Sunday, December 31, 2006

Islamic Army in Iraq: The US is talking to the wrong people

London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat calls attention to a statement by the leader of the Islamic Army in Iraq "On the Safavid Iranian Project", posted on the IAI website. (Text version here; voice version here). Although the statement is dated December 28, the paper says it was published on the website yesterday (Saturday December 30).

The main point appears to be that as the focus of the battle shifts from the Americans to the Iranians, the Americans in their search for an exit are making the mistake of talking to "opportunists", including Baathists, who say they represent the Iraqi resistance but don't.

The newspaper's summary begins with this: The Islamic ummah should prepare for the coming fateful battle for Baghdad, against the Americans and the agents of Iran. And it warns against what it calls the "opportunists" among the Baathists, who go around saying they represent the resistance and enter into talks (on that basis) with Arab and Western countries.

The summary continues: Iraq is exposed to a double, American-Iranian, occupation, and of the two the more vile is what the statement describes as the Safavid, extirpating Iranian occupation. It is now necessary for all the mujahideen to be steadfast against the Iranian occupation as they were steadfast against the Americans. It is self-evident that the Americans are staggering in Iraq, having been coooperators with the Iranian gangs that have ignited sectarian war in Iraq...and now the Americans have realized that they were led into a trap by the Iranians, who stand to take over Iraq with all its riches as unearned booty.

The Americans, the statement said, so far do not seem to have grasped their errors, even in part. Addressing Iraqi Shiites, the statement says: Iran does not concern itself with any Shiites unless they are Persian, and all of the evidence points to that.

The statement warns the "opportunists" to desist from suggesting to Arab and Islamic and Western countries that they represent the Iraqi resistance, and this includes Baathists, who fishing in troubled waters convince the unaware that they are the leadership of the resistance, and that the Islamic Army in Iraq is affiliated with them, which is a downright lie, adding "we know their names, and we will name them by their names if they don't desist from their lying."

America, the statement said, is panting after a mirage by talking to these people, and is thus losing additional opportunities for extricating itself from the quagmire of Iraq. The statement asks Arabs and Muslims to support the people of Iraq verbally and with money and with pertinent information.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

An important contribution to the understanding of the dynamics of Iraq’s society made by this site is the attention it draws to the repeated reference in Arabic documents to the “Safavids,” whom at least some insurgents think of as the ultimate challenge to Iraq’s independence.

It is important to know that the word ‘Safavid’ is not simply a pejorative such as English phrases like ‘S.O.B.’ or ‘Dirty Dogs,’ etc. Rather it is a specific reference to a Shia Persian/Iranian dynasty that conquered Iraq in the early years of the 16th century and attempted the forced conversion of Arab Sunni’s to Shiaism. Fortunately, for the Arab Sunni’s, the Sunni Ottoman Turks conquered Iraq a few decades later taking it into the Ottoman Empire and eliminating the Shia Iranian Persian threat until the 20th century.

J. Cole refers to Saddam’s last words to Iraqi’s to “beware of the Persians.” Cole dismisses this as simple ‘racism.’ Again, as this site has pointed out before, even a great historian like Cole can be compromised by emotions. The threat of Shia Iran/Persia is an historic fact and even if one does not want to take the word of dictators and insurgents, they should at least give pause when Saudi Arabia warns Sunni Arabs about a “Shia Cresent.”

6:29 AM  
Blogger Randal said...

it is a specific reference to a Shia Persian/Iranian dynasty that conquered Iraq in the early years of the 16th century and attempted the forced conversion of Arab Sunni’s to Shiaism

In that, the use of the term Safavid is presumably similar to the use of the term "Crusader" to describe western interferers. An anachronistic but powerful rallying cry rooted in real history.

even a great historian like Cole can be compromised by emotions

It is certainly quite evident fom Cole's comments that he approached Iraq from a very emotionally biased perspective, with sympathy for the Shia communities as the former underdogs. This kind of bias is almost inevitable, I think, and there were many similar cases over Yugoslavia of genuine experts who were unable to avoid very strong anti-Serbian bias as a result of their emotional response.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that a national society is simply too complex to comprehend fully, and the most even the best scholar can do is study some aspects. That's fine, and there's nothing wrong with scholarship in general. But don't believe those experts when they claim to know what "ought to be done" for that country. They are especially dangerous when their work is used to demonise a ruling group to serve the purposes of those who seek war, as was done with both Serbs and Sunnis.

9:43 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Thank you both. by the way, just on the historical Safavid question, I noticed in preparing the following post (on the Baath party statement) that the statement refers to "the neo-Safavids", which I guess reflects ust what anonymous is pointing out, namely that there was a specific Safavid threat from Iran in history, and current events are seen as a repetition.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...


There is a discrepancy between the text quoted by al-Hayat and the text on the IAI's websites: they seem to be refering to two different letters, albeit issued by the same man and around the same date and on the same topic. Plus, the al-Hayat attributes the letter to the website, but al-Hayat's text cannot be found on the website.

I wrote about this towards the end of my post:



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