Sunday, April 3, 2011

Iraqi Resistance According to the Iraqis Themselves

My first encounter with the ongoing crises of the Middle East was when I was given, in my capacity as an architect, the task of designing the square and culture centre situated in front of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and funded by the Swedes. A commission I won in a competition, it was completed in time for the Millennium celebrations in 2000. This meeting with the Palestinians and their harsh reality inspired me, after retirement, to become involved in the solidarity movement. I have, among other things, initiated a study circle in Stockholm concerning the Palestinian issue.
The occupation of Iraq made me realise that this was predominantly where key events would take place – The Iraqi resistance would splinter the positions of power held by the US and Israel. This lead to my involvement in the Iraqi issue. I started a new study circle about the war in Iraq, compiled and wrote a compendium and organised talks with well-informed speakers. It was here I got to know Eftikhar Hashem. I worked together with her to update the version of her booklet “Iraqi Resistance”, 2006. In 2008 she revised and expanded the material for a book and I was honoured to be her co-writer. Eftikhar has the knowledge about Iraq and she has collected the facts concerning the resistance against the occupation and of the collaborators.
Few outsiders have insight into the Iraqis’ struggle against the mighty Goliath. But the success of their six-year freedom fight, and that in Afghanistan, raises new hope for people worldwide who resist the US strategy to dominate the world. Hence this overwhelming silence in the global media that is obviously governed by the same interests that engineer the wars. World opinion is kept in the dark and focused on other things.
Thus, there is every reason to draw attention to The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq’s (AMSI) selection of a delegation of prominent Iraqis with the task of touring Europe for the first time, giving information about the resistance struggle in Iraq.
AMSI connects civil Iraqi organisations that oppose the occupation and has steadfastly resisted the “political process” put in place by the US, despite all the invective thrust at it. Statements issued by AMSI, respectfully heard by all the resistance organisations, bear the mark of legal pathos, moderation, balance, clarity, humanity and an absence of hate. In their work for a united front against the occupation, the representatives have acquired considerable knowledge of what is barely known to an outsider – the resistance struggle.
The delegation consisted of AMSI’s renowned spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Bashir Al-Faidhi, the general in the former army of Iraq Saifaldin Al-Okidi, the ex mayor of Falluja Mohammad Hassan Khlauf and the former politician and leader of the group “Loyalty to Iraq”, Raad Nassir Al-Adhami.[1]
The Stockholm Visit
The tour’s first stop was Stockholm where the small organisation Iraq Information Service (IRIS) together with the organisations ABF (Arbetarnas Bildningsf√∂rbund) and Foro Latinamerica, arranged a seminar on the 25th of April 2009, entitled “The new face of the occupation – what is in store for Iraq?”. Stockholm was first thanks to the confidential telephone interviews undertaken for many years between Eftikhar Hashem Al-Husseiny of IRIS and Dr. Al-Faidhi, which will eventually comprise a book, “Iraqi Resistance”, written by her and by myself.
Suddenly here we were in Stockholm with people who know all there is to know about the resistance, a well of trustworthy and current information. Here follows a resume of the seminar and the questions asked. Focus is on the statements from Dr. Al-Faidhi and former general Saifaldin Al-Okidi. Translation of all the speeches and the answers to questions will be included in a coming book.
The Overall Picture of the Resistance
Dr. Al-Faidhi gave a well-informed and erudite analysis of Iraq’s resistance from an historical perspective. He established that Iraq’s resistance is unique. Never before has a country been confronted with such an enemy: a superpower, the only one in the world to which all other nations bow down.
Earlier on in history, resistance movements have been able to find supportive and allied states. Vietnam for example had many. But Iraq is completely isolated, even abandoned by the UN, which, contrary to its aims, is being used as a tool for occupation. All Iraq’s neighbours act like enemies. This is what the resistance has had to contend with, and is why it has presented itself as fragments of a large collection of small factions, without central leadership, working independently of one another with no obvious public presence.
This situation has, however, given the resistance strength and independence with regard to the rest of the world and enabled the groups to remain militarily active and out of reach of the enemy. Without a doubt, the resistance has up till now been very successful and decidedly detrimental to the US army, its collaborators and coalition partners.
We are now facing a new challenge: various resistance groups have formed fronts and more or less agreed on political goals and strategies, said Dr. Al-Faidhi. The next step is forming a definite political leadership with a known strategy and the ability to negotiate with the occupying power.
The biggest obstacle is isolation – the absence of international sympathy and regional support. This is why AMSI is now turning to the rest of the world, and the tour of Europe is the first step down this new road. While the struggle for liberation, and hopefully awakening world opinion, grind down the obstacles, the resistance continues a long undercover struggle.
Another obstacle that must be overcome is the untrue picture of the resistance struggle that is drummed into the rest of the world, said Dr. Al-Faidhi. At the beginning, the occupying power tried to hide the existence of the resistance. The image of an Iraq that had returned to normality and quiet was projected. Journalists who reported on reality and resistance were pursued and killed. However, covering up the existence of the resistance was unsuccessful, and the criminal character of the American war-project was revealed for the entire world to see. Whereupon the US army allowed rumours to be spread to the ever-willing western media; namely that what appeared to be a legitimate human-rights struggle against an occupying power was in fact the work of foreigners in Al-Qaida, an organisation on the UN’s list of terrorists. Crushing them was both acceptable and admirable.
The True Picture of the Resistance
Today there are, according to Dr. Al-Faidhi, about 100.000 men in the actual armed resistance, who kill no civilians and fight solely against the occupying power, its allies and collaborators. There are roughly only 1000 Al Qaida fighters, this being one percent of the entire resistance which has no contact with them whatsoever.
If we are to believe the western media, and even many leftwing writers, the armed resistance has more or less come to a halt at this stage; now it is Al Qaida, suicide bombers and violence against innocent civilians that dominate Iraq. Almost daily there are reports of a few cruel massacres that interrupt the otherwise relative calm. According to Dr. Al-Faidhi this is a completely distorted picture, spread by the occupying power to neutralise potential solidarity in the rest of the world.
“Al-Qaida accepts responsibility for some of the atrocities, others are undertaken by surveillance organisations from the neighbouring countries and their interests (meaning Iran and Israel, my comment)….I can assure you, Iraq’s resistance has never faltered or weakened not for a second. However sometimes there are fewer operations due to political circumstances, but then they increase and are stronger than before. In 2007, the resistance movement lost momentum because of Al-Sahwa (Awakening Councils). It has now returned stronger than ever”
The US administration focuses on Al-Qaida and sectarian violence, making sure that the media report the lies, in order tohide this fact.During the whole of 2008 and up till now year 2009, the occupying powers have been attacked continually, about 100 times a day. This was sensationally confirmed in a worried statement from the American general Lloyd Austin on the 20th March, 2009, where he also said that the road to success for the US army is very long.
At the moment the resistance is “booming” said Dr. Al-Faidhi. He confirmed the number of attacks and predicted that there were still more to come during the rest of year 2009.
A United Organisation for the Resistance
Dr. Al-Faidhi had some good news. There is a new resistance organisation, “The General Command of Armed Forces – The Iraqi Army”, which will be the framework for the future free army of Iraq and which has already won respect. It has no definite political or religious aims, but wishes to appeal to all Iraqis and to bring together resistance fighters of various religious beliefs, political convictions and ethnic groups, to comprise one united resistance movement.
Many militaries from Iraq’s old army are part of it and commanders-in-chief from the same army are included in the leadership. AMSI supports it and hopes that it will attract all other fronts under the same umbrella. In this case, the organisation will have the power needed to root out all foreign troops, security forces and the Quisling regime’s army. This cannot be achieved alone by just one or other front or faction.
Initially, however, it has not the military power of the other factions, the Al-Rashedeen army among the foremost of these. It attracts many Shia Muslims as opposed to the otherwise Sunni dominated resistance.
American Losses
The US army’s reports on losses of less than 5000 are ridiculous said Saifaladin Al-Okidi, the former general in the delegation that visited Sweden. They are lying: our resistance movements’ operations are documented on video. There is video evidence of more than ten deaths when the Americans have reported only one or two at the same attack. There were 1200 American deaths in Falluja alone.
The Association of War Veterans of America has reported 73.000 killed in action from 1991 till the end of 2007 and if you take from this number the few who where presumed dead from 1991 till 2003 you get numbers that are closer to the ones we consider to be true.
The American researcher and Nobel laureate in economy, Joseph Stiglitz, has estimated the total cost of the US war in Iraq and Afghanistan to 3000 billion dollars if all the follow-up and hidden expenses are included. In the long run, such expenditure will ruin a country like the US with all its astronomical debts. The reasons why the Americans are presently thinking through the occupation of Iraq are the following, said Saifalidin Al-Okidi: a) the large number of dead, injured and mentally handicapped Americans and b) the heavy economic losses sustained.
The Al-Sahwa Movement
Before this movement was formed, according to Saidaldin Okidi, there was a series of frightening “false flag” attacks against civilians undertaken by specially trained American death squadrons, “Special Forces”.
These bloody crimes were of course despicable and when the occupying power saw to it that the finger was pointed at “Al-Qaida of Mesopotamia (AQM)”, which hardly is a blameless movement, the situation became volatile. Getting rid of AQM became first priority for many people, and the struggle against the source of all the terror – the occupation – came second. The Islamic Party with seats in the Quisling parliament was instrumental in spreading US propaganda amongst the Sunnis. This party likes to think of itself as the Sunnis’ counterbalance to the growing power of Iran in Iraq and because there is a considerable fear of this development, many listened respectfully when the party argued for a diversion of the resistance. The fight against the US army would cease and be replaced by the hunt for AQM. This caused quite a tumult and tendencies to split the resistance movement.
Many Sunni resistance fighters let themselves be lured into joining Al-Sahwa (Awakening Councils, Sons of Iraq), a corps created by the US. Its directives were to help destroy AQM and maintain order in the cities.
There were those who broke away from the resistance factions and created new ones, Iraq’s Hamas and Jaami, and started to fight AQM while continuing to fight the occupying power. The Islamic Army, a faction formerly so dreaded by the US, also became involved and is now a mere shadow of its former self.
AQM, the organisation that, according to AMSI, had severely damaged the US army and its collaborators, was now weakened. This is how, after a year, the “relative calm” in Baghdad and the Anbar province managed to mislead foreign opinion. Thus Al-Sahwa has served its purpose for the occupying power.
“The US has abandoned Al-Sahwa. It is now in the hands of its enemies, Mailiki’s government forces. (Most of them were formerly part of the resistance and are Sunnis, my comment) Maliki and the US army have done a deal. Maliki has eliminated his rival, the Shiite Mehdi army, loyal to Iran and enemy of the US, and is now free to destroy Sunni Al Sahwa, formerly supported by the US. The US allows Maliki kill Al-Sahwa’s leader and has handed over the movement’s documents, maps and list of members…….Al-Sahwa caused resistance in the Anbar province to weaken, but at the same time it became stronger in Mosul and the Diyalah province. Now that the US has betrayed Al-Sahwa, opposition is growing everywhere. We believe it will become even stronger in the next six months or so.” (Dr M B Al-Faidhi)
Al Qaida in Mesopotamia
Dr Al-Faidhi treated this issue with great care as it has such impact on western opinion. He gave the following balanced picture:
“Their behaviour towards ordinary civilians is intimidating and shocking and quite unacceptable. They are being used by the US – and the media are permitted to aggravate the situation. AQM has committed horrible crimes, which they occasionally take responsibility for. One example is the massacre in the bazaars of the town Hillah. We say the AQM has lost face. This is an organisation with contradictions, some of its factions fight only the US, others fight the resistance…at the beginning, AQM was seen as a protector of people, now it is seen as a threat. The various factions and fronts that make up the resistance no longer look on AQM as merely a brother-in-arms. Some accept it, others like the Al Rashedeen army, say nothing, and still others look upon it as a saboteur of the resistance”
The Kurds in Iraq
This issue too, is controversial to western opinion due partly to the support given to the Kurds’ struggle for greater independence, and partly to the fact that the Kurdish leaders collaborate with Israel. Dr Al-Faidhi took the view that their demands are justified:
“We Iraqis are prepared to solve these issues. They are not very complicated……The Kurdish people have never harboured any bad feelings against any of the nationalities that surround them…….The contradiction Arabs/Kurds is a fabrication…it is used by certain leaders. These collaborate with countries outside Iraq (meaning above all US, Iran and Israel, my comment) that strive to impose their policies on Iraq for their own gain; they wish to tear Iraq apart. Note that conflicts have arisen just when the country was having difficulties[2]
The Kurdish people who live in extreme poverty are obliged to watch while the riches from Iraq’s oil pass to the leaders and their clans and cronies and the needs of the masses are neglected. An example of this is that nothing has been done to repair the supply of electricity despite the fact that the province government has received 30 billion dollars from the central government for this purpose. 93% of Kurds disagree with their leaders’ demands for a federal Iraq according to The Washington Post. This is a signal to the leaders that the Kurds are turning their backs on them and it makes them nervous.
Iran’s Involvement
Iran’s involvement in Iraq is probably the one issue that has put international solidarity with Iraq’s resistance on hold. Many who are critical of Israel and support the Palestinians look to Iran as the only country in the world that consistently opposes Zionism in favour of the Palestinians. Because of this, the solidarity movement does not criticise Iran’s involvement in Iraq. This is not advantageous either for the people of Iraq or the Palestinians. As long as Iran opposes the resistance struggle against the occupation of Iraq, there is less credibility for its support of the Palestinians.
“Iran’s involvement is considerable…………a catastrophe that adds to the already difficult situation in Iraq…we have been thrown into a deep sand pit and Iran does not lend us a hand to clamber out. Indeed, Iran helps the Americans to shovel more sand over us……..Iran is very dangerous for us…….but we have chosen to focus on the struggle against the US, our major enemy. The US started the invasion of Iraq, and allowed Iran to become involved…..the Americans treat Iran as an associate in Iraq. It was the US that saw too it that Iran’s collaborators attained government positions. Militaries and death squadrons trained in Iran have, with the help of the US, established themselves in Iraq’s police force and army”
These statements by Dr Al-Faidhi must be judged against a backdrop of considerable and bloody campaigns to exterminate Sunnis, Christians and secular intellectuals in Baghdad and southern Iraq, together with the ongoing “Persification process”. Iran’s government holds most of the responsibility for the fact that a fifth of Iraqis are now refugees. Regarding the sectarian conflict, Dr Al-Faidhi had this to say, as a “private person and scientist”:
“There are two branches of Shiite Islam in Iraq: 1) a popular people’s branch that manages to peacefully cohabit with Sunnis, secular people and other religions, and 2)The Iranian theocracy’s ideal that demands slavish obedience to the priests in Tehran and which is covertly or openly opposed to Sunni Islam, secularity and other religions”
After appealing to Europeans to support the struggle for a Free Iraq, Dr A-Faihidi ended his main talk by telling this amazing story from Iraq of today:
“The people of Iraq are steadfast in their conviction that Iraq’s territory and civil society will be kept intact even after the liberation. Let me prove this by telling a true story that has been confirmed and documented in words and pictures, and that underlines the truth about US crimes in Iraq. (He was referring to a video about American deeds in Iraq that had been shown at the seminar, my comment.)
There was a football match on the 26th of August last year at the People’s Stadium in Baghdad, between two Iraqi clubs, Zawra´a and Erbil, the latter from the Kurdish region in the north of Iraq.
For the first time since the occupation there were 50.000 football fans at the match. The Americans saw themselves as benefactors, having guaranteed security during the match and made it possible for all these people to attend. So they marched onto the pitch, officers and men, and started to wave to the public.
But they had never counted on what happened next. On the spur of the moment, completely spontaneous with no preparation, people started throwing shoes, water bottles and anything else they were holding at the Americans, while shouting angry slogans. The whole thing looked like a tsunami. Among the slogans were “America be damned, America be damned” and “Out Bush, out”, “We Iraqis are brothers, Sunni and Shia together and we will not sell our country to the Americans”
Ladies and gentlemen. This is Iraq and this is the general mood of the country and the challenges that face the Iraqi resistance”.

[1] More about AMSI and the delegates, see attachment
[2] The Kurd leader Jalal Talabani (president of the Quisling regime) and Massoud Barzani (prime minister of the province government) work together with the US. Their instruments of power are the infamous Peshmergas, trained by Israel’s Mossad. They played a leading part in the destruction of Falluja and now fight to throw out the Arabs, Turkmen and Christians from the Mosul and Kirkuk regions where the huge oil wells are.

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