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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Iraqi Freedom Congress in Japan

It was my great pleasure to hear Suhad Ali and Amjad Al Jawhary of the Iraqi Freedom Congress (IFC) speak in Osaka last month. Although the presence of the left in the ongoing sectarian violence sweeping Iraq is negligible, the IFC has at least attempted to bridge ever-deepening sectarian chasms in the name of classic social democratic ideals (freedom of speech, freedom of women, a free press, opposition to discrimination, and so on). Much of the IFC's activity is by now outside of Iraq, not surprising given that 15% of Iraq's population has become refugees in Jordan, Syria and other states. I had seen a representative of the IFC speak in Tokyo about two years ago, and she was based in Australia at the time. So it was refreshing to hear direct perspectives from Suhad Ali who is a young university student in Iraq (in one of Mosul or Baghdad...can't remember).

The topic of the evening was 'standing in solidarity with Iraqi women' and so Suhad's speech focused on the plight of women in Baghdad, who are daily confronted with a snaking civil war waged by sectarians whose only commonality may be there desire to control and subjugate the women of Iraq. Below, I reproduce some of my notes from the talk, which are by no means complete and do not give justice to the descriptions of internecine mayhem that Ali and Jawhary were able to give the audience.
It was made obvious during Suhad Ali's speech and Jawhary's subsequent remarks that there is no excuse (and has never been) for supporting either the anti-imperialist faction in Iraq, which is dedicated to establishing the men's society over all of Iraq, nor the imperialist faction of the coalition which has effectively functioned as a patron of the worst fundamentalist Shiite militias in the country i.e. the Badr brigades and SCIRI, even tolerating Moqtada Al-Sadr's imposition of Islamic dictatorship in Najaf and other parts of the south, not to mention the coalition's tight relationship with the 'progressive' fundamentalist Al-Sistani (who has declared "that men and women should not mix socially, that music for entertainment is prohibited and that women should veil their hair") and which, by embracing the social forms that bourgeois democracy should in its classical form abolish, has done much to restore and reinforce the twin barbarisms of the tribe and Islam across Iraq. There remains perhaps no alternative to the current impasse than critically supporting left elements in Iraq as well as the diaspora. Perhaps it will fall to the diaspora to organize itself in retaking the cities from which it has been expelled.

Idealist ;)
There is no just solution. Stopping US interference is a start.
I'm not sure what stopping American interference will really solve in the situation as it stands. It would certainly collapse the current government, since it can't defend itself without US air support and occupation troops. How would withdrawing American troops from the country improve things in your eyes?
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