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“Iraqi Communist Party´s support of embargo is crime”

28. February 2003

Interview with Ahmed Karim, National Democratic Communist Movement of Iraq

Authorised interview with Ahmed Karim, leader of the National Democratic Communist Movement founded in 2001. Karim is of Kurdish origin and has been member of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) since 1954. Most of his life he has been representative for the party in Eastern European countries leading the party´s radio broadcasting services.

Q: How would you characterise the Iraqi Communist Party of today?
The ICP is an opportunist party indirectly helping imperialism. Its leadership has switched sides and want the war in order to topple Saddam. But you cannot say that it has turned altogether into a reactionary force. The leadership is not prepared to guide the membership. They do not function as a party, they are not inside the country but abroad or in Kurdistan. They have no activity inside, they are simply sleeping. If we once will return we need to conduct a conference electing a new leadership truly representing all tendencies of the party.

Q: How can you think that such a party which supported the crime of the decade long embargo can be reformed?
There were three major crimes. First the embargo, second the support to Iran during the war and third the destruction of the party. But still I believe it is possible to recuperate the party and build a new leadership.

Q: How did your opposition develop?
In 1986 there was large criticism within the ranks of the party and we founded the newspaper “Al Manber” (Tribune). The oppositional views were regarding the unclear position of the leadership in the war with Iran. Originally we all shared the opposition against the war which we considered as an aggression, instigated by the US, on a people with whom we have to seek friendship. We called upon both sides to end the war. But from the moment onwards Iranian troops entered Iraqi territory, the position had to be adjusted. We had to defend our country as long as it was occupied by foreign troops. We asked Hamid Moussa, today first secretary, how he could support the reactionary regime of Khomeini? They thought the Iranians would topple Saddam but he revealed to be stronger. I remember one member of the Central Committee as saying that we have to prefer occupation to Saddam. The same they apply now with regard to the Americans. They have completely forgotten what colonial occupation meant to our people fifty years ago.
However, in 1991 during the American aggression, the “Tribune” vanished as many of the editorial staff adapted themselves to the new situation, became more and more opportunist and some even very rich.

Q: Does your opposition movement have something to do with the split of the ICP of 1967?
No, as this group let by Aziz al Hadsch was completely extinguished. In order to understand this schism we have to go back in 63. In the aftermath of the Baathist coup d´etat the leadership of the party got killed and since then the party had been wavering. While the leading group of the CC had been advocating from 64 onwards to join the ranks of Arif, we were about to prepare the seizure of power. We were infiltrating the state apparatus, the media, the army and even the Republican Guard. By the way Baath was doing the same thing. We wanted to chance the party leadership but without risking a split. When we heard that Aziz al Hadsch had done this step we were astonished. Originally the opposition had great support but Aziz was considered to be the weakest of the leading opposition group. He had bad records in jail. Soon the support began to fade away. He went to the southern marches and started armed struggle. The territory is not appropriate for that guerrilla warfare as you easily can be traced by helicopter gunship. Many comrades lost their lives. Aziz was captured in 68. He betrayed his comrades and was even released by Saddam.

Q: How strong has the Chinese influence been on the movement of Aziz al Hadsch?
China tried to gain influence. They invited cadres to China, they offered support and so on. There was quite a lot of sympathy but never there was an open pro-Chinese tendency within the ICP.

Q: Let us go back as far as in 1959. It is generally agreed upon that between the events of Mosul in march and in Kirkuk in July the communist movement touched its climax. Many say, even die-hard enemies of the ICP, that the party would have had the strength to seize power?
I remember May 1st then millions marched. The demonstrations started in the early morning and even in the late afternoon there were still people to pass. In the CC there were two wings. On one side the one around the first secretary Salam Adil who were against to take power and on the other hand the army committee, who advocated to take power by military means. Only later I got to know that Moscow intervened to the detriment of a military coup. Seen retrospectively the Russian intervention was decisive for the line of the party.

Q: What you think of the National Front in the 70ies and how it ended?
The National Front was the best period of the ICP. It was Saddam who bears the responsibility of the break. But nevertheless we reacted in a wrong way. When Saddam hung 43 communists in 1979 despite of contrary promises it was obvious that we had to give a clear response. But the party conducted a kind of mass flight. The closed all papers, offices, mass organisations and so one and the leading cadres left the country. Yes, it was indeed necessary to prepare underground work. But we virtually stopped party activity.

Q: What was your position on the war with Kuwait?
I supported Iraq as Kuwait forms historically part of Iraq.

Q: Is it possible that the US will adopt those communists into a post-Saddam administration?
In the first run no, but later on maybe.

Q: Which course this war will take?
Its not possible to make a serious prediction. It could last three days but also one month or more. In any case the US will have to face big problems once established in Iraq.

Q: Is a civil war possible?
I do not think that a civil war will break out in parallel with the American aggression as the latter is directed the entire Iraqi people, Arabs, Kurds, against all national parties.