Issued by the meeting of the Central Committee
(24th April 2009)
The following are extensive excerpts of the communiqué issued by the regular meeting of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party, held in Baghdad on 24thApril 2009.
The Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party held a regular meeting on April 24, 2009. The meeting began with a minute of silence in honor of the martyrs who passed away in recent months. The meeting considered the political situation and new developments during the period since the previous meeting (October 2008), and dealt with the recent provincial elections and their implications, drawing lessons from them for developing the party performance. The meeting also reviewed the work of the party and its leading organs during the previous period and took a number of decisions to enhance the role of the party at different levels.
As the meeting was convened during the party celebrations of its 75th anniversary, Comrade Hamid Majeed Mousa, the Secretary of the Central Committee, opened the meeting with a contribution that recalled the pioneers who had raised the glorious banner of the party. He stressed that celebrating this anniversary is also an occasion to take a close look at the party's long march in order to draw lessons at the intellectual, political and organizational levels, and to employ these lessons in the face of the complexities and imperatives of the current stage in order to achieve the independence and progress of the homeland.
Features and trends of current political developments
The deliberations of the Central Committee meeting considered the political developments in our country during the recent period. It noted that our country is still going through complex and difficult conditions and a struggle that is raging on several fronts. Regardless of the manifestations and forms taken by this struggle, it is still revolving around the future of Iraq and the form of the state and the political-economic-social system. The period since the last CC meeting has witnessed a political dynamic accompanied by realignments, the breakup of alliances and the emergence of new ones. The provincial elections held on 31 January 2009 conferred a new dynamic on the political situation with movement in several directions.
These elections have constituted a transformation in terms of a redistribution of the political landscape. New political facts have been produced on the ground that will impact the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the process of formulating new alliances and alignments.
The election campaigns and the discourse of the major competing lists have indicated that there is a relative change in the political discourse of some of the influential and ruling forces towards publicly abandoning sectarianism, ethnic intolerance and the quota system, and advocating the principles of citizenship, equality between citizens, the building of a civil state and the respect of law.
We commend the features that characterized this electoral process, which showed the advance of the democratic process in the country, the expansion of its social and political base in spite of all difficulties, and the growing conviction that the ballot box is the best way for resolving differences and conflict management. But these positive aspects were accompanied by a number of negative indicators, including taking advantage of official positions and government institutions, political money, non-neutrality of state media, serious loopholes in the performance of the Independent Higher Electoral Commission, as well as having the votes of non-winning lists counted for the winners.
Some manifestations of stagnation and paralysis
that characterize the political scene
If many had expected before the provincial elections that its outcome will lead to resolving differences and to a consensus on the basis of the resulting change in the balance of forces, then the actual course of events has followed another direction. The actual course of developments has shown that the winners in the recent elections did not take advantage of this opportunity to activate contacts and dialogue. Instead, this triumph has led to an increase in some manifestations of unilateralist tendency in power and in the decision-making centre.
As a result, the past period since the last Central Committee meeting (October 2008) has been marked by a state of estrangement, stagnation and tension in political relations between the parties that are influential in the political process. This has been reflected in what appears like a paralysis in the functioning of state institutions and its main executive organs, in the context of the struggle of interests over power, influence and dominance over decision-making positions.
It should be noted here that the factors that are affecting the Iraqi political scene are not only internal. They are affected by regional and international factors that engage and interact with them, making the struggle more intensified sometimes or causing it to slow down some other times.
The deliberations of the CC meeting highlighted a number of features that characterize the political scene, including:
- The inability of the Parliament for a long time to elect a speaker that would replace its former head. This situation affected the Parliament’s ability to carry out its tasks, exercise its oversight role and follow up issues concerning the development of the country at various levels.
- Poor coordination between the executive branch and the legislature. The relationship between these two bodies has not been normal, with the lack of trust, estrangement and mutual resentment.
- A cool relationship that is close to rupture between the parties of executive power: the Presidency of the Republic and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
- Suspension of the meetings of the Political Council for National Security which has not met for 8 months.
- Tensions between political parties and the relationship between the legislative and executive branches have affected the work of the Federal Government.
- Tension has characterized the relations between federal authority and the authority of the Kurdistan region. With few exceptions, the relationship between the two sides has been idle, thus resulting in the accumulation of differences and further complication of their relationship.
- A halt of the meetings of the Executive Committee (3 +1), the Committee of Five and the four-party alliance, which is a supportive coalition. Furthermore, the (specialized) commissions arising from the Committee of Five have not met.
- Lack of clarity about the Political Reform Document that was approved by the parliament in conjunction with the signing of the Iraq-US Agreement.
- Absence of serious action on constitutional amendments. The Commission for Constitutional Amendments has completed the tasks assigned to it, and there are 5 outstanding points that still need reaching a consensus between the governing parties. It seems that the differences on these points would only be resolved through an overall deal between these parties, and can then be translated into enacting various laws (regarding Article 140, the oil wealth and how to dispose of it, the distribution of powers between the center and the region, the oil and gas law ... etc). It is important to note that this paralysis had existed before the recent provincial elections and has continued and become entrenched even deeper after the elections due to the conflicting agendas of those who are fighting over power and influence.
- Not activating or amending some of the laws (e.g., Amnesty Law, the Accountability and Justice Law).
- Not endorsing the nominations for deputy ministries, advisers, ambassadors and heads of independent bodies.
- The troubled relations with the administrations of provincial councils have been aggravated by the results of recent provincial elections. Problems have arisen in the setting up of new provincial councils and the distribution of tasks among their members.
- Poor coordination between security, military and intelligence agencies, being influenced by political conflicts among the centers of power. This has had a negative impact on the security situation.
- Trading accusations or media campaigns, that are sometimes escalated to the brink of confrontation.
- Escalation of suspicions, mistrust and sensitivity between various parties.
- All of this has provided greater opportunities for the activity of hostile elements from inside (supporters of Saddam’s regime, al-Qaeda, chauvinist saboteurs) and outside; from some neighboring countries and all the enemies of stability and democracy in Iraq.
While referring to this stagnation that has characterized political relations, this must not be understood in an absolute sense. We have seen during this period a movement that has led to changes and interactions affecting all the entities and ruling coalitions. One can observe a significant realignment of forces which, although not radical, is effective and lays the basis for new balances and realignments.
On the other hand, the deliberations at the CC meeting have pointed out that the relative change in the political discourse of some influential and ruling forces is not in isolation from the struggle of civil and democratic forces, and from the misery and bankruptcy of sectarian slogans. But this "change" should be handled with reservation and caution, and without haste. These processes are still interacting and are affected by a number of factors and causes, local and external. Some of those who are still in control of political power and decision-making are practicing in secret what they are rejecting in public. This requires continuing the struggle against the sectarian quota system and ethnic intolerance that have become a cover for rampant corruption in the country and a principal impediment of its stability and reconstruction.
Deterioration in the security situation and its roots
The meeting of the Central Committee considered the recent developments in the security situation. We have seen in recent days a marked deterioration in the security situation, with a series of bombings both in the capital and some other provinces, that led to hundreds of women, men and children being killed and wounded. This had a negative impact on the mood of the people that had improved a lot over the past months. The persistence of these negative features could threaten the achievements that were attained in security, and would therefore affect the entire situation.
The meeting stressed that the new wave of violence and terrorism is aiming, among other things, to drag the country once again to the brink of sectarian strife, spread a climate of fear and terror in the hearts of citizens, destroy the signs of security improvement that the country had started to experience during recent months and destabilize the relative political stability. Contrary to what the planners and perpetrators of these acts have claimed, the recent wave of bombings serve, ultimately, to obstruct the restoration of Iraq's full sovereignty and independence, and the implementation of the timetable for withdrawing foreign forces, thus prolonging the presence of occupation forces. In addition, it is an attempt to influence the referendum (on the Iraq-US Agreement) that will take place in late July this year.
Our Party condemns the recent terrorist attacks that have targeted the sons and daughters of our people in various regions of the country, and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims. It calls upon the influential political forces within the government, in particular, to act firmly to tackle the security and political loopholes exploited by terrorism. The party also calls on everyone to be aware of the criminal aims of the new wave of violence, and to close ranks to confront and stop it, and to work actively to protect, advance and develop the political process, in order to serve the security, stability and prosperity of the Iraqi people.
In discussing the reasons behind the deterioration in the security situation, the CC meeting deliberations pointed to a number of factors, including:
- Weak vigilance of security and intelligence forces. This is related to the state arrogance that has afflicted some of these organs as a result of concrete successes achieved in managing the security issue.
- Growing subversive activity, military and political, of the Saddamist Baath elements, al-Qaeda gangs and all outlaws.
- Increasing activity of foreign intelligence and sabotage agencies.
- Efforts by terrorists and saboteurs to affirm their existence.
- Deterioration of relations between several parties of the political process, as well as from outside it.
It is also important to draw attention to the fact that the recent negative developments in the security situation were, in some areas, associated with the return of militia activity. Such activity has been noticeable, which means that our society could be facing a new round of conflict between rival militias if proper measures are not taken by the relevant authorities to control matters and prevent any violations of law and order.
The Iraqi Communist Party had welcomed, from the outset, the announced plan for national reconciliation, considering it to be an important and essential step towards the normalization of the situation and the use of dialogue as means to move the country to a better situation. It was also considered the proper way to reach a political settlement that ensures the interests of all, attract more forces to participate in the political process and create an atmosphere of confidence between all parties.
But this process has been characterized, unfortunately, by slowness, and was recently hampered by the climate of tension and estrangement, sometimes, between the forces involved in the political process. Our party had criticized some of the methods employed by those in charge of the national reconciliation and the performance of its Higher Committee. Later on, we criticized the marginalization of this Committee, the absence of a clear and integrated policy towards the groups that are targeted by reconciliation, as well as the slow pace of implementing the decisions taken by previous conferences of national reconciliation. It is useful to note here that the poor management of this process has led to what we are witnessing today and the delay in its completion, in addition to what is published about Baathist groups and others who are reportedly interested in reconciliation. The deliberations of the Central Committee meeting emphasized the need for an integrated approach to this issue.
On the other hand, it must be pointed out that strong pressure is exerted on decision makers in our country by some Arab, regional and international parties, including the United States, so that reconciliation would take a certain course.
Despite the fact that reconciliation was launched several years ago, this process has proceeded slowly and suffered a marked reluctance. But the process of reconciliation has been markedly associated in recent months with the climate of tension between the constituent forces of the Iraqi political scene. Evidently, this climate, in addition to the weakness of relations between the components of the political process, does not provide the best conditions for achieving new successes along the path of reconciliation.
The important thing for us has always been to ensure that our country eventually enjoys normal conditions, free of tensions and confrontation. We have therefore participated in all efforts, including participation in the Higher Committee for Reconciliation. We have stressed that for this process to be successful, there must be certain conditions, including cooperation between the forces that wish to build our country and realize the aspirations of our people in the restoration of sovereignty and independence and building a unified democratic and federal Iraq. The process of reconciliation must not be limited to conferences. There are societal activities and issues that need to be followed up and examined.
(….) The fourth issue concerns the subject of de-Baathification. Some ambiguous statements issued by the government have sent out messages in the wrong direction.
The deliberations of the Central Committee considered this issue and stressed the following main points:
- The general position on de-Baathification must be determined by reference to the Constitution. Therefore, Article (1) of the Constitution, which prohibits the work of the Saddamist Baath party and its figures in Iraq, must be adhered to.
- The need to distinguish between Baathists that include leading figures of the ousted regime and its gangs of torturers, on one hand, and the vast numbers of citizens who had joined the Baath Party for various reasons or had been forced to join its ranks through various means.
- The call for national reconciliation must not include the leading figures of the former regime and anyone who committed a crime against our people. The latter should be brought to justice and held to account for the devastation they inflicted on the country and for shedding the blood of the innocents.
- The call for reconciliation also does not include those who continued, after 9th April 2003, their adherence to Saddam's regime and its party and committed or endorsed terrorist acts.
- Granting ordinary Baathists the chance to get rid of the legacy of the past and to provide them with assistance to return to the ranks of the people, engage in building a democratic system and participate in establishing the new Iraq. This requires them to condemn the former regime, its party, policies and wars, apologize for the crimes it had committed against the Iraqi people, declare support for democracy, reject violence and express willingness to contribute genuinely to establishing and supporting a democratic system in the country.
- Speed up the amendment and implementation of the Law of Accountability and Justice, and the formation of the commission responsible for implementing its provisions.
The afore-mentioned negative aspects of the situation should not belittle the successes achieved in improving the country's foreign relations (delegations, concluding agreements ...). This is a manifestation of the recognition that the political and security situation in Iraq is at present better than previous periods. On the other hand, the deterioration of the political situation and the slowdown of reconciliation will lead to negative repercussions that are not in favor of the new Iraq. Sending ambassadors to Iraq and consolidation of the relations with countries of the world depend, to a large extent, on the improvement of the security situation and achieving political stability. Relations between Iraq and its partners should follow a correct course based on the principles of good neighborliness, partnership and mutual interests.
The CC meeting discussed the developments in the US position after the new President, Barack Obama, came to power. Obama has come with a distinguished program that differs in orientation from the previous administration, and he made promises to the American people under the big slogan that he had raised: Change. It seems that he has been consistent with his promise to withdraw American forces from Iraq within s16 months. The seriousness of the new U.S. administration in implementing the Iraq-US agreement according to its specified timetable will provide an indication of the extent of its commitment to its promises. In addition, the severe financial - economic crisis, with its big dimensions and deep impact, has put pressure on American decision-makers to ease burdens and obligations, as the new administration has earmarked $800 billion to save the American economy. Where will the administration come up with this money? Logically, the tendency would be to reduce military expenditure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the light of all these factors, it seems difficult for the Americans to bear their continued military presence for a longer period, despite the statements issued by some military commanders. In order to ensure a normal state of affairs in Iraq, it is not surprising that the Americans would push for reconciliation (regardless of the way it is viewed by them), try to interact with the wishes of Arab governments and a seek a settlement with Iran. All of this will affect the course of the implementation of the Iraq-US Agreement that is facing the task of deciding on the withdrawal of foreign forces from towns in June 2009, the problems of Mosul, Diyala and some hot spots, and the problem of the release of detainees from U.S. prisons in Iraq.
A recent problem has been the release of Iraqi prisoners without controls from U.S. prisons in Iraq, without going through proper investigations conducted by the security organs of the Iraqi government. This would cause a lot of problems and make some express reservations about the idea of amnesty. On our part, we do not reject the idea of amnesty, and stress the need for transparency and openness with regard to agreements reached by the Iraqi-US committees concerned with these issues, so that Iraqi citizens will express, in July 2009, their opinion about the Iraqi-US Agreement through a referendum.
Economic and Social Conditions
The Central Committee meeting considered the economic developments in recent months, especially the implications and results of the sharp decline in Iraq’s oil revenues. It concluded, in the light of data made available recently about human development, poverty levels, and other economic indicators, that the recent studies and reports published by the Ministry of Planning confirms the analyses and conclusions of the Party about the Iraqi economy. Recent statistics clearly indicate that the Iraqi economy suffers from deep structural imbalances, notably the great disparity in the level of development between rural and urban areas and between provinces, and the big gap in the indicators of human development between males and females, particularly with regard to education and work. Economic and social statistical surveys that were conducted in the past two years have revealed that about 23% of the population live below the poverty line. Levels of poverty are worst in rural areas where the percentage of deprivation has reached 65%, i.e, three times its level in urban areas. The studies have also confirmed the close interrelationship between poverty and unemployment, and the persistence of high rates of unemployment due to the disruption of the bulk of industrial production and other productive activities. The scourge of unemployment is particularly affecting youth strata, where its rate is about 30%. This rate is expected to increase in the short term if there is a transition to privatization.
The studies also confirm that the ongoing process of restructuring the Iraqi economy is expected to increase the levels of poverty. It has also revealed the existence of big differences in the levels of income in favor of the strata that have accumulated wealth and obtained high levels of income through rentier activities that are not connected to production, as well as illicit proceeds associated with financial corruption. The statistical data have indicated that the increase in salaries achieved during the past two years have helped to narrow the differences relatively. But this improvement is not expected to be sustainable unless the wheel of production is launched, agriculture recovers and the oil production increases.
The picture that emerges from these reports and studies on economic conditions, and what they indicate about the impact and effectiveness of economic policies in place, is consistent with the conclusion of the previous meeting of our party’s Central Committee (October 2008). It warned, in particular, against the absence of the necessary strategic vision with regard to the economy and its restructuring, the severe weaknesses of the social protection system and the continued daily suffering of broad segments of society, despite the concrete improvement in the conditions of employees in the various organs of the state. This suffering is intensifying as a result of the huge shortage in services, especially electricity and water, and in the fields of health and education, and in the distribution of food rations.
Effects of global financial crisis on Iraqi economy and society
Our party had warned of the dangers of underestimating the level of the expected impact of the global crisis on our country, as reflected in statements by some officials and decision makers. But the course of this crisis, with its grave dimensions and ideological and political indicators, has revealed that it has a direct impact on our country. Day after day, it is becoming clear how superficial were the conclusions of some who claimed that Iraq will be immune from effects of the crisis. In reality, totally the opposite is true of a number of reasons, including:
- The rentier and one-sided nature of the Iraqi economy. It is an economy that depends for its development on oil revenues. These revenues have been sharply affected by the crisis and its repercussions which led to a decrease in oil revenues by about 70% (from about $140 and more to less than $ 50).This decline has directly effected the revenues of the state budget and its operational capacity, although the Parliament prevented government’s austerity measures from affecting public employees, pensioners and the food ration. But this does not mean that further reductions will be not be reflected on the lives of citizens or investment allocations, as this would be linked to developments of the global crisis and the severity of its implications.
- The Iraqi economy is also expected to be adversely affected by the reduced exchange rate of the dollar, because of its close connection with the exchange rate of the Iraqi Dinar. This is reflected in the reduction of its purchasing power. In addition, the dollar is the currency used for evaluating Iraq's oil revenues and the largest proportion of Iraq's reserve assets of hard currency.
This crisis and its lessons emphasize the fallacy of the ideas calling for privatization without any condition or restraint, and raises the need to revise the economic policy in general, so as to ensure the harmony between fiscal policy and monetary policy. The latter should abandon its strict constraints with regard to the interest rate and exchange rate so as to encourage investment and stimulate productive activities, as well as achieving the required balance between state intervention and market freedom.
It is useful to note that the federal budget for 2009 has remained captive of political conflicts. The conflict around the budget in parliament was not all about the budget itself, as there was also the desire to embarrass the government and the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Our Party had a detailed position on this budget, and a lot of our remarks were taken into account when the budget was drafted in its final form.
The Central Committee meeting dealt with the issue of the democratic current and the need to activate it and seek a clear joint platform. The meeting stressed that in the face of the complexities of the political scene, the various polarization and the emergence of new alliances and the disintegration of the others, the forces that are concerned for the present and future of our country need to act and agree on joint positions on the basis of political consensus on major issues. They need to pin hopes on a project that transcends sects and puts emphasis on building a modern democratic state. This calls for the revitalization of our relations with the forces of the democratic current. We had sought to activate the relations between these forces, and set up the coalition of "Madaniyoun" (advocates of a democratic civil state). We now face the task, in consultation with its parties, of revitalizing it, either by maintaining it or expanding it, so as to help to achieve the unity of the democratic current and examine its content. We are aware of the scale of the difficulties and complexities experienced by this current and the conflicting views about its content and constituent forces. It is therefore necessary first to develop criteria for screening forces and determine their relationship with the democratic current. It is also important to act at the provincial level, contact forces and initiate dialogues as a prelude along the path of developing joint positions that are effective and have serious impact on the people.
We realize that the activation and unification of the democratic current does not come all at once and is not achieved through one framework. It is a process that is achieved through action of multiple levels and forms.
It is therefore important not to relinquish existing formats, but to activate all of them and increase the level coordination among them, developing it to achieve further harmonization and integration of their activities. They would all contribute to a single current whose features are determined by the joint ideological and political positions of the broad spectrum of democratic forces. The deliberations of the Central Committee stressed that we are against excessive sensitivities, exclusion and marginalization, and the need to direct all our efforts towards activating the contribution of the masses of people, because there can be no policy and no effective struggle without the active participation of the masses.
Conclusion and Concrete Tasks
- In view of the complex political scene, whose features have been outlined above, the situation remains open to many possibilities. This requires political parties and blocs to reach a consensus that would ensure getting country out of the state of stagnation and tension, and putting it on the path of building a democratic system, reconstruction and development.
- In connection with the state of stagnation in the relations between political forces, and the widening of differences between federal authority and the authority of the Kurdistan region, it is necessary to warn of the harm of fuelling narrow and chauvinistic nationalist sentiments, and of the danger of manipulating the ongoing conflicts in Mosul and Kirkuk. It is therefore required of the forces that are concerned for the present and the future of our country to reach joint positions on the basis of political consensus on major issues, and strive to solve problems in a spirit of dialogue and common interest, and to avoid abandoning the principle of consensus in the current conditions.
- We are facing a new round of struggle with the forces of terrorism, which had been weakened a lot by previous blows without fully eliminating them. These forces are resuming their activity to adversely affect the security and political tracks.
- The success of the national reconciliation process is connected primarily to providing the necessary conditions, the most important of which is the sound and good relations between the various political forces, that were tested by the people during the past decades in their struggle against dictatorship, to build the new Iraq. The current delicate situation requires that everyone live up to the level of national responsibility and deny the opportunity to those who want harm our country and people. This requires the promotion the spirit of brotherhood, adopt political wisdom and prudence, resort to dialogue to resolve differences, employ reason and a realistic approach, refrain from dealing with big national issues through profit and loss calculations to achieve narrow interests, whether personal, partisan or sectarian or otherwise, without recognizing the seriousness and sensitivity of the situation and the risk that everyone would lose, even the security gains.
- Overcoming the multi-level crisis and the reviving the Iraqi economy must be linked to the elaboration of a national development strategy with clear objectives. Until now, conflicting visions and "strategies" are struggling to overcome the crisis. The strategy required to address this crisis has to take into account the concrete needs of our country, society and economy and its actual problems, in order to achieve the conditions for sustainable development affecting all segments of the Iraqi people and the country’s areas and regions. This should be carried out without discrimination and in accordance with the principles of efficient use of available resources, justice in distribution, and overcoming the inequalities inherited from previous eras.
- This means the need to review the overall economic policy and fiscal policy in particular, so as to achieve the required balance between state intervention and market freedom. It is important to avoid endorsing big projects, ambiguous partnerships and new prescriptions, without adequate controls, under the pretext of the scarcity of financial resources. The country is not facing a purely financial crisis today, but an economic crisis of structural dimensions which requires a developmental strategy aimed at rebuilding and developing the productive sectors in accordance with clear priorities, and taking concrete steps to protect the national products, encourage investment and combat corruption.
- As the recent provincial elections have revealed the big paradox between the popular ideas and themes advocated by the democratic current and the small number of votes achieved by its political forces, all the constituent forces and figures of this current, including our Party, must develop and activate the relations between them. These relations need to be upgraded through a variety of unified political and mass initiatives, and through activities that would strengthen the influence of the democratic current on mass level and increase its impact.
- Regardless of the Party’s policy approach to political alliances and their importance in its struggle and achieving its objectives, we must continue our relentless efforts to strengthen the independent role of our Party and its real influence among the masses, on sound political and social-economic and ideological basis. This requires that our party organizations evaluate, in a strictly critical manner, the methods and mechanisms of its current work among the masses of workers, toilers, students, youth, women, intellectuals, mass gatherings…etc. They need to draw appropriate lessons in order to activate this work that is vital for strengthening party organizations and comrades, so as to face in an effective way the challenging demands of the forthcoming stage.
- The recent provincial elections have demonstrated an important lesson: that active mass democratic work is necessary, essential and effective. We must grasp this lesson all the time, especially in the period ahead. Therefore, we must pay more attention to the mass movement that fights for popular demands, and to its real meaning and concept. This is of crucial importance for developing our work and for our future election campaigns.