Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Baathist looks at the big picture

Salah al-Mukhtar was a prominent Baathist in the late Saddam era, serving in diplomatic positions in India, Vietnam and the UN, and although he doesn't have an official position currently, he often comments on the Iraq war from a Baathist perspective. This article was published on the resistance website April 15, and a commenter suggested this would be a good introduction to a point of view that doesn't get much coverage here in the anglosphere. And it is hard to argue with that.

One of his major points is that it seems to him that at the point when the Americans realized they were in trouble militarily, they came up with the idea of covertly helping the takfiris attack other Iraqis, as a way of helping turn the war against the occupation into an Iraqi-on-Iraqi war. Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, this writer implies, without mentioning the name, is a likely a nobody who rose to prominence with covert American aid.

His title is "From the blowing up of bridges to the attempts to split the resistance: what's going on in Iraq?"

Al-Mukhtar begins by talking about the recent blowing up of two major bridges over the Tigris in Baghdad, and the intensified popular sense of foreboding this caused, because it suggests to people the idea of Iraqi partition extending to the heart of Baghdad, and it suggests too the idea that there are some with a strategy of not leaving stone upon stone, and finishing the work of destruction that the Americans began. He then segues to the execution of Saddam and his associates, with its "artificial creation of a sectarian atmosphere", the idea being that these apparently separate events, and many others, are part and parcel of a scheme to foster sectarian warfare, split the resistance, and weaken the country to the point where the occupation can succeed. The Saddam execution was followed by an attempt by a group in Syria to split the Baath, and American-led persecution of the Party and its members and supporters throughout Iraq. The writer goes on:

And in addition to the attempts to attack the name of the [Baath] Party, the American Mukhabarat has undertaken another project, this one with the clear support of Iran, whether by direct arrangement or by a meeting of the minds, namely the plan to cause fighting between factions of the Iraqi jihad, by encouraging Islamist takfiris within some of the factions to announce their intention to monopolize, from now on, the control of Iraq or at least of the field of jihad, giving the other factions the choice of having their necks cut, or pledging allegiance to them and proceeding under their leadership--and that even though they only represented a small group! Likewise other members took to applying takfir to the progressive and arabist nationalist factions. ...And they went so far as to kill dozens of military cadres fighting against the occupation from among the Baathists and arabists, for the purpose of igniting a fight among the jihadi factions, serving in this way the primary purpose of America and Iran, namely the division of the Iraqi resistance, because that is the basic prerequisite for turning the American defeat in Iraq into victory.
The writer then explains the meaning of the expression "moles" in organizations like these. And he says what has been going on is this: The Americans,
Once they understood that they had well and truly fallen into the Iraqi trap, from which they wouldn't emerge safely unless they could come up with an elaborately thought-out scheme, started putting moles in specific factions, and via these moles they offered the groups generous material and PR support. This enhanced the credibility of these moles, and raised their profile and role within these factions, and some of them came to have leadership roles within those factions.
Without mentioning names, it is pretty clear he is referring to people like Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, a person no one had ever heard of before, who suddenly emerged as the emir of the Islamic State of Iraq.

Overlooking this role of agents, the writer says, would be a fateful error no matter how you look at it. And he asks:
Why is it that there was never, ever, any disclosure of any new American agents after the original disclosure of the roles of the old agents Allawi, Hakim, Chalabi and the others? Are they the only agents, or are there other agents who are more important because they operate within the national ranks and haven't been exposed yet?
The writer then compares the role of moles in the jihadi organizations to that of Iran in the macro picture, in the sense that Iran
...appears with the appearance of opposing America for the good of the cause of Islam and Palestine...[but] this is in preparation for dividing [Iraqis and Palestinians] and changing the fight from a fight for liberation against America and Israel, into sectarian fights between muslims, instead of focusing all guns on the Zionists and the Americans.
As far as Iraq is concerned, the writer says, the result has been that most attacks carried out by these groups are now against Iraqis, Shiite and Sunni, and not against the occupation forces except peripherally.

America has spent a lot on this war, and that in Afghanistan, but since success would give them control over the world's major oil reserves, and and with it a global dictatorship, the price will have been cheap considering the result. It would be naive, the writer says, to think that everyone who fights America or Israel in Iraq or in Palestine is necessarily engaged in struggle or jihad. Because you have to look at the final result, and not at half-way results. You can't judge military efforts against the occupation except in the light of real aims and real results, and the one necessary condition for victory in Iraq is maintenance of the unity of the resistance, just as the one necessary condition for the occupation to succeed is to split the resistance.

The writer offers a couple of observations in conclusion:
The first observation is that at the same time that the American Mukhabarat toughens its campaign against the Baath by various means...[including] its extreme efforts to dry up the sources of funding for the Party and its resistance, and its arrest of tens of thousands of its fighters and mujahideen, at the same time it is making life easier in a remarkable way for the sectarian Sunni takfiris, offering them financial and military support, whether directly, or channeled via the Gulf, and this at a time when their takfir is being intensified against the nationalists and the patriots and the true Islamists....
People shouldn't lose sight of this for even a moment, the writer says, because what this American strategy amounts to as an attempt to change the war from one against the occupation to a sectarian Shiite-Sunni war, which will not stop until the sectarian takfiri power is the dominant one in Iraq. And this is particularly ungent for Baathists to understand, because the first requisite for this American strategy is the crushing of the Baath Party, conceptually, organizationally, financially, etcetera, because the Baath is the only nationalist party that covers all of Iraq and includes Sunnis, Shiites and others.

His second concluding observation is that Iran, even though it is naturally an enemy of the Sunni takfiris, still provides them with support and assistance in their attacks on Iraqi Shiites, and the reason is to make the Iraqi Shiites side with Iran, in a way that will ultimately further feed the conversion of this war into a sectarian one, in order to weaken the country.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks for taking up my suggestion to review this important article, Badger! The obsessive focus on Al-Qaeda in the mainstream Western media amounts to complicity in America's covert strategy in Iraq as outlined by Salah Al-Mukhtar. Do keep an eye on the articles section of the website!

2:26 AM  
Blogger badger said...


11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading your site for a little while now, and I just wanted to thank you for all the work you put into it. And you're right, these are points of view that need to be heard. But, because they don't fit the mold of the Americans providing security and a buffer against 'civil war', they are points of view which won't be heard on sites like Juan Cole's. Again, thank you.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

This is a postscript from the commenter who recommended Salah Al-Mukhtar's article to you, Badger. As it can't be easy distinguishing between a variety of anonymous voices, I've decided to use my first name (Alison) from now on.

1:20 AM  

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