More on the Cairo conference

Submitted by martin on 22 January, 2003 - 8:26

Further reports on the Cairo conference of 18-19 December 2002 cast doubt on the claims by the Socialist Workers' Party and Stop The War Coalition that the conference's "Cairo declaration" is a good manifesto around which to group democrats and socialists worldwide against the US war drive.
We already knew that Saad K. Hammoundy, Iraq's ambassador to the Arab League, was a keynote speaker. The Cairo Times (26 December) reports that conference organisers replied to "allegations that Iraq helped fund the conference" by maintaining "that much of the funding came from Egyptians doing business with Iraq".
Some people at the conference did feel that a sound international anti-war campaign had to establish its political independence from Iraq's bloodstained dictatorship. The Cairo Times reports: "A comment by Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt Kamal Nigm prompted a furious rebuttal from a German journalist and activist in attendance.
"The journalist, Harald Schuman of Der Spiegel... author of The Global Trap [a left-wing denunciation of capitalist globalisation].... drew a mixed reaction from the crowd by saying that Arab activists must consistently demand domestic reform in addition to opposing US regional ambitions".
According to Al Ahram Weekly (26 December), "Schumann created something of a spectacle at the... conference... when after hearing an Iraqi official defend the human rights record in Iraq and boasting of the government's commitment to democracy, he stormed out of the session.
"Schumann says that a condition for his attendance at the event was that it not be used as a podium by the Iraqi government. 'I was promised that no speaker would be connected with the Iraqi regime. In no way do I want to be associated with the government in Baghdad. I am here in Cairo to defend the Iraqi people,' Schumann told Al-Ahram Weekly".
Schumann said that he thought it "naïve and intellectually dishonest to simplify the argument and reduce discussion to denouncing the United States as evil.
"I think the struggle against US hegemony begins at home. We have to push our own governments - whether in Germany, France, Sweden, Japan or Korea - to not co-operate with the US government or contribute in any way to the military build-up against Iraq," Schumann said.
Wasn't Schumann right?

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