Iraqi Communist Party calls for a new system replacing the present

Iraqi Communist Party

Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) calls for the resignation of the government, a total replacement of the current system by a new system, and for continuing the uprising with the same motivation and power until people’s demands are met.

As massive demonstrations over unemployment, rampant corruption, poor delivery of services, and sectarianism are gaining momentum, the ICP – the country’s oldest existing political party – issued a statement calling the current system a “terrible failure at all levels.” The ICP said the popular revolt has created “a new reality” with people taking to the streets and risking their lives not for “partial solutions and cosmetic reforms.”

“The moment of a real change of the status quo has arrived,” the party said.

The ICP said, “it begins with changing the government, the mechanisms for its formation and the policy of governance, and ends with establishing a state based on citizenship, true democracy, and social justice.”

Concerning the party’s economic propositions, ICP members claim that Iraq is still in a stage of “capitalist development.”

The ICP suggests that a mixed-economy, a “social market” is the most rational way to help the country advance, along with the promotion of institutions like trade unions and social security.

“People are insisting on social justice, that means they are against ultra-liberalism – those who call for a free-market economy, in our condition that means polarization of wealth and poverty and lack of development,” the party’s General Secretary Raid Fahmi told the Middle East Eye.

“You may have islands of development but you will have not social and economic development,” he said.

The ICP, which topped polls as part of Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoun coalition in the 2018 general election, demand a transitional government with “exceptional powers” not formed on the current quota system, as well as a “peaceful and smooth constitutional handover of power” and fresh elections.

Political prisoners detained during the uprising must also be released and those who have killed protesters brought to justice, the ICP said.

The quota system was put in place after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, imposing an inflexible system through which key roles within the government are assigned to a Kurd, a Sunni Muslim and a Shia Muslim.

So far, the ICP is the only party to have fully left the parliament as a result of the government’s fierce and disproportionate crackdown on protests. At least 355 people have been killed and ​​​​​​ tens of thousands injured as live rounds have been fired on crowds since the demonstrations started.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi last week in a bid to calm down the protesters and Parliament approved it on Sunday. President Barham Salih said it was contingent on Iraqi parties to reach an agreement over a replacement, with the process likely to take months.

In the mid-20th century, the ICP was having largest number of members. The ICP was the largest communist party in the Middle East. Now, the ICP is reenergizing itself.

The present mass upheaval is focused on the country’s political parties full with corruption and nepotism.

Raid Fahmi, general secretary of the ICP, said: The protesting masses don’t scorn the ICP.

Fahmi said: “We respect the general rules of the protest movement. They know who the communists are; they are present with the communists, they accept the communists. Other parties are not accepted.”

In the Iraqi society, a widespread perception exists that Iraq’s political parties are confessionalists and clientalist – all follow a cleric or a tribal leader, or represent a religious or ethnic minority, and are basically seen as working to see that their particular interest group has access to state services, jobs and funds.”

The ICP has long presented as the only genuinely non-sectarian party in the country.”

Fahmi is one of the ICP MPs who resigned on October 27.

Fahmi said, the authorities have misread the situation in Iraq and the potential of the present protest. The authorities are still betting on the movement’s fatigue. They are hoping that the movement will dwindle down gradually. But, he said, the hope of the authorities is wrong. The movement is getting new impetus and new momentum from new forces and new forms. There are different forms in different provinces.

The communist leader cited general strike as one of the forms, which he said is “the most effective since 1921, since the creation of the Iraqi state.”

As the protest movement’s malleability, he also cited the expansion of the protests among the students. into the middles class, into a wide spectrum of the Iraqi society.

In the last May’s election, the ICP was in a coalition that gained the largest number of seats in parliament. The coalition’s election campaign was based on opposing corruption and Iranian influence in Iraqi politics.

Many of the present mass movement’s demands echo the ICP’s demands, which include end to corruption, end the distribution of government positions on sectarian basis, and the implementation of secular governance. Demand for social justice is also being raised in the movement.

Fahmi said: “We believe a presidential system in Iraq is not appropriate. That doesn’t mean you can’t look into how you redistribute powers between the presidency and the parliament. Probably, you can make some kinds of amendment, but without putting into question the parliamentary system.”

However, some part of the movement are raising demand for presidential form of government and reduction of number of seats in parliament.

The ICP leader warned against the “retreat towards more centralization at the expense of freedom and liberties.

He added that it was important to maintain the country’s federal system in order to reflect the “diversity of Iraqi society.”

The Baghdad Tahrir Square scene

A media report said:

Numerous stalls litter the Baghdad Tahrir Square. The square has become the main point of mass mobilization in the on-going months-long mass movement. There are stalls of culture, medicine and communication, and many other issues. One of the stalls displays pictures of Marx, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, and Nawal el-Saadawi, the Egyptian feminist hero.

The smaller Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (WCPI) has set up this stall.

They are symbols of revolution, they are symbols of social protest, said one member of the WCPI. The WCPI considers neither THE Soviet Union nor the People’s Republic of China was socialist.

He said, the reform needs to be more than arrest of a few corrupt individuals. The government should be replaced by a people’s government, not another corrupt parliament.

He said: Democracy did not consist of “choosing one person for four years” and then sitting at homes. “People must practice their rule everyday.”

In addition, he said, the need for secularism had become more apparent than ever.

He said: There is no freedom without secularism. The sectarian system in Iraq has done so many crimes against people. Now people actually demand that, even the religious people don’t want a religious government. That’s why we support the secular system in Iraq, so that everyone, religious or non-religious, can live equally in the country.

Certain things possible

Fahmi said, the latest demonstrations represent a new opportunity, and make “certain things possible that were not possible before.”

He said, “We believe that the protest movement, which has developed into some kind of uprising, needs to maintain the initiative, and in order to maintain the initiative it will gradually need some kind of leadership. This leadership needs to come from within, not from without.”

He said: Though it is likely that the protest will subside, the question of social and economic change would eventually need to come to the fore alongside the question of political change.

he explained: “Demonstrators say we need social justice, we need public services, we see that education and health have been more or less accessible to ordinary people. So these are demands – what system will provide [an answer to] these demands, what is the priority, what is the role of the state? These issues are debatable.”

In the country, oil wealth is considerable yet its citizens live in poverty or have limited access to clean water, electricity, basic health care, and education. Iraqis blame a political elite that they say serves one or the other of Iraq’s two main allies, the U.S. and Iran.

Many suspect that these powers are using Iraq as a proxy to continue their struggle for regional influence, without concern for the needs of ordinary people.​​​​​​​ Iraq is also recovering from years of conflict after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 that overthrew Saddam Hussein.

Thousands of Iraqis continue protests

Thousands of Iraqi demonstrators stood firm Sunday in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, defying the heavy repression and night raids from the police forces that killed dozens of people over the weekend.

Medical and security sources said 77 people had been injured as the songs of “We give you our life and our blood, Iraq” were heard throughout the demonstrations.

Some of the young demonstrators raised barricades with the aim of blocking a bridge leading to the capital’s fortified Green Zone and resisted the security forces who continued to drop tear gas bombs on them.

Video of protesters cheering in the night as bright flames billowed from the Iranian consulate were a stunning image after years in which Tehran’s influence among Shi’ite Muslims in Arab states has been a defining factor in Middle East politics.

The bloodshed that followed was one of the most violent days since the uprising began at the start of October, with anti-corruption demonstrations that swelled into a revolt against authorities scorned by young demonstrators as stooges of Tehran.

In Najaf, a city of ancient pilgrimage shrines that serves as seat of Iraq’s powerful Shi’ite clergy, the Iranian consulate was reduced to a charred ruin after it was stormed overnight.

74 died in two days

At least 74 Iraqis died on Friday and Saturday and hundreds were injured when demonstrators all over the country clashed with security forces and militias in the second wave of protests this month against the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

Protests were peaceful in Nassiriya, but police strongly repressed mobilizations in Hilla and the Shiite holy city of Kerbala where demonstrators set fire to the entrance of the provincial council building.

​​​​​​​Defying curfew

In Nassiriya, thousands of mourners took to the streets, defying a curfew to bury their dead after the mass shooting.

The protesters, overwhelmingly Shi’ite, accused the Iraqi authorities of turning against their own people to defend Iran.

“All the riot police in Najaf and the security forces started shooting at us as if we were burning Iraq as a whole,” a protester who witnessed the burning of the consulate told Reuters, asking that he not be identified.

Another protester, Ali, described the attack on the consulate as “a brave act and a reaction from the Iraqi people. We don’t want the Iranians.”

But he predicted more violence: “There will be revenge from Iran, I’m sure. They’re still here and the security forces are going to keep shooting at us.”

Iran’s foreign ministry condemned the attack and demanded “the Iraqi government’s firm response to the aggressors”.

So far, the authorities have been unyielding in response to the unrest, shooting dead hundreds of demonstrators with live ammunition and tear gas, while floating proposals for political reform that the protesters dismiss as trivial and cosmetic.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has so far rejected calls to resign, after meetings with senior politicians that were attended by the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, the elite unit that directs its militia allies abroad.




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