Friday, January 18, 2008

A Baathist explains what's at stake in the Cairo process

Saleh al-Mukhtar, a diplomatic official under Saddam, and currently, to all appearances, a spokesman for the loyalist wing of the Iraqi Baath, posted an essay on albasrah.net on Jan 14, [corrected date] in which he argued that no one in the armed resistance should attend the Cairo Conference, the gist of his argument being to put this in the context of recent American moves to thwart or dodge pressure for withdrawal. The argument goes like this:

First, he says it is important to recall that at this time last year, pressure for withdrawal was building, with allies starting to withdraw their troops, Congress and the media pressing for withdrawal, and pressure building even from within the Republican Party. At that time, several things were done, including the declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq, then the attempt to split the Baath party, and finally and most seriously, the decision by the ISI to declare takfiir on all Iraqis but themselves, "as a way of tearing apart the Iraqi people and the armed resistance." (Readers will recall that on Mukhtar's reading, Al-Baghdadi and the ISI are directly or indirectly cats-paws of the occupation. See the earlier post here called "A Baathist looks at the big picture"). And Mukhtar sees the Awakening movement as another part of this overall strategy. He continues:
These [countermeasures] were a lifeline for [Bush] and his administration, and he was able to exploit them with his usual swagger by saying: "See what progress we are making. AlQaeda is defeated and we control Anbar as a first step in controlling all the other rebel regions"!

This Cairo Conference is within this context of strengthening Bush's position in rejection of withdrawal, and in support of the hawks within the American decision-making organization, and it will constitute another achievement by way of enrolling more "rebels" in the Bush-club in Iraq, [who will] announce in Cairo their "repentance", and they will put on the turban of Sistani, or the turban of Tareq al-Hashemi and they will curse [in words only] the occupation, and they will use the most extreme verbal expressions in describing it!

What Bush wants is to be able to say this: "Look! After having created the Awakening councils which have weakened AlQaeda, now we have these people coming to us who used to oppose the occupation with arms and with political attitudes, who now join in the ranks of those creating democracy in Iraq, and they are abandoning weapons and terror. So why are you still pressing for withdrawal? We are making process. Let us not abandon it. Stop opposing us when we are half way on the road to victory!
Mukhtar says those inclined to want to attend Cairo argue either that it will be useful to understand the American position, or useful to explain to them our position. Mukhtar says that makes no sense. After close to five years of military occupation, what is it about the American position you need to have explained to you? And what is it about our position that you need to explain to them? Our position is withdrawal first, and the Americans have ignored that demand. Any negotiating should be in the service of the armed struggle, not vice versa. So the positive reasons for attending don't make sense. And if you attend, your presence will be used by Bush is part of the anti-withdrawal process explained above.

Finally, like Awni Qalamji, Mukhtar appears resigned to the idea that some resistance people or factions will attend Cairo, and wants to make sure they realize this is a red line and a defining issue. Mukhtar writes in conclusion:
The coming stage will see a sorting-out between two policies in the area of armed struggle and in the area of political activity supporting it: The first is the continuation of the revolution and the escalation and expansion of its operations so as to compel the occupation to submit to the conditions of the resistance, being primarily [the commitment to] complete and unconditional withdrawal. The second is the policy of haggling with the occupier, and giving up the aim of complete liberation, and instead acceptance of deals that infringe the sovereignty and independence of Iraq, using as an excuse the failure to achieve the fighting unity that could compel the occupation to submit to our conditions.
The purpose of Mukhtar's piece, like that of Qalamji, is to warn potential attendees of the meaning and implications of their attendance, and the implication is that they are concerned that this American strategy of splitting the resistance could in fact have some success.

3 Comments:

Blogger dancewater said...

And meanwhile, some major anti-war organizations in the US are deciding that calling for complete withdrawal from Iraq is getting nowhere, so they are asking for Congress to make sure that bush does not tie the hands of a future US president, figuring that is the best they can do.

It is appalling that so many protested this war, and it went ahead anyway, and so many are saying GET OUT, yet the US troops will remain.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Shirin said...

And don't look at Hillary or Obama to get them out! Obama even made a little slip in one of his statements, saying "we will have to keep enough troops in Iraq go to guard the embassy, American bases..." American bases?! How does THAT fit with "no permanent bases"?!

7:48 PM  
Anonymous Alison said...

Thank you for reviewing Salah Al-Mukhtar’s article, Badger.

With regard to those Resistance factions that have been drawn into the elaborate web spun by the Americans, there is reason to suspect that AMSI has been playing a double game: sharply criticising the so-called Awakening while maintaining close ties with the renegade Ba’ath faction led by M. Younis Al-Ahmed, which is participating in it. (The broad spectrum covered by AMSI’s membership enables the organisation to dance at all the weddings in town, so to speak.)

AMSI also played a pivotal role in the formation of the so-called Political Office of the Iraqi Resistance and its successor, the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance (PCIR), comprising the Younis-led ‘Jihad and Reform Front’ etc. The PCIR was formed for the purpose of negotiating with the US, supposedly on behalf of the Resistance as a whole, effectively sidelining and undermining the ‘loyalist’ Iraqi Ba’ath and its allies. The latter have also been the victims of a relentless disinformation campaign spearheaded by the Saudi-owned press in recent months.

2:49 AM  

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