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May 13, 2006
Iraqi Communists assess current situation
This substantial and just translated assessment by the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party assesses the political and economic problems facing the Iraqi people.
It records, for example, in relation to restrictions against trade unions and others, that: A big protest movement developed against government Decree No. 8750 issued on 8th August 2005, which gives itself the right to interfere in the affairs of non-governmental organisations, to control their activities, freeze their assets and disband some of them. Faced with mounting pressure by civil society organisations, the government was forced to rescind some of the items of its ill-considered decree which clearly reveals the intention to control these organisations.
Communiqué - issued by the meeting of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Communist Party
The meeting opened with one minute silence to commemorate the martyrs of the heinous crime committed by Saddam’s dictatorial regime against the town of Halabja, the martyrs of the March 1991 popular uprising, and in memory of party comrades and supporters who were martyred or passed away during the past few months, as well as the victims of terrorist acts.
The CC considered in its meeting the outcome of the recent elections held on 15th December 2005, and how the party worked during the election process, on the basis of an evaluation document that contained the results of assessment carried out by party organisations.
In the course of evaluating party work, extensive discussions took place of the performance of its leadership and organisations under the difficult and complex conditions which our country is going through. The meeting praised the achievements in various fields of party work, and took a host of decisions and measures aimed at developing and improving this performance, building party organisations that are closely attached to the people and their concerns, and that consistently defend their interests, rights and aspirations.
The meeting followed up the decision to embark upon preparations for the party’s 8th National Congress and preparing its documents. It also endorsed a number of measures needed to provide the prerequisites for holding the Congress and ensuring its success.
Discussing political developments, the meeting noted that the conditions prevalent in our country are getting more difficult and complex, and that a host of processes are simultaneously interacting. These are connected to:
- A security situation that is out of control, and worsening acts of terrorism and sabotage.
All this confers a specific character to the situation in Iraq, that requires exerting efforts to influence effectively the direction of the political process, its content and pace, so as to bring it closer to the patriotic democratic vision that we strive to achieve as an alternative to the dictatorial regime.
For a Qualitative Change in Tackling the Security Issue
The meeting paid great attention to the security situation, which was and continues to be the main source of concern for the people in general. It reiterated what our party had pointed out time and again, that tackling security problems has to be multifaceted, including, in addition to the military-security aspect, political, economic, social, psychological and media aspects. This means that a proper approach would have to comprise an integrated bundle of measures that are part and parcel of a clear policy, in accordance with specified phases that achieve cumulative and escalating successes. Necessary prerequisites must be provided, first and foremost building military and security institutions on the basis of competence, integrity and patriotism. These institutions must incorporate national unity in their structure and practice, giving a sense of belonging to all Iraqis irrespective of their ideological and political affiliations, ethnic origins, religious beliefs and confessional backgrounds.
It has to be stated that there has been no tangible improvement in the security situation, despite the big resources that were put at the disposal of the relevant authorities, the setting up of several formations in the relevant ministries, and ongoing talk about additional plans, programmes and campaigns. As a matter of fact, the security situation has witnessed many crises, as a result of the escalation and expansion of terrorist operations, covering a bigger geographical area and selecting targets with greater accuracy, with the aim of influencing the political process, confusing the picture and further intensifying the sectarian and social polarization. In addition, nothing has been spared or considered forbidden, including sacred shrines and various places of worship.
Growing Role of Militias and its Dangers
Noteworthy in this connection is the noticeable growth in the role of armed militias, beginning to seize the powers of the relevant bodies in the state. Many acts of assassinations, excesses, kidnappings and violations of the rights of citizens have taken place without proper response by government agencies in order to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice. This situation has led to an increased scale of violations, turning into a phenomenon that must be combated before getting out of control, further aggravating the security situation and undermining the standing of the government and state.
Regaining National Sovereignty
The Central Committee meeting reaffirmed the party position regarding the issue of regaining full sovereignty and independence, pointing out that it had dealt with the issue of the legacy of occupation and foreign military presence in our homeland in party documents since the occupation of our country in April 2003. The party had pointed out that this presence constitutes a violation of national sovereignty that the party strives to fully regain. The party had already called upon the Iraqi government to work for the gradual withdrawal of foreign forces from the cities, while simultaneously working to provide the material, political and security prerequisites for ending the foreign military presence and setting a timetable to achieve this.
Deterioration of Living Conditions and Services and Rampant Unemployment
In addition to the worsening security situation, there has been an awful deterioration in the public services, especially electricity and water and the provision of oil products, as well as municipal services. The government, meanwhile, did not adopt a clear economic policy, acting in a haphazard manner and submitting to the pressures exerted by international financial and monetary institutions. Amidst this situation, Iraqi citizens have raised questions about the enormous funds that were expended to improve the services without any tangible results.
Meanwhile, recent surveys have revealed that more than 20% of Iraqi families are living, according to international criteria, below the poverty line. Unemployment, that covers 30-50% of the labour force, is rampant, especially among the youth, despite re-employing large numbers of people who had been expelled from their jobs under dictatorship and enlisting many in the police and army. Inflation has also increased, reaching 32.8 in November 2005, with a hike in prices that devours any increases in wages.
The distribution of the food ration items among the citizens has also deteriorated. This development could mark the beginning of an unannounced gradual abolition of the food ration system, despite the fact that it continues to fulfil a big proportion of people’s essential food requirements and contributes to preventing an outright deterioration in the standard of living. This is highlighted by the reduction of the funds allocated for the food rations from $4 billion to $3 billion in the budget for 2006. The proposed cash payment to compensate for the rations, or through the limited and unstable social care network, is of no use. The biggest part of whatever is paid out, either way, will be devoured by inflation even before it gets to the people!
It has become evident that the measures taken by the government in this respect, as it did when it raised the prices of refined oil products last December, were in response to the advice and pressures of the IMF, the World Bank and members of the Paris Club. It is well-known that it is the policy of these institutions to exert pressure, under the name of economic reform, in the direction of removing any government subsidy for commodities, especially those considered essential to the broadest sections of the population.
What was amazing with respect to the increase in the prices of refined oil products is that the government justified this measure by claiming that it came, partly, to support the poor families that don’t have a stable income! As if it was really possible to guarantee that any financial aid would reach the needy in the absence of a clearly defined mechanism, the poor performance of the government and its agencies, and with rampant administrative and financial corruption. And as if support for impoverished families can only be achieved through raising the prices of refined oil products, that led to an increase in the prices of various commodities and services because these products enter into the cost of all productive and services processes. It was therefore only natural that the response of the masses was swift and firm - there were wide protests.
This move by the government was also surprising because it coincided with a big increase in Iraq’s oil revenues last year, compared with 2004, while statements were made about building up the government’s foreign exchange reserve !
The Budget for 2006
In this context, it is useful to scrutinize the state budget for 2006, which seems to have changed from a tool for development into an aim in itself. This is evident in emphasis on providing for immediate needs, submitting to the logic of international finance institutions, and reducing big developmental issues to pinning hopes on striking deals with the IMF so as to ensure that its recipe is implemented literally !
It is quite clear that the strategy employed in developing the budget, aiming to achieve “great financial balances”, will not contribute to building a modern and developed economy. It will lead, instead, to the reproduction of an economy that is backward and dependent, with its growth level remaining subjected in essence to external factors, first and foremost crude oil prices, and to the conditions and diktat of international finance institutions. This strategy will also contribute to deepening the current structural crisis of the Iraqi economy, taking it to new levels, and aggravating its contradictions.
The implementation of this budget will effectively lead to increased levels of unemployment, as well as “expelling the state” from the field of economy, and the gradual destruction of local productive capacities.
This, and other factors, will impact the social structure and relations as a result of the emergence of strata that benefit from the bundle of policies that are based on the restructuring adaptation programs employed by the budget.
The Masses Demand their Rights
The Central Committee pointed out that broad masses had moved into action during the past few months against the worsening living conditions and the intensifying crises in various aspects of daily life. This development was influenced by the feeling s of frustration towards the overall performance of the government and its reneging on previous promises, and by resentment towards some of its hasty and ill-considered measures. The mass action was manifested in the big demonstrations that took place throughout Iraq in protest at the decision to increase the prices of refined oil products, the demonstrations by health workers who demanded a pay supplement in line with their counterparts in the health sector, as well as demonstrations calling for the provision of job opportunities for the unemployed.
A big protest movement developed against government Decree No. 8750 issued on 8th August 2005, which gives itself the right to interfere in the affairs of non-governmental organisations, to control their activities, freeze their assets and disband some of them. Faced with mounting pressure by civil society organisations, the government was forced to rescind some of the items of its ill-considered decree which clearly reveals the intention to control these organisations.
The Central Committee meeting believes that this growing mass movement needs active support, backing and participation in order to help it adopt the proper direction. It is important to promote awareness among the people of their rights and stimulate their preparedness to defend them and prevent any violations, ensuring that they enjoy these rights in accordance with the permanent constitution and relevant international covenants. This requires activating the work of various civil society organisations and those defending human rights.
Financial and Administrative Corruption and the Need to Combat It
The CC meeting pointed out that the administrative and financial corruption in state institutions has reached unprecedented levels, according to the criteria of Transparency International. It warned once again of the dire consequences of this corruption, stressing that confronting it is a patriotic task that is no less urgent than the task of confronting terrorism, especially that they - corruption and terrorism - are two sides of the same coin.
The meeting explained that confronting this issue is a general responsibility that is not limited to the Integrity Commission alone, despite the importance attached to the work done by this Commission. Any success that is achieved in this direction is a step towards regaining control over the assets of the state and the country’s wealth, and embarking upon reviving the economy and launching the process of reconstruction.
The Struggle over the Constitution and its Consents
The meeting considered the issue of the permanent constitution and its endorsement in the referendum conducted last November. This was seen as a milestone of great significance in the course of the political process and the transitional phase. It is a historical moment that marks the transition from the era of interim constitutions to the time of the permanent constitution and the institutions that should develop according to it. Such institutions would act as the pillar the modern civil and democratic state that is based on institutions, justice, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
The constitution finally emerged after an agonising process, and came to reflect, from its preamble to various clauses, the reality of the situation in the country and the balance of forces that existed in the National Assembly at the time.
Our Party expressed its conviction at the time that the endorsed version of constitution is not the best one, and does not embody what we had desired, as a basic document that consolidates civil democratic life and peaceful transfer of power, strengthens national unity, resists whatever that may fragment the society into allegiances that are detrimental to citizenship.. a constitutional document that draws on the achievements of human experience and the values of justice and human rights.
This document, in any case, has not been finalized yet. It contains the mechanisms for amending it in future, in accordance with Article 140.
The Elections in December 2005
The CC meeting extensively considered the recent elections in December 2005. While these elections were a political practice of peaceful transfer of power, that contributes to the consolidation of democratic values, mechanisms and practice, they do not, however, constitute the whole of democracy. They need to be complemented by other basic elements of democracy.
The elections can only produce the hoped for results if they are set up in a proper and transparent manner, eliminating the manipulation and violations that marred the elections in practice. There has to be free competition based on the political programmes, free of coercion and political, ideological and financial pressures, so that the people can freely express their will. Elections would then be an important means for consolidating democracy and building the elected institutions, as well as a factor contributing to the country’s stability and progress.
Based on the essence of the party’s experience in the first elections in January 2005, the party organisations began early preparations for the second parliamentary elections. Intensive efforts were exerted to overcome the shortcomings and mistakes that had been pointed out by the evaluation document endorsed by the Central Committee meeting in April 2005. It was also necessary to confront the sectarian-ethnic polarization that had resulted from the first elections and left its imprint on the whole political process, the formation of the government and the performance of the National Assembly.
In the course of preparing for the elections, our party had to develop the mechanism for its participation. There were three options:
- Participating with its own list, as in the 30th January 2005 elections.
The approach to finding what is proper in the concrete conditions in our country was the format based on our vision for the patriotic democratic alternative. This project aims at enhancing the status of Iraqi citizenship, strengthening national unity and equality among citizens irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, sect, confessional affiliation, creed, ideology, and social or economic position. It is a vision that embodies the people’s aspirations to establish a democratic system and a state based on the rule of law and institutions.
After considering these options and conducting a wide-ranging poll of the party cadre, it was decided to adopt the broad coalition format. It was considered to be an expression of a joint interest and effort to achieve joint objectives in specific historical conditions, dictated by the need to save the country through a patriotic democratic plan in the face of sectarian-ethnic polarization. This electoral coalition was embodied in the National Iraqi List which included forces and figures who are generally democratic and liberal.
When we announced our participation in the National Iraqi List, and taking into account the party’s past experience in transient and longer-term alliances, we stressed that any alliance cannot annul the ideological, political and organisational independence of the party, or its freedom to act and take positions in accordance with its principles and policies, and to mobilize around them at present and in future.
The second elections took place, again, in abnormal conditions, and under weak democratic awareness and traditions, a heavy legacy of prolonged authoritarian rule, along with another legacy of the occupation and its effects. There was a sharp crisis manifested in a turbulent security situation, tense political relations, poor co-ordination or the lack of it between the main pillars of government, the poor performance of the government, intensified political-social tension, deteriorating living conditions and public services, intensifying sectarian-ethnic polarization, the strengthening of the role of militias ..
On the other hand, the elections and the broad participation of the people once again, constituted a big challenge to the forces that are hostile to our people, democracy, security and stability. The elections demonstrated a commitment to the political process and fulfilling its last phase, moving forward to an elected assembly and a new government with a 4-year term. The elections were also significant due the enormous tasks awaiting the new parliament, first and foremost the issues related to the constitution and possible amendments, and the need to enact legislation that, as a whole, will decide the features of the present and future Iraq.
However, the elections were unfortunately marred, during the preparations stage, during the election campaigning and then on the election day itself, In addition, many violations of the election rules and regulations were committed by some of the lists during the campaign and the count. This included violations of the rules laid out by the Independent Higher Electoral Commission, as well as the Transitional Administrative Law. The blatant violations included criminal attacks and the killing of a number of candidates and political activists, including our party comrades Abdul Aziz Jassem and Yas Kudhayer. The state apparatus, especially the security forces, also departed from its supposed neutrality.
During the various stages of the election process, many lists and political entities, including the National Iraqi List, submitted 1985 complaints to the Higher Electoral Commission. But the latter did not take any take any effective measures to deal with these complaints. It actually declared, in an unexpected move, partial and uncertified results, but was forced later on to amend its figures!
The stance of the government and its agencies was also disappointing. It chose to remain silent and did not act to investigate the attacks that targeted the offices of well-known parties and organisations, including our Communist Party. It did not pursue and apprehend the murderers and those who stand behind them, so that they face justice. This, and other examples, were an indication of the government’s failure in conducting its duty by providing protection and security for the election process and ensuring its success. This position - along with the poor performance of the Electoral Commission and its refusal to take measures to guarantee fair and transparent elections - caused widespread protests and anger among the people and many competing groups and lists, including the National Iraqi List.
Against this background, a broad umbrella organisation called “Maram” was set up to protest and demand that the election results be checked, as well as considering the complaints they had made. This organisation has fulfilled the task assigned to it. When complaints were considered, the performance of the Electoral Commission lacked, once again, neutrality and competence. “Maram” therefore called for an international investigation team, which did arrive. The final report presented by the team confirmed the case made by the protesters. As a result, the Electoral Commission had to comply with some of the complaints, annulling the results from 227 ballot boxes, i.e. about 100 thousand votes.
Despite all the shortcomings in the reports issued by the international team and the Commission, both confirmed that violations and irregularities did take place. The report of the international team also included important recommendations that will have to be adopted in future to ensure that transparent and fair elections take place.
The last elections, similar to the first one, witnessed serious violations and open and large scale fraud, both inside Iraq and abroad. The voting was clearly influenced by fervent sectarian mobilization, favouring traditional allegiances at the expense of national identity, and multisided external interference with various agenda. All this ensured that the voting was not based on political, economic and social programmes.
Despite this, and as a result of a number of objective and subjective factors, the elections produced a new parliament that is different from its predecessor. It is relatively balanced, because none of the lists achieved an absolute majority, thus allowing for open blocs and coalitions to emerge, and enabling the parliament to perform better compared with the previous National Assembly.
Based on a sense of patriotic responsibility, despite everything, our Party called for a positive approach towards the election results. This position, however, does not mean fully vindicating the elections or overlooking the violations that undermine their credibility as a democratic practice.
The Central Committee meeting pointed out, in the same context, that three months have passed since the elections took place, and yet our people are still impatiently waiting for the parliament to start its normal functioning. The meetings and dialogue between political forces, although important and necessary, should not impede the due process, first and foremost the formation of the new government, so as to begin - before anything else - carrying out its urgent and numerous tasks. These tasks are centred around the need to normalize the situation and save the people from the vicious cycle of endless crises.
The meeting also pointed out that the countdown for the local councils elections, as another imperative that needs to be carried out through the ballot box, will begin following the parliament’s first session. It stressed the importance of these elections due to the role that will be shouldered by the municipal councils in tackling the problems that are directly connected to people’s lives, related to living conditions, services, social aspects.. etc. This requires that our party organisations and comrades start preparing for these elections, utilising the experience they have accumulated in the election processes that have taken place until now. But this should be coupled with a serious evaluation of the experience of our current work in the provincial councils and drawing lessons from them.
Sectarian Polarization and its Dangers
The CC meeting dealt with the phenomenon of sectarian polarization and its dangers for Iraq’s present and future. In this respect, it drew attention to the fact that our society is multi-ethnic with many religions, sects and confessional affiliations, and the continued harmony and cohesion of its constituents is conditional on strict implementation of the principle of equality among citizens in rights and obligations, discarding bigotry and isolationism, and rejecting sectarian allegiance as an alternative to the Iraqi national identity and allegiance to Iraq as a homeland for all.
It is evident that the aggravation of sectarian tensions, which the ousted dictatorship had instigated and practised, is partly the outcome of the policies, measures and legacy of the occupation. The latter has resorted to sectarian and ethnic categorization of our society, thus deepening divisions and creating a serious obstacle to tackling the hated legacy of dictatorship.
The sectarian tensions are also partly due to some political forces employing the policy of sectarian-ethnic polarization as an alternative to political programs in competing with other forces to seize political power and influential positions in government. This was quite evident during the election campaign, by resorting to sectarian agitation and using it to secure victory.
The forces of terrorism, on the other hand, exert enormous efforts to stir up and deepen the sentiments of sectarian hostility and hatred, exploiting them in their brutal battle to frustrate the democratic process in Iraq. The attack on the holy shrine of Imams Ali Al-Hadi and Ali Al-Askari in Samarra last month, and subsequent reactions, is the latest evidence of this dangerous criminal policy which must be foiled through relentless work and strenuous effort to form a national unity government.
The National Unity Government
Taking into consideration the outcome of the elections and its repercussions, and the tasks facing our people and country, the CC meeting stressed that it is difficult for a political group or list on its own, regardless of its size and influence, to take upon itself fulfilling these enormous tasks and achieve the aspirations of Iraqis. Based on the lessons drawn from the previous government, the concept of the national unity government emerged. Such a government would be broadly based and includes the representatives of effective political forces in the parliament and others. It is to be formed on the basis of a political programme that is agreed upon, with the participants taking part in drawing up policies and decision-making. The sectarian quota system in allocating government posts must be rejected, along with the logic that a winning majority would dictate, but without ignoring the election results.
While recognising the difficulties caused by a number of factors, including the differences in opinion among political groups about the nature of this government and its significance, failure to reach consensus on it will create problems and dangers for the whole political process.
The formation of this government, however, on the basis of dialogue, enhancing the values of citizenship and national unity, will create hope and optimism, build a climate of confidence and push the political process forward. All this will constitute a firm basis for the efforts to save the country, end its ordeal, restore security and stability, rebuild its economy, improve the living conditions and provide the essential services.
The National Accord Conference
The meeting also discussed the issue of the National Accord Conference, that was held last November in Cairo, at the initiative of the Arab League. It was pointed out that although the Arab League was late in responding positively to the new situation in Iraq, prevailing facts asserted themselves in the end. The League has therefore pursued a new policy and play a role in activating dialogue between the Iraqi forces. This position has been received with satisfaction and welcomed, combined with the hope that dialogue would continue until its logical conclusion is achieved. It can be said that the conference, despite the complexities and difficulties it had faced, was a good start. To develop it further would require credibility and the existence of an effective political will, so that compromises and joint positions can be achieved on the basis of consensus.
On the other hand, although the second session of the Conference has been postponed until next June, the ongoing developments in Iraq confirm the importance of holding it and the need for good preparations to ensure its success.
New Developments in Kurdistan Region
Regarding the situation in Kurdistan region, the CC meeting reviewed the developments concerning the unification of the two administrations in Arbil and Sulaimaniyah, which entails convening the opening session of the regional parliament and selecting its presidency, and agreement to form the unified government of the region while postponing the process of unifying all the ministries, on the condition that everything would be completed within one year. These developments, followed by ratifying the nominations of the prime minister of the unified regional government and his deputy, constitute an important contribution to fulfilling the demand of the Kurdistan population for unifying the two administrations and the region, in the interest of the region itself and Iraq as a whole. It is hoped that these steps will strengthen the democratic experience in the region and contribute to making new achievements for its people on economic and social levels.
For a Serious and Responsible National Dialogue
Concluding its discussions of the internal situation and developments, especially in relation to the dangers of igniting sectarian sedition following the bombing of the holy shrine in Samarra and its repercussions, and in an effort to halt the shedding of the blood of Iraqis and safeguarding the lives of the people of all political affiliations, ethnic backgrounds and religious and sectarian beliefs, to bring back normality so that the country would enjoy security and stability, ensure the success of the political process and establish a federal democratic Iraq and a state based on the rule of law and justice, the Central Committee meeting issued an appeal for all-inclusive national dialogue between all the political forces, except for the terrorists, Saddamists and Islamic extremists -, the enemies of the people and democracy.
The meeting explained that in order that this dialogue achieve its objectives, there should be no exclusion or marginalization of any national force that rejects violence as means to resolve disputes, and expresses readiness to sit at the negotiation table to resolve existing problems. This must be coupled with serious efforts to form a national unity government as a guarantee for moving forward and saving the country.
At the same time, in relation to the complex political-economic-social scene in the country, the Central Committee highlighted a host of tasks facing the party, its organisations and all the patriotic and democratic forces that strive to bring the country out of the current ordeal and ensure its stability and progress:
- Activating mass and political struggle, mobilizing efforts in the direction of forming the national unity government and participating in the decision-making process, without which it will be difficult for our people and country to avert the looming dangers.
- Continuing the ideological, political and media effort aimed at exposing the harm caused by sectarian bigotry, violence and terrorism, and emphasizing Iraqi citizenship and national identity.
- Struggle to achieve a radical improvement in the security field. This requires a new approach to tackle the security issue, considering it to be a societal issue of economic, social and political roots, rather than a purely security issue. In addition, the efforts of various sections of the society must be mobilized to put an end to the role of the various militias, and stressing the importance of rebuilding the security and military forces as national Iraqi institutions.
- Struggle to bring about a qualitative improvement in the field of basic services provided for the citizens, first and foremost electricity, water, health and education services.
- Supporting the struggles of the unemployed for the right to work, and calling for setting up a social security fund and insurance against unemployment, coupled with obliging the next government to develop a concrete plan to combat unemployment as a problem that has economic, social and political dimensions.
- Support workers’ struggle against expulsions, factory closures and reduction of working hours; demanding better wages and an increase of the minimum wage, so as to take into account the continuing rise in prices.
- Striving to halt the privatization processes in the current conditions, and supporting struggles for the rehabilitation of factories and industries and providing necessary prerequisites, along with ensuring competent administrations to run them.
- Struggle against all forms of corruption, enacting legislations and regulations that prevent those who commit economic crimes from escaping punishment, and ensuring that the plundered moneys and assets of the people are recovered. A democratic system cannot be built while there is rampant corruption and mafias penetrating inside the state agencies, on all levels.
- Supporting efforts to maintain the food ration system and working to improve the quality of its items, and combating any attempts to abolish it in the current conditions.
The meeting greeted the 72nd anniversary of the Iraqi Communist Party, on the 31st March 2006. The Central Committee congratulated the communists and party supporters on this occasion, expressing confidence that the party organisations, comrades and supporters will celebrate this anniversary with greater work and intensified struggle for the just causes of the people, to enhance the party’s role in this struggle and in society, expanding the ties of communists to the masses, adopting their legitimate demands and defending them, participating actively in the political, process, culminating it with establishing the unified democratic federal Iraq, fully sovereign and independent.
About the Arab and Regional Situation
The CC meeting also dealt with the situation on Arab and regional levels, and its impact on political developments in the countries of the region including our country. The meeting pointed out that this is related to interference from outside the area that is aimed at influencing the course of events, in a specific direction, to keep the region under the control and hegemony, and serving the interests of several international quarters including the United States. All this indicates a state of movement that has not yet settled for a specific pattern of options with their political, economic and social dimensions. A sharp struggle is taking place, with the involvement of several forces, including the peoples of the region and their national and democratic forces. This struggle has taken different forms, including violent forms. The involvement of extremist, mostly religious, forces adds new complications to the political scene, especially when the interests of certain states in the region, and for narrow transient and pragmatic gains, converge with these extreme forces.
Important events and developments have taken place during the past few months, that are still interacting and leave their impact on the region, its states and peoples:
- New developments on the Palestinian issue and the electoral coup with the victory of Hamas in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council. This development has apparently surprised everybody, including the winners. It has raised several questions that require a reply, concerning the ability of Hamas to deal with the issues of the peaceful settlement and its imperatives, to revise its methods, to comply with the national consensus program endorsed by the PLO, and its ability to form a national unity government. There are also questions about other forces, especially Fatah, and their ability to deal with the outcome of the elections. Subsequent development in this respect will also depend on a number of factors surrounding the Palestinian issue, especially American and Israeli factors. It is essential to stress the importance Palestinian unity, and the significance of what had been achieved despite its limited nature, to enable the Palestinian people to achieve their right to set up their own independent national state on their own and.
- Developments regarding Syrian-Lebanese relations, following the UNSCR 1559, the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri and subsequent repercussions, and their impact on the situation in both countries and internal ramifications, along with attempts by several quarters to exploit these developments for their interest.
- The elections that have taken place in several countries, including Iraq, Palestine and Egypt, their results and subsequent changes in parliaments and people's assemblies, with new balances of power, and their impact on political life.
- The struggle over the Iranian nuclear program, its interacting factors and dimensions that go beyond the borders of Iran to other states, including our country, the course of action that would be taken by various parties in dealing with this thorny issue, and the repercussions of transferring it to the UN Security Council.
- The developments in Sudan, after the settlement in the South, and the continued struggle over the regime’s orientation, the ramifications of the issue of Darfur and human rights violations there, and Sudan’s relations with neighbouring countries.
- The changes in the higher echelons of power in a number of countries, especially in UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and the impact on the modes and mechanisms of rule. Wider participation in government would entail new obligations and structures, such as parliaments, Shura councils.. etc., and their ability to express changes dictated by developments in various aspects of life, including economic and social aspects.
The above-mentioned developments, and others, indicate a number of things including the following:
1- Intensified political struggle in these countries over power and the course of political, economic and social development. This compels an appraisal of ruling methods, and the importance and necessity of democracy as a need dictated by requirements of development and progress, and as means for peoples’ reawakening and advancement, and laying the foundations for a democratic constitutional parliamentary life and respect for human rights and freedoms.
2- The Mounting desire of peoples of the region for stability, reconstruction, prosperity, a dignified free life, the proper utilization of their enormous wealth to serve their interests, so as to turn the region into an oasis for peace, stability and social progress.
3- Continued external interference, manifested in various forms, such as attempting to impose certain policies against the interests of peoples. This interference obstructs the efforts to achieve just and peaceful solutions for the region’s problems. By adopting a policy that is biased towards Israel and double-standards, the US and those who share its policy are contributing to the state of instability in the region. This, coupled with the policies and practice of existing regimes and the forces that are in power in many countries, that have failed to offer solutions for the political, economic and social problems, an other factors, encourages extremism, violence and the growth of tendencies for terrorism and aggression.
4- Fervent efforts, by various quarters, are exerted to camouflage the reality and essence of the ongoing struggle in the region, with the aim of confusing the picture, conferring on it a certain character, and distancing it from its political, economic, social and cultural fields.
5- The importance of unity and cooperation among the peoples of the region, co-ordinating the efforts and work of their national, democratic and communist political movements, is highlighted once again. It is essential for consolidating and developing democratic practice, guaranteeing basic freedoms, political and ideological pluralism, and building modern states where human rights and social justice are respected and guaranteed.