Sunday, October 22, 2006
The workers' efforts also prove that they are perfectly capable of running the oil industry on their own terms, even if technical and economic assistance is needed. According to Madhi, "The workers are able to manage the industry themselves. They can decide what is needed in terms of technical expertise and investment to develop the current and future oilfields - even when this is through service contracts with other companies, both domestic and foreign. But they will not allow production sharing with foreign companies because this would become a new form of the concession system."
Although the Iraqi government formulates social and economic policies behind closed doors, it takes note of GUOE because, in Mahdi's words, "the union has shown that it has strength on the ground in mobilising people for or against policies." Basra oil workers are also raising awareness about labour and economic issues within the wider community. Through their contacts with political groups, other trade unions and the international anti-war movement, GUOE's president Hassan Jumaa spoke both at the Marxism 2006 event this summer and at the International Peace Conference in London last December where he stressed the union's support for the Iraqi resistance's campaign to drive the occupiers out of Iraq. They did this because they believe the future of Iraq is at stake if the military occupation becomes an economic one.
It is worth reading at least to be reminded that Iraqis are not divided between passive victims and 'insurgents', and that the resistance is broader than the armed component which is staging victory celebrations in towns across Anbar (where, if the US can be kept out, I predict a sharp decline in the level of violence). Amid all the talk of civil war, which has hitherto been an elite-directed affair, and to a large extent a cover for counter-insurgency warfare, there are forces capable of uniting Iraqis on grounds other than sectarian affiliation.