Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dhari's version of the call for Iraqi unity

Here is the conclusion of the April 9 message of Harith al-Dhari, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars, and probably the top spokesperson for the Sunni resistance, to the Iraqi people on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the occupation:
Finally, you free Iraqis, wherever you are, on the plains or in the mountains, whether in the north, the south or the center, in cities or villages, in the marshes or the desert, in Iraq or outside, we invite you to patience and to steadfastness, and we invite you to tolerance and reconciliation amongst yourselves, and renunciation of differences and feuds, and not to follow the instigations of evil and of fitna of those who do not wish you well, from whatever direction this may come and on whoever's tongue. We invite you to preserve the houses of your brothers who have been forced to vacate them, and left them to you in trust, and to return them to them if they ask, or if they return: it is what your religion requires you to do, and what your values and your traditions dictate.
It is very similar to the discourse of Moqtada and of the Council of Arab Tribes of the South: Let your brotherhood as Iraqis overcome the bad habits of discord which have grown up as a result of the sectarian strategies of the occupation. Each applies the message in his way: Moqtada as an appeal to the honest members of the Iraqi police and army; Dhari as an appeal to citizens having de facto control of houses whose occupants have been forced to flee; the tribes of the south as an appeal to their counterparts in the north and west, and to the politicians, to re-start an occupation-free political process that will overcome the pitfalls of the current process. A year ago Dhari and others were focused on the question of military coordination among the resistance factions, and the problem of AlQaeda. The change in discourse to the social and political level seems to reflect freedom from the takfiiri overhang, and a new level of confidence generally.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a good thing Sadr is fighting other forces in the US-imposed green zone political process. But it's happening because the occupation cannot last. Sadr is not one of the people who defeated it.

No one in Iraq is responsible for more sectarian cleansing than Sadr. Nice words, bad past.

Still he's fighting Maliki and the US troops. But hey, Churchill, the very prototype of an imperialist, fought Hitler. Let's wait a little to see what comes of it.

9:11 PM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

anonymous: I think it's a bit of an over-reach to say "Sadr is not one of the people who defeated it". Sadrist trend forces may have caused a heckuvalot of problems as you say, but there's no doubt they have been and are a major part of what has made it such that "the occupation cannot last".

Badger, regarding Dhari and AMS, I largely agree with your conclusion that the "freedom from the takfiiri overhang" is what allows the change in discourse and some increased confidence. However, I read it as perhaps a bit more tenuous. This to me sounds more like an appeal and a testing of the waters. Like he's saying "ok, we've cleared out our bad boys, now we'll give you guys on the other side of the curtain a chance. Here's the issue that matters to us: at least preparing to reverse the ethnic cleansing peacefully in a spirit of brotherhood and unity. What do you say?"

Now, if there are positive on the ground responses to that initiative, I have no doubt Maliki and the Americans will promptly, arrogantly, and erroneously claim full credit and pronounce that this proves the surge continues to work and therefore the US can't leave. But the reality will be far more positive for Iraqis and far darker for the Americans. That to me would be a real sign that genuine reconciliation among the majority of Iraqis who are in fact anti-occupation will be coming together, re-forging national unity at the grassroots, and preparing to boot the Americans out together. Peacefully if - big if - they are allowed to run and win their fair share in the elections and legislatively order the Americans out if - another big if - the Americans would even respect that. By coordinated force - the kind of coordination that has lingered out there as a possibility since 2003 but never been implemented - if necessary.

Kind of a pie-in-the-sky nationalists dream it might seem looking at the wreckage of the past 5 years, but this increasingly looks like one of the most likely moments for this to emerge since early 2004. In fact, while the overcoming the sectarian bad blood of the past few years is the major challenge today, what is improved from an Iraqi nationalist perspective and not to be lightly dismissed, is that the ISI boys and the Americans are now on the ropes not the rise.

3:06 AM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

CSM has an interview with an IAI insurgent gun-runner Abu Aardvark just linked to. Worth reading:

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if the fifth anniversary of the invasion is just a nice moment to appear patriotic and inclusive or if these remarks signify real compromise being negotiated behind the scenes. Does anyone know if all these nice remarks differ significantly from comments made on past anniversaries?

7:35 AM  
Blogger badger said...

That raises interesting points. My own archives only go back to Sept 06, and I don't recall anything particularly commemorative on the 07 anniversary. Those who have been at this longer than I have aren't showing any particular interest in the issue of nationalism, so I don't know if they would be any help.

But reviewing statements and so on over the last year or so, I think Moqtada and Dhari both (and the tribes too, for that matter) have been consistent proponents of nationalism in the anti-sectarian sense. For instance there are the speeches of Dhari at the Istanbul conference in Dec 06 (type Istanbul into the search box at the upper left and I think that will take you to my summaries of what was said there). In a nutshell, Dhari at that time had his hands full fending off the Sunni takfiiri spokespeople, and insisting that the problem of Iraq and Baghdad in particular is a political problem, not a sectarian one. Shiites are part of the fabric of Iraqi society, he said. His thinking has been consistent, and what has changed in the recent statement isn't the "anniversary" actor, I don't think, but the increasing immediacy of the issue. Same with Moqtada. See for instance a summary of what he said in a TV interview in June 07 (see "Badger's Friday Sermon" a post from June 9 07) about consultations and offers of help to Sunni groups. His thinking is consistent too, and there too what is different now is the immediacy of it.

Whether plans are being hatched in the background I couldn't tell you.

But it's really circular in any case. The self-styled skeptics will tell you the words might not mean anything anyway, no matter how often they are said.

So: I don't think there is an "anniversary" genre here, rather I think the the difference is that this issue has become front and center, with this attempted marginalization of the Sadrists, and at the same time the decline of the ISI has created a little more space, and the increased pressure on the GreenZone maybe a little more optimism.

But your implied point about the inadequacy of any historical record in English is dead on.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Iraqi social leadership are really waking up to the extent to which the existence of nationalism has been denied by the US and just how misunderstood/misrepresented the reality of the society has been.

You may find it difficult to believe but on a number of occasions in our screening tour we've been told that Meeting Resistance was the first time people have heard of Iraqi nationalism. Two notable incidents of this were a USMC officer two years into an academic study of Iraq and the other was a television journalist who has done numerous trips to Iraq over the past three years.

Don't be surprised to see a "revival" of AQI as a result of this. The Green Zone government and their protectors are in a very dangerous situation with all this outreach in advance of federalism decisions in the governates and provincial elections in October.


10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I may ask, I would like Non-Arab to substantiate his statement that Sadr has been a major part in the defeat of the occupation.

10:58 AM  
Blogger NonArab-Arab said...

anonymous: have the Sadrists not been a major force fighting the US off and on over the past 5 years? Have they not inflicted many of the casualties the Americans have taken? Have they not been spoilers of American political plans on numerous fronts, strenuously rejecting and putting obstacles in the way of first the CPA's continuing existence and as time has gone on the plans of the US' green zone allies such as Da'awa and ISCI and their federalism plans?

Physical and political resistance to occupation on par with or exceeding those of any of the other factions, to say nothing of the governability/manageability problems of the occupier which their infiltration of government structures has produced. So whether one is looking at negatives or positives from an Iraqi standpoint, from an American standpoint the Sadrists have been one of the lead forces in stalling their wishes for what they wanted to force Iraq to be.

If you disagree, fair enough, on what basis?

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting me know what you think, NA. I'm uncomfortable using Badger's blog for a debate between readers though, so I'll say this and stop:

Sadr fought the occupation in 2004. At that time he was part of the resistance. Then he changed.

In 2005 he went into the green zone process, which was set up by the US to colonize Iraq. The only possible reason to participate was to get a piece of the pie.

He has been troublesome to the occupation because they could not agree on who got how much of the pie. Let's not forget he drove the bulk of Baghdad's Sunnis out of their homes, among other things.

Now Sadr and the occupation are fighting again. It looks like another major blow to the occupation.

That's good, but the real resistance is the people who have fought the occupation all along.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Bruno said...

"Now Sadr and the occupation are fighting again. It looks like another major blow to the occupation. That's good, but the real resistance is the people who have fought the occupation all along."

Anonymous makes some good points, but I have to ask - now that so many so-called "sunni" guerrillas and resistance nationalists are on the sahwa payroll - does that make Sadr the resistance right now and the Resistance sell-outs?

Of course not!

I fully understand the logic of both fighting an enemy from within a system and reaping the fruits of one's gains for the next big push.

Sadr did the former and the Sahwa people are using the money and time afforded to them by fighting the US to a standstill in the areas they control to regroup and reorganise.

The biggest danger to a free Iraq bar none is the danger of falling into sectarian accusations and recriminations instead of uniting to fight the real enemy - the invader.

4:43 AM  
Blogger badger said...

well said

7:14 AM  

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