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Visiting Iraqi trade union leaders reject U.S. occupation and new oil law
Two visiting Iraqi trade union leaders from Basra call for rejection of the new oil law being thrust upon Iraq by the U.S. government and the oil companies.
Two Iraqi trade union leaders on a speaking tour of the United States called for rejection of the new oil law being considered in the Iraqi parliament. The law was secretly written in Houston in favor of the U.S. oil companies long before it was ever seen by any member of the Iraqi parliament. If passed, the new oil law would effectively turn over all new oil fields to the control of foreign oil companies.
“U.S. bases reduce Iraqi sovereignty. All Iraqi labor unions oppose permanent bases,” declared Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, president of the Iraqi Electrical Utility Workers Union.
“Iraq is an occupied country. There is a correlation between U.S. bases in Iraq, the large U.S. embassy [in Baghdad], and the new Oil Law,” added the general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, Faleh Abood Umara.
Speaking before an enthusiastic audience of approximately 125 people in the Laborers Hall in San Jose on Sunday, June 10, the two Iraqi trade union leaders from Basra agreed that the U.S. occupation must end.
Organized by U.S. Labor Against the War, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, Laborers Local 270, South Bay Mobilization, and a score of other labor and peace organizations, the program was part of a national speaking tour to help raise awareness about the conditions facing Iraqi workers.
When asked what will happen if U.S. troops withdraw, Umara replied, “Wherever U.S. forces are, the killing and carnage is more. Where they are not present, there is no suicide bombing.”
“Iraqi people as a whole will never allow al-Qa’ida [to stay],” he continued.
Both leaders clearly indicated that the U.S. occupation itself creates sectarian violence and reduces security.
Hussein complained about the attitude of U.S. occupation authorities always asking her if she is Sunni or Shi’a. She replied, “I am Iraqi.” “We don’t look at the ethnic group, religion, or political affiliation,” she said.
Turning to the proposed Oil Law before the Iraqi parliament, Umara observed, “The U.S. government pressure on Iraq to pass the new Oil Law will benefit the U.S., not Iraqis. U.S. investment in Iraq is for the U.S. economy.”
“The U.S. Department of State has recommended opening Iraqi oil production to foreign companies as soon as possible through ‘production sharing agreements.’ This means privatization,” added Hussein.
Both trade union leaders agreed that the Iraqi parliament should reject the proposed Oil Law.
Commenting on the oil workers’ strike in southern Iraq, Hussein said that electricity workers would support the oil workers by stopping electricity to oil installations if necessary. Both leaders appealed for the audience to write to the Iraqi Embassy to reject the new U.S.-written oil law.
U.S.-Iraqi workers' unity