It pains me to take issue with my old comrade Ian Birchall's analysis of the Iraqi resistance (November SR).
Although no one could argue with his conclusion that 'the main task of socialists in the west is to make it impossible for the occupying troops to remain', I cannot endorse Ian's tacit support of the Ba'athist and clerical fascist Islamic militias that oppose them. The enemies of our enemies are not necessarily our friends.
No socialist can deny the Iraqis' right to resist in the name of self-determination, but it is quite another thing to legitimate the thuggish tactics and reactionary goals of the various Ba'athist and fundamentalist militias and to portray them as representative of the aspirations of the majority of Iraqi working people. To begin with, the majority of the Iraqi population are female. Far from representing them, political Islam in Iraq systematically oppresses women and denies them political participation. Such 'resistance' groups have made life a living hell for Iraqi women, who now cower in their houses for fear of beatings if they emerge unveiled or unescorted by male relatives. The same clerical fascists are also violently opposed to the efforts of socialists and trade unionists to organise for social justice.
Rather than mystify political Islam, I urge Socialist Review and its readers to inform yourselves about the conditions under which our real class allies in the Iraqi resistance are carrying on a heroic struggle. For information about the Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition please visit www.equalityiniraq.com and for information about actual workers' unions (as opposed to the fake occupation-sponsored state trade union represented in London) please visit www.uslaboragainstwar.org and also www.uuiraq.org; finally, for Iraqi Marxists (as opposed to the collaborationist Communist Party of Iraq) please visit www.wpiraq.net.