Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"Political failure means a better environment for the national resistance"

An Iraqi writer says the failure of the political process since the October 11 vote on federalism-procedures means the US will be putting more, not less, into its military campaign, but it also means new opportunities for unity in the ranks of the national resistance.

Awni Al-Qalmaji (spokesman for the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, the coalition of resistance groups, see this post), writes a lengthy piece on the Al-Quds al-Arabi opinion page today called "The Baker Commission, the law on the creation of Regions, and the Bush fiasco". (Now there seems to be the right title, wrong article there. If they don't correct that, you can find the text in pdf format here: it is at the bottom on the page). He takes as his starting point the commonly-held idea that Bush was pushing hard for the October 11 passage of the law on the creation of regions as part of the US strategy for the weakening of Iraq under the umbrella of a parliamentary process. This is a point that isn't particularly controversial in Iraq, in spite of which, or because of which, the point isn't mentioned in the Western press. For instance, under the procedures outlined in the law, the Fadhila branch of the Shiite coalition could hope for an autonomous Basra, something they consider ultimately one of the Gulf states, while Hakim would consider it part of his nine-province Southern confederation. Turkmen groups are able to dream of an autonomous Kirkuk (where they would have some influence, more at least than in bigger units). There are the Sadrists to consider; and so on. It was a recipe for intensified civil strife, and that was the result. But it was also the end of the parliamentary political process.

Al-Qalmaji writes at length about the vote and the ill effects of the vote, including the alienation of the Sunni political parties, and the creating of an entirely new dynamic: It no longer matters whether you are in Parliament or not, what matters is your local power-base (in preparation for the various federalism procedures contemplated in the law). So rather than uniting the "legal" Parliamentary participants to confront the "illegal" resistance (thus promoting the parliamentary process), the result is the opposite. Local interests of the same origin, whether "legal" or "illegal", are united to confront competing interests. (An example would be ex-Baathist army officers joining with Sunni parliamentarians in the creation of ad hoc fighting units in Al-Anbar province). The political process has been blown apart. (This isn't a theory or an ingenious interpretation; it is an accepted fact. In spite of which, or no doubt because of which, it doesn't appear in the Western press.)

Al-Qalmaji stresses the point: Part of what Bush was trying to accomplish here was to keep the parliamentary process plausible and alive, and this he clearly failed.

But what is interesting and original in Al-Qalmaji's piece is his following argument. Having failed in control via the political process, America is going to concentrate its efforts on the military side. The main battleground will likely be Baghdad, with more troops assigned there (see the link below), and in addition to that, more US troops sent to Iraq, perhaps in the tens of thousands. Al-Qalami adds there is a possibility Arab states will be pressured to sent troops to stand shoulder to shoulder with the occupation forces. And he doesn't rule out the possible use of "limited weapons of mass destruction". "Because--and we should never forget this--the United States considers the struggle on Iraqi soil to be a fateful struggle, and a defeat there would mean a defeat for its empire globally".

"But will resort to the behavior of the wounded lion be enough"? Al-Qalmaji resorts to the "I will not discuss..." rhetorical device to remind readers of the success of popular resistance against the Americans in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia. Another thing he says he will not discuss is the particular difficulties the American forces find themselves in currently, such as frequent inability to safely go outside their fortified areas. What he does want to talk about is this: Popular support for the resistance has been the main reason for the Americans' military failure so far. And the recent events (the October 11 vote and the disintegration of the political process) can only intensify that factor. The other options have been closed off; the only hope for the future is with the resistance.

Moreover, where often in the past there have been shifting alliances and "hesitant and uncertain" behavior in the resistance, the conditions have now been created for a clear polarization between the resistance on the one side, and the occupation on the other, and this will be a great incentive for the eventual unification of all the resistance factions in a "national front, with a common political program and common leadership."

There are lengthy concluding discussions on the need to differentiate the national resistance front from "other armed groups" and avoid the stigma of "terrorist". Also on the need to keep the focus on national interests and avoid reverting back to notions of carving up the country.

In fact this is about a 1500 word essay, so I've left out a considerable amount. What makes this interesting isn't all the detail anyway. It is the idea that the failure of the political process presents new opportunities for the national resistance. It is perhaps worth noting in this connection that the US military (according to the NYT today) is now talking about increasing, not diminishing the level of its forces in Baghdad.


Anonymous hmf said...

When I entered the web page of the newspaper, I found that the title of the article by al-Qalamji (a pen name, if there ever was one)appears but the text has to do with the Palestinian issue. Can you send me the original text on Iraq? I think you have my email address.
Thank you!

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badjer, I am impressed by your blog. Very informative.

It is obvious that the Americans didn't really object to the law about the formation of the regions.

Do you think that:

a) They wanted to kill the political proccess in Iraq.
b) They really didn't care enough.
c) They could not think that this law would kill the political proccess.
d) They disagreed with the law but SCIRI and the Kurds prevailed.



1:12 AM  
Blogger badger said...

hmf, thanks for the heads-up !

They screwed up somewhere. But you can still find the article by going to their site, click on "archives" in the bar at the top, then pick Oct 24, then go to page 19 ("opinions", the next to last page). Its the big item at the bottom of the page. Its quite readable if you enlarge the type enough using your browser.

I'm sorry, Im not recognizing your initials.

5:03 AM  
Blogger badger said...

anonymous, I think its (c).

5:07 AM  
Blogger Hurria said...

Anonymous, Badger,

One of the mind blowing things is that they actually believe that partitioning Iraq will reduce the violence. But then, they still have not figured out that 1) it was their own violence that created the current violence, 2) every increase in their violence leads to a comcomitant and more or less proportional increase in violence on the part of the (so-called, and inappropriately named) "insurgency".

Mark my words, partition, federalism, or any of the other names for breaking the country into bits will lead to increased violence and chaos - just as has every one of their other "passification" schemes.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Rosemary said...

Of course if you believe chaos is exactly what the Washington regime wants, what they are doing makes sense.

Never trust what this regime says it wants to accomplish; it is usually just the opposite.

That is also true in domestic matters.

9:04 AM  

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