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Iraqi trade union leader on the current situation in Iraq

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | news report author Wednesday October 03, 2007 20:28author by Manuel Baptista Report this post to the editors

Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils & Unions in Iraq was recently on a short visit to Lisbon to gather some support for the workers' resistance inside Iraq.


Iraqi trade union leader on the current situation in Iraq


Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils & Unions in Iraq was recently on a short visit to Lisbon to gather some support for the workers' resistance inside Iraq. While he was here, he met some political and union activists and on 2nd October, he participated in a debate about the current situation in Iraq, from a class-struggle point of view.

He briefly presented the situation concerning the workers' movement, the effects of the invasion and occupation and the difficulties in organising workers, due to the continuing effect of Saddam-era decrees, which have been maintained by the present government. In particular, many workers in governmental pay are forbidden to organise themselves in unions - not only civil servants, but also workers in industries owned by the State.

The image one gets from Iraq through the mass-media is far from reality. The media tries to present an image which shows the workers being divided along ethnic, religious lines. But it is not so. The sectarian war has not been able to split the country. There is no civil war, but a war between factions.

Another important point is the fact that each and every political sector, namely those in power and government, has its own militia. The police and army are also penetrated by people from these militias.

Though well known in Iraq, Europe is completely unaware that some militias abduct citizens and carry out their terrorist acts using police cars and army vehicles. The previous prime minister directly furnished his own militia with equipment stolen from the army.

Every militia is seeking to win control of the State. The terrorist attacks against civilians are aimed against other armed factions, not against the occupiers.

The US troops have no stabilizing effect on this inter-militia war. In fact, after the bombing of Samara mosque, US troops stood aside and did nothing to prevent clashes between opposing factions.

The people go to their workplaces fearing that we will not come back. Women cannot walk in public unless they are escorted and are very often the subject of kidnappings. In prisons, women have been tortured and raped, both by the Americans and by the Iraqi police. But the women’s movement has been fighting back and has had some success in making life less terrifying for women prisoners. They also won a small victory with the reversal of the sentence in one trial against a woman, from the death penalty to a prison sentence.

The workers' movement is vigorous. Strikes broke out at the end of April this year in the oil sector. Both these and many other strikes have been declared illegal, but the workers go on fighting and organising.

There is a great amount of theft going on at government level, but the treasury is not devoid of any capacity to finance Iraq's reconstruction. However, it is simply allowing it to rot, in order that they can first carry out privatizations, in sectors like electrical power and distribution.

The change in situation will come from the workers' movement. The occupation is not preventing the clash between the rival groups in the struggle for power. An end to the occupation will not result in further chaos; on the contrary, because the occupation is fuelling the sectarian war, it will be easier for the workers to shift the balance towards something more favourable to their interests once the occupation is finished.


Manuel Baptista
Luta Social

For more information on the FWCUI, see their website at www.uuiraq.org

Related Link: http://luta-social.blogspot.com
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Revista "Socialismo Libertário" num. 2

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