The Iraqi Communist Party held a big celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 14th July 1958 Revolution that overthrew the reactionary monarchy and ushered in tremendous social and political transformations in Iraq, changing Iraq’s class and social landscape.
The National Theatre in central Baghdad, where the event took place on Saturday 12 July 2008, was packed with an enthusiastic audience waving the Iraqi flag and red banners. The gathering was addressed by comrade Mohammed Jassim al-Labban, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of Iraqi CP.
The program of the celebration included poetry and also a big theatrical and musical production. The operetta was presented by Basra-based Al-Nas Group, in cooperation with the Cinema and Theatre Department and the National Group of Popular Arts in Basra.
The speech of the Iraqi CP leadership hailed the achievements of the 14 July Revolution, including broad freedoms enjoyed by the popular masses, the withdrawal from the Baghdad Pact, the Land Reform Law No. 30 (1958), the progressive Personal Status Law No. 188 (1959), and Law No. 80 (1961) which seized back control over 99.5% of the concessions previously held by oil multinationals. Lessons of the 14th July Revolution were also recalled, with special emphasis given to the need to uphold national unity, both political and social, and to discard all forms of sectarianism. “Political democracy, which was ignored or underestimated after the 1958 Revolution, is also indispensable … There should be no reliance on foreign powers, whether nearby or far away, because Iraq’s problems can only be solved by Iraqis themselves”. Hostility to the 14 July Revolution by anti-people forces intensified, culminating with the bloody fascist coup on 8 February 1963.
The Jubilee anniversary of the 14th July Revolution has been celebrated all over Iraq and among Iraqi communities abroad. It has been declared a National Day and a public holiday.
Iraq: Armed Conflict
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of the reasons for recent trends in the levels of violence in Iraq; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. Howells: The security situation in Iraq varies from province to province. The security situation in Iraq has improved significantly over the course of the second half of 2007 and 2008. In and around Baghdad, violence has reduced to levels not seen since 2005.
There are a number of factors that have contributed towards the downturn in levels of violence across Iraq. The increased capacity and capability of the Iraqi security forces has had a positive impact in reducing levels of violence. Other factors include the surge of US forces and the emergence of predominantly Sunni tribal ‘Awakening’ Councils and Sons of Iraq/Concerned Local Citizens, who have turned against al-Qa’eda. The continued ceasefire declared by Moqtada al Sadr in August 2007 has also had a positive effect in the south, although we remain concerned about violence committed by militant elements linked to the Sadrist movement.
Iraq: Military Bases
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on a status of forces agreement permitting US forces to establish permanent military bases in Iraq and granting US forces immunity from Iraqi law; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. Howells: The US and the Government of Iraq are currently discussing the legal basis for the presence of US military forces following the expiry of UN Security Council Resolution 1790 mandate at the end of 2008. These discussions are essentially a matter for the two countries concerned. We are following their progress closely, however, and are in discussion with coalition partners and the Government of Iraq over our own legal requirements following the end of 2008, with a view to ensuring that our military (and civilian) assistance to Iraq remains on a sound legal footing.
Iraq: Politics and Government
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government’s policy is on development of a mainstream political party by Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq if the Mahdi Army disbands; and if he will make a statement.
Dr. Howells: We encourage all communities in Iraq to engage with the political process and to turn their backs on violence. Political engagement by all sectors of Iraqi society will be crucial in achieving lasting progress on national reconciliation and we continue to support the Government of Iraq in efforts to achieve this goal.
However, we remain concerned that part of Muqtada al-Sadr’s 13 June statement stated that his organisation would continue to attack coalition forces. As Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has said, weapons should only be in the hands of the Iraqi security forces. Coalition forces are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government and under a UN mandate; they should be able to continue their job of helping to build a stable and secure Iraq without fear of attack.
Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made on the mentoring, monitoring and training of Iraqi security forces in southern Iraq.
Des Browne: UK forces in southern Iraq continue to make very good progress in mentoring and training the Iraqi Security Forces. Our main focus is on developing the 14th Division of the Iraqi Army until it is fully operational. We have embedded a significant number of our people with that division in order to help achieve this, and our forces continue to provide a range of other support as well. The performance of 14th Division during recent operations in and around Basra demonstrates the continuing success of our approach.
16 Jun 2008 : Column 712W
This letter appears in the Times today
You rightly highlight the plight of Iraqi interpreters who have resettled here (report, June 13). We saw for ourselves on a visit to Baghdad last month their invaluable role in building the new Iraqs relations with the outside world. This was our third visit to Iraq in the past two years from which we have come to understand the deep regard in Iraq for Britain, despite 20th-century history. This respect for the UK will be damaged unless we tackle the conditions of these brave interpreters.
Dave Anderson, MP
Labour Friends of Iraq
Saad Eskander director of Baghdads national library and a former Kurdish fighter says that without cultural education, we cannot emerge from Saddam Husseins dictatorship properly. Without it, we cannot resist the ideas of religious fundamentalism.
Clock the optimism in this report which says that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani has told LFIQ Joint President Ann Clwyd that security operations against terrorists and outlaws are very successful and that he expects Iraqi forces to take full control of security in Iraq by the end of the year.
Lords Written Questions
Baroness Northover: What action they have taken following the reports by the Baghdad security plan on the operability of Baghdads sewage plants.
Baroness Crawley: We are unaware of any official reports having been made on the operability of Baghdad’s sewage plants as a result of the Baghdad security plan. However, we are aware that a spokesman for the Government of Iraq has stated that, as at 3 February this year, none of the city’s three sewage plants was operating at capacity. These problems were directly attributed to the neglect with which Saddam Hussein’s regime treated the maintenance of Iraq’s infrastructure.
The Joint Reconstruction Operation Centre, responsible for co-ordinating and synchronising reconstruction efforts in Baghdad, announced on 2 March that in the past year 80 per cent of the city’s water distribution system and 60 per cent of the sewerage system had undergone reconstruction, as a result of co-operation between the Government of Iraq and coalition forces. Work is also continuing on extending the capacity of these systems. The US Army Corps of
Engineers reports that a $2.3 million upgrade to sewer lines and water pumping stations in one of Baghdad’s suburbs, which will help prevent health hazards to more than 115,000 area residents, is due to be completed in June, and that it is undertaking many other projects to improve Baghdad’s infrastructure.
The UK Government are not currently involved in any work to improve
Baghdad’s sewage system. However, by May of this year the Department for International Development will have improved access to water for more than 1 million people in southern Iraq, by: undertaking infrastructure repair projects; providing training facilities for Iraqi engineers; and by providing technical advice for a major sewage installation in al-Amarah, replacing open sewage channels and providing up to half of the city’s population with access to a piped
19 May 2008 : Column WA167
A Labour Friends of Iraq delegation visited Baghdad from 8-10 May where we had discussions with the Iraqi Prime Minister and others.
We placed a strong emphasis on efforts to encourage overturning the restrictions on the new and independent trade union movement. We met Adnan Al Saffar of the General Federation of Iraqi Workers and Jasim Al Lami of the Iraqi Teachers’ Union before meeting Prime Minister Maliki.
We stressed in that meeting and in a meeting with the Islamic Dawa Party that LFIQ and the wider international labour movement are supportive of the Iraqi unions, which are hampered by the maintenance of Saddam Hussein’s ban on public sector unions and further restrictions introduced in 2005 by the previous Iraqi Prime Minister.
Mr Maliki said that flourishing unions were part of his vision for the new Iraq and said that he expected progress in the near future.
The delegation consisted of LFIQ Joint President, Dave Anderson MP, LFIQ Director Gary Kent, Eric Joyce MP and Rachel Cowburn, International Manager of the Labour Party.
The BBC reports optimism in Iraq: more than 50% of Iraqis think their lives are good, more than at any time in the last three years, a survey says. The poll for the BBC, ABC, ARD and NHK of more than 2,000 people also suggests that a majority believe that security in their area has improved since 2007. And while most Iraqis still believe US troops are making things worse, the number who want the Americans to pull out immediately has fallen.