Monday, February 9, 2009

Iraq's Pre-1950 History Revisited: Part 3

(See below for parts 1 and 2.)

Nearly 150,000 U.S. military troops and 200,000 private contractors are still in Iraq trying to exercise a special influence on Iraqi history, by waging an imperialist war on behalf of special U.S. corporate interests. Yet most people in the United States probably didn't learn very much about Iraqi history in their high school social studies courses. But some knowledge of pre-1950 Iraqi history may be of use to U.S. anti-war activists when arguing with U.S. opponents of immediate withdrawal from Iraq and U.S. supporters of the Obama Regime's war in Iraq during the next 16 months.

By May 1935, unsuccessful rural tribal uprisings had also broken out in the mid-Euphrates area of Iraq. An underground political group, the Central Committee of the Iraq Communist Party, then began publishing an illegal Iraqi newspaper in July 1935, Kifah-ish-Sha’b (“The Struggle of the People”), in the cellar of a Baghdad hospital.

In its August 1935 issue, the Iraq Communist Party’s illegal newspaper indicated that the underground party’s immediate political goals in Iraq during the 1930s Great Depression were the following:

“Expulsion of imperialists; independence to Kurds; cultural rights to all Iraqi minorities; distribution of land to Iraqi peasantry; abolition of all debts and land-mortgages; seizure of all properties belonging to the imperialists—including the banks, the oil fields, and the railroads—and the expropriation of the vast agricultural estates of Iraq’s feudal landlord rulers; concentration of power in the hands of Iraqi workers and peasants; and launching social revolution without delay in all areas of Iraqi life.”

After this newspaper developed a circulation of 500, however, police agents of the British imperialist-backed monarchy began to arrest members of the underground political group; and, after December 1935, further publication of the newspaper was prevented.

The unpopularity of the puppet regime enabled an Iraqi general named Bakr Sidqi to overthrow the Iraqi government in an October 1936 coup and members of the Iraq Communist Party organized popular support for the coup in Baghdad’s working-class neighborhoods. Mass demonstrations in support of the new coup regime were then held in Iraqi towns on November 2 and November 3 of 1936.

On March 17, 1937, however, General Bakr Sidqi began threatening to crush the Iraq Communist Party. Twenty thousand Iraqi workers who had been influenced by the underground Iraqi communist group, including Iraq Petroleum Company workers, then went out on strike on April 5, 1937. But following the assassination of General Bakr Sidqi on August 10, 1937, the coup regime’s police began to suppress Iraq Communist Party agitators. By the end of 1937, Iraq Communist Party leaders were either exiled or in jail; and four pro-fascist Iraqi Army colonels, who were also loyal to British imperialism and the Hashemite monarchy, now controlled the coup regime until 1941.

But in December 1940 the underground Iraq Communist Party launched a new party newspaper, Ash-Shararah (‘The Spark”), which was secretly produced until 1942 by using government stenciling machines belonging to the Land Registry’s Typewriter Division. And by 1942, this newspaper had a readership of 2,000. (end of part 3)