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Iraq Occupation Focus : Campaigning to end the occupation of Iraq
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Iraq Occupation Focus
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Iraq Occupation Focus Newsletter

Iraq Occupation Focus
www.iraqoccupationfocus.org.uk
Newsletter No. 3
July 17, 2004

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Iraq Occupation Focus public meeting:
Organising UK and US Unions Against War and Occupation

Special guest: Gene Bruskin, Co-Convenor of US Labor Against the War. Plus: Images from USLAW's Iraq fact-finding mission

Thursday 5 August, 7pm
Friends Meeting House
173 Euston Road, London
(opposite Euston Station)
All welcome (suggested donation: £2)

Leaflet for 5th August meeting with Gene Bruskin [PDF, 72KB]

US Labor Against the War has more than 80 affiliated national and local unions, regional labour bodies, labour antiwar committees, and allied labour organizations representing more than three million US workers.

  • On 13 July the California Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, representing more than two million members, voted overwhelmingly to ‘demand an immediate end to the US occupation of Iraq’ and to affiliate to USLAW.
  • On 25 June, the annual convention of the 1.4 million member American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees called on Bush to "bring our troops home from Iraq now" by near unanimous vote.
  • On 22 June, the 1.6 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unanimously passed a resolution backing USLAW.

USLAW's Gene Bruskin is visiting the UK from August 4-7 in order to meet with anti-war trade union leaders and activists. Contact Gene Bruskin USLAW gbruskin@fastaflcio.org or Ewa Jasiewicz freelance@mailworks.org

Download PDF of leaflet for public meeting [72KB].



Since the "handover" ...

Since the bogus ‘handover’ on 28 June, occupying forces have continued to dish out violence and meet resistance across Iraq. According to Robert Fisk, ‘Baquba is run by armed men. Insurgents control Samara and Fallujah and Ramadi, and Muqtada Sadr’s militia control the centre of Najaf.’ There have been attacks in Mosul, Kirkuk, Karbala and Basra and street battles in Baghdad. Security is non-existent for ordinary Iraqis.

On 5 July, a US plane fired a missile at a house in Falluja, killing at least 12 people. Since 19 June, US planes have hit the town four times.

On 8 July a US-base in Samarra was bombarded and destroyed by insurgents. [read story] On the same day, Allawi’s Baghdad offices came under mortar fire which wounded five people, while two Iraqi national guards died and 21 people were wounded elsewhere in the capital.

On 9 July The Washington Post reported: ‘The daily rock fights between US soldiers and ordinary Iraqis, many of them children, highlight the mutual antipathy that has built up since the handover of political power to an Iraqi government.... Candy, once gleefully accepted in this part of Baghdad, is now thrown back at the soldiers dispensing it.... The military partnership with new Iraqi security forces appears to be foundering on a mutual lack of respect....’

On 10 July, US Marines battled with Iraqi resistance fighters in Ramadi. [Al Jazeera report]

On 11 July The Associated Press quoted an anonymous US military official saying that the resistance can call on upward of 20,000 people – an estimate reflected in the resistance continued strength after U.S. forces killed as many as 4,000 in April alone. The official and others told The Associated Press fighters have enough popular support among nationalist Iraqis angered by the presence of U.S. occupation troops that they cannot be militarily defeated. ...Most of the rebels are fighting for a bigger role in a secular society, not a Taliban-like state, the military official said. Almost all of the fighters are Iraqis. The report also confirmed that the Iraqi resistance is moving to curb the activities of Al-Zarqawi and his tactic of killing innocent Iraqi civilians.

On 14 July, the governor of Mosul and two of his bodyguards were gunned down while traveling to Baghdad.

On 15 July, the head of security at Iraq's Foreign Ministry was killed and two other officials wounded when gunmen attacked their convoy travelling north on the road to Kirkuk.



Insurgents hit oil supplies

The Associated Press reports: ‘Saboteurs attacked two oil pipelines on 15 July, halting exports to Turkey, hours after insurgents assassinated a guard with the state oil company in a renewed spate of attacks on Iraq's crucial industry. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said the sabotage has cost the government $1 billion in oil sales over the past 10 days. The most damaging attack Thursday hit a line that feeds into the main export line to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, abruptly ending the roughly 250,000 barrels a day that Iraq exports from its northern oil fields. Insurgents also set their sights further south, toward the pipelines that carry 90 percent of Iraq's export oil. Saboteurs punctured one of two key crude oil export pipelines in the south early Thursday, breaching a line that had been brought back up just over a week ago, after an almost five-day shutdown that halved exports from that region. Exports from the south were halted last month after insurgents blew up parts of both lines...’



Allawi executed prisoners

Sydney Morning Herald reports on 17 July that US-appointed prime minister Iyad Allawi pulled a pistol and executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station just days before the handover. Two eyewitnesses state that the prisoners – handcuffed and blindfolded – were lined up against a wall in a courtyard at the Al-Amariyah security center in Baghdad. Allawi shot each young man in the head as about a dozen Iraqi policemen and four Americans from the Prime Minister's personal security team watched in stunned silence.



Reconstruction?

The Washington Post reports (10 July): ‘The minister in charge of Iraq’s vast number of state-owned industries says about two-thirds of his workforce is unneeded. Other officials estimate that more than half the state-owned companies are not running and that the remainder are limping at a fraction of their capacity. Fifteen months after the U.S. occupation began, with its ambitious goals of converting Iraq into a free-market model for the Middle East, the wheels of Iraq's daily economy are barely turning. Little reconstruction is evident. Bombed or looted buildings remain vacant shells. Factories remain still, idled by lack of electricity, the absence of a market and a shortage of raw materials, equipment parts and motivation.’



Interim government seizes draconian powers

Iraq’s US-Controlled interim government has announced new emergency ‘safety’ laws. It has assumed powers to impose martial law, curfews, bans on demonstrations; restriction of movement, phone-tapping, opening of mail and freezing of bank accounts. It has also announced the formation of a new General Security Directorate, a domestic intelligence agency to infiltrate resistance forces.

Comment on the new laws from Iraqis: ‘The main purpose of the law is to target Iraqi resistance. It is only designed to protect the US occupation troops. The law ignores real security Iraqis need,’ said Shehab Ahmed, a journalist. ‘The mere fact of passing the law contradicts with the government policy of setting up community organizations and hence the sovereignty of democracy and freedom. The restriction of freedoms recalls to mind the former regime of Saddam Hussein,’ said engineer Manal Mahmud El-Samaraai. ‘I do not think such a law is a proper solution, as it levels accusations against all Iraqi citizens,’ said Abu Taha, a businessman. ‘This law will do injustice to the Iraqi people. The executioner will be Iraqi in addition to the US executioner who forms the most important element of the whole picture,’ said Loai Hazem, a UN employee. ‘This is a very cruel decision that may in form seem in favour of the Iraqi people but in content it is actually a martial law,’ said Mohamed Sobhi, a secondary school teacher. [read full report]



Child detainees abused

German TV reports that Iraqi children have been held and abused in US controlled prisons in Iraq. In the report, a US soldier says an Iraqi child was tortured and presented to his father in prison to get the father to talk. The soldier also reported a ‘secret children’s wing in the horror prison of Abu Ghraib’ and another witness reported mistreatment of children there. See the German film and an English translation at www.traprockpeace.org/iraqi_child_prisoners.htm. Access to child detainees is restricted and both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have expressed concerns about their welfare. Karkh prison in Baghdad holds more than 150 children. Another 58 are currently held as ‘security detainees’ at Abu Ghraib prison and at Camp Bucca.



Iraq: "Broad alliance of anti-occupation organisations"

Ibrahim Allawi, editor of the Baghdad-based democratic left newspaper, Al-Ghad, spoke at Marxism in London on the ‘prospects for the popular movement in Iraq’ [www.idao.org/marxism2004.html]: ‘What is happening now in Iraq is remarkable given the dire situation. The young people are the most active against the occupation. They are being driven to the resistance by patriotic feeling and widespread unemployment, which has reached about 70% of the workforce. The US occupation has failed, and faces an impasse...There is a gradual loss of control; city after city is falling to the control of various militias although still nominally under central government control. Such a situation cannot continue for long because of the loss of security... The alternative to anarchy and destruction is to set up a national coalition of political parties which can appoint an interim administration to organise national elections. The favourable factors for this is the widespread rejection of civil war by all sections of society and the direction for national unity, coupled with political realignment of patriotic forces that have seen once powerful parties that accepted the occupation loosing popular support. If this trend continues it will encourage the formation of a broad alliance of anti-occupation organisations...’



IRAQ WAR FAT CAT TOUR

Exposing the British companies making a killing in Iraq.

4 September 2004: Meet at 12 noon outside the Shell Centre, London SE1 7NA (near Waterloo station).

‘Every corporate house that has been awarded with a contract in postwar Iraq ... should be named [and] exposed’ Arundhati Roy, May 2003.

The aim is to inform the public about the role of corporations in stealing the future of the Iraqi people and profiting from the war. (See www.warprofiteers.com for more info. re. the role of corporations in Iraq).

The next organising meeting for the Iraq War Fat Cat Tour will take place next at 7.30pm, Tuesday (20 July) at the London Action Resource Centre (62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London E1 1ES, nearest tube Aldgate East). All welcome! For more info contact: voices@viwuk.freeserve.co.uk.