Friday, October 27, 2006

Meet the resistance

Al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Friday October 27 (here is the permanent PDF link) the creation of a 25-person group to represent the Iraqi resistance, representation to include: Baathists, the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, the general leadership of the armed forces, Patriotic Socialists against the Occupation, the Muslim Scholars Association, the Ayatollah Ahmad al-Hasani al-Baghdadi, the Nationalist Nasserist Movement, the Islamic Army, the Rashideen Army, and the Brigades of the 1920 Revolution. This brief article also names ten individuals in the group, not all of them well-known.

Three of them, however, are leaders of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, which was known pre-2003 as the Iraqi National Alliance (no name-change in Arabic), and represented the mostly exile Iraqis who opposed the Saddam regime, and who were not connected either with the CIA-supported Iraqi National Congress, nor with the Iranian-supported SCIRI group. The Iraqi National Alliance met with Saddam in 2002 in an attempted reconciliation ahead of the US invasion, then devoted itself to armed resistance following the invasion.

Needless to say this group of independent resistance fighters has received no attention whatsoever in the Western press, where the the correct line has been rigorously enforced to the effect that the only armed opposition was composed of Saddamist dead-enders and radical Islamists.

The leader of the IPA, and a member of this 25-person group, is Abdul Jabar al-Kubbaysi, a civil engineer, a member of the Socialist Arab Baath party in his youth, then a Saddam opponent in exile, joining the armed resistance to the US occupation in 2003, arrested and held by the Americans from September 3 2004 to December 28 2005. Another member of the 25-member group is Ahmad Karim, ex-Iraqi Communist Party, then part of a breakaway "patriotic" branch of that party when the leadership of the Iraqi party supported the US-inspired economic sanctions. And a third IPA representative in this 25-member group is Awni al-Qalamji, currently the official spokesman for the IPA, and the person who wrote the Al-Quds al-Arabi piece summarized here a couple of days ago.

The best introduction to the world of the Iraqi National Alliance is this interview with al-Kubbaysi dating from December 2002 and translated into English. The whole thing is well worth a read, but I would like to highlight a couple of parts, first on their relationship to the Saddam regime:

Al-Kubaysi: Yes, we have a mass following inside Iraq. This is because we haven't come out of nowhere. But we don't have organized forces. Historically, the Arab nationalist current in Iraq had two wings: the Baath and the Arab Nationalists' Movement. We paralleled or more than paralleled the currently ruling Baath current. Our masses are in agreement with the regime in broad patriotic and
Arab nationalist terms, but not on the issue of freedoms, which are still a matter on which we differ. The ruling party rules by itself. The masses whom we met when we came here support the regime in its patriotic and Arab nationalist orientations, and are ready to fight in defense of Iraq against the embargo and any aggression. But they believe that the spread of political openness will strengthen the resiliance of the homeland to aggression and embargo. These masses welcomed our arrival. They considered it a step on the right path. Even if the regime wants to kill us we must
fight together with it against aggression. If we don't, we will lose the justification for our existence.
Then there are these remarks on the sectarian and/or racial nature of most of the other opposition groups at the time (this is 2002 and al-Kubbaysi is being interviewed in Iraq):

FAV: Are we to understand from all that that there is no Iraqi opposition abroad with any weight or credibility which could form an alternative to the regime?

Al-Kubaysi: No! [There isn't.]

FAV: Even those who are with the Iranians?

Al-Kubaysi: You said "Iraqi", not extensions of the Iranians. Be aware of the fact that the opposition abroad is split up along ethnic and confessional lines. If America brings them in, there will be massacres in Iraq, because they are oppositions that are narrowly restricted in terms of what religious and ethnic groups belong to them. Not only that, but there are six or seven Turkmen parties, for example. In addition there are three Assyrian organizations. These have never established Iraqi organizations; rather they have established a climate and a basis for the growth
of real domestic civil warfare. There will be blood-letting if they are fated one day to take power. From this we see the importance of the movements in our Iraqi National Alliance and of the rank-and-file of the Communist Party (whose leaders are now pursuing a destructive and unpatriotic course).

The real patriotic Iraqi oppositionists today are the ones who own nothing and are supported by no foreign state. If they came to Iraq, they would come together on the basis of their patriotic line in it. Even the Kurds...

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