Mohamed El-Anwar / Al-Ahram – 2005-03-30 08:53:19
BAGHDAD (March 17-23, 2005) —
The Iraqi Communist Party (ICP), also known as the People’s Union, won two seats in the interim National Assembly. Do you see a future for the ICP in Iraq?
Of course the ICP has a future. No party would keep going on if it doesn’t believe it has a future. What collapsed was not communism, but regimes that had distorted communism by deviating from the basic principles of communist thinking: chiefly, humanism, democracy and social justice. Those regimes turned socialism into bureaucratic and authoritative practice. They acted as if they were superior to the people, refused to listen to the people, concentrated power in the hands of one or a few individuals, and disregarded intellectual creativity and collective opinion, thereby creating the reasons for their own demise.
In Iraq, I believe that our party has a very wide base. This is why the ICP has been able to endure all the blows of repressive apparatuses and all the crimes committed against it during the 71 years of the party’s past.
At certain periods, when the political climate was right, the ICP was the largest political force in the country. When it was subject to genocide, through the execution and murder of its leaders and members, and when its members were exiled or forced to flee the country, the party was weakened. Some traces of weakness are still with us. But at the moment we are rebuilding the ICP, with the benefit of our own experience and of international experiences.
I believe we have made progress, despite factional and sectarian pressures. The ICP is a known political quantity. The ICP role and importance to the country outmatch the number of its membership or voters. Time will sort everything out. Had we won only one seat, the ICP would still have been a known quantity and a power to contend with. The ICP has never refused an alliance with political forces opposed to dictatorship and despotism and endeavouring to establish a democratic and pluralistic Iraq.
How do you view the US-led occupation of Iraq?
We are against occupation now and were against the war in the past.
First of all, as a party, we started our struggle by working against dictatorship. When things escalated, we added to our programme the words “No to blockade, No to dictatorship”. When the drums of war were beaten, we raised the slogan “No to war”. When the war took place, we could not stop it, nor could others, despite our warnings. Saddam was overthrown.
We support democracy and oppose occupation. This is where we stand.
And yet it was occupation that gave you legitimacy and your current status.
Occupation did not give us legitimacy. Occupation gives legitimacy to no one.
We earned our legitimacy through our presence on the street. They ignored our presence for some time, then found out that we are a force that exists in the Iraqi street and cannot be ignored.
Would you go into alliance with Islamic forces?
Where there are priorities in matters of alliance we begin with those that are nearest to us, the Kurdish centre, which is a democratic centre. We are part of the Kurdistan list, along with the Kurdistan Communist Party; a party that has gone into alliance with other Kurdish parties within a unified list, the Kurdistan list.
It is possible for us to go into alliance with Islamic forces so long as these forces believe in democracy, in ending the occupation, and in establishing a pluralist, federal and unionist Iraq.
We have our ideological differences with the Islamic forces, and these differences can be worked out. We have a working relation with the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Daawa Party. Our ideological differences will not impede our political cooperation. We are allies with Jalal Talabani and Masoud Barzani. What is needed now is not to fuel differences and stir disputes but — as everyone agreed — to continue working together, cooperating, coordinating and maintaining the alliance among all forces that took part in the political process and cooperated in the opposition.
Besides, there is agreement that those parties not represented in the new parliament must not be excluded from government posts or from the committees rewriting the Constitution. The situation in Iraq does not call for the needless fuelling of conflicts. We are not discussing social options, but trying to build a country that has been destroyed and a state that has been shattered.
Let me tell you this. We are not getting into a struggle to get one post or another. Everyone wants to have a key role. This is to be expected so long as we follow the route of elections and freedom. But it does not follow that those who have significant parliamentary power have the right to dominate or monopolise power. Iraq’s problems are of a magnitude and complexity that no single party or list alone can resolve all of them.
Cooperation is a fact of life that imposes itself on every political force, regardless of its share of seats.
How do you view the operations mounted against US forces in Iraq at present?
Resistance is a legitimate right for any nation. There is no denying that. Resistance is not necessarily a military affair, however. When we say resistance, we have to answer two questions: What do certain forces aim to achieve from counter- operations, and what methods are they using?
If these forces really want to end the occupation and adopt a democratic system instead, and if they are using honourable means to achieve that end, then they are forces of legitimate national resistance. But if they are hypocritical and deceitful in their enmity to imperialism, if they want to restore a defunct dictatorship, establish substitute despotism, or create a mediaeval system through bombings, assassinations and abductions, then they are not forces of resistance.
This may explain our position on operations that are acts of terror and sabotage. Tell me; is there no other means for resistance than bombings and weapons? They want power. It is as simple as that. We will try to restore calm and stability to the Iraqi street, so that the people may live normally, stand firmly, and — with the backing of the international, Arab and Islamic communities — force foreign forces to leave.
The Americans, let me tell you, are no givers of democracy. Any nation that imagines that democracy will come as a gift from foreign forces, or even from a ruler of one’s own nation, is wrong, for democracy has to be taken. The current acts help justify the occupation, for they reinforce the argument that security is unstable. The Americans, we all know, are motivated by their own interests, strategic considerations, and by the interests of America as a regime.
We have no illusions here. But when there are developments that accord with our objectives we make a distinction between good and bad and use the things in our favour.
What is your overall assessment of America’s conduct?
The Americans started out and still are in a state of political confusion and chaos in Iraq. Admittedly, they have a general strategy, which is to reshape Iraq’s political life to promote their own interests. But tactically speaking, the Americans have driven themselves into tight spots and harmed their goals and many of their allies.
The current situation in Iraq is proof enough. The administration and errors of the Americans did not help the Iraqi people to choose well, use reason, and return to normalcy.
Had there been stability, confidence, an absence of unemployment and other problems — such as the inflammation of sectarian strife — the situation would have been different.
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