Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two versions of the struggle, post-Baker

Post-Baker statements were issued this weekend by the Islamic Emirate of Iraq, and by the Baath party, both of which statements focus on defining their respective movements from the point of view of ultimate political aims, a trans-national "project" on the model of the caliphate on the one side, and traditional Iraqi national unity on the other. Each group is concerned that it not be deprived of the fruits of its struggle, by those who don't share in these ultimate aims.

The Islamic Emirate media office issued a statement on the Baker-Hamilton report, calling it an admission of defeat in Iraq. But the issue now, says the statement, is who is to reap the fruits of this. Baker-Hamilton, with its call for regional involvement, is the modern version of the Sykes-Picot agreement of almost a century ago, and the point is to limit the extent of any Islamic entity to within fixed and limited national limits. It doesn't even occur to many Muslims, this statement says, to think of an Islamic political organization that extends beyond that, "from China to Spain".

The statement says:
This conceptual shortcoming isn't found only among ordinary Muslims, but extends even to some of the groups that raise the banner of jihad, and in fact that is what the American administration is now betting on, because in the past the colonial crusader-regimes have succeeded in making sure that it is the nationalists that reap the fruits of the jihadi islamist revolutions, as in the cases of Lybia, and Algeria, and other cases. When will the ummah learn that lesson, and when will it finally learn to benefit from the experiences of history?
The statement concludes that the US administration has failed in its attempt to form a government of "Safavids, some traitors from among the tribes, and some Sunni claimants to the political process". But it warns of the next US manoeuver, which will be to rely on "those of limited understanding, to thwart any experience of an Islamic state project in Iraq on the model of the Caliphate." In other words, in a nutshell, they think the Americans are going to try to come to some agreement with the nationalists, in order to thwart the islamists. The trick now will be to make sure the the fruits of the struggle aren't taken away from the mujahideen by "the climbers and the opportunists". (This follows by a few days a specific call by the Islamic Emirate for Muslim Scholars Association head Harith al-Dhari to desist from his negotiating tours in the Arab world which included talks with the Jordanian king at the time of the Bush-Maliki meeting).

The Arab Socialist Baath Party, which issued a statement Saturday on what comes after Baker-Hamilton, makes three main specific points: The first is that there should be no negotiation with the occupation authorities until they agree to the conditions that have been laid down previously, the main one being commitment by the US to complete and unconditional withdrawal. The statement refers to unnamed persons who have had discussions with the US, as unauthorized persons "on the margin, and isolated" within the broad area of the resistance, stressing that the resistance won't even define who is the authorized bargaining agent until the US has first agreed to the prior conditions. So that is the first point: No negotiations until complete and unconditional withdrawal is agreed on.

The second point in the Baath declaration is that a careful reading of Baker-Hamilton shows that its main aim is to gain time so as to come up with a new military and political strategy for continuing US occupation of Iraq, via an undetermined period of time when the forces would be withdrawn out of cities and into bases in non-urban areas. In other words the armed struggle will continue until either the US agrees to the terms, or is driven out, so there should be no letting up militarily.

The third point focuses on the combination of threats from the US and Iran. The general description of the situation refers to a type of US-Iranian "agreement" under which for instance the US turned over the central government to Iranian-oriented groups, and refers tacitly to US-Iranian agreement to try and undermine the Arab nature of Iraq, each for its own ends. There is a long list of "in the light of..." clauses, including reference to US-Iranian forced relocation campaigns and so on, and also this: "In the light of the possibility of the US and Iran agreeing to organize a mass-destruction military campaign against Arabs of Iraq, particularly in the liberated areas, which American newspapers have published some information about", there is a bigger need than ever for unity and preparedness for greater battles ahead. In other words, for the Baathists, the US-Iranian collusion so far has been limited to domestic-political arrangements in Iraq, but there is a danger that this could be upgraded to a military attack on those areas of Iraq that aren't controlled by either the US or Iran.

For the Baath party, the ultimate US-Iranian purpose is to "dissolve the Arab character of Iraq, and convert it into dwarf city-states that would be clients of the one side or the other (US or Iranian). The resistance aim is the national unity and Arab character of Iraq. Moreover the Iraqi struggle is the decisive one for the whole Arab world, because if the US loses in Iraq, then its power elsewhere in the region will be destroyed. The statement describes the current Lebanon crisis, for instance, as an artificial crisis designed to boost Iran's popularity in the Arab world.

The Baath party statement is available here. English language version here.

The Emirate also issued a version of its statement in English, such as it is, here. For the Arabic version, I used this summary in Al-Quds al-Arabi.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to intrude like this but somebody in the past asked about tribes in iraq and their effect and i found this blog that explains it even though i don't like the blogger, but it provides good insight on iraqi tribes :

tribes in Iraq

1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Baath Party's assessment of the ISG report is far more perceptive than that of Western commentators, who view it overwhelmingly as providing a cover for retreat.

7:28 AM  
Blogger badger said...


7:34 AM  
Blogger badger said...

by the way, anonymous # 1, thank you for that. The site you link to, Healing Iraq, is indeed a good source for that.

7:36 AM  
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