(13 October 2007)
The Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party held its regular plenary meeting on Saturday, October 13, 2007. The meeting began by paying tribute to the late comrade Dr Naziha al-Dulaimy who recently passed away after a life that was fully devoted to the people, homeland and the cause of women, as well as the Communist Party which she had joined in her youth and always remained faithful to its values and lofty aims. Members of the Central Committee observed a minute of silence in respect of the memory of Dr Dulaimy, and also party members and supporters whom we have lost during recent months, as well as martyrs of violence and terrorism.
The meeting discussed recent developments in the country during the past five months, since the 8th National Congress of the party (10-13 May). It also considered the conditions of the party, the activity of its leadership and Advisory Council, the achievements of specialised committees and all party organisations.
Party work and performance
In evaluating the party work, there was extensive discussion about the performance of its leadership and organizations under the difficult and complex conditions that our country and people are enduring. The meeting commended achievements in various fields of party work, and endorsed a number of guidelines and measures designed to develop and enhance the party, with the aim of building effective organisations that are close to the citizens and their concerns, diligently and consistently defending their interests and rights.
The meeting stressed the need to sustain the momentum launched by the party s 8th National Conference, build on the positive response to its Democratic Patriotic Plan among the people and political circles, in order to strengthen the constructive role of the party and its influence in the ongoing political process, at present and in future.
Political developments and prospects
In considering political developments, the meeting noted that our country is going through a period of great complexity and difficulty, in which many internal and external factors interact. It also noted that in light of the continuing intensified struggle over the future of Iraq, the form the state, and the political-economic-social regime, the situation remains open to many possibilities and dependent on the ability of political parties and blocs, and the masses of people, to reach synergies to take the country out of the political crisis and put it on the path of building a democratic system, reconstruction and development.
Regarding the new manifestations of the crisis, the meeting noted the intensification of the political-media campaign against the political process with the aim of taking the country back to the starting point, and thus frustrating the project of building a unified democratic federal Iraq. It also pointed to the continuing inability of the government s performance to implement fundamental aspects of its own programme. This is mainly due to the mechanisms that had been employed for the formation of the government and the system of quotas that it inherited and has continued to use. There is also the continuing manifestations of corruption in government institutions, the loss of much of the prestige of the state, and the ongoing problrm of security remaining a major concern for the people in spite of the relative improvement in the security situation in general. In addition, the plan for national dialogue and reconciliation is still faltering, while public services continue to deteriorate, prices increase, and external interference in internal Iraqi affairs continues.
Political process and the need for reform
The Central Committee concluded in this regard that the political process is facing serious difficulties and major disruptions, and that its outcome and the performance of government institutions must be critically reviewed, with the aim of reforming it and correcting its course. Based on concern for the political process and in order to ensure its success, it is essential that the process of reform comes from within and through active participation in authority. It is also necessary to work for rallying all possible forces and energies, and to press in the direction of achieving this as soon as possible.
The meeting pointed at the same time to the movement witnessed in the political arena recently that included all blocs. It reflected in part the recognition of the seriousness of the situation, and the grave problems that can be caused by the current impasse and the state of division and fragmentation, thus putting an end to the prospects of the political process. As a result, consultation was activated between the Presidency and the Prime Minister, while the Sadrist, the "Accord" and "Dialogue" blocs agreed to attend the sessions of parliament, and contacts between parties that are influential in government and parliament have continued to develop a frontal framework.
Improvement in security situation
These developments come at a time when the security situation, particularly in Baghdad, has shown tangible improvement. This improvement, however, has remained relative, with its continuity and consolidation dependent on overcoming the vacillation in the political field, launching initiatives to activate the national reconciliation plan, and striving to really involve all political parties in the process of political decision-making and also assuming responsibility for its implementation. Similarly, there was an improvement in the security situation in Anbar province, and to some extent in Diyala province. In the wake of events in Kerbala, the Sadrist movement suspended the Mahdi Army for six months; a step that was considered positive and revived hopes of activating the government policy to put an end to militia activity and to limit the possession of arms to the state and its institutions. In addition, there has been a new development with tribes and so-called "Awakening" groups being armed to confront Al-Qaida and its sponsors. While this development has achieved tangible successes in confronting Al-Qaida and the restoration of security in the province of Anbar, extending it to other regions involves risks of turning into militias and re-fuelling sectarian tensions, unless they are subjected to specific controls, and be organized and armed under the control of the government and its relevant institutions.
The Central Committee meeting drew attention to the fact that our party had positively evaluated the two documents: the "National Principles for the Agreement of Political Forces and Mechanisms of Action" (the so-called Quadripartite Agreement), and the "Statement of Political Leaders" (the so-called Quintet Statement). Despite critical remarks stated earlier by our party, these documents were considered a step towards overcoming the state of division and fragmentation, and seriously embarking upon reforming the political process, away from the policies of marginalization, exclusion and the sectarian quota system.
Patriotic Democratic Plan
The Central Committee stressed that the higher national interest and the gravity of the challenges faced by the country require a comprehensive national initiative to open a dialogue between all the forces concerned to ensure the success of the political process, in order to consider establishing of the broadest political alliance on the basis of a patriotic democratic programme. Such an alliance would mobilize forces, build a broad political - popular base for the desired truly national unity government. This government would be qualified to get our country out of bottlenecks and crises, mobilize the people s forces to achieve their objectives and aspirations for a unified and fully sovereign democratic federal Iraq, with its citizens enjoying security, stability and a dignified free life.
The meeting reaffirmed in this regard that the Patriotic Democratic Plan, that our party launched last August, as the programme that meets, with its goals and mechanisms, the above- mentioned objectives. It is essential to continue efforts to publicize and disseminate its contents, and strive to ensure that this Plan is supported and embraced by sections of the public opinion.
Regarding the US policy after the reports presented by General Petraeus and the American Ambassador Crocker in mid September to the Congress in Washington, the Central Committee meeting pointed out that there have not been any significant and fundamental changes in this policy. It is therefore imperative for some Iraqi forces to relinquish expectations based on wishful thinking, and political manoeuvring, and to resort instead to a realistic approach and policies as dictated by the supreme interests of the people and homeland. Concerted and responsible efforts are needed to pull the country out of its crisis, rectify the situation and move forward on the path of building the new Iraq; a democratic, federal, secure and fully sovereign Iraq.
Rejecting the "Biden Resolution"
In considering the (non-binding) Resolution adopted by the U.S. Senate in late September 2007, that called for the formation of three entities in Iraq on sectarian and ethnic basis, the Central Committee meeting emphasised the party s rejection of this resolution. At the same time, the meeting reaffirmed the position adopted by the party since the early 1990s, linked to developments in Iraqi Kurdistan region following the popular uprising in March 1991, which considers the federal system to be the democratic solution to the Kurdish national question in Iraq s concrete conditions.
The meeting also endorsed in principle the establishment of a federal system in Iraq, on condition that the citizens would determine the form of federal regions to be constituted in accordance with the Constitution and the mechanisms contained Law for the setting up of regions. In addition, it expressed support for the distribution of powers between the centre and provinces, so as to strengthen decentralization, both in Iraq as a whole and within the regions.
Formation of regions on non-sectarian basis
The meeting explained that it is necessary, when forming new federal regions, to ascertain the actual need for establishing region concerned, and that it meets the aspirations of that area, and expresses the free will of its residents, away from sectarianism, imposition and coercion. It is also essential that all of this takes place in a climate of national consensus, with its implementation linked to providing the appropriate atmosphere for the promotion of national reconciliation, calming the security situation and restoring stability. In this manner, the formation of federal regions in the framework of a unified democratic Iraq will be a factor of stability and tranquillity, and will consolidate national unity that is built on the basis of free will and voluntary union.
The meeting pointed out that the federalism which we seek and aspire to is, as stated in the Iraqi constitution, subject to the will of the Iraqi people and their right to choose the form of their state and system of government. Federalism must not be dictated by any transient and sudden circumstance or any agenda other than those which the Iraqis themselves agree upon. It should safeguard their interests irrespective of the diversity of their ethnicities, religions and confessional affiliations. In this sense, federalism has nothing to do with the content of the Resolution adopted by the US Senate.
While considering the recent political developments, the meeting dealt with the issue of Iraqi-Turkish relations and the role of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). It stressed the need to build these relations on the basis of joint interests and the principles of non-interference in internal affairs, respect for each country s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the inadmissibility of solving the internal problems of either country at the expense of the other one. Peaceful dialogue and diplomatic means must be used to solve the problems arising, rather than hinting to resort to force and threaten with military invasion, which can only create more difficulties and agony. With regard to the problems of the PKK with the Turkish government, these should be resolved on Turkish territory. The issue of Kurdish people in Turkey should also be tackled in a peaceful and democratic manner, so as to ensure that Kurdish citizens enjoy their rights that are guaranteed by international norms, laws and covenants.
In discussing the developments of the security situation, the Central Committee reiterated the previous conclusions made by our party in this respect. It is difficult to achieve progress in this area based on military action alone, despite the importance and necessity of this work. It is essential to adopt a package of measures and mechanisms: military, security, political, economic, cultural and media related. The meeting pointed out in this connection that the successes that have been achieved on the security front remain fragile unless accompanied by successes in other areas, particularly on the political level.
Foreign military presence
Regarding the foreign military presence, the meeting recalled our party position that their withdrawal should be scheduled in parallel to scheduling the process of completing the construction of the Iraqi armed forces and security agencies. The latter process must take place according to the criteria of patriotism, competence and professionalism, and away from the sectarian quotas and "balancing". The meeting stressed the need for government to raise the level of exercising its sovereign right. The government must present to the Parliament the issue of bilateral security arrangements and agreements with the United States, in connection with the end of the mandate for the presence of the "multinational forces" under UN Resolution No. 1546, which has been referred to in some statements recently, before taking any decision in this respect .
The meeting summed up the position of the party: to reject any permanent foreign military presence on the territory of our country. Any arrangements discussed in this connection must be based on the principle of achieving full sovereignty and providing the conditions for taking over fully the responsibility for security by the Iraqi armed forces, and strengthening their capabilities, on the level of organization, equipment and performance, so as to be able to defend the territory and sovereignty of the country, and to speed up the withdrawal of foreign troops frgom Iraq.
Party and the Iraqi List
The meeting dealt with the issue of the participation of the party in the "Iraqi National List" on the basis of its programme which opposes communal polarization, calls for the adoption of the principle of citizenship and the establishment of a democratic system, and rejects violence and terrorism. It was pointed out that the continued participation and work by the party in the List, essentially depends on the extent of compliance with its agreed programme. It is also linked to organizing the operation and structure of the List on an institutionalised basis, with consultation and developing common positions among participant parties being conducted in a regular manner.
Trade union and public freedoms
Discussion at the meeting also covered the issue of trade union freedoms in the light of recent protests by workers and professional unions, especially in the locations of oil workers in Basra, against the harassment and pressure applied by official bodies that used the decision taken by the dictatorial regime, Law No. 150 (1987), to transform workers into government employees and banning their affiliation to unions. The Central Committee stressed the importance of acting to support the trade union movement, to enable it to take its rightful and legal role based on the decision of the Governing Council which recognized the General Federation of Workers Unions and the legitimacy of its work.
The meeting also expressed grave concern at reports of criminal acts in Basra that claimed the lives of scores of women. The Central Committee pointed out that these brutal crimes are a new peak of the reality of persecution and repression against women and targeting their lives as well as their fundamental freedoms. It stressed that it is essential to pay special attention to the women s issue.
The Central Committee also stressed the need to respect public freedoms, and the legitimacy of the freedom and independence of unions and professional, social and civil society organisations, so that they fulfil their role in the revitalization of public life. These organisations need to adopt the principles and mechanisms of accountability and transparency in their activities, funding sources and disposing their funds. In this context, the meeting reiterated the demand for abolishing Decree No. 8750 that froze the assets of the afore-mentioned organizations, and called for providing them with necessary support, so as to be an active participant in the process of raising awareness, development, democratization and respect for institutions and the law.
Plight of the displaced people and migrants
The meeting considered the plight of forcibly displaced people inside the country, and concluded that what was done for them by the government and relevant bodies was little compared with their essential needs. It also expressed its concern about the refusal of a number of provinces to allow the displaced to remain within their administrative borders. The Central Committee called for providing all possible assistance to them, and allocating sufficient funds for this purpose, until prerequisites are fulfilled for their return to their homes which they had been forced to leave. It also called for paying attention and caring for the Iraqis who have been forced to leave their homeland, and for coordination with host countries and relevant international institutions, in order to protect their rights and dignity.
Foreign security companies
The meeting considered the mounting violations and abuses committed by the foreign security companies and their flagrant behaviour towards the lives and security of Iraqi citizens. It condemned, in particular, the crime committed by members belonging to Blackwater company in AL-Nusour Square in Baghdad, that claimed the lives of many innocent civilians. The meeting called for prosecuting those responsible before the Iraqi justice system, and for reviewing the legislations regulating the work of these companies. In particular it called for a lifting of the immunity granted to them, thereby subjecting them to Iraqi laws and withdrawing the licenses of those committing violations.
With regard to the issue of Kirkuk and the Commission responsible for implementation Article 140 of the Constitution, which resumed its work after being restructured and a new chairperson appointed, as well as determining its nature and functions as an executive committee, the Central Committee meeting stressed the necessity and importance of the Commission s work being accomplished in accordance with Article 140, and in a professional, technical and transparent manner that takes into account the interests of everybody and their rights.
Developments in Kurdistan
The Central Committee discussed at its meeting the developments in the Kurdistan region. It noted in this respect that the political situation in the region is developing in a climate of Kurdistan national consensus, that began with political normalization between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). This process had resulted in the unification of the two administrations, the reactivation of the Kurdistan National Council, the formation of the regional government through consensus, and the sharing of presidential posts.
The meeting drew attention to the imperatives dictated by current stage and the need for a serious common stance by all Kurdistan political forces. Everybody needs to contribute to the identification of obstacles and negative points on the basis of partnership in power, and to begin addressing these negative points through a joint national programme.
With regard to the formation of the Supreme Council of Kurdistan Parties, the meeting considered this to be a positive step, helping convergence and participation to reach common positions vis-à-vis political events and developments in the region and in the whole of Iraq.
On the other hand, the representatives of the Kurdistan Communist Party in the regional parliament, Council of Ministers and provincial councils, strive to defend the interests of the masses and consolidate the values of social progress and development in all aspects of public life.
With regard to the strategic agreement reached between PUK and KDP, the meeting pointed out that the Kurdistan Communist Party had dealt with it positively, in the hope that it might lead to further joint action to address the outstanding issues and improve government performance in general.
The meeting stressed the importance and necessity of activating the performance of the Kurdistan National Council, activating the work of civil society organizations, and paying attention to the toiling strata by fulfilling their needs and providing services so as to ensure a decent living for them. It was noted that the problems connected to the provision of services, fuel, electricity and some other basic needs, continue to constitute a big concern and a heavy burden for the citizens.
Difficult Living Conditions
The Central Committee meeting considered the difficult living conditions of the Iraqi people, and noted that there has been little improvement in the level of services and their availability. Scarcity of oil products in the market, their high prices, and the inability of the State to control their distribution and ensure delivery to the citizens, have continued. All this has contributed to people s daily suffering, and has cause the attrition of a greater proportion of the meagre incomes of citizens.
The crisis of electricity and water supply has also continued, with consequent real hardship for the people, as well as its negative impact on other crucial economic activities and production processes and services. Overcoming the energy crisis requires increasing electricity production, through the rehabilitation of existing power stations and the establishment of new ones, securing power lines, and beginning to use new and renewable energy sources. But the implementation of this programme is impeded by the weak performance of security services, administrative and financial corruption, and red tape obstacles.
The meeting also noted the continued hike in prices at high rates of more than 30% annually. This means the erosion of the purchasing power of salaries, wages and incomes in general, thereby reducing living standards, particularly for low-income and small income earners, as well as other broad sectors of the population. On the other hand, indications have recently emerged on a tendency of inflation rates to decline. Official bodies have attributed this to the high value of the Dinar against the dollar. But the policy of raising the value of the Dinar that is adopted by the Central Bank has - according to many experts - limited impact on price levels. They, in turn, do not provide a climate and conditions that encourage domestic investment and private sector activity, especially industrial.
Against the backdrop of economic difficulties, particularly for toilers, it is clearly important to maintain the ration system, improve its content and ensure good distribution.
Government economic projects
The Meeting noted that the past months has witnessed the launching by the government of some programmes and projects, to stimulate economic activity and to meet some of the basic needs of citizens. Among such projects were the National Housing Plan, and the decision to reduce the cost of mortgage loans to 2%, as well as the programme for providing soft loans for small enterprises, in order to help promote small handicraft and productive activities and reduce unemployment. So far, an amount of 150 million dollars has been allocated for these projects throughout the provinces.
On the other hand, the bidding for mobile phone licenses was successful in bringing revenues for the state that exceeded expectations. The process was conducted in a transparent and professional manner. It is necessary to adopt a similar approach for all major projects and contracts, to ensure best results and to stop possible corruption.
Despite some improvement in the levels of implementation of government investment programmmes and projects, and in the ability of provinces to implement their annual budgets in both the investment part and that related to the development of regions, compared with the case last year, the projects that have been achieved in key sectors such as oil and electricity are still very limited and often below the required specifications. This situation has encouraged arguments calling for increased reliance on the private sector. But this trend clashes with the realities of the situation on the ground, and with the high risks for investment from the point of view of private capital, thus making it hesitate and refrain from putting funds into investment projects with medium and long term return. This is in addition to the weak financial and technical potential of the domestic private sector, which makes it impossible for it to invest in sectors that have high financial, technical and administrative requirements.
The meeting of the Central Committee explained that one of the glaring ironies in the economic policy adopted today, which is supposed to promote market economy and the activities of the private sector, is that its measures lead in practice to curtailing the domestic private sector, especially its industrial component, as a result of the absence of any arrangements to protect the national product, the high interest rates on borrowing, the weak support offered to this sector, and the lack of interest in the federations and frameworks that represent its affiliates.
In this context, it is important to support the orientation of the Ministry of Industry, aimed at rehabilitating industrial companies that belong to the public sector, and its quest to provide soft loans, in addition to what it gets from foreign grants, to finance this rehabilitation process. The success of this procedure will have a positive impact on the national economy, by raising the value of domestic production, absorbing unemployed labour force, and rebuilding the productive capacity of the country. But this policy must be accompanied by providing some kind of protection for the national product, especially in the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Draft laws and controversy surrounding them
The meeting dealt with the important legislations that are expected to be presented soon to the Parliament, including the draft law of oil and gas and the draft law of financial resource, both of which are evidently important for the national economy and the distribution of national wealth and its disposal. The meeting pointed out that these two draft laws are still the subject of disagreement between political forces that are influential in the government. The controversy around the Oil and Gas Law centres around the rights and powers of the regions in signing contracts for exploration and production, and about the adoption of production sharing contracts, since the draft law does not prohibit, in a clear manner, resorting to such contracts.
The Kurdistan regional parliament has recently adopted a law for the oil and gas, thus pre-empting the Iraqi Parliament, and the regional government signed oil contracts that have caused controversy with regard to their compliance with the conditions provided for by draft Oil and Gas Law.
As for the draft law of financial resources, objections to it have emerged from several quarters, including experts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), because it contains provisions and mechanisms that are in contradiction with some of the principles and rules for preparing the state s general budget.
Direct national investment
The Central Committee pointed out that the position of the party is summarized in emphasising the general principles that the draft laws should contain and be based upon, especially relying on direct national investment in the exploitation of oil wealth, and to rely primarily on service contracts in relation to contracts.
According to estimates by experts, Iraq does not need partnership type contracts for production levels below 4 million barrels a day, knowing that it is still far from this level of production. The use of partnership contracts can therefore be limited to the new undiscovered fields, which are located in places where exploration is difficult and investment risks increase to levels that exceed the capacity of the national companies, and on the condition that contracts related to large fields be subject to other controls, such as approval by the Parliament.
In regard to the powers of exploration and exploiting oil fields in the regions and relevant contracts, there should be agreement on a formula that is consistent with the logic of rational management of the oil wealth, and to ensure the participation of the regional authorities in this management in an appropriate manner. But it negotiating with international companies must not be conducted from a position of weakness or fragmentation in the Iraqi stance as a whole.
And on the distribution of the country s financial resources, the meeting stressed the need to adopt the principle of a unified approach to accounting for all financial resources and distributing them in accordance with both criteria: the proportion to total population and also the degree of deprivation experienced by some Iraqi regions and governorates because of the policies of discrimination pursued by the dictatorial regime. Mechanisms must be adopted that are consistent with the rules and principles of the preparation of the unified general budget of the state, on the one hand, and with the redistribution of powers between the centre (the federal government) and the regions, as required by the federal structure of the state as stipulated by the Constitution, on the other hand.
There is also a draft law for the provinces (governorates) that are not to be included within federal regions. Elections for provincial assemblies are supposed to take place after its approval. Objections to this draft law have been submitted because it grants the provinces almost absolute powers and weakens the role of the federal government in the supervision, control and the appointment and dismissal. Its supporters, however, believe that it is in line with the relevant articles of the Constitution.
These differences and conflicting views have political, economic and technical dimensions. So it will not be possible to endorse the above-mentioned draft laws in the Parliament unless political consensus on them is reached. In addition, these draft laws are included among the bills that the United States and its allies are pressing the government to expedite their approval. However, these draft laws have yet to reach the Parliament, and their outcome is subject to reaching consensus on them among the main political blocs.
The Central Committee meeting at the conclusion of its deliberations stressed that it is high time to take political initiatives, activating the mechanisms and channels of bilateral and multilateral dialogue for this purpose, in the context of a comprehensive national dialogue, leading to national consensus and a real political breakthrough. The present situation in the country should be an incentive for the various blocs, parties and organizations to rise above trivial concerns, and to work hard to rid the country of its present state, and ensure correcting the political process and sustaining its momentum. This will contribute to upholding the principle of citizenship, consolidate true democratic practice, encourage efforts towards national reconciliation, and enhance the capacity of the country to defeat terrorism and bring security and stability, accelerate the restoration of full national sovereignty, and establish a state of law and institutions, in a unified federal democratic Iraq.