Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Local resistance groups, tribal leaders, and ex-Baath people uniting under the National Resistance banner

A wide range of groups is coming together to distance themselves from the AlQaeda declaration of a mini-state in the middle of Iraq, criticising not only the politics of the move, but also the terror strategy. The groups, says Al-Hayat (Tuesday October 17) include well-known Iraqi armed groups, Baath party people, other political groups, and tribal leaders.

Armed national resistance groups generally criticized the AlQaeda announcement as an "Islamist scheme", adding that the AQ terror tactics harm the national resistance movement. In particular the writer quotes Abdurrahman abu Khawla who said he represented 17 different groups with names like Islamic Army, Army of the Mujahideen and so on, active in various areas including Baghdad and Anbar, and one of his complaints against AlQaeda was the following: "They rely as part of their strategy on hidden explosive devices, but that only means that the occupation forces themselves, along with the intelligence services of neighboring countries, are able to carry out the same kinds of operations, and lay the responsibility on what they call the Baathists and the former Saddamists." He said the national resistance groups' door remains open to negotiations with the occupation forces, based on their withdrawal, release of all their prisoners, Iraqi and foreign, and recognition of the national resistance, because it is the legitimate representative of all Iraqis.

Particularly on the issue of Baath party involvement, the journalist says a meeting yesterday in Kirkuk including tribal leaders and others, was attended by Baath leaders as observers, and this was the first public appearance of any Baath party leader since the party was outlawed by Paul Bremer in 2003. This is part of a Baath resurgence, the writer says, and he notes in this connection the public statement issued by Saddam Hussein via his lawyer, calling on Iraqis to renounce killing each other, and concentrate on ending the foreign occupation. Saddam Hussein said he forgives those who betrayed the location of his sons, leading to their being killed by the Americans . An adviser to PM Maliki told the journalist that the question of involving the Baath party in the National Reconciliation process was in fact the major reason (in addition to "technical difficulties) for the recent postponement of the next scheduled meeting in that series, originally to have taken place October 21.

In connection with this, the journalist quotes Satar abu Risha, head of something called the Council for the Salvation of Anbar, "a group emanating from local tribal confederations." Abu Risha said he has completed the organization of "special batallions" including officers of the former Iraqi army, and they are standing ready to "put down [the AlQaeda-controlled] Anbar", once they receive the go-ahead from the government. More specifically, the group says it is ready to attack Ramadi and free it from AlQaeda, and is expecting help from the Interior Ministry in this. There is a lot going on these days, so the journalist doesn't stop to underline this point: Local groups including those formerly outlawed or shunned by the government, are organizing to fight against AlQaeda with the government's expected approval.

The journalist ends his account of this with the following one-sentence paragraph, one of those gems of British understatement: "British State Minister for Army Affairs yesterday urged his country to hold discussions respecting its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan". Good idea.

In case you're having trouble following the thread of this: What has happened is that the Iraqi nationalists in Parliament were brushed aside in the disputed vote last Wednesday, leaving a vacuum to be filled. The candidates for this are (1) AlQaeda with its proposal to represent the Sunni part of the country, and (2) local groups still convinced that the main obstacle to national unity is the foreign occupation, but before dealing with the US-led occupation, there is now the additional need to clean out the AlQaeda occupation of Anbar.


Blogger markfromireland said...

Can I just point out that this has happened before Bosnia and Afghanistan both.

11:42 PM  
Blogger badger said...

I don't suppose there's any place one could go for a summary highlighting that aspect of the Bosnia and Afghan situations? I know you're busy...

5:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder to what extent the Mujahideen Shura Council and similiar groups are "black op" organizations.

7:31 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Whose and for what specific purpose, and based on what hypothesis about the actual US political aim for Iraq?

This is pure thinking aloud: One hypothesis is that the US is allied with the Kurds in the north and SCIRI in the south for an eventual three-part division of the country. If Mamoun Fandy is right (we are getting in deeper now) and a Sykes-Picot arrangement is conceivable, then the north would go on the Israeli side of the line and the south on the Iranian side. That would mean the parties fighting over the center would be Israel and Iran (see what you've got me into?), making for two possible owners of this "black-ops".

The problem is that even having gone to all that trouble hypothesizing, we still can't come up with any plausible answer, because (1) While the purported aim of the recent Islamic Nation announcement was takfiiri leadership of the Sunni Center of Iraq, there's no way of knowing whether the supposed black-ops operators knew and expected that this would backfire, and galvanize the nationalists, or not. And (2) Whichever way you answer that, it still isn't clear which side would expect to benefit.

Of course if someone wanted to hypothesize this was US black ops, then you've got an even more insurmountable obstacle in explaining what the aim would have been.

I think the following is on the face of it a better explanation: No person or group likes to completely impeach him- or itself. But what has happened in Iraq, with the US and its allies having ceded the political space in Central Iraq, to whoever chooses to claim it, AQ, Saddamists, national-resistance groups, while leaving its troops exposed there, has pretty much impeached itself. With no other explanation available, perhaps there is a natural human inclination to re-organize reality to provide some more palatable conclusion.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been wondering about "black ops" too, but good Lord, it get's complicated! It's bad enough trying to keep the known players straight.

9:50 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Rosemary, Actually I'm sorry I took the bait on that. I figure what this is is our experts trying to find some alternative explanation in the face of something they don't want to admit. See today's post "Mind over matter"...

8:23 AM  

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