Cairo Conference Challenges US Propaganda

The Conference of the International Campaign Against American and Zionist Occupation took place recently in Cairo. Richard Boyd Barrett attended the conference.


Cairo Conference Challenges US Propaganda


“Democracy” in the Middle East has replaced WMD as the justification for the US occupation of Iraq. The Cairo Conference suggests people in the region itself reject US claims. 


About 1000 delegates from anti-war groups, political parties, NGO’s, Trade Unions and Peasant organisations in Egypt and the wider region attended. Delegations connected to the Sunni and Shia resistance in Iraq and from Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group, were also present.


The conference was organised by the major opposition currents in Egypt – Islamist, Nationalist and Socialist - in defiance of the US supported dictatorship of Hosni Murbarak. Emergency laws in place in Egypt since 1981 are used to crush political dissent. Arrest and torture of democracy activists is commonplace. A number of conference organisers were arrested and jailed prior to the event. The conference was surrounded by hundreds of riot police for its duration. The Mubarak regime is the second biggest recipient of US aid after Israel!


Much of the conference focused on Iraq. Iraqi delegates rubbished suggestions the US occupation had brought democracy.   


Sheik Hassan Al Zarquani, spokesperson of the Al Sadr group that led the Shia uprising against the US occupation in April last year said:

“We went from the tyranny of Saddam to the tyranny of occupation. First we resorted to peaceful means to remove the US.  The deterioration of services and the catastrophic suffering of the people gave rise to the Al Sadr movement, producing medicines and services. Then the occupation used live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators. This led to the uprising of the Mahdi Army.”


Iraqi delegates viewed the recent elections as a ploy to stir up division between Sunni and Shia and undermine the resistance.


Alaa Y Haddad, a Baghdad based Journalist with the newspaper, Al Mustaquil said:

“The real meaning of the recent elections was to divide and conquer the people of Iraq – creating sectarian division in order to establish a colonial occupation. There is no work and no healthcare. They have taken the dignity and confidence of the people. They have taken our freedom of choice. This is not democracy.” 


Sheikh Hassan of the Al Sadr group rejected claims that all Shia supported the elections:

“The Al Sadr movement refused to participate in the elections or the political process until the US gives a timetable for withdrawal. The occupation wants to brand the resistance with sectarian slogans. They lie saying the Sunni’s supported Saddam. We know Sunni’s suffered under his regime. We reject the name ‘Sunni Triangle.’ We are all Iraqi’s fighting against occupation. The resistance is Sunni and Shia. It is Iraqi.”


Sheikh Majid Al-Gaoud, of the National Front of Iraqi Intellectuals associated with the resistance in Ramadi and Fallujah also rejected talk of religious divisions:

“We hear a lot about problems between Sunni and Shia Muslims but this is a lie. Iraq is a mixture of many different religious and ethnic groups. The Sunnis and Shia are one. There is a difference between ordinary Shias and those who came in the back of US tanks.”


Alaa Y Hadaad accused the US of dirty tricks to discredit the resistance.

“The US is using death squads and bombings to stir up divisions and blaming the resistance. They bring forward so-called terrorists in front of TV cameras to make ridiculous and obviously staged confessions about deliberately targeting civilians. John Negroponte is behind this.” 


Hadaad said the treatment of the press also exposed US claims about democracy.

“We were writing about the experiences of the street and mood of ordinary people. One day the occupation forces attacked our offices, stole our data, smashed the computers and arrested me. The charges were inciting and promoting terrorism. Our chief Editor was arrested in July last year and only recently released. They have closed 4 newspapers all representing different currents and sects.”


The rejection of the US view of events in Iraq extended to other issues in the region. The so –called “cedar revolution” was viewed as US/Israeli manipulation aimed at disarming Hizbollah and preparing world opinion for a possible military strike on Syria. US threats against Iran are seen as a hypocritical attempt to maintain Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region.


In Palestine, the recent election was viewed as part of on-going US/Israeli campaign to pressure the Palestinian leadership to sign-away key Palestinian demands such as the right of return for refugees. The huge increase of Israeli settlements in the west bank was evidence of Israeli bad-faith.


Hamas leader, Mohammed Nasal said his organisations current ceasefire was “ a fighters rest to reorganise the |Palestinian house and show the world that Israel was not serious about a just settlement to the conflict.” He concluded, “Resistance is the only way we can liberate our lands.”


The Cairo conference suggests the US project in the Middle East faces major problems. Resistance to the US occupation of Iraq is endemic. Every significant political and religious current in the region, outside those directly linked to unpopular US client regimes, are utterly hostile to the US and the state of Israel. Real democracy in the Middle East would directly challenge US and Israeli interests. There is a growing unity of anti-occupation groups in Iraq, anti-imperialist currents across the region and anti-war groups in the west. Despite all the rhetoric, Pax-Americana may be in trouble.    


Start Date: 2005-04-07 19:00:00-04

End Date: 2005-05-07 19:00:00-04

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