Iraq Freedom Congress
The present situation in Iraq and the forces involved
The US war on Iraq has led to the disintegration of the fabric of the civil society in Iraq. This war has unleashed the most reactionary religious and ethnocentric forces against the people of Iraq. Daily social, economic, and cultural life has plunged into an abyss. Iraq needs to rebuild its civil society. The security, livelihood and the basic freedom of the people must be maintained and their right to an informed and free determination of their future regime in Iraq guaranteed.
The present situation in Iraq is the product of the policies of the US, political Islam and the Arab and Kurdish nationalism. The military invasion of Iraq and the subsequent humiliation and submission of the country coupled with the destruction of the most of the country’s infrastructure; both during the economic sanction period and the recent invasion, has given the current occupation much wider dimensions. Without ending the occupation there can be no realistic improvement in the situation.
The social and political impact of the invasion of Iraq and the associated military aggression and violence has unleashed the darkest political and social forces in Iraq and in the region. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has been the singles biggest source of recruitment to the ranks of the political Islam in Iraq and the region. Iraq has turned into a magnet for the political Islam. The West and in particular the US policies have, more than any Islamic agitations, mobilised and recruited forces for the political Islam and continue to do so. The US government in its attempt to contain the situation in Iraq has resorted to the religious and tribal forces and increasingly turning Iraq closer into an Islam stricken society.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, Ben Laden brand of Islam and the Shiite and the Sunni forces in Iraq are one of the main causes of the current regression in Iraq. These forces in the guise of the “saviour” of the dignity of the Iraqi people, providers of “security” and “social services” and the architects of rebuilding the foundations of “civil life” have forced the Iraqi people into a more devastating submission. Humanity and human values under the influence of the Islamic currents in Iraq have sunk to their lowest point.
The Kurdish nationalist currents, in pursuit of their own interests and securing their share of the power, are capitalising on the spread of chaos and worsening civil life in other parts of Iraq. Never before in Iraq has ethnic and national hatreds run so deep. In addition to keeping Kurdistan in a limbo and social wilderness the Kurdish nationalism has more than ever stirred up Arab and Turkman nationalism and brought them to the fore.
Against the Americans and the forces of political Islam a third force focused on pulling the country out of the current abyss is emerging. Those who are frustrated with the violence and the indignity and humiliation at the hands of the Islamists, tribal forces and the US occupiers, i.e., the working class that is enduring physical destruction, the youth who are longing for a brighter future, the women who are suffering at the hands of the political Islam and the primitive tribal forces and the free minded intellectuals who are seeking a way out of this situations all belong to this third force.
The way out of the current situation
The way out the current situation is to remove all the perpetrators of the despair of the Iraqi people. None of the forces involved in the creation of the current turmoil can play a part in putting an end to this situation. Each one of the players in this conflict justifies their existence vis-à-vis the other forces. The Islamic and Arab nationalist forces draw their forces and resources from the social dimensions of the occupation and the resentment of the Iraqi people towards it. Similarly the ultra reactionary nature and the brutality of the Islamic groups and the tribal and fascistic forces are exploited by the Americans to justify their occupation.
None of the common solutions put before the people of Iraq can provide the prospect of delivering them from the current situation. These solutions broadly fall into three categories.
1. Siding with political Islam
Siding with the Islamists and turning a blind eye to their reactionary and criminal nature and practices under the rubric of being against the USA is a disastrous policy. Such a policy will lead to collusion with the Islamists. This policy not only fails to initiate any improvements in the current situation but will enhance the position of the Islamic currents. Furthermore, this policy by overlooking the ultra-reactionary nature of the Islamic currents and by dashing any hopes of better prospect for the people of Iraq, disheartens the honourable and civilised people across the world from engaging in a meaningful and active opposition to the current situation and practically giving the US a free rein.
2. Siding with the USA
This tendency is the other side of the same coin as compromising with the Islamists. Hostility towards Islam and Islamic backwardness forms the basis of this approach. This policy by overlooking the US occupation of Iraq offers the US a pretext to continue with its occupation of Iraq. Again, just as the siding with the Islamists, this policy is incapable of offering deliverance from the existing quagmire and the only solution that can offer is to call on them to be patient and wait for the eventual US victory over the Islamists. This policy by failing to comprehend the social implication of the occupation and the associated humiliation and indignation that the US aggression has inflicted on the Iraqi people and by adopting a policy of lingering around in anticipation of US victory remains incapable of a putting up an active intervention to rescue Iraq from the current abyss.
3. Calling for the intervention of the “International Forces”
Another approach to the current situation is to call for the replacement of the US forces with Multi-national forces under the auspices of the United Nations. This is an unrealistic, utopian and an impractical solution. The proponents of this policy do not realise that to restore civil order in Iraq the forces of political Islam and fascists must be swept away. Such a task in today’s Iraq, more than ever, has acquired a military and political dimension. Regrettably, the European governments and the United Nations themselves are guilty of appeasement towards political Islam. Therefore calling for the intervention of international forces is an unrealistic policy and in the real world it can only be regarded as a wait and see policy.
The force that can end the current situation
The only force capable of ending the current situation can only be an organisation that enjoys popular mass support in Iraq. The Iraq Freedom Congress intends to be such an organisation; an independent, democratic, secular, non-ethnic and mass organisation, which is founded to guarantee the right of the people of Iraq to determine freely the future political regime in Iraq. An organisation that can unite and organise the people to take their destiny into their own hands and defend themselves, as well as mobilising and leading the international support, to save the people of Iraq from the grip of the both poles of global terrorism.
The salvation of Iraq and its current and future generations and that of the entire region from the destructions imposed by the both poles of terrorism depends on the development of such a popular movement.
The aims the Iraq Freedom Congress
To remove all the protagonists of this dark scenario the people of Iraq should:
1) End the occupation of Iraq – the US forces must leave Iraq immediately
2) End the interference of the Islamic currents from people’s lives
3) Guarantee the right of the Iraqi people to make an informed and free decision on the future of political system
4) Restore civil life to Iraq
The plan of the IFC is to curb the influence of all the players responsible for the political, economic, moral and cultural devastation of people’s lives in Iraq. To this end, people should seize political power at all levels. People should organise around the IFC’s manifesto and implement it to guarantee their own security, livelihoods and freedom and take charge of their own affairs when and wherever possible.
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The immediate goal of the IFC is to seize power and establish a provisional secular and non-ethnic government, declare the following articles as the laws of the land and guarantee their implementation:
- Expel the US and its allied forces and dissolve all political, economic, military and paramilitary institutions set up by the US in order to control Iraq militarily, politically and economically. Repeal all the laws adopted in this regard,
- Dissolve and disarm all armed and paramilitary groups linked to Islamic forces and lawless groups and confiscate all their weapons, resources and funds.
- Make public all documents, archives and files from the time of the Baathist regime as well the current administration,
- Confiscate and repossess all the properties and estates belonging to religious foundations and utilise them to meet social, recreational and political needs of the people,
- Facilitate the provision of empowering people to defend their freedom and expel and suppress any aggression and assault directed against their rights and freedom,
- Complete separation of religion from state and education,
- Revoke all religiously derived laws and legislations. Declare freedom of religion and atheism,
- Full and unconditional freedom of expression, belief, press, assembly, organisation and the right to demonstrate,
- Declare the full and unconditional individual and civil rights and equality between men and women. Immediate revocation of all laws and regulations that violate this principle.
- Full and unconditional civil, political and social rights for all citizens regardless of their gender, religion, nationality, ethnicity and citizenship,
- Freedom of all political prisoners,
- Abolition of the death penalty,
- Free public access, especially for mass organizations and political parties, to state media.
- Adequate unemployment benefit for every unemployed person over 16 years of age who is available for work. Adequate unemployment benefit and other necessary allowances for those who, for physical or mental reasons, are unable to work,
- Delegation of powers to the assembly of the direct representatives of people to decide on the future political regime and drafting a constitution within a maximum period of six months.
- Hold an immediate referendum in the Kurdish regions on cessation from Iraq or to remain within Iraq as citizens with equal rights,
IFC’s plan of action within Iraq
The IFC will:
a) Unite and organise people through local networks and in “People’s Houses”.
b) Acquire the necessary force and resources to restrain the Islamists and the nationalist forces from interfering in people’s lives.
c) Exert enough pressure on the US to withdraw from Iraq.
d) Become the instrument of the application of people’s power under any circumstances and at any possible level and extent.
e) Organising and leading people in this decisive challenge.
f) Self-defence is the basic right of every individual. In the absence of a viable government the rights of individuals to life is measured in terms of their ability to defend themselves. The IFC will endeavour to become the conduit for enabling people to defend themselves.
IFC’s plan of action outside Iraq
Mobilising the civilised humanity across the world is another avenue of power for the IFC. The IFC will launch a recruitment drive outside Iraq, both within Iraqi expatriate communities and amongst free-minded non-Iraqis.
Attracting moral and financial support from people outside Iraq is an important source of support towards our movement. Exerting pressure on foreign states and mobilising volunteers to assist our movement is another element of the IFC’s aim of work abroad.
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Amjad Ali Interview (Part 4 of 4)
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Toronto. Joining us again is Amjad Ali. We’re discussing the situation in Iraq. And he’s a representative of the Iraqi Freedom Congress (IFC). Thanks for joining us.
AMJAD ALI, IRAQ FREEDOM CONGRESS: Thank you.
JAY: So let’s talk a little bit about the plan or objectives of the Iraqi Freedom Congress. And I’m going to read just a little bit from your statement. So the aims of the Iraqi Freedom Congress are, number one, “End the occupation of Iraq—the US forces must leave Iraq immediately; end the interference of the Islamic currents from people’s lives; guarantee the right of the Iraqi people to make an informed and free decision on the future of their political system”; and “restore civil life to Iraq.” And they go on to say, “The immediate goal of the IFC is to seize power and establish a provisional secular and non-ethnic government,” which includes again getting the US forces out right away, dissolving all the political, economic, military, and the military institutions set up by the US in order to control Iraq militarily, politically, economically. That’s a pretty big agenda. I mean, you’re talking about dismantling the current government, essentially, and seizing power, which means you don’t think these elections—you didn’t run in the current election. So how do you achieve all of this?
ALI: When we presented our manifesto in 2005—that was when we presented back then—they said, well, this is a very hard agenda; you cannot do this to the Islamic currents; you cannot do to the US-established institutions. Right now, after five years of—or seven years of that occupation, people tend to realize that what we’re saying is absolutely what they want. They want the Islamic currents or the religious currents to be off their life; they don’t want them to be imposing their agendas on the people.
JAY: But there’s clearly a lot of people voted for religious parties in the last election, I mean, millions of people, and they’re able to mount demonstrations and marches with millions of people in the streets. So you can’t say there aren’t people that don’t support them.
ALI: The result, or the [participation] of this current—the recent election was not up to the same as in 2005 what happened. They said 50 percent. It is less than 50 percent. We know for sure that it’s not—it’s not—it’s less than 50 percent.
JAY: But still there’s a significant section of Iraqi society that supports the religious parties.
ALI: It is significant, but [inaudible] most of the people who voted for Allawi, for himself, is just because he said, “Well, I’m not a religious; I’m a secular.”
JAY: That’s right, and he actually won the most votes.
ALI: Exactly, and that’s why they got all these votes. So we are—again, we are relying on that 50 percent who did not participate in that election, and we heavily rely on them. And part of them, like a huge segment of them, these are the workers who can do most of the work. And what we’re talking when we talk about the American interventions in Iraq, Iraq today, they do have huge resentments [towards] the American presence there in any type of presence, militarily or—.
JAY: But you want the US troops, like, out tomorrow, or do you want them to stick to the timetable?
ALI: No, actually. We want it today, not even tomorrow. We know this is for a fact that the resentment is there. The resentment is not only towards the US presence, but actually towards the Iranian presence there and Iranian interference, towards the Syrian interference, towards the Saudi [interference]. Right now all these countries who are surrounding Iraq, they are participating one way or another into Iraqis’ business. They are interfering there. They want to establish something there that serves their interests. And we want all these countries to be out of Iraq with their agendas.
JAY: You say you want to disarm the armed paramilitary groups.
ALI: Yeah, this is what we believe in. And the paramilitary, as we mentioned, it’s—we call a militia there in Iraq—we want to disarm them, we want to stop them from interfering into the ordinary life of peoples. And this is—it’s been happening for, like, a few years now. And they established their own district [inaudible] in their own district they imposed their own law. And it happened with the al-Sadr militia, with the Islamic Supreme Councils, with the Islamic militias that belong to Tariq al-Hashemi. These people, they have their own districts, they impose their own law, and they don’t care about the government law, which is—it’s pathetic anyways. But they impose their own law into those districts. We want those paramilitary to be dismantled and people themself to come up and say, no, we don’t want you; we are going to [inaudible]
JAY: You say you want to confiscate and repossess all the properties in the states belonging to religious foundations and utilize them to meet social, recreational, and political needs of the people. So what are you talking about in terms of these religious foundations?
ALI: For example, there is a foundation today—it’s called the Shahid el-Mehrab Foundation. Shahid el-Mehrab Foundation, this is belongs to Islamic Supreme Council, which is al-Hakim, Ammar al-Hakim—he’s the president of that. And this foundation owes millions, billions of dollars worth of assets and valuables. They are in Iraq. And, in fact, they are not spending it on the housing or employment or the civil services; they are just giving this money or these are salaries for their own militias who serve their interests. And this is one foundation. There are so many foundation, religious foundations. They teach people how to march in certain religious celebrations. Millions and millions of dollars were spent on these. But people actually needs housing, need money to work, need employment, all these things that—this is what we’re trying to do.
JAY: Well, let me read just a couple of other things: facilitate the provision of empowering people to defend their freedom and expel and suppress any aggression and assault directed against their rights and freedom; complete separation of religion from state and education; revoke all religiously derived laws and legislations; declare freedom of religion and atheism; full and unconditional freedom of expression of belief, press, assembly, organization and the right to demonstrate. And we’ll put the rest of the program up on the website below the player so people can see it includes freedom for all political prisoners, abolition of the death penalty. You’re also in favor of a referendum for the whole of Kurdistan to decide if they want to stay in Iraq or not. So it’s a very broad-based, some people would call secular democratic agenda. Do you achieve this through elections? I mean, how do you see this coming to be? You now represent unions, you say about 50-60,000 people. If they’re active, that’s actually quite a few people if they’re active.
ALI: Sure. Oh, yeah.
JAY: But you didn’t participate in these elections. So how do you get there from here?
ALI: In our statement, the last statement prior to the election, we said, well, what we want right now is a provisional government; dismantle or dissolve this current government.
JAY: Okay, but you’re not getting it because you say that.
ALI: We are working towards that. We are not sitting and waiting for the election to bring us up there to the government. We are working. We are working among people, among ordinary people; we are working among the workers, the women, the students.
JAY: But do you imagine at some point you will have candidates in elections?
ALI: Well, nothing impossible. This is politics. And one day, for example, al-Maliki, he was working as a sidewalk vendor in Syria, and now he’s a prime minister. So there is a huge difference in the, like, shifting, the power-shifting. And this is what we can see in Iraq. It depends on how much work we could do, how much we could achieve, how much support we could get. Right now we do have a lot of support, moral support. We don’t have financial support, unfortunately, because our agenda’s totally different from what is they have in the government. We don’t have that financial support. But we do have moral support. We are working towards people. We are establishing our own agenda in different neighborhood right now. At some point in 2005, when in the sectarian war in Iraq, what happened is we had our safety forces—we were able to control our neighborhood. We did not let sectarian forces to come invade our neighborhood and impose their agenda. We were able to protect Sunnis from Shiite armed group. We were able to protect Shiite from Sunni armed groups and whatnot. This is what we did, and we gained a lot of support back then, and we’re still working among people. As I mentioned, this is an organization that wants to seize power. This is not just a few demands that we are putting towards people and either you ratify it or not. This is—if we want to be a part of this government or to be in government one day, these are the things that we want to achieve for all people. When we talk about religious, the secular, ending the interference of religious, if you take a look at the Iraqi Constitution, you’ll find out that it is mainly a religious constitution. The rights of Christians, the rights of [“savvy”], Yazidis, the rights of Bahá’ís, the rights of atheists, it’s not there. They are not considered. They are considered like individuals, but they are not considered as human being. And we want those people to have their rights in Iraq as human beings in Iraq, just like in Europe and in North America. Even the gay rights and that is not there. The people who are gay today in Iraq, they get not only prosecuted [sic], actually; they are getting assassinated in massive numbers. Nobody knows about them. The government does not want to publish anything about them, because the government itself is a sectarian religious government. They don’t want to publicize anything about it. So what we want to do, okay, this is Iraq, and these are human beings who live in this particular geographic area. They need their rights. They have the right to live as human beings.
JAY: Thanks very much for joining us.
ALI: Thank you.
JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
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