Thursday, September 06, 2007

AMSI on the need for a resistance-wide agreement on political aims (Updated)

The open letter of the Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq (AMSI) to the Iraqi resistance, to which the indefatigable Marc Lynch draws everyone's attention, includes this passage that I think illustrates better than anything where they see themselves in the history of Iraq:
The current that the occupation is on the verge of withdrawal and defeat...with the help of God and his strength. And just as the American administration was put to the test of drawing up a successful policy for the country, once they occupied it, and met with devastating failure, for many reasons, the main ones being your jihad and your sacrifices, so now you are going to be faced with the same test, and you are going to have to be at the level of this responsibility, and draw up a policy for the country that will be successful.

And this is not something that can be minimized, as some might do who have no experience in the area, because in fact there are obstacles in the way of that aim.

The first requirement is for a unified political program, in which you outline the future of this country, whose people have put confidence in you, and look to you to be extricated from the crisis. We stress the need for agreement because it is the first step toward success. As far as we understand your positions, you have clear program, but there are differences in your view of how Iraq should be in the future. Some of the factions among you support the project of the great caliphate. Other factions are for an Islamic government in Iraq but they limit their ambitions to within the borders of Iraq. And there are other factions that support the option of working for the establishment of a nation of modern institutions, in which Islam would be the official religion of the country, and the basic model for legislation, so that no law could be contrary to it, and they make this the basis of their aims.

These differences have to be resolved now, and before the exit of the occupation, because they will otherwise lead to final differences, and then to the internal fighting about which we warned above... We in the Muslim Scholars Association issued an urgent call to the sons of jihad to consider this question thoroughly, and prepare to take up their responsibilities on the front lines with the people of Iraq, and we asked them to start discussions among themselves and begin to show flexibility in this matter...And as a preliminary measure we have been urging for months that the factions agree at least on the level of meetings and coordination [apparently referring to tactical coordination in the resistance] and we now see that this is happening, praise God, and we support that...

The day when that happens [meaning agreement among the factions on a unified political program] the occupation will find itself forced to deal with it--directly or indirectly--because it will have become the Front that has become, on account of the unity of its aims and projects, a great power than cannot be ignored. Either that [dealing with the Front directly or indirectly] or else it will be forced to simply leave the country to its people. And in either case it will be within our power to direct our convoy in the direction that we choose, and not in the direction that the occupation dictates.
[Al-Hayat, in its Friday edition, quotes this same passage at length, and also what came next in the statement, namely this:
You must also understand something extremely important, and it is that it is not you alone who represent the Iraqi people or who own the jihadi project. There is an environment that fosters the jihadi resistance, without which the work would be impossible--there are those who finance the work; the political and non-political forces that reject the occupation; those with functions and expertise of all kinds in the military and the civilian spheres who refuse to work with the occupation; and the population as a whole of all sects and races who have not connived with the occupation.
The reporter notes that elsewhere the statement reminded the armed resistance groups that the mere fact of bearing arms doesn't necessarily qualify someone for running a country. And that internal fighting in the resistance will in effect throw Bush the life-jacket he needs to claim a form of victory, and it further warns that if there isn't unity soon in the ranks of the resistance, it is possible that the result could be a "bitter harvest" that will make the people yearn for a return to the situation as it is now, just as now some yearn for the prior regime, even though those days were not peaceful either.]

For my part, I think this conveys a little different overall picture of the resistance, compared with what we have seen so far, because from this point of view, the biggest problem is no longer how to defeat the Americans, something that is already basically done, nor is it how to foil other post-occupation schemes (although this letter does take up that problem too), or merely the need to avoid premature negotiations with the occupation. Rather, the biggest problem is how to get together and compromise on a unified political program. When and if that can be done, according to this point of view, in terms of the end-game, if the Americans want to negotiate, they will have a stable and representative negotiating partner, and if they don't, then they can just leave. It is a point of view that reflects confidence in the American defeat, but at the same time perhaps a high level of anxiety respecting the need for political skills among the resistance factions.


Anonymous b. said...

Intersting that Al-Hayat (Saudi financed) cites the passage that talks about financing of the resistance.

It seems to be a veiled threat: "Better clean up your room or their will be no allowance next week."

Sounds like the grown ups are taking over ...

2:13 AM  
Anonymous Alison said...

AMSI seems to be assuming – or trying to assume – a role consistently played by the Ba’ath between 2003 and 2006. As I have mentioned in previous comments, the Ba’ath produced a comprehensive political programme on behalf of the Iraqi National Resistance four years ago, which it subsequently revised after extensive consultations with other Resistance factions. This programme is by far the most impressive ‘policy document’ to have emerged from the Resistance milieu.

For the benefit of anyone who missed it, here’s the url of the English translation of the latest version (October 2006):


Unfortunately, it’s hard to escape the impression that the position of the Baath has been weakened by the petty-mindedness of other factions, by largely unreported crackdowns, by the liquidation of President Saddam Hussein and by the extremely damaging machinations of a renegade wing led by the unprincipled usurper Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed and sponsored by the Syrian government. When Allawi now confidently claims that he has the support of the Baath, he is, of course, referring to these shameless renegades.

With regard to the certainty of US defeat, I agree with Awni Al-Kalemji and Salah Al-Mukhtar etc that some people in the Resistance are deluding themselves into celebrating a very HOLLOW victory. Of course the US is eager to reduce its ‘military footprint’. However, it has no intention of loosening its iron grip on economic and political decision-making. Iraq is likely to remain a client state of the US – and Iran? – for the foreseeable future, albeit a failed one. And if Allawi manages to worm his way back to centre stage, he may well manage to put the ‘US project’ in Iraq back on track…

4:40 AM  
Anonymous Steve & Molly said...

You may be reading too much into that quote coming from a Saudi newspaper. When we were making the film we were left in no doubt that much of the funding was coming from "those who are financially capable" and that such input was regarded as an act of Jihad in the same way as the those who are on the front line. This also applies to the people who were playing such important roles as providing logistical or propaganda support. It seems that the AMSI are now issuing a reminder of the broad, silent base (most likely businessmen and technocrats)that has allowed for an environment in which the fight could be conducted. What we are also seeing - with this reading - is the revelation of a long-standing political plan or direction and where this will ultimately come from in a post-occupation Iraq.


Thanks for posting this paragraph; very valuable.

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Badger, in the second week of August you reviewed a 4-part article by Saad Daoud Q. on Resistance fronts and the (cancelled) Damascus Iraqi opposition conference, to which I had drawn to your attention.

You may be interested to read his observations on AMSI's open letter to the Resistance, which were posted both the website of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance: (and on the Ba'athist website on 13 September.

3:14 AM  
Blogger badger said...

thanks, I'll have a read

2:46 PM  

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