Iraq Watch

OCCUPATION ARMED forces raided the Iraqi Federation of Workers’ Trades Unions (IFTU) headquarters on 6 December, trashing the rooms and arresting eight members who were subsequently released without charge. Recently, the joint offices of the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq and the Union of Unemployed were also targeted in a raid by US-led armed forces.

Despite the overthrow of Saddam Hussein the former regime’s anti-union laws are still in operation. In 1987 Saddam reclassified most Iraqi public sector workers as civil servants. As such, they were banned from organising unions and striking.

For Iraq’s workers, occupation has clearly not meant ‘liberation’.

ANOTHER GROUP of disgruntled Iraqis are 300 members of the 700-strong first battalion of the new US-trained Iraqi army. The recruits quit after complaining about their low pay of just $60 a month. Hardly a princely sum for becoming a target for anti-coalition forces targets.

And in the southern city of Basra, British occupying forces were violently confronted by 200 former Iraqi army officers who claim not to have received their pensions for four months.

A HUMAN Rights Watch report into the US-led war criticises the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas. It estimates that 13,000 cluster bombs were used that could have killed or wounded in excess of 1,000 people.

The report – Off Target – also says that in 50 targeted ‘precision’ strikes by the US Air Force killed dozens of Iraqi civilians but no Iraqi Baathist leaders.

THE OLD adage ‘war is good for business’ certainly holds true for the US multinationals involved in Iraq’s post-war reconstruction. Having failed to ‘internationalise’ the occupation as part of its exit strategy, the US has exclusively awarded $18.6 billion worth of prime reconstruction contracts to coalition countries.

Countries critical of the US-led war – notably France, Germany and Russia (who are cultivating their own interests in the region) – are deemed ineligible for bidding by the Pentagon.

In a direct snub to these critics a Pentagon spokesperson said: “If a country decides to contribute forces to Iraq… they would immediately be eligible for this [bidding] consideration.”