The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Saddam hometruths for comrades

New Delhi, July 3: Indian communists have always fought shy of denouncing former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in public. But their comrades-in-arms who have suffered the tyranny of the Saddam regime — Iraqi communists — are celebrating his exit from the country.

Saddam targeted, among many, leaders of Iraq’s communist party, forcing them to either go underground or leave the country.

Tareeq-Al-Sha’ab, the mouthpiece of the Iraqi communist party, said after the fall of the Saddam regime: “At last...the bloody, barbaric and repressive regime of Saddam Hussein has fallen. The most brutal dictatorship in Iraq’s modern history has collapsed.”

Communists from 60 countries met in Athens on June 19 and 20 to share their experiences. “Iraqi communists were fighting Saddam. Now, they want that power should be handed over to genuine Iraqis,” said senior CPI leader D. Raja, one of the two Indian delegates invited to the conference. A CPM politburo member was the other delegate.

Communists in India have never been comfortable with the Iraqi communists’ defiance of Saddam. For more than a decade, the CPM did not invite Iraqi delegates to its party congress. The CPI, however, did. The difference in perception between the two parties on the Saddam regime was striking.

Iraqi communists went hammer and tongs at Saddam. The April 20 issue of Tareeq-Al-Sha’ab said: “The regime has crumbled and collapsed under the weight of its own crimes. It was only natural that the people distanced themselves from the dictator and did not rush to his defence, leaving him and his clique to their fate.”

“There is no doubt it was the invasion backed with the latest military technology and the most destructive means of classic warfare which made it possible to smash the regime’s military capabilities,” the mouthpiece stressed.

Indian communists treated Saddam with kid gloves. On the eve of the US-led attack on Iraq, a delegation of Left MPs and leaders visited Iraq. On their return, they held a news conference and showered accolades on Saddam’s good governance.

“The Iraqi people are very calm,” said CPM MP Basudeb Acharya, who was part of the team. “People are very happy with the public distribution system in Iraq,” he added. Reacting to Saddam’s dictatorship and the absence of a multi-party system, the MPs said: “Saddam was about to introduce a multi-party system.”

On the run from Saddam’s brutal regime, the Iraqi communist party, however, had a different opinion.

“Our people have fought to get rid of Saddam’s oppressive dictatorial regime so that they can build on its remains a democratic rule,” the party leadership said in its mouthpiece. “The occupation of the country must end. Power must be handed over to an interim UN administration which should call a meeting of Iraqi representatives.”

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