Collection of articles about Iraq, the Gulf War and class struggle in tidy PDF format.
The aim of the 1991 Gulf War was to reduce the Iraqi working class from a well-paid, rebellious, not particularly hard-working bunch of welfare bums into a desperate, starving, third-world underclass. The cruise missiles that rained on Baghdad from January 17 onwards imposed the most savage IMF austerity plan yet. The war was ended by the mass desertion of the Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait. They didn’t just desert, they headed back to Iraq to turn their guns on Saddam’s regime. However thousands of the deserters who were obviously unwilling to do any damage to the Allies were killed, while the Iraqi Republican Guard who might have fought the invasion were left largely intact to crush the insurgent proletariat. The media then and now described the post-war revolts as the work of Islamists and Kurdish nationalists. While those reactionary movements were certainly present the uprisings were overwhelmingly proletarian, anti-capitalist ones. The Kurdish nationalists ultimately sided with the Iraqi state against the revolts, handing Arab deserters from the Iraqi army back to the army for execution.
The 2003 war was also ended by the refusal of most of the Iraqi army to fight for ‘their’ state. This time the refusal to fight extended to the Republican Guard, in what was the first case of mass desertion by professional soldiers in the capitalist era. Unfortunately this time there was no mass proletarian uprising alongside the desertion. This is hardly surprising given the crushing of the 91 uprisings and twelve years of brutal sanctions-led austerity. However there was an upsurge in class struggle in Iraq when the regime fell and the occupation forces imposed order. There was mass looting of government premises so lamented by the media – some of it undoubtedly anti-social such as the looting of hospitals – as well as the squatting of luxury apartments belonging to the Republican Guard. There has also been a wave of strikes as well as a movement of the unemployed since the occupation. Of course as well as the occupying troops proletarians in Iraq face the various nationalist and Islamist resistance groups and a wave of violent crime. We hope to produce “Class struggle in Iraq: Part 2” dealing with the period since the occupation in the near future.
“Ten Days that Shook Iraq” is about the uprisings and was first published as a four page leaflet in the UK in 1991 and was one of the first sources of information in English about the uprisings in Southern Iraq and Kurdistan. It was later published in the now defunct communist magazine Wildcat. Wildcat’s website is at http://www.againstsleepandnightmare.com/wildcat/SUBSPAGE.html#_ftn1
“Class Struggle in Iraq: An Interview with a Veteran” is about the proud history of proletarian revolt in Iraq leading up to the Gulf War. It was first published in Workers Scud - No Patriot Can Catch Us’ (London, June 1991), a collection of articles reflecting on the Gulf War. It is available at the Practical History website, http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/7672.
“Eyewitness in Halabja” is about the revolts in the city of Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan in 87 and 88 and their subsequent defeat due to Saddam’s use of poison gas against them. It provides good evidence for why both the US and Saddam were so keen to massacre the proletariat in Iraq. It was first published in Wildcat
Some other useful texts on the 1991 uprisings in Iraq can be found at the website of the Internationalist Communist Group, www.geocities.com/icgcikg