2005.05.19: NYCLAW Statement on IFTU Tour

NYCLAW Statement on IFTU Tour
May 19, 2005

New York City Labor Against the War cannot support the northeast tour organized by USLAW for the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions.

As shown below, the IFTU — and its political affiliate, the Iraqi Communist Party — shares a position virtually indistinguishable from the Bush administration”s: U.S. troops must remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to crush the resistance.

(Since July 2003, the ICP has been an ardent member of the occupation regime, which on January 28, 2004 designated the IFTU as “the legitimate and legal representatives of the labour movement in Iraq.[1])

*June-July 2003. Former ICP general-secretary: “If the [U.S.] were to withdraw from Iraq, there would be a civil war and democrats would have no chance.”[2]

*June 25, 2004. IFTU general-secretary Majid Musa to British union UNISON: “[U]nilateral withdrawal of troops would be bad for Iraq, bad for the emerging progressive forces, a terrible blow for free trade unionism and would play into the hands of extremists and terrorists.”[3]

*September 28-29, 2004. IFTU international representative Abdullah Muhsin successfully urges the British Labor Party conference to defeat a resolution calling for “early withdrawal” of British troops: “[A]n early date for the unilateral withdrawal of troops . . . would be bad for my country, bad for the emerging progressive forces, a terrible blow for free trade unionism, and would play into the hands of extremists and terrorists,”[4] and would “lead at best to the Balkanisation of Iraq and or even worse a bitter civil war.”[5]

*November 23, 2004. ICP general-secretary Majid Musa opposes a December 31, 2005 deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops: “[T]he withdrawal of foreign forces . . . is an objective that all Iraqis without exception seek to achieve. . . . However, the problem is deciding when those troops could depart. We have not yet built sufficient military, police or security forces to protect the security of Iraq.” [6]

*December 19, 2004. ICP general-secretary Majid Musa: “[H]ow can we [end the occupation] in view of the country”s complex situation, the current balances of power and the regional and international circumstances around us” . . . . [T]errorist and subversive acts will only prolong the presence of foreign forces and give an excuse to others to say the country is in danger and cannot endure the bad consequences and so the help of the foreign forces is needed.”[7]

*April 22, 2005. Saady Edan, president of Mosul IFTU: “[I]f [the occupation] ends now, it will bring chaos. Once the Iraqi security forces are capable, then the occupation should leave. But they are not yet.”[8]

In sharp contrast, the Southern Oil Company Union demands an immediate end to the occupation: “We as a union call for the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces and their military bases. We don”t want a timetable — this is a stalling tactic. We will solve our own problems. We are Iraqis, we know our country and we can take care of ourselves. We have the means, the skills and resources to rebuild and create our own democratic society.”[9]


1. “Official recognition given to new union federation by Iraqi Governing Council,” February 9, 2004 <http://www.iraqitradeunions.org/archives/000016.html>.

2. “NDI Assessment Mission to Iraq, June 23 to July 6, 2003,” p. 4 <http://www.ndi.org/front_page/1625_iq_report_072503.pdf>.

3. “UNISON Labour Link committee chair on Labour Party conference,” October 1, 2004 <http://www.labourfriendsofiraq.org.uk/archives/000006.html>.

4. “Open letter from Abdullah Muhsin, foreign representative of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, to trade union delegates at the Labour Party conference” <http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B1571.pdf>.

5. Patrick Wintour and Kevin Maguire, “Deal with unions to keep Blair safe,” Guardian, September 30, 2004 <http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour2004/story/0,14991,1316070,00.html>.

6. Juan Cole, “Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion,” Guardian, November 26, 2004 <http://www.juancole.com/2004_11_01_juancole_archive.html>.

7. “Iraqi Communist Party leader views electoral program, obstacles to elections,” BBC International Reports (Middle East), December 21, 2004.

8. John Lloyd, “United we understand,” Financial Times, April 22, 2005 <http://www.iraqitradeunions.org/archives/000262.html>.

9. Hassan Juma’a Awad, “Leave our country now,” Guardian, February 18, 2005 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1417222,00.html>.

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