Thursday, October 18, 2007

First steps

"When you are surrounded by nothing but failure, then any success you can achieve will have a magnified effect," writes historian Bashir Nafie in an overview of Iraqi politics. His starting point is the recent announcement of a six-faction resistance alliance (the gist of which was to unite two MB-related factions with the four-faction Iraqi-Islamist Reform and Jihad grouping led by the Islamic Army in Iraq). A small step, to be sure, says Nafie.

But look at what is going on in the other camps. The initial push from the National Pact proposed by Tareq al Hashemi (for instance he talked to Sistani about it) has quickly died, the problem here being that Hashemi, for all his occasional displays of courage, refuses to see things as they are. Under foreign occupation, proposals and visions and so on will inevitably be mutually conflicting, moreover they will, each of them, benefit from only the narrowest of popular support. Proposals based on "good will" alone in these circumstances will go nowhere. There needs to be a "central political force" with broad support (and Nafie doesn't find it necessary to spell out the obvious, namely that this includes rejecting the foreign occupation).

Then there is the issue of the phony education credentials of a number of Iraqi political leaders. This isn't some marginal phenomenon, Nafie says, rather, in the popular mind it goes to the character and essence of that group that has risen under the occupation to represent the "political class of the new Iraq". And he notes in connection with this that the political struggle in the provinces of the south between the Sadrist and the Hakim groups is continuing, despite the fact that the recent accord seems to have eased the level of violence.

Or take the Kurdish situation. It is clear, Nafie says, that the Kurdish political leaders have overplayed their hand, thinking that the recent relative stability and development of their region has been due to some combination of their own efforts and the local balance of power, when in fact their privileged position in recent years has been owing to the American and British military presence.

The Erdogan policy of restraint, earlier based on fear of empowering the Turkish armed forces, has come to an end now that Turkish popular opinion has sided with the generals on the need to deal with the PKK incursions, "or otherwise miss this historic chance to build a new Turkey". (Referring to unity between the secularist armed forces and the Islamic government on the one hand, and declaration of independence from Western pressure as the other side of the same coin, all of this in the context of the American defeat in Iraq). And Nafie goes on to link the PKK issue with that of the status of Kirkuk, writing: "The Kurdish parties don't want to face up to the actual power environment in which they live and will continue to live once the tanks are gone and the fighter-planes have disappeared from the skies. The hysterical push to change the status of Kirkuk enjoys only the hysterical support of the Turkish branch of the PKK (and its Iranian counterpart)..." without, however, spelling out explicitly the connection between Turkish response to the PKK and the Kirkuk issue.

Instead, having talked about the "new Turkey" implied in this issue of standing up to the PKK, Nafie also talks about a "new Iraq."
Although it is always tough to predict the wind-direction in the Arab-Islamic east, it is perhaps not so risky to say that any crossing by Turkey of the border with Iraq will be different this time. If the Turkish forces enter northern Iraq, whether for a limited operation or for a comprehensive one, whether for a short or a long term, this will only the beginning of a process (literally it "will not stop at the entrance") instead it will be the start of a completely new Iraq, with all that means in terms of effects on the form and the structure of the new Iraq.
Not very elegant prose for the expression of such high concepts, you may say. But let's forget for a moment the prose and look at those concepts. (I left out of this summary Nafie's lengthy analysis of the Petraeus show and all that indicates by way of American failure, because it would seem trite to English-speaking readers). What Nafie is saying is that the pattern of unremitting failure in occupied Iraq, from the collapse of any popular respect for the new political class, to the hollowness of the "reconciliation" schemes by the likes of Hashemi, and the approaching collapse of the Kurdish quasi-separatist dream--all of this creates an environment where any progress, and particularly success in political unification on the part of the resistance stands out and is highlighted by comparison.

If we could offer Nafie a little rhetorical help, we could say the dead end and the midnight of the occupation's dismemberment-scheme for Iraq signals the dawn of a new sovereign and unified Iraq. Of course, these resistance groups are all Sunni-based. Nafie acknowledges that, writing:
The truth is that all of these factions are Arab-Sunni as to their base. Still, if these factions can change into central political forces, there is a chance they will be able to move Iraq in the direction of a broad national alliance, that would include a large number of the tendencies and personalities, united by a single political vision, or [if not identical then at least] closely similar visions respecting the major Iraqi issues. Because where failure rules the roost all around you, even a small success, quite apart its limited actual weight, will have a magnified effect.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

“The truth is that all of these factions are Arab-Sunni as to their base.”

The recently announced six-faction resistance alliance is not only “Arab-Sunni” as Nafie writes, it also represents the ISLAMIC WING of the Iraqi Resistance – that is to say, all these groups are affiliated with AMSI.

Less media attention has been given to the recent announcement of the Ba’ath-led JIHAD AND LIBERATION FRONT comprising the Mujahideen Armed Forces and other non-sectarian factions and supported by many progressive- nationalist organisations, including the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (led by Abdul Jabbar Al-Kubaysi).

In an article entitled, ‘The Significance of the Jihad and Liberation Front’, Leading Ba’athist resistance activist and former Iraqi ambassador to India and Vietnam, SALAH AL-MUKHTAR writes:

“This is the only organization or Front among the factions of the armed resistance which represents all of Iraq in all its components-- national, religious and sectarian. In this organization, there are Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Muslims, Sabeans, Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis. It is a national organization covering the length and breadth of, active in all provinces and regions. It presents the national alternative to all of the sectarian, separatist and racist agendas which have threatened the unity of Iraq and the valiant resistance, especially in the past two years, and it is the basic safeguard, ever vigilant to stymie and liquidate all attempts to drag the resistance into sectarian disputes.

A distinguishing characteristic of these organizations over the others is that they are religiously inclusive and recognize all as brothers and sisters who fight for the liberation of Iraq and for the salvation of the country from its current predicament. The strugglers and resisters of various types and backgrounds are connected through Iraqi patriotic unity and their character is based on one fundamental guiding principle, the liberation of Iraq. These factions are dedicated to rebuild Iraq as a homeland for all Iraqis….

The organization basically represents Iraq and comprises all the Iraqi people and its legitimate and bona fide resistance forces which the occupation wants to destroy, with the Iraqi national armed forces as a high-priority target. Senior officers of the Iraqi armed forces have assumed direct responsibilities in the organization, a significant indicator for understanding the nature of the battles in the process of Iraq liberation in the weeks and months ahead. The Iraqi national armed forces have always and continue to outdo the efforts of sectarian groups in taking on the occupation forces and their puppet auxiliaries ever since the invasion….

The Declaration of the top leadership is a clear invitation to the Islamist organizations to unite and work against the common occupation, and to agree on a national program free from sectarianism and ethnicity.”


7:39 AM  

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