Iraqi Communist Party

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Since its foundation in 1934, the Iraqi Communist Party (in Arabic: الحزب الشيوعي العراقي) has dominated the left in Iraqi politics. It played a fundamental role in shaping the political history of Iraq between its foundation and the 1970s. The Party was involved in many of the most important national uprisings and demonstrations of the 1940s and 1950s. It suffered heavily from 1978 under the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, but remained an important element of the Iraqi opposition, and was a vocal opponent of the United Nations sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Kuwait War of 1991. It opposed the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 but since then has participated in the new political institutions. It received little support in the Iraqi general elections of 2005.


[edit] Fahd's leadership and after

In 1941 Fahd, the cadre name of Yusuf Salman Yusuf, became secretary of the party, and set about revamping the organisation and expanding membership among the working classes. He successfully laid the basis for the mass party of later years, and under his leadership the party became a considerable force among the Iraqi working class and a major focus for protest against British involvement in Iraqi affairs.

In 1949, after the suppression of the revolutionary upsurge expressed in al-Wathbah (the Leap) of 1948, Fahd and two comrades were executed. The party recovered, and played a major role in the Intifada of 1952. In 1958, it supported the revolution and the new government of Abd al-Karim Qasim, who relied to a considerable degree on its support.

[edit] The party under Qasim, 1958-1963

The relationship between the party and Qasim was not an easy one. By the summer of 1959 the party had perhaps between 20,000 and 25,000 members. This, added to their ability to mobilise the masses and their penetration of the workforces in strategic industries, made Qasim fear the party's growing power. In July 1959, he ordered a minor crackdown on the party. It was unsure how to react. Some elements, around first secretary Husain al-Radi (also known as Salam 'Adil), suggested launching a coup, but the more conservative elements opposed this. In fact the party would continue to support Qasim, more or less critically, up until his overthrow in February 1963. In the last two years of his rule, Qasim greatly weakened the party by suppressing largely or completely most of its flanking organisations, including the Democratic Youth Federation and workers' and students' unions. By the time of the 1963 coup the increasing unpopularity of Qasim, with whom the Communists were still linked in the public mind, coupled with the repressive measures he had adopted against them, had contributed to reducing the party's membership to under 10,000.

[edit] The party under Baathist rule

The Ba'athist coup of 8 February 1963 was accompanied by street fighting as Communist activists and supporters resisted the coup attempt. Fighting in Baghdad continued for three days, concentrated in the party's strongholds in the poorer, mainly Shia, districts. When the Baath consolidated its power the ICP suffered an unprecedented campaign of mass physical liquidation. Leading figures and cadres of the Party were tortured to death, including Husain al-Radi. The total number of communists killed is unknown, but was certainly in the thousands.

In 1967 Aziz al-Hajj split from the ICP, establishing the Iraqi Communist Party - Central Command, and initiated an armed struggle, which the ICP at the time opposed.

In 1973 ICP secretary Aziz Muhammad signed a National Action Pact with President Hasan al-Bakr, forming a National Front together with the Ba'ath Party. The ICP was permitted to operate legally, publish and revive its flanking organisations. However, this was coupled with elements of repression, and by the autumn of 1974 the party tried to increase its security through a more clandestine mode of operation. In 1978 Saddam Hussein unleashed a renewed campaign of repression against the party, including the execution of large numbers of party members. In 1979 the party officially broke with the regime.

In 1993 the Kurdish branch of the party was transformed into a semi-autonomous party, the Kurdistan Communist Party.

[edit] After the occupation of Iraq

The Iraqi Communist Party opposed the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 but decided to work with the new political institutions established after the occupation. Its secretary, Hamid Majid Mousa, accepted a position on the Interim Iraq Governing Council. The party was the principal component of the People's Union (Iraq) list for the general election on January 30, 2005 (see Iraqi legislative election, 2005) but filed separate lists in some governorate council elections (see for instance Ninawa governorate council election, 2005). For the Iraqi legislative election, December 2005, the party has joined the Iraqi National List of Iyad Allawi, along with other socialist, secular, moderate Sunni and moderate Shiite parties.

The party newspaper is Tariq ash-Shaab (Path of the People). It also publishes the magazine Al-Thakafa Al-Jedida (The New Culture [1]).

The youth wing of the party is the Iraqi Democratic Youth Federation.

The motto of the party is a free homeland and a happy people (Arabic: watanun hurrun wa sha'bun sa'id).

[edit] Published works

  • Batatu, Hanna. The Old Social Classes and New Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, London, al-Saqi Books. 1978, republished, 2004. ISBN 0863565204
  • Salucci, Ilario. A People's History of Iraq: The Iraqi Communist Party, Workers' Movements and the Left 1923-2004. Haymarket Books (2005) ISBN 1931859140

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Communist Parties in the Middle East
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