Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General-Secretary of the PCP, Public Act of denunciation of the occupation of Iraq and of solidarity with the Iraqi people

"Iraq, five years: War. Occupation. Resistance"

In the name of the PCP, I would like to thank all those present in this act which, although symbolic, has a great importance. Today we are observing the five years of the beginning of the War in Iraq. A war of occupation, supported by lies and manipulations, which led Iraq into a colossal human tragedy, to more instability and tension to the Middle East region and which, to our country’s shame, had the support of the Portuguese government and the involvement of Portuguese soldiers.

It was in the dawn of March 20, 2003 that Anglo-American bombs began to fall on Baghdad and other Iraqi towns. Five years later the war goes on. So bloody, so inhumane, so criminal and as unjustifiable as in the beginning.

And our first words go precisely to the victims of the parade of horrors that these five years of the imperialist occupation of Iraq represent.

They go to the hundreds of thousands of war victims, that according to credible studies already amount to a million; they go to the 5.1 million war refugees – a fifth of the population – forced to leave their country or driven to a situation of internal displacement; they go to the women, doubly victims of occupation; they go to the million children who, according to UNICEF, were prevented from attending school due to the occupation; they go to specific layers of Iraqi society, like the intellectuals and the teachers, who are a target of persecution by the occupation forces and the militia financed by them.

They also go to those who continue to try to survive in a scenario of a violent war, which launched into extreme poverty huge masses of Iraqi population confronted, just to give an example, by unemployment rates around 60 to 70% in several Iraqi towns.

To all of them, to the people of Iraq, go these first words, a heartfelt homage and solidarity from our Party.

A people lashed by war, who survives in a reality marked by a plain and simple destruction of their country and a complete disarticulation of their society. The vast cultural and historical wealth of a country that was the birthplace of some of mankind’s oldest civilizations continues to be pillaged and destroyed. Their universities, schools and hospitals, formerly highly regarded in the whole region, today fight for survival and many of them are not functioning. The infrastructure and basis services necessary to daily life lie in ruin. To speak of the reconstruction of Iraq is in the least an insult to intelligence. The reality shows us a country in ruins where the constructions seen on the horizon are the infrastructures necessary for occupation – like the gigantic military bases already installed in the territory – or the concrete walls that either protect the occupants or divide communities that formerly lived in fully peaceful company.

To the crime that the occupation itself represents, we have to add a succession of illegalities and atrocities that characterize this war. The occupation armies used forbidden and non-conventional weapons in a large scale. There are constant reports of the use of depleted uranium weapons, of white phosphorus, of fragmentation weapons and many other inventions by the industry of death and destruction which, as already shown by the war in Yugoslavia and the first Iraqi war, will perpetuate the effects of war and the suffering on the Iraqi people.

The proofs of resorting to torture; of selective murders; of massacres of civilian populations; of secret prisons; of CIA criminal flights, of what went on in Abu Ghraib and what goes on in Guantanamo are there to see, clear and unequivocal, and represent a powerful indictment against the occupants. In fact, what is taking place in Iraq is a real and heinous crime and its authors and supporters cannot go unpunished, not before the law or in the light of history.

And history has already proved another great crime committed by the aggressors. That of manipulation and lies to serve war. Remember the campaign surrounding Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. You surely remember the images of Collin Powell presenting the so-called irrefutable proofs that Paulo Portas [Defence Minister] flatly said he saw. After all, the terrible Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal did not exist and it turned out that it was precisely proofs on the supposed weapons, these were in fact "massively" manipulated and forged. It was in fact known, as we said at the time, that Iraq did not possess such weapons, However, and as we are on the subject, it is important to underline two important truths: the first is that Saddam Hussein’s regime had in fact this type of weapons, in the eighties, when he was a US ally, when he served the interests of imperialism in the region with the war against Iran and when on the internal level massacred Iraqi communists. The second is that, those who today possess weapons of mass destruction are the US, its allies, and specially its everlasting friend, Israel, which continues a policy of state terrorism against the heroic people of Palestine.

And let us also remember, together with all the intoxication that filled the international media, about the connections of Saddam Hussein with Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden. And now, five years later, the Pentagon itself, in a report based upon Iraqi documents confiscated during the occupation, says that there was no link after all. A report that managed to evade the tight control of the Bush Administration which tried hard, without success, to hide it from the American people and the world.

Lies after lies that aimed to sell to world public opinion the idea of a "clean" war that would free the people of Iraq. But the occupants are losing the war and also the political battle surrounding it. Nobody now believes the fabrications of the "restoration of democracy" in Iraq. The real history of five years of occupation is a history of destabilization, division and disarticulation of a sovereign country, its descent to a hell of sectarian violence fed by the occupation forces and their followers. Divide and rule was always the motto of imperialism and the dissemination of terror the last argument to placate the resistance and break the popular will.

It is not democracy that distinguishes these five years of the life of the Iraqi people but a succession of violent attacks on their freedoms and their most elementary rights.

This constitutes, in essence, the "new democratic order" that big capital and imperialism’s war machine brought to Iraq. A criminal disorder marked by kidnappings and extrajudicial detentions of "suspects", by trials without defence and a litany of abuses, indignities, banalization and legitimization of torture, that not even some fraudulent elections, carried out in a climate of war and under occupation and under the cloak of an instrumentalized UN, managed to conceal.

But it is not only the people of Iraq who are victims of this crime. The aggression against Iraq is part of a global offensive of exploitation and domination by imperialism which, benefiting from the new correlation of world forces resulting from the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries, launched a planetary crusade to affirm its power; control the main natural resources and the channels of distribution of energy; open the markets, intensify exploitation; dismantle social gains, destroy sovereignties; subject all spheres of human activity to the laws of profit.

In the new international conjuncture, imperialism aims to control directly the colossal energy resources of the region. It wants to establish itself militarily in all the Middle East and Central Asia and uses its military power to affirm its hegemony. And the truth is there to show how distant are the speeches saying that the Iraqi war would solve the region’s problems. No, the truth is just the opposite. Observe Lebanon, observe Palestine, observe the provocations against Syria and the whole campaign mounted around Iran and we can easily conclude that, if there is any change in the Middle East it is in the sense of an increase in tension and a real danger of the generalization of the conflict.

Just like the aggression against Yugoslavia during the Clinton era, the invasion of Iraq with Bush violated International Law, trampled on the UN Charter and despised its Security Council. It was an aggression that aimed to show in practice imperialism’s new aggressive military doctrine, of "preventive attacks" wherever, whenever and how the centres of imperialism wish. A doctrine that is also present in the evolution of the European Union into an ambitious imperialist political and military bloc which saw a qualitative leap with the approval of the now called Lisbon Treaty.

This war, just like the war of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia – now continued in Kosovo – the imperialist aggression against Afghanistan; the provocation manoeuvres in Latin America or the new neo-colonization crusade in Africa are children of the same father and confirm that militarism and war are essential characteristics of imperialism. They confirm that the capitalist system, when confronted with its own historic limits and its deep contradictions, increasingly resorts to war, to militarism, to occupation and criminal practices to try to maintain its world hegemony and contain rising resistances.

A policy of war that also has heavy consequences on the workers and the peoples of the imperial powers. We do not mix up and do not accept creating confusion between our criticism of imperialist policy of successive American administrations and the so-called "anti-Americanism". We are well acquainted with the struggles of the workers and people of the US for an end to the occupation of Iraq and we are solidary with them. They also suffer in their flesh the economic and social effects of the colossal costs of war – which according to recently presented figures reach the impressive amount of 3 billion dollars – and it is the youth of the more disadvantaged classes of the American population who are thrown into a war that they do not understand and die in thousands, as shown by the official figures of 4.000 American soldiers killed, around 31.000 wounded and high rates of suicides in the American ranks.

Observing the five years of the war in Iraq is to denounce crime and fight for peace. But also to point out the responsibilities of all those who, more or less directly, contributed to the present situation. Point out responsibilities to avoid repeating the same mistakes.

In 2003, important European countries publicly opposed the launching of the war in Iraq. This position was obviously not disconnected from the huge popular pressure of gigantic demonstrations against the war. But, regretfully, History has proved that these positions had nothing to do with positions of principle or the defence of the sovereignty of Iraq. The tactical differences among imperialist powers were mainly the expression of different economic interests in the region and the different views on who should command and decide the international intervention of imperialism. This explains that once the invasion was consummated – having justly been described as illegal and in violation of International Law – most of the European Union countries went on to cooperate and participate actively in the occupation of Iraq and that the UN was used to try to legitimate the crime a posteriori. This explains why, for example, resolution proposals presently circulate in the European Parliament authored by the majority, objectively aiming at a more active participation by the European Union in perpetuating the occupation of Iraq. This explains the strengthening of the participation of several European Union countries in the equally criminal, bloody and unjustifiable war like the one in Afghanistan. History has in fact proved that these positions had nothing to do with abidance or compliance with international law and if there were any doubts on this matter, the action and posture of the main European powers on the Kosovo issue, now wiped them out completely

As we said in the beginning, this war had, to our country’s shame, the support of the Portuguese government at the time led by Durão Barroso, in a clear violation of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic. It was the time of the sadly infamous Azores Summit and the sending of Portuguese soldiers to the war. It was the time of the scandalous declarations by Durão Barroso hoping that the "action should be as quick as possible" and that it "should accomplish all its goals". But it was also the time – and it is important to remind them at a time when there are those who try to whitewash past positions – of the political juggling by the Socialist Party to please Heaven and Hell and the decision to accept the Portuguese participation in the war by the President of the Republic at the time, the socialist Jorge Sampaio. They constituted, in fact, postures of clear confrontation with the feelings of peace and peaceful living of the Portuguese people shown in the great demonstrations against the war in 2003 and which should not be forgotten.

Today we have no soldiers in Iraq, but it is an obligation to remind that this fact does not absolve the decisions taken and, above all, does not mean that Portugal does not pursue a foreign policy which is , essentially, of alignment with the militarist doctrines of NATO and of the European Union. To prove this, we have the Portuguese participation in several imperialist conflicts that are bursting and intensifying, as in Afghanistan. To prove this, we have the options of this government concerning the role and mission of our armed forces. To prove this, we have the silence of this government on very serious matters such as the use of Portuguese soil for CIA flights or the increasingly strong signals on involving the Lages (Azores) Airbase in new projects of American imperialism like the logistics support to the new military command for Africa or its use for training new weapons systems.

In observing the five years of the war in Iraq, the PCP reaffirms its commitment to the defence of the April Constitution and that is why we demand that the Portuguese government put an end to the policy of submission to the diktats of NATO and a militarized European Union. A policy contrary to the interests of the Portuguese people and which will inevitably lead to Portuguese participation in other imperialist aggressions, as it is already taking place in Kosovo.

George W. Bush decided to mark the five years of Iraq with a declaration which, were it not in essence a tenebrous renovation of a declaration of war against the Iraqi people, could easily be the source of a comedy play. The American president said that the "success taking place in Iraq is undeniable".

But contrary to the exercise of this political delirium and the May 2003 proclamation of "end of war" and "mission accomplished", the Iraqi people did not bend. In spite of the countless difficulties and the "terrorist blackmail" it suffers, the Iraqi resistance converted the "triumphal stroll" into a heavy quagmire as well illustrated by the casualties of the occupying armies and the decision, in 2007, to bolster to its highest level of 160 thousand the number of troops in Iraq.

But the difficulties are felt not only on the field. The American administration is today faced with the lowest levels of popularity in the history of the US, portraying a feeling of wide discontent spreading in American society. The action of the Iraqi resistance contained the more adventurous prospects of fast propagation into new grounds of the "democratic interventionism", proving that resisting is already winning and objectively contributing for the containment of the desires of global domination by the American imperialism and for the hope of a future of just and lasting peace, respecting the sovereignty of the peoples and the territorial integrity of the countries. We do not mistake resistance for terrorism and the Iraqi resistance itself condemns and demarcates from the instigations of sectarian violence, but at the same time, we recognize the legitimate right of the Iraqi people to resist occupation and we trust their capacity to freely choose their future.

As History shows, the struggle of the people for peace and their resistance against imperialist aggressions and interventions is inseparable from the wider struggle for independence, sovereignty, social justice and progress.

It is with the workers and the peoples that dwells the necessary strength to halt capitalist exploitation and oppression. With their hands, with their struggle, with the internationalist solidarity of all those who reject imperialist war and interference, the people of Iraq will conquer freedom, independence and sovereignty. And they can count on the solidarity of the PCP.

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