The Unions, Democracy and Iraq


When it became clear to the Bush administration that weapons of mass destruction would not be found a tactical decision was made. The new focus of the invasion and occupation would be the "liberation of Iraq" and the creation of a "democratic state" as a model for the middle east. Unless "democratic state" means technocratic oligarichy willing to ally themselves with US interests in exchange for power, then one must thouroughly reject the veracity of this new focus.
In 2004 Paul Bremer decided to reinstate Saddam Hussein's anti-union decree first given in 1987 under his brutal regime. This cleverly written decree makes it effectively illegal to organise labour [1].

Several unions in Iraq, especially the Electrical Utility Workers Union and the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions have been instrumental in organising resistance to the nakedly colonialist "oil investment law" being shoved through the Iraqi parliament.

In June 21, 2006 the Iraqi Parliament in complete cooperation with the Bush administration decided to freeze the assets of the General Union of Oil Employees of Iraq [2]. This action was taken to stop activities of a Union which has been vocaly fighting against the privitisation of the oil resources in Iraq.

Mrs. Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein is the President of the Electrical Utility Workers Union and has been traveling the world and speaking out against the proposed "oil investment law" [3]. This law would effectively deprive the working class of Iraq of their natural resources and give them away to multinational mega-corporations. Instead of paying reparations for the terrible disaster that the US has wrought upon the people in Iraq, it will make them pay for their own brutal repression.

The western media has described the situation on the ground in Iraq as a bloody sectarian conflict with no possible democratic outcome. This misrepresents the reality on two fronts. The first is the fact that there was no intent on the part of the administration to create a democratic Iraq in the first place as can be seen by the anti-union behaviour of both the US military and the Iraqi Parliament. The second is that there *are* institutions in Iraq that support a more democratic system. Does the US support them?

The Iraq Freedom Congress, whose motto is "Working For a Democratic, Secular and Progressive Alternative to both the US Occupation and Political Islam in Iraq", and is supported by grass roots and union activities is being actively supressed by US forces. The IFC has been the subject of periodic raids by US forces, which have resulted in destruction of equipment and seizure of documents and files [4]. On July 4th, US forces kidnapped Abdelhussein Saddam, the head of the Safety Force of the Iraq Freedom Congress shortly after shooting and wounding him and his daughter. On July 6th he was found dead in the Forensic Center in Yarmouk Hospital [5].

One thing should be clear to any attentive observer of the situation in Iraq. If the people in Iraq are to be free, it will not be the fault of the US forces or the corporate interests which drive them.