildings of the pro-US Islamic Dawa Party as well as the Iranian-backed Al-Badr Organisation, the Shia Supreme Islamic Council Party or the pro-iranian Kataib Hizbullah’s office in Najaf.
4. The Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads a petty-bourgeois Islamist populist movement (and who played a leading role in two armed insurrections against the US occupation forces in 2004 and 2007), tries to politically exploit the protests by cautiously expressing his sympathies for the goals of the demonstrators. However, he also tries to pacify the protests by condemning “violence”. Al-Sadr leads a coalition with the Stalinist “Communist” Party and other forces, which won a majority in May’s parliamentary election on an anti-corruption platform.
5. After 15 years of American occupation and Iranian interference, corrupt governments and sectarian militias, the Iraqi people are living in desperate conditions. Large areas are still destroyed – first and foremost Mosul in the north – and many public services don’t work properly or not at all. Officially, 10.8% of Iraqis are jobless, while youth unemployment is twice as high in a country where 60% of the population are less than 24 years old. This is just the latest example of the failure of imperialism as well as local capitalist elites.
6. There seem to be attempts of the protestors to organize themselves as they announced the establishment of a Demonstrators Council. However, it is obvious that bourgeois tribal forces (like the Bani Tamim clan, one of Basra’s largest tribes) use their influence in order to divert and pacify the insurrection. For example, a statement of the Council calls for the army to replace the elected officials. Such a move would represent a huge setback for the liberation struggle of the workers and oppressed in Iraq.
7. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly welcomes the popular insurrection. If successful, it could deliver a serious blow against the reactionary aggressions in the Middle East – both of US imperialism as well as of regional powers like Iran. It could create the precondition for the expulsion of foreign occupation forces as well as for the overthrow of the Iraqi comprador bourgeoisie. Hence, a successful insurrection could open the door for the creation of a workers and poor peasants’ government.
8. The importance of the popular insurrection goes far beyond Iraq. Since the country is a key area for the regional machinations of US imperialism as well as for the regime in Teheran, these powers are directly affected by the mass protests. Furthermore, we have seen in the past few months the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people (e.g. the “Great Return March” in Gaza), the mass protests in Jordan and Iran, the ongoing desperate resistance of the Syrian liberation fighters against the bloody Assad regime and his reactionary masters in Moscow and Teheran, as well as the ongoing resistance of the Yemeni people against the Saudi-led aggression. In short, the Iraqi insurrection could drive forward the revitalization of the Arab Revolution which began in 2011 despite the many defeats and setbacks it faced in the last years.
9. As we have pointed out in numerous documents, the current situation in the Middle East is characterized the rapid acceleration of sharp contradictions. The region faces the unashamed aggression of imperialist Great Powers (Russia against the Syrian people, the U.S. against Iran) as well as of reactionary dictatorships (Assad in Syria, Sisi in Egypt, Khamenei/Rouhani in Iran, etc.). These developments clash with a number of important class struggles and liberations wars (Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Iran, Tunisia, etc.)
10. Socialists in Iraq should warn against any popular illusions in the al-Sadr movement or the misnamed “Communist” Party (which supported the U.S. invasion in 2003 and later became part of the U.S. imposed colonial administration). The RCIT also warns against putting any hopes in the Iraqi army. This army (as well as many militias) has been trained by the U.S. and Iran. It serves the interests of the ruling class but not the people.
11. Furthermore socialists should call for the formation of action committees in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and universities in order to organize the workers and oppressed. Such committees should direct the struggle. Socialists should call the trade unions and popular organizations to organize an indefinite general strike for their demands. The struggle should also aim for bringing down the government. Furthermore, the RCIT calls to link the Iraqi insurrections with the struggles of the brothers and sisters in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Iran, etc. For a united Intifada in the whole Middle East!
12. Most importantly, socialists need to advance the construction of a revolutionary party nationally and internationally. Only such a party can give the necessary leadership for those struggles. Only such a party can transmit the socialist program to the masses. It is therefore the central task of all consistent revolutionary forces to focus on building such a party. The RCIT urges all revolutionaries in Iraq to fight together for the founding of such a party.
* Long live the insurrection of the Iraq people! Down with the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi!
* For a public employment program under control of the workers and popular organization! Such a program could abolish unemployment and poverty and help reconstructing the country! It should be financed by expropriating the rich elite!
* Organize an indefinite general strike! For the formation of action committees in the workplaces, neighborhoods, schools and universities!
* For a workers and poor peasants government!
* Link the popular insurrection in Iraq with the mass struggles in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Iran, etc. For a united Intifada in the whole Middle East!
International Secretariat of the RCIT
Many more articles on the Middle East can be read on our articles on our website at: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/
Our latest general analysis of the situation in the Middle East is summarized in Chapter V of Michael Pröbsting’s recently published book: World Perspectives 2018: A World Pregnant with Wars and Popular Uprisings. Theses on the World Situation, the Perspectives for Class Struggle and the Tasks of Revolutionaries, February 2018, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/world-perspectives-2018/.