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Extraordinary interview with pro-resistance Iraqi Nationalist

“Political process to the benefit of al Qaeda”

Interview conducted by Willi Langthaler

08/10/07 "ICH" -- - Abduljabbar al Kubaysi, influential political leader of the Iraqi resistance and secretary-general of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) elaborates on the new situation evolving in Iraq

Q: In the last period the European media when touching Iraq have been speaking only on a sectarian civil war. What is really happening?

Actually the US occupiers as well as the government imposed by them are pushing for this sectarian civil war. Also the Iranians have interest in this as they are looking for a federation in the South as well. Their attempt is to make the Sunni, the Christians, the Mandeans leave to have a purely Shiite zone. Under the conditions of war this sectarian drive has an immediate effect.

The US uses this as an argument to stay in Iraq as they claim that they would be needed to settle this strife.

There is, however, so much evidence that the intelligence services of the US, of the Iraqi as well as of the Iranian government are the real source of the violence. They plant bombs or pack them into cars which are then being exploded by remote control or by helicopter in both Shiite and Sunni areas deliberately killing civilians not involved in politics. Thus, they try to spark the sectarian conflict.

In the beginning, the media used to check on the site of the blast and often eye witnesses contradicted the official version that a person exploded himself. Now they use to cordon off the area and impede questions to the locals. They want to have the news spread that militants did the massacre while it was governing forces or the US who planted explosive loads. In most of the cases there is no person involved killing himself. In these cases you can be sure that the ruling coalition is involved.

For example, they changed the name of an important road in the Al Adhamiye district in Baghdad from a Sunni religious figure to a Shiite one during the night. It was the Shiite community of al Adhamiye itself to change it back to the original name. Then they came again with their Hummers…

But actually they did not success succeed in creating the rift between Sunnis and Shiites. Yes, in officials politics there is. The Sunni Islamic Party, which is with the Americans, and the Shiite block, which is with Iran and the US, litigate along such lines, but they did not succeed in pushing the ordinary people to go with them. Here and there, there might be some minor conflicts but in substance the broad masses on both sides insist that they are Iraqis regardless of their confession.

Look to Najaf and see the positions of the Arab Shiite Ayatollahs who continue to advocate national unity and oppose the occupation. Or look to Diala province which is composed of 50% Shiites and 50% Sunnis and at the same time is a strong base of the resistance. Two big Shiites tribes, al Buhishma and the followers of Ayatollah Abdul Karim al Moudheris, are with the resistance and everybody knows it. The Ayatollah’s son fell in combat. He was the leader of a big tribal contingent of the resistance. In Baquba, the provincial capital, they cannot do the same cleansing as in Basra with the Sunnis or as in Amara with the Mandeans. In Baquba both Shiite and Sunnis support the resistance. Certainly there are attacks by the different resistance groups on the Iraqi government agencies, the US army, Iranian forces and the Shiite parties and militias like the Madhi army which are inside the political process, but you will not hear of sectarian killings.

There is another example: Tal Afar in the Northwest of Iraq near Mosul. Between 50 and 70% of its population is Shiite. Nevertheless it is one of the capitals of the resistance.

It lies in the interest of the West and Iran to make the conflict look like a sectarian one. Not only the US wants to justify their presence with the need to impede a sectarian civil war, but also Iran does. They want not only to grab the South but they also want to have Baghdad and therefore purge it from Sunnis. With their alliance with the Kurds in the North this would suffice to control the country.

We do, however, not believe that these plans will work out. There are very big tribes in the Arab world and in Iraq which span the entire country from the North to the South like al Jibouri whose people live from Nasseria to Mosul, al Shamari or al Azouwi. Most of them include both Shiites and Sunnis. There are some smaller tribes which belong only to one sect but most of the bigger ones are mixed and the inter-confessional marriages continue unabated.

They did not succeed in implanting the sectarian strife into the base of the society. It remains on the surface of the parties which co-operate with the US occupation. In the big towns they also find some ignorant lumpen elements who they can instigate, but they will not be able to constitute the main political entities according to sect affiliation as it is the outspoken US intention.

Q: At the onset, the Americans set all their hope on the Shiite political parties but later they discovered that the situation ran out of their control. So they developed the strategy which was called redirection trying to bring in Sunni forces and also sections of the resistance. Did these efforts yield any results?

As time went by, the US realised that their allies’ loyalty goes only to Iran. Many of them are even Iranians. For example right now 13 MPs are officers in the Iranian army. Or, in the former Governing Council only six members out of
25 were Arabs both Sunnis and Shiites. Another eight were Iraqis belonging to minorities. So the majority were real foreigners. The al Hakim family are for example from Isfahan. Only some years ago al Hakim was still called Abulaziz al Isfahani.

It were the US neo-cons to introduce the model of religious and ethnic divide. They deliberately wanted to create a Shiite rule as they wanted to have a minority in power, a minority with regard to the entire Arab world, which they thought to be able to better stir and control.

They originally planned to continue their campaign to Damascus and install the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood there. So Damascus would have supported the Iraqi Sunnis while Tehran would have done the same for the Iraqi Shiites and the war would have carried on for decades – not on the base of anti-imperialism but on sectarian grounds. But the Iraqi resistance foiled these plans.

The Iraqi resistance sprang up rapidly and gained strength so they recognised that they could not cope with them only by military means. This is the main reason of their strategic shift. They designed the political process and brought in the Sunni Islamic Party. They intended to dry the lake where the resistance fishes swim. But soon the influence of the Islamic Party evaporated and their leaders have been flying to the Green zone or abroad.

At the same time they realized that the Iranians had deeply penetrated into the state apparatus beyond the confines of the game. So they moved to also curb this process.

Q: What is the situation of the resistance both in a political and a military sense?

The resistance is still gaining strength. Only judging by numbers they rose from some thousand now exceeding by far
100.000 fighters. Their combat capabilities increased as well. But they could also develop intelligence structures penetrating the Iraqi army and police but also sometimes the environment of the US army. So all together the system of resistance includes some 400.000 people.

The US army and their allies are really demoralised. While the resistance fights to liberate its country they only fight for money. Thus they are becoming more and more savage. They increase numbers not only of direct US troops, but also of mercenary forces which are even more barbarian. Taken all together they consist maybe of some one million troops.

Look to the US losses released by the Pentagon itself which are obviously sugar-coated. If you disregard the months of special military operation like against Falluja or Tal Afar you can see a clear tendency. At the beginning you had some
50 US soldiers killed by month, then later it was up to 80 and now some 100 get killed each month.

The resistance is now a real popular movement; it is a culture among the people. Everybody contributes its share. And the fact that no government helps us has also its good side. If they would pay than you have always corruption. The typical Arab fašade would have been erected. Now, instead, there is no excuse. Every section is responsible for itself, to organise its people, to train it, to plan the attacks, to raise money, etc.

Also politically there have been taken some steps ahead. At the beginning there were hundreds of groups but people understand the necessity of unity. Now we can say that there are eight main groups. What has so far not been achieved is a unified political command which remains one of the main tasks ahead.

Q: There are reports of armed clashes between resistance groups and forces related to al Qaeda. What is the relation of the resistance to the Salafi and Takfiri groups?

Let us remember that the West started with insulting the resistance calling it foreigners and followers of the old regime. They wanted to allude that the resistance has no connection to the Iraqi people. Actually the resistance sprang up on a very grass root level to defend its identity against the enormous provocations of US neo-colonialism. They were former soldiers, tribesmen, nationally and religiously inspired people who acted in their immediate environment. It was neither foreigners nor Baathists who were the driving force of the inception although Baathists were participating as well.

The way the US deposed Saddam was perceived as an aggression to all Iraqis including those who opposed him. To be honest eventually Saddam personally played an important role to push his people into resistance. He did not try to save himself by hiding as was being reported. No, he went from city to city, from Tikrit to Samarra, Anbar and also Baghdad. He contacted Sheikhs, officers and so on. He said that they should resist not for him as a president, but for the nation and for Islam. He asked them even to not use any more his picture as a rallying symbol. Only in the following months Baath could reorganise as a party and join as such the resistance. From the point of view of the resistance it was a great luck that they could not arrest him for a long time.

Regarding al Qaeda, in the first two years no such thing existed under this name and even the Americans mainly spoke of foreigners penetrating from outside and especially from Syria. They tried to create a pretext to attack Syria although Damascus did absolutely nothing to help the resistance. On the contrary they did 200% what Washington dictated to them to avert an aggression at least in the first months.

In the first two years they were a very limited force with maybe 1.000 to 1.500 fighters coming from inside and outside. Also the level of military activity was not very high. In a time frame of two years they themselves claim some 800 attacks while the resistance were carrying out 800 attacks by week.

Later they steadily gained ground and they still keep growing. They have a lot of money but they do not spend it on a luxury life, but live a very decent life on minimum needs dedicating everything to the struggle, which shows a very serious and attracting behaviour. They spend the money on the struggle. Most of the youths join them not for their ideology but because they offer a place to resist.

In the East you do not need to write books to convince people. If your personal life style is congruent with your mission you will convince people.

When America started the political process it eventually came to the benefit of al Qaeda. Those joining the political process argued that otherwise the Iranians would take over and in this way they would only co-operate a short period and then could kick the Americans out as well. Of course they failed. Al Qaeda argued in a very principled way that only protracted armed struggle will advance their cause and reality confirmed their way of thinking, their trend.

They offered money also to some resisting tribes with strong Muslim identity which needed these resources for their struggle. Thus they created a coalition of six groups, one al Qaeda and five local groups. That gave them a big push. They were not big forces like the Islamic Army but still with roots in Ramadi, Falluja, Haditha etc. They gave their coalition the name Mujahideen Shura Council. Under this label they continue until now and not as al Qaeda.

They have a lot of resources and a steady supply also from outside while the other groups get nearly nothing from outside. Today maybe we can say that al Qaeda is the first organisation of the resistance. They go separately from the others but nevertheless in each city there is a kind of council to co-ordinate military action, to chalk out a plan of defence.

Islam is a weapon to make the people rise up. The Islamic history, the Islamic figures, the Islamic culture is used to push the people to fight because they consider Islam as their identity. National and religious symbols are being mixed. The Koran says that if Islamic land is attacked by foreigners, armed resistance is obligatory. This is until today out of question in the common sense. Jihad becomes a Muslim duty for the people being occupied by foreign invaders like fasting and praying.

So all the resistance groups whether Islamic or not use this spirit as a tool to mobilise and raise the people. Take for example the statements of the Baath party and of Izzat al Durri personally. Judging by his language you would believe him to be an extreme Islamist. But this does not mean that all of them are really Islamists.

The entire environment is Islamic. By Marxist or nationalist calls you will not attract young people. Where ever young people go you will find Islamic sentiment and spirit dominating. This indirectly favours al Qaeda. People who join them do not feel to do something not normal as the general conditions are Islamic. On the contrary they will believe to only act consistently.

Q: But what about the sectarian attacks? Doesn’t al Qaeda bear at least partial responsibility for them?

The responsibility lies with the government both with its Shiite and Sunni components, the US, Israel and Iran. Regarding the attacks attributed to al Qaeda by the West, one has to subtract 95%. And for the remaining 5% you hear only a part of the truth. Sometimes al Qaeda retaliates to governmental or militia attacks on Sunni areas by attacking Shiite areas. They want to show the Sunni population that they can defend and convince them to remain. They thus want to foil the plan to drive the Sunnis out of Baghdad which should become part of the Southern Shiite federal entity. This is pursued by the Shiite parties, Iran and in the beginning also by the US.

But this is not a strategy and happened only few times in the last year reacting to big attacks. And for every attack they take the full responsibility. They direct a call to the wise people among the Shiites: stop the crimes which are being committed in your name, otherwise you will have to bear the responsibility as well. We are able to strike back with ten times the force.

I do not want to defend this approach, but we need to restore the facts from the distortions by the West.

There is another striking example. Al Qaeda started in Falluja as the entire resistance started there. While it is a 100% Sunni town right after the beginning of the occupation about 12.000 Shiite families from the South took refuge in Falluja and Ramadi because they were accused of being Baathist. I was not only an eyewitness, but also involved in organising the relief for them. They were helped by the ordinary population because they regarded them as being with the resistance. Until today about 20.000 Shiite refugees remain in Falluja and not a single hostile act on sectarian base could be observed not even by al Qaeda. There certainly are quarrels between the resistance groups over domination, this is normal, but not on the basis of religion.

Q: Two years ago you founded the Patriotic Islamic National Front comprising the Baath Party, the Iraqi Communist Party
(Central Command) and the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance. There are several religious figures both Sunni and Shiite who support you, but until now the big military formations of the resistance seem not to be represented by your front. Is the time still not ripe for such a front?

It is an exclusively political front and not a military one. That does not mean that there are no relations but we confine ourselves strictly to the political level. Regarding the Islamic military forces you must understand that they were built as military resistance groups and did not have any political representation. We are not interested to recruit this group or that leader. No, we are in a comprehensive dialogue with all of them with the proposal to form a unified political command of the resistance set against the so-called political process. Maybe it will go the other way round that a co-ordination is formed and we will join them. Our aim is not to show our role, but to create this political unification.

Whenever we seem to be very close to accomplishment, something happens which impedes its advancement. We also know what is behind. It is the influence and the meddling of the adjacent Arab regimes.

Regarding al Qaeda, they always want to remain separated and are not included in this process.

Q: During all these years of the resistance, there has been the problem of the ambiguous behaviour of the movement of Muqtada as Sadr who on the one hand became the main pillar of the government and a driving force of the sectarian killing, but on the other hand speaks against the occupation, against the American imposed federative constitution and even against the sectarian strife. As he leads the most important section of the poor people how do you believe to bring at least sections of his followers to join the resistance?

Contrary to most of our friends, at the beginning I always stressed that his movement is very wide and that many Baathists, Marxists and nationalists went inside to protect themselves against the Iranian militias. Maybe half of his movement comes from other political environments and were not followers of his cleric family. So whatever mistake he would commit I thought we could count on these people to rectify it or retrieve at least some of them. Secondly, most of his followers are very poor but at the same time uneducated. Of cause this is a double-edged sword. Different to the other Shiite parties the social background of his base are not wealthy merchants who might speak one day against the occupation and the next day sign profitable contracts with the US. Their opposition to the occupation is real.

I believe that finally he has been pushed and cheated by his allies in Iran, mainly Ayatollah Kazem Haeri who is the successor of his uncle, and in Lebanon. Hezbollah visited him three times advocating that he should follow the line applied in Lebanon participating in the political process, running for parliament, seizing positions in the state apparatus and especially in the army thus enabling the construction of a strong party. Otherwise al Hakim would take over and dominate by the use of those resources. This is why he ran on the list of his arch enemy al Hakim.

Everybody knows that his father was assassinated on order of Hakim although officially Saddam is being blamed. Muqtada originally also heavily attacked them including Ayatollah al Sistani for co-operating with the US declaring them even unbelievers. This is why they conspired with the proconsul Bremer to kill him. Actually the US really attacked him heavily. Under this pressure he backed down fearing to be extinguished.

It is simply not true that he claims to be against the constitution. He is fully involved in the political process. He has 32 MPs and 6 ministers in the government which is all to the benefit of the occupation.

Then they pushed him to attack the Sunnis in the prospective to create a Shiite Mahdi state. At this point many of his followers left him while other people joined him causing a deep transformation of his movement. By now also the Iranians have been infiltrating the Mahdi army to the point that half of its personnel is composed of members of the Revolutionary Guards.

Up to 2004 Muqtada was on the right side. For example, he came to Falluja. But after the blows he suffered, in 2005 he moved to the other side. Now it is highly improbable that he will rectify his line. Sometimes he makes some words against the sectarian killings admitting however that his people are involved and even dismissed three of his leaders. But they continue. Partially he has even lost control over this militia. If you give weapons and money to very poor and ignorant people, if you make them strong, they often believe to be able to take the reigns in their own hands. They become mafia leaders and work on their own account.

All this was also possible because of the fact that he is young, inexperienced and immature so he can be easily influenced by his advisers, his environment including Iran.

Q: There are more and more reports that Shiite tribes fight against the government forces. Can you explain this phenomenon?

With the occupation the Iranian militia in the South and East went to kill officers of the former Iraqi army accusing all its enemies to be Baathists. So many people were assassinated.

Although they all belong to some tribes they were afraid to defend them. But with the evaporation of the state structures the tribes, are becoming more and more important and powerful. Now they cannot accept any more that their tribesmen are being killed by foreigners whether Iranians or Iraqis not belonging to the tribe. If they come now to arrest or kill somebody the tribes mount growing resistance. There are many examples creating a new environment, a sentiment which is directed against the pro-Iranian militias and governmental forces. Recently there occurred a two day battle near Shuk ash Shuyuk in the south where they tried to capture a former officer. Hundreds took up arms to defend him. He fell but not without changing the climate. He belongs to a very combative tribe known for its bravery. They subsequently formed a kind of mutual assistance pact with other tribes against the pro-Iranian militias including the Mahdi army, the army and police indicating a general tendency which, however, remains local and did not yet reach the general political level.

There is another important cultural factor. The militias brought alien habits which cannot be accepted by the tribes. Under the guise of the Mutha marriage they import prostitution. And they spread the use of hashish.

Q: What about the foreign support to your cause?

We are being used by Arab politicians to reproduce themselves without offering any real support. They speak of the Iraqi resistance and about the American crimes in five star hotels and on the satellite channels. That is all. They could, however, do a lot, for example raise money or take to the streets against their governments in order to close the Iraqi embassies. But they understand that this would mean to pass the red line of supporting terrorism as the US puts it. We know from the past about the importance of material support to the Algerian revolution or to the Palestinian struggle. Huge sums were raised and still the ordinary people are ready to pay. But nobody dares to collect this money for the Iraqi resistance. These leaders are actually cheating their followers as those suggest that they would offer help in secret. But I assure you we do not get any serious help from outside.

Paris, July 2007 Interview conducted by Willi Langthaler

English / Jul 23, 2007

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