Wednesday, July 18, 2007
If US troops remain in Iraq because of the threat of al-Qaeda, then the US can work with these people, and, according to some news accounts, has already done so. If the US also remains in Iraq in order to achieve the imperial aims of permanently stationing troops there, while exploiting the country's oil resources on terms favorable to transnationals, then, the violence will persist, if not intensify.
"We are the only resistance movement in modern history that has received no help or support from any other country," Omary declares. "The reason is that we are fighting America." The 1920 Revolution Brigades spokesman is an articulate and sophisticated operator, who - if he survives the counterinsurgency and sectarian onslaught - clearly has the potential to become an influential voice in a future Iraq. "Our position is that there are two kinds of people in Iraq: not Sunni and Shia, Kurdish and Arab, Muslim and Christian, but those who are with the occupation and those who are against it." Anyone who takes part in the institutions set up by the occupation, such as the government and parliament, army or police, are regarded as collaborators. "Our organisation began its operations in the first days after the invasion and wherever you find the occupation, you will find us: from Mosul, Baghdad and Samarra to Basra, Hillah and Kirkuk," continues Omary. "Our group has also carried out attacks on British forces in Basra." They are not a Sunni sectarian organisation, he insists: "The military leader of the Brigades is a Kurd. Iraq is for all Iraqis and we only distinguish between those who cooperate with the occupation and those who do not. If my brother cooperates with the occupation, I will kill him - but the innocent must not be touched."
What makes Iraqis join the resistance? "Many people come to the resistance because of their Islamic background, some because of what has happened to their relatives at the hands of the occupation armies," says Zubeidy. "American forces have committed very big crimes against the Iraqi people. All Iraqis hate the foreign forces and won't forget what they have done. Generally, British forces have acted as a helper to the US and the British government shares the blame for everything that happened to Iraq. But their actions are seen as having been less cruel than the Americans."
At the heart of the new insurgent alliance is a rejection of the murderous sectarianism that has come to grip Iraq - and the role of al-Qaida in particular. Most striking is the case of Zubeidy, whose hardline salafist (purist Islamic) group Ansar al-Sunna recently split in half over the issue (his faction is now called the Legitimate Committee of Ansar al-Sunna - Goure says such splits are endemic in the resistance movement). "We wanted to unite with other resistance forces, but the other group is moving closer to al-Qaida and refused. Al-Qaida has brought benefits and problems," Zubeidy says. "They attack the US occupiers. But every day the problems they bring become greater than the benefits.
"Resistance isn't just about killing Americans without any aims or goals," he continues. "Our people have come to hate al-Qaida, which gives the impression to the outside world that the resistance in Iraq are terrorists. Suicide bombing is not the best way to fight because it kills innocent civilians. We are against indiscriminate killing - fighting should be concentrated only on the enemy. They [al-Qaida] believe that all Shia are kuffar [unbelievers] - and most of the Sunnis as well." They estimate that al-Qaida now carries out between a fifth and a third of all attacks in Iraq.
But they say that it is necessary for the Sunni-based groups to ally with the Shia. "Even though that is not easy," says Zubeidy. "A great gap has opened up between Sunni and Shia under the occupation and al-Qaida has contributed to that - as have the US and Iran. Most of al-Qaida's members are Iraqis but its leaders are mostly foreigners. The Americans magnify their role, even though they are responsible for a minority of resistance operations - remember that the Americans brought al-Qaida to Iraq."
Meanwhile, Moqtada al-Sadr continues to reach out to the Sunni resistance in order to create a coalition that will render the occupation untenable:
Let's sit down for a moment and allow our heads to clear, shall we? While American citizens receive vague warnings about the possibility of domestic terror attacks perpetrated by a purportedly reinvigorated al-Qaeda, it turns out that indigenous Shia and Sunni resistance groups are already independently engaged in armed conflict with it! Furthermore, they are initiating dialogue about how they can work together to become even more effective in eradicating the al-Qaeda presence.
Nationalist Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's bid to unite Sunnis and Shiites on the basis of a common demand for withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces, reported last weekend by the Washington Post's Sudarsan Raghavan, seems likely to get a positive response from Sunni armed resistance.
An account given Pentagon officials by a military officer recently returned from Iraq suggests that Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province, who have generally reflected the views of the Sunni armed resistance there, are open to working with Sadr.
A commander of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, Abu Aja Naemi, confirmed to Raghavan that his organization had been in discussions with Sadr's representatives.
According to Raghavan's report on May 20, talks between Sadr's representatives and Sunni leaders, including leaders of Sunni armed resistance factions, first began in April.
Sadr's aides say he was encouraged to launch the new cross-sectarian initiative by the increasingly violent opposition from nationalist Sunni insurgents to the jihadists aligned with al Qaeda. One of his top aides, Ahmed Shaibani, recalled that the George W. Bush administration was arguing that a timetable was unacceptable because of the danger of al Qaeda taking advantage of a withdrawal. Shaibani told Raghavan that sectarian peace could be advanced if both Sadr's Mahdi Army and Sunni insurgent groups could unite to weaken al Qaeda.
Indeed, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, the Shia and Sunni resistance are striking al-Qaeda in one of its strongholds that could faciliate a domestic terror attack:
No doubt, the leaders of the Shia and Sunni resistance will soon be receiving counterterrorism grants from the Department of Homeland Security. It will, however, be necessary for them to strictly account for the expenditures of all funds to ensure that the monies are not diverted to anti-occupation operations aimed at US forces. With some good legal and accounting advice, this should not be too difficult.
We assess that al-Qa’ida will continue to enhance its capabilities to attack the Homeland through greater cooperation with regional terrorist groups. Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland. In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.