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michael098762001 Donating Member (39 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-05-05 04:14 PM
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34.  Iraq's Eclipsed Red Star?:Do you know the left from the right in Iraq? Ev
Iraq's Eclipsed Red Star? :Do you know the left from the right in Iraq? Even red diaper babies like Sean Penn have no clue by Frank Smythe
Michael Pugliese debsian at
Mon Jan 13 19:57:43 MST 2003

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Smythe has written good pieces for Covert Action Quarterly.

Iraq's Eclipsed Red Star?

Do you know the left from the right in Iraq? Even red diaper babies like Sean
Penn have no clue.

Frank Smyth, January 13, 2003

Guerrilla News Network

Not that long ago, when American progressives spoke about being in solidarity
with the people of a foreign nation they were supporting leftist national
liberation movements. Back in the 1980s, for instance, the Committee in
Solidarity with the People of El Salvador was allied with that Central
American countrys Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front which included
the El Salvador Communist Party. Not anymore, at least not when it comes to
Iraq. How many anti-war activists like Sean Penn who recently visited
Baghdad know their left from their right in Iraq?

Today Iraqi leftists still play roles inside and outside Iraq. But dont expect
to either read or hear much about any Iraqi leftist groups in either the
mainstream or even the so-called alternative press. After all, who knew
that the most detailed reporting available anywhere about ongoing specific
humanitarian crimes by Saddams regime is found at none other than the
Iraqi Communist Party website,

he bodies of tens of people from the city of Basra, who were executed by
firing squads of the dictatorial regime in late March 1999, are buried in
a mass grave in the Burjesiyya district near the town of Zubair, about 20
km south east of Basra, reads the Iraqi Communist Party website about a
brief anti-Saddam uprising three years ago in the Shia-dominated, southernmost
city. Some of the victims fell into the hands of security forces after
being wounded, or when their ammunition had finished. But most of the
arrests took place during the following days when the authorities...unleashed
an unprecedented campaign of police raids, house searches and detentions.

The detainees, who were numbered in their hundreds, were then held at the
detention centre of the Security Directorate of Basra governorate, in Al-
Ashar district. They were subjected to barbaric torture over many days, goes on. Family members of security men who had been killed in
the heroic revolt were brought to the scene, each was handed a machine gun,
and they were told to avenge their dead by firing at the youths and men
lined up before them. The massacre culminated with security men firing
their hand guns at the eads of their victims. The horrific scene ended
with throwing the bodies of victims in a deep pit dug with a bulldozer
which was used later to cover up the site in an attempt to hide the traces
of the crime.

Our party sources have been able to compile the names of some of these victims
(a list is attached to this statement). The authorities, as part of the
policy of collective punishment, demolished their houses, and detained
their families, including women and children. The fate of these innocent
detainees is still unknown. Reliable sources in Basra have estimated the
total number of victims of the campaign of mass executions, which followed
the suppression of the popular revolt, to range from 400 to 600 people.

The Iraqi Communist Party was once by far that oil-rich countrys broadest
leftist movement. Even before Iraqs short-lived, British-
imposed monarchy was overthrown in 1958, the Communist Party was organizing
trade unions and other civic groups. The leftist party has also long been
Iraqs most diverse political movement to cut across traditional population
lines to incorporate many disenfranchised majority Shias and minority
Kurds. Even though tens of thousands of cadre have since perished in
Saddams gulags, the Iraqi Communist Party today maintains a clandestine
network across Iraq, despite still being targeted by the ruling Baathist
regime. reports not only ongoing human rights abuses, but
ongoing armed civil resistance to the regime.

But how many American anti-war activists like Sean Penn have heard of it? Last
month the Oscar-nominated actor said he was putting his conscience first
when he visited Baghdad. Yet the 42-year-old star of many films including
his latest one, I am Sam, spoke in Baghdad like he knew he was on weak
ground. Im afraid of saying something that might hurt somebody, and then
find out I was wrong in the first place, he told The New York Times. Sean
Penn said he did not want to end up being outcast like Jane Fonda was after
her 1972 trip to the communist North Vietnamese capital of Hanoi during the
Vietnam war, or like his later father, Leo Penn, was during Washingtons
Red Scare witch-hunts led by Senator Joseph McCarthy.

It was unwittingly ironic for the younger Penn to bring up his father in the
capital of Saddams Iraq. Leo Penn performed in plays like John Steinbecks
Of Mice and Men before migrating to the film industry. But Paramount
studios refused to renew his contract in 1945 over his trade union
activities, and continued to blacklist him afer he supported the Hollywood
10, or the first group of fellow actors and others who were jailed for
refusing to answer questions about their alleged communist ties before
Congress. (Leo Penns career suffered, too, until the advent of television
where he became an Emmy-winning director of prime time dramas like the New
York City detective series, Kojak.)

Today the Iraqi Communist Party firmly opposes the Bush administrations war
plans. No to imperialism! No to war! reads Many of the administrations
so-called justifications for invading Iraq are indeed bogus --not least of
all the claim that Saddams regime had anything to do with 9/11. Moreover,
any unilateral military action againnst Iraq, especially at this time of
extremely heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions, is certain to inflame
anti-American sentiments throughout both the Arab and the Muslim worlds,
only driving more recruits into Osama bin Ladens al-Qaida terrorist
network. In addition, the Bush administration has greatly exaggerated the
current strategic threat posed by Saddams regime to the United States
along with its allies led by Israel.

But that hardly makes the Iraqi despot any more likeable now than he ever was
like back during the 1980s when Saddam was a secret ally (using chemical
gas) of the U.S. administration led by President Ronald Reagan. Sean Penn
at least once sagely called Saddam a tyrant guilty of criminal
viciousness in a paid ad on a full page last fall of The Washington Post.
Similarly, the noted anti-war critic, Noam Chomsky, once last summer on Z-
net said about Saddam, I think he is as evil as they come. But too many
other anti-war activists only downplay any criticism whatsoever against
Saddam or his regime. Moreover, unlike most American leftists, Iraqi
leftists offer a policy alternative. Instead of a unilateral U.S. invasion,
Iraqi communists and others want the international community to back a
broad military front against his regime.

Iraqi leftist groups also favor other positions only ignored by most American
leftists like U.N. human rights monitoring inside Iraq. And instead of a
unilateral American invasion, many independent Iraqi groups support a
multilateral one leading to not only Saddams overthrow but also him and
others eventually facing humanitarian charges in an international tribunal.
Nobody from Human Rights Watch to Amnesty International, does a better job,
in fact, than the Iraqi Communist Party in documenting ongoing abuses by
Saddams regime.

Under direct supervision of Qusay, the younger son of the dictator Saddam
Hussein...15 political prisoners were executed, Nazi-style, in a poison
gas chamber on 10 August 2001, reads, relying in no small way
on the Communist partys underground cadre and sources inside Iraq. The
victims were placed inside a specially designed chamber and then a
poisonous gas was released through vents. They were dead within 27 seconds.
Their bodies were left there for one hour until the gas was extracted
through a special vent.

The Gas Chamber, the report goes on, and its operation began
after approval by Qusay. It seems that this barbaric method was designed to
facilitate mass physical liquidation of prisoners and detainees in a
shorter time and with less effort. The dictatorial regime is continuing its
notorious Prison Cleanup campaign which has so far claimed the lives of
more than 3000 prisoners and detainees.

Last year President Saddam Hussein emptied his prisons including his largest
one, Abu Ghraib, right after he orchestrated an allegedly unanimous
referendum on his rule. The listener-supported Pacifica Networks
Democracy Now! radio show in many large U.S. cities aired one Iraqi
source after another including officials claiming it was a legitimate
reflection of Saddams popularity without even suggesting that there might
be any other Iraqi view; the Iraqi Communist Party called the referendum a
farce, adding that our people are too familiar with the deceit and
manipulations practiced by the regime. Countless political prisoners
remain missing, according to not only the Iraqi Communist Party but also to
other non-U.S.-backed Iraqi groups like the Shia-run al-Khoei Foundation
based in London.

When it comes to internal security measures, Saddam copies a late communist,
ironically, whom he admires, the former Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin.
Saddams independent biographer, the Palestinian author Said K. Aburish,
wrote: he has modeled himself after and adopted the ways of Joseph Stalin
and merged them with his tribal instincts. But no matter how much he
borrows from Stalin, Saddam has never held anything but contempt for Iraqi

I used to have a Communist friend at school, Saddam told his own authorized
biographer, the Iraqi writer Faoud Matar. Hes dead now, God rest his
soul. He spent most of his time reading communiques and declarations to us,
his schoolmates. All we did was make fun of him, added Saddam in the 1990
edition of his approved biography published in London. e knew his
theories came from abroad; they had been introduced by a foreigner, not an
Arab. At 22, Saddam Hussein carried out his first assassination plot,
against a communist-backed leader in Baghdad who was the first President of
Iraq. In fact, the young man from Tirkit was not accepted into the Baath
party until after he and others shot at President Abdel-Karim Qassem, who
was backed by the Iraq Communist Party and many trade unions. President
Qassem survived, while Saddam was wounded in the leg.

Instead of leftist ideology, Baathism unabashedly champions ethnic nationalism
in order to build an ethnic-based greater nation. The Iraqi Arab Socialist
Baath party explicitly excludes every one in five Iraqis who are ethnic
Kurds. Moreover the Baathists pan-Arab message is made mainly by Arabs of
the Sunni Muslim faith like Saddam, and their Sunni-
based Arab nationalism also has little appeal with Arab Muslims of the Shia
faith who comprise three out of five Iraqis. Rather than empower either
Iraqs Shia majority or its Kurdish minority, the Baath party merely
displaced Iraqs old rulers of Sunni Arab-led monarchists based in Baghdad
with new Sunni Arab-led rulers like Saddam from rural regions north of the

A ruling class-clan rapidly developed and maintained a tight grip on the army,
the Baath party, the bureaucracy, and the business milieus, writes Faleh
A. Jabar, the University of London scholar and former Iraqi communist party
newspaper editor, in the current issue of the Madison, Wisconsin-based
monthly, The Progressive. You had either to be with the Baath or you were
against it.

Today most of Kurdish-speaking Iraq in the north enjoys U.S.-enforced autonomy
from Saddams regime, while Shias in the south still resist. Take Basra,
where Saddams officials have recently brought visiting U.S. peace
activists. We were welcomed warmly into the home of Abu Haider, the father
of a young boy who was killed three years ago by a U.S. Tomahak missile
shot from a ship in the Gulf, reads a pre-Christmas report from Pax
Christi, a faith-based group. Pax Christis newsletter today says that this
U.S. missile attack occurred in Basra in 1998; the same year Saddams
regime there interred dozens of anti-Saddam rebels and others in secret
graves, according to

Most American anti-war activists also downplay another issue that Iraqi leftists
are most worried about. What might a post-Saddam Iraq look like? The
Communist Party refused to join the recent U.S.-backed Iraqi opposition
meeting in London, pointing out that Washington has only been planning to
replace Saddams regime with another minority dictatorship. The Iraqis
closest to Washington remain deposed aristocrats, although the Bush
administration finally just dumped the Pentagon-alone-backed plan to restore
former supporters of the 27-year-reigning Kingdom of Iraq to power back
from exile in London as the Iraqi National Congress.

Instead of the U.S.-backed return of the old ruling class, the Communist Party,
Shia and Kurdish opposition groups want U.N.-monitored elections after
Saddam inside Iraq leading to a federal representative government. This is
an ongoing struggle yet to be adequately reported, unfortunately, in any
U.S. press, and the issue represents a genuinely democratic frontline with
so far few if any so-called American progressives on it.

American and Iraqi leftists also differ over whom to blame for any coming war. blames not only the Bush administration, but also the Iraqi
government. In this regard, the Iraq Communist Party ironically joins the
Bush administration in unequivocally demanding that Saddam fully cooperate
with U.N. inspections to prevent his regime from newly developing more
weapons of mass destruction. The rulers of the dictatorial regime in
Iraq, reads, put their selfish interest above the peoples
national interest, refusing to allow the of U.N. weapons inspectors,
and thus preventing action to spare our people and country looming

Opposing American imperialism is one thing. But ignoring Iraqi fascism is another.
In Baghdad, Sean Penn said, I would hope that all Americans will embrace
information available to them outside conventional channels. Hopefully he
and other antiwar Americans will take his own advice and read
unconventional channels like Only a quintessentially American
sense of chauvinism would lead leftists in a big country to think that
leftists in a smaller country dont matter. Iraqi Marxists have endured
Saddams Baathist terror long enough to know the left from the right in
Iraq, and, as our nation prepares to invade their country, more Americans
should too of course including anti-war activists.

Frank Smyth is a freelance journalist who is writing a book at the 1991 Iraqi
uprisings. He has covered leftist guerrillas in El Salvador, Iraq and
Rwanda. His clips are posted at .

Michael Pugliese

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