Thursday, February 12, 2009

Iraq's Pre-1950 History Revisited: Part 6

(See below for parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.)

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 Democratic Obama Regime’s war in Iraq, during the next 16 months.

To again prop up its puppet regime in Iraq by means of another “surge”, the UK imperialist government again sent more British troops into Iraq in August 1946. But the surge of increased UK troops in Iraq in August 1946 provoked more street protests that eventually led to the resignation of the monarchical puppet regime’s premier, Al-Umari, on November 16, 1946.

The puppet royal government’s new premier, Nuri as-Said, then promised free elections for the people of Iraq. But on November 26, 1946 the Iraq Communist Party leader Fahd called for the overthrow of the puppet monarchy’s government and an end, finally, to British imperialist control of Iraq.

On January 18, 1947, however, the Iraqi monarchy’s Nuri as-Said government arrested Iraq Communist Party leader Fahd and another party leader, Zaki Basim, in the house of a Baghdad pharmacist. Fahd and Zaki Basim were then taken to the Iraqi police investigation department in Central Baghdad, flung into latrines and beaten with canes. According to the 1978 book The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq by Hanna Batatu, “the police preferred to cane first and interrogate after.”

When the Iraqi police beatings failed to break the rebel spirit of Fahd and Zaki Basim, they were both transferred to cells in the Abu Ghraib military prison. The cells were “narrow, damp, and without air, and so dark that they soon lost the sense of day and night,” according to The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq. They were allowed to exercise only half an hour each day; and a petition to transfer Fahd and Basim to healthier cells was ignored by the Iraqi puppet monarchy’s regime.

Yet in April 1947, there were still 3,000 to 4,000 members of the repressed Iraq Communist Party in Iraq. Fahd and other imprisoned leaders of the Iraq Communist Party then declared a hunger strike on June 13, 1947. In response, Fahd and some other party leaders were brought to trial before the Iraqi High Criminal Court on the 8th day of their hunger strike and charged with “incitement to armed insurrection” and “propagating communism among members of the Iraqi armed forces.”

On June 23, 1947, Fahd, Zaki Basim and the Iraqi pharmacist at whose home they had been arrested, Ibrahim Naji Shmayyel, were next found “guilty” and were sentenced to death. Thirteen other Iraq Communist Party activists were sentenced to hard labor. The severity of the death sentences for Fahd, Basim and Shmayyel provoked world-wide protest. So in response to this protest, Shmayyel and Basim’s death sentences were reduced on July 13, 1947 to less than 15 years imprisonment; and Fahd’s death sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. And on August 14, 1947, Fahd and Basim were then transferred to Kut prison in Iraq. (end of part 6)