Gray's hypocrisy and dishonesty on Iraqi trade unionists

Hashimiya Hussein and Abdullah Muhsin , leaders of the IFTU or GFIW Iraqi trade union federation, meet TUC officials. They, like most Iraqis, opposed the invasion and want foreign troops to leave Iraq while also condemning terrorist attacks and assassinations

John Gray claims that the General Federation of Iraqi Workers (the largest trade union federation in Iraq) supported the invasion and supports the occupation - yet hundreds of statements and speeches by their officials on their website condemn the invasion, say it was right to oppose it - and oppose both the occupation and the armed insurgent groups which have also murdered trade unionists.

In 2004 Abdullah Muhsin , head of the IFTU, told the TUC “Friends, we must ask for your support to defend our new trade union movement against repression and intolerance, whether it comes from elements loyal to the former regime or from the military powers illegally occupying our country”. (1)

For instance A representative of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (the largest part of the GFIW) speaking in 2005 said :

“Most of you will, like me and my comrades in the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU), have opposed the war. I don't regret doing so and I would do so again.

“I believed that the Iraqi people had other ways to overthrow Saddam Hussein's despicable fascist-type dictatorship” (2)

Another said in a statement in November 2006 that “As all of us know, the occupation has destroyed everything in Iraqi society, unleashed the sectarian and nationalist gangs to slaughter and jeopardize peoples’ safety.”(3).

Gray told me that I shouldn't be fooled by their public statements since most of the Iraqi trade unionists he'd met told him they supported the invasion and the continuing presence of foreign troops. I said I thought that was unlikely given all their public statements - and that if it was true that they issued thousands of public statements saying the opposite of what they believed they wouldnt be worth supporting. I'd also said though the IFTU were probably doing their best between a rock and a hard place - threatened by both the government and the insurgents/resistance.

Gray's claims made me remember a claim by Iraqi exile Sami Ramadani that one IFTU official had told TUC delegates in conversations that they should invite Iyad Allawi to speak at their conference. So I said that I had heard Ramadani make similar claims to Gray's about one IFTU official but I had no idea if Ramadani's claims were true ; that if an IFTU official backed a thug like Allawi their commitment to democracy would be questionable ; but that if the claim was untrue Ramadani should withdraw it.

Gray took this opportunity to claim that by referring to Ramadani's claims I had put the trade union official Ramadani made the allegations against at risk of being tortured and murdered. Gray added that if the trade unionist was killed he would hold me personally responsible.

So I wrote a reply , refusing to take back what I had said about Allawi given all the evidence, but agreeing that (while it was Gray's claims about IFTU officials' private talks with him that had led me to bring up Ramadani's claims) it was wrong for me to spread what seemed (in the absence of other sources) like unsubstantiated rumours by Ramadani about the trade union official's alleged support for Allawi in private. I added that this was especially so if he could be killed or tortured as a result - and suggested Gray could delete my original post which had named the trade unionist and i would re-post without mentioning his name.

I also suggested that Gray's own claims in his replies to me that IFTU officials had told him privately that they supported the invasion and occupation could put any member of the IFTU at risk of being targeted - and asked if perhaps they should be removed also?

Gray's response? None.

So John Gray is clearly being a hypocrite. He either does not believe my reference would put this trade unionist's life at risk but claims it might anyway - or else, worse, he would be happy for this man to die if he can use his death as a stick to try to beat political opponents with.

(Gray has comment moderation activated on his blog and did not post my reply. In case he had missed my reply the first time or some technical error had taken place submitted it again days later with a note at the top that if he did not post it on his blog I would post it on my own site and elsewhere with a link back to his blog.)

Next Link -Why we're not "cowards" to oppose the invasion and occupation of Iraq - and why John Gray and Tony Blair aren't "brave" for keeping our troops there

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(1) = Abdullah Muhsin's speech to the TUC ; GFIW press release 30 Jan 2004, ‘Eyewitness Iraq! - IFTU addresses trade unionists in Birmingham, UK ’,

(2) =General Federation of Iraqi Workers 27 Apr 2005, ‘IFTU addresses Annual General Meeting of the South West Region TUC’,

(3) =General Federation of Iraqi Workers 12 Jan 2007, ‘Desperate for Jobs, Iraqi Workers Too Often Become Victims of Terror ’,

copyright©Duncan McFarlane 2007