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“The Iraqi Resistance is the legitimate and sole representative of Iraq”
8 October 2007
“The Iraqi Resistance has no relation with Al-Qaeda, which has its own vision, strategy, purposes and resources. One part of the assassinations that are now taking place in Iraq are executed by Al-Qaeda and another part by the militias and death squads linked to the political parties [invested in the US-imposed political process and] related to the occupation, but which also count on the assistance of Iran through its intervention in Iraq. […] The objective of the Iraqi Resistance is to achieve a total liberation. When the occupiers leave Iraq we will establish a national democratic, multiparty system, based on free elections; a regime in which all Iraqis that believe in collective rights will participate.”
Between 7 and 16 October 2007, Abu Muhammad, spokesman for the popular Iraqi nationalist resistance, visited Madrid on the invitation of the Spanish Campaign Against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI). The interview below was performed by CEOSI during that week.
From the end of 2006, Abu Muhammad has made regular appearances in the Arab media, and also at selected moments in the US and British media, as the spokesman both for the Arab Socialist Baath Party and the Nationalist and Islamic Patriotic Front of Iraq — a platform of anti-occupation organisations which includes diverse communist currents and the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA) led by Abdel Jabar Al-Kubaysi, who has visited Spain on several occasions, along with other friends in struggle from the IPA.
Following its constitution in October (see below), Abu Muhammad is also spokesman for the coalition of armed groups, the High Command of Combat and Liberation of Iraq.
For the first time since the April 2003, Abu Muhammad has emerged as a publicly accredited reference of a new Iraqi Baathism, committed with other currents of the civil, political and military resistance to the liberation of Iraq from occupation and to the democratic, unified, social reconstruction of Iraq on a basis that is neither sectarian nor confessional.
Abu Muhammad represents the internal renewal of the Iraqi Baath Party, conveying a Baathism explicitly committed to plurality and dialogue with all internal factions that reject the US-led occupation, all of which are called upon to participate in the democratic reconstruction of Iraq’s institutions, outside the schemes of the occupiers and regional regimes that pursue the social rupture and territorial fragmentation of Iraq.
“The one-party [system] is now in the past in our culture; now we are part of the Iraqi patriotic movement. […] Alter its liberation, the Iraqi State will be a national, democratic and pluralist state, guaranteeing human rights and freedoms,” Abu Muhammad concluded in an interview with Al-Jazeera on 18 March 2007.
Abu Muhammad meanwhile vindicates the maintenance of the Iraqi state’s tradition of public and social management of Iraq’s national resources, concretely before the foreseen privatisation of Iraqi oil and key material riches.
Facing Iraq’s US-promoted sectarian forces, Abu Muhammad represents the nationalist and patriotic Iraqi Resistance, in his characterization, secular and non-sectarian, spelling out its clear condemnation of the actions of Al-Qaeda in Iraq — “Another product of the occupation,” he declares — both in their methods of indiscriminate terrorism against civilians and select confessional communities, and for their extreme and reactionary position on social issues, culminating in the proclamation of the Islamic State of Iraq, ethnic cleansing and aggression against the Sunni community, answered on the territory of Iraq by Iraqi armed resistance groups.
Abu Muhammad’s visit to Spain came at a time of intense interest: the effective collapse of the occupation regime, escalating confrontation between the Iraqi Resistance and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and initiatives aimed at unifying the Iraqi Resistance. Since the end of summer 2007, armed Islamist groups not linked to Al-Qaeda and nationalists have coordinated on several fronts, a step that anticipates the formation of a single military command to lead an advanced struggle against the forces of occupation and their collaborators. In its statement of 30 September 2007 , the Iraqi Baath Party called for the unification of resistant groups along non-confessional, anti-sectarian lines, as well as condemning the indiscriminate attacks of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and on Tuesday 2 October, Al-Basrah.net reported the unification of 22 groups of the nationalist current in Iraq (including in the Kurdish areas and southern Iraq), named the High Command of Combat and Liberation of Iraq.
Abu Muhammad represents a key sector in the fight to end the occupation and for the survival of a unified Iraq for all its men, women and children. In this regard, and taking advantage of his visit to Spain, CEOSI has sought to support a dialogue that is inevitable — and that patriotic Iraqis attempt recurrently to establish — in any process of ending the suffering of the Iraqi people, the ultimate destruction of their country, and in grounding the reconstruction of a sovereign and democratic Iraq. His visit proved a unique opportunity to establish direct dialogue with a partner who is an accredited interlocutor of the Iraqi Resistance, non-sectarian, patriotic and democratic. His relation to the interior of Iraq is direct, and for that, he is the highest-level interlocutor CEOSI has welcomed and invited to Spain.
In Madrid, Abu Muhammad held meetings with institutional and political groups in parliament. It was his first visit to Europe, a gesture of appreciation for the Spanish government’s decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq in 2004 and encouraging of the role of Spain in resolving the crisis of occupation of his country. During his stay in Madrid, Abu Muhammad held a briefing assembly with CEOSI on 12 October and bilateral meetings with delegates from US and European organizations. Also, Abu Muhammad gave interviews to selected media outlets: La Vanguardia, Cadena SER, Channel Four / CNN+, the Latin American channel Telesur and Diagonal, in addition to the British newspaper The Guardian. [CEOSI]
CEOSI (Q): You are the spokesman both for the Arab Socialist Baath Party and the Nationalist and Islamic Patriotic Front and its newly established unified military command. What has changed in the Baath Party following the invasion of Iraq and the extrajudicial execution of President Saddam Hussein?
Abu Muhammad (A): The Iraqi Baath Party was created more than 60 years ago. It is a patriotic party, nationalist and socialist; a party that seeks to build an independent, developed and civilized state that enjoys the best international relations without exception. The Baath is a patriotic party that believes in political work and freedoms, as confirmed by its founding ideology, its status and mode of operation. But the difficult circumstances, the serious challenges and wars to which Iraq was subject over the past 35 years, made the orientation of the regime centralist, making it hard at times to control the situation.
After the invasion of Iraq, the Baath Party went from being a ruling party to a party in resistance. Thanks to its great experience, and its militant, military and civilian experts, which were incorporated into all factions of the patriotic resistance, both Islamic and nationalist, it began by directing some of the emerging resistance organizations, and guiding others, as well as coordinating with other groups. Thus, the role of the Baath in the resistance proved to be crucial.
The most important changes in the Baath have to do with its politics, not its ideology, which is comprehensive and mature. The Baath is considered an integral part of the Iraqi national movement, part of the popular political movement in the country and an essential part of the Iraqi Resistance. The idea of a single party and singular leadership — of a centralist regime — has disappeared from the thinking of the party and its current policy. Therefore, the Baath looks to the future of the Iraqi state — after the departure of the occupiers — as a pluralistic and democratic state that respects human rights and freedoms; a secular and civic state that has the best relations with every country in the world, including the United States were its government to recognize the rights of Iraq as [expressed] in the programme for liberation and independence [of the Iraqi resistance] .
As Baathists, our efforts in the past two or three years have been oriented, on the ground, towards convergence in policy with other currents involved in the struggle against the occupation.
Q: What type of relation is there between the Baath Party and other currents of the resistance?
A: The Baath Party forms part of the National and Islamic Patriotic Front, which is a political structure that was created in the autumn of 2005 . Recently, a new military front was born, the High Command of Combat and Liberation of Iraq, lead by resistance companion Izzat Ibrahim Ad-Duri, which includes 22 patriotic, nationalist and moderate (not Salafists) and Baathist groups . It is proper to say that the majority of the members of this front are Baathist; it includes forces from different independent tendencies; nationalists or patriotic Islamists that believe in the liberation of Iraq and the unity of Iraq .
Clearly, we are in a process of convergence of the civil, political and military resistance against the occupation and the political process imposed by the occupiers, and we hope to take new steps in the coming months. A call for a meeting (in Syria) in July had to be cancelled for reason of the international situation.
Q: Does the Iraqi Resistance include factions of Al-Qaeda? Do you consider Al-Qaeda in Iraq as a resistance organization?
A: No, absolutely not. Al-Qaeda is totally separate from the Baath Party and from the patriotic Iraqi Resistance in all its formations. Al-Qaeda did not exist in Iraq before the occupation, which means, that the occupation is responsible for the emergence of the organization, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. For a fact we can say that Al-Qaeda is a creation of the United States.
The Iraqi Resistance has no relation with Al-Qaeda, which has its own vision, strategy, purposes and resources. It has perpetrated international attacks — Spanish society also was struck hard by the terrorist operations perpetrated by Al-Qaeda or its allies and partisans [in Madrid, 11 March 2004]. One part of the assassinations that are now taking place in Iraq are executed by Al-Qaeda and another part by the militias and death squads linked to the political parties [invested in the US-imposed political process and] related to the occupation, but which also count on the assistance of Iran through its intervention in Iraq.
Therefore, there is a difference between the operations of Al-Qaeda and the national popular Iraqi Resistance, whose objective is to protect the Iraqis and give them back their dignity and independence, and restore the sovereignty of their country. The objective of the Iraqi Resistance is to achieve a total liberation. The liberation that the Baath Party and all the patriotic forces of the resistance defend is liberation from the yoke of occupation, which implies the liberation of all Iraq from all the negative consequences of the occupation. We don’t fight the Americans for being Americans, like Al-Qaeda does, but because we reject their presence in our country. When the occupiers leave Iraq we will establish a national democratic, multiparty system, based on free elections; a regime in which all Iraqis that believe in collective rights will participate. And we will have normal and positive relations with all countries of the world, including the US.
Q: According to some media and US military commanders in Iraq, tribal leaders are fighting against Al-Qaeda in cooperation with the Americans. Do you agree with this approach?
A: First of all, when tribes fight against this terrorist organization, they do not do it for the sake of the Americans, or to defend them, but because the Iraqis reject [religious and social] extremism and terrorism . These tribes are fighting against Al-Qaeda because they believe in patriotic thought, nationalist and humanist, and in [civil] tolerance.
We believe Al-Qaeda is a result of the occupation, alien to the nature of Iraqi society, which is tolerant and open. If the United States and its allies get out of Iraq, Al-Qaeda will disappear from Iraq. The occupation is responsible for the emergence of Al-Qaeda in our country. The American occupation, in order to justify its long-term presence in Iraq, is trying to influence some people and say that the root of the problem is Al-Qaeda. In fact, the origin of the problem is not Al-Qaeda (and I am not defending it, because we are against this terrorist organization), but rather the occupation itself: if the occupation leaves, the terrorist operations of Al-Qaeda will end, and if they continue, the nationalist forces will expel Al-Qaeda from the country.
Q: Do you consider the current of Moqtada Al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army a resistance force?
A: Like Al-Qaeda, categorically not. Despite initial positions of collaboration with the resistance (including the participation of resistance brigades in the fighting in Najaf [against the Americans in 2005]), the current of Moqtada Al-Sadr became involved, for their own interests, in the political process sponsored by the occupiers, and the Mahdi Army militia implicated in death squads and the escalation of sectarian [violence]. (They are responsible, for example, for the deaths of 5,000 Baathists in southern Iraq, among other crimes).
Al-Sadr is a young religious man who inherited national prestige from his father, but who has no political coherence. He is a useful tool for Iran in Iraq.
The role of Iran
Q: Is there a civil war between the Sunnis and the Shias?
A: Iraq is not in a state of civil war at the social level, but a political confrontation at various levels and among certain players in their attempt to dominate our country . This conflict is expressed as sectarian fighting between Al-Qaeda and [Shia] militias, but equally there are confrontations between Shia groups [for control of the south of the country], or between Sunni groups involved in or opposed to the political process.
Q: What is the role of Iran in this scene?
A: The Iranian role in Iraq is negative. Iran has taken advantage of the circumstances existing in our country and the fact that Iraqis were involved in their struggle against the occupation to try, through allied [Iraqi] parties (some with Iranian leaders), to intervene in the affairs of Iraq.
[From the beginning of the invasion] Iran has intervened abusively in Iraq through security and intelligence activities, providing arms [to the militias of sectarian Shias], through death squads or [directly] through Iranians associated with the militias of the Shia parties, such as Al-Dawa Party [of Prime Minister Al-Maliki], the Badr Brigades [of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq — SCIRI] or the Mahdi Army [of Moqtada Al-Sadr], among others. Iran has succeeded in creating an area of influence [in the centre and south of the country ] because one of its goals is to have an area under its power in Iraq and throughout the Arab region, mainly in the Gulf countries.
Moreover, Iran has benefited from the American presence to put pressure on Washington to get returns on its political and military nuclear programme . But this second objective is not more important than the first one mentioned, to create a zone of influence in Iraq. The two converge.
Q: How is Iran benefiting from the sectarian crisis of Iraq?
A: Iran would benefit greatly from a sectarian schism [in Iraq between Shias and Sunnis]. This is why it encouraged the Shia sectarian parties, militarily and economically, to create and develop militias and death squads. It has channelled millions of dollars and arms for that purpose. These parties and militias went in to kill Iraqis of the other confession: if your identity indicates that you are from another branch of Islam you will be murdered, by the mere fact of being from another confession they would imprison many individuals and after two or three days they would be killed brutally, their bodies thrown into the street.
Moreover, [the intelligence service of] Iran supports Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which perpetrates indiscriminate attacks in the streets, in markets and schools … also killing thousands of innocent Iraqis [Shias and other faiths] to stoke sectarian strife and thus say that the Sunnis kill the Shias, and vice versa.
The main strategic objective of Iran is political; it is neither popular nor social — it is to create a chasm between the Sunnis and Shias, to divide Iraq. Iran seeks to control the region that extends from the centre-south of Iraq, and enters to manipulate the country thanks to its partners. This coincides with the recent proposal of the United States Congress to divide our country.
The proposal of the resistance
Q: What are the demands of the resistance? Are you ready to negotiate with the United States?
A: We have reiterated that if the United States wants to negotiate with the Iraqi Resistance it must first recognize the rights of Iraq. These rights are not the rights of the Baath Party or of certain people; they are the rights of Iraq and its future generations. The US must recognize that the Iraqi national resistance, with all its formations, both armed and political, is the sole and legitimate representative of the Iraqi people. Taking into account that in Iraq there is now a political process [established by the occupiers], I would say that those who are involved in the current occupation regime still have a chance [to abandon it] and must incorporate themselves into the resistant political forces that reject the occupation; they must stop the political process and become part of this resistance to be a legitimate representative of the Iraqi people. The fact that the Iraqi Resistance is the legitimate representative of Iraq, and not the Iraqi parties associated with the occupiers, is confirmed by the latest opinion poll conducted throughout Iraq by CNN and the USA Today magazine. The survey shows that eight out of 10 Iraqis support the Iraqi Resistance, i.e. that 80 per cent of Iraqis support the [armed] struggle against occupation . It is proof that the Iraqi Resistance is the sole and legitimate representative of Iraq.
The second condition [to opening negotiations with the United States] in its complete and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq, as stipulated by international law: the invaders must withdraw from the area they occupy. The third condition: the annulment of all laws enacted under occupation, such as the DeBaathification law, the dissolution of the Iraqi army and the former security forces, or the hydrocarbon law , as well as laws that deal with the country’s economic situation under American domination, and so on. In short, the entire political process established under occupation must be annulled because it is illegal, as well as the international provisions that sought to justify it.
Our fourth condition has to do with compensations and reparations for Iraqis who died as a result of the wars, invasion and the embargo [imposed on Iraq between 1990 and 2003] grounded in false allegations and lies that the Americans themselves have acknowledged. The Americans must pay compensation for the 1,500,000 Iraqis that died as a result of the embargo and the 1,000,000 Iraqis that have died since the start of the occupation . We’re talking about 2,500,000 Iraqis killed, not counting the number of injured and handicapped, and the physical destruction caused.
Finally, the United States must release all prisoners  and put an end to all assaults, arrests and persecution of innocent Iraqis, and the rape and violation of women and children.
If the Americans accept these rights, then we are ready to have a dialogue with them — not to discuss [these rights] but to implement them, without making concessions. If the Americans do not recognize these rights, I reiterate to the international community in general and to American society in particular that the Iraqi Resistance will continue fighting, generation after generation, whatever the sacrifices, to totally liberate Iraq from the occupation and its collaborators, sectarianism and terrorism.
Q: Recently, you have denied what former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said; that there are contacts between the US and the resistance you represent.
A: Yes, it is untrue. We are aware of attempts by the Americans to open channels of communication with the Iraqi Resistance, but there has been no dialogue whatsoever. There won’t be any, as I said, until US recognizes the legitimate rights of Iraq that I have just enumerated.
The example of Basra
Q: Can Basra be an example? After the partial withdrawal of British troops, pro-Iranian militia and the security forces of the present government fight for control of the city.
A: In principal we do not believe in partial solutions or in the partial withdrawal [of occupation troops from Iraq]: absolutely not accepted. Neither do we accept a partial solution, nor the presence of military bases in Iraq . We want the invaders, the Americans, the British and their allies, as well as all the elements associated with them, to announce their complete and unconditional withdrawal from Iraq.
But as a first step, if the Americans or the British think to withdraw from Iraqi cities [to their barracks], to end punitive operations on the Iraqi population — the massacres and the daily tension — and in order not to hinder their normal lives, it can be positive. However, after this confidence-building measure, they should withdraw unconditionally from across all of Iraq, and in the shortest possible time. This is possible if the Americans recognize the rights of Iraqis mentioned earlier and sit at the negotiating table with the Iraqi Resistance in order to develop a timetable accepted by all for their withdrawal from the country.
In addition, the manoeuvres — the withdrawal of forces here to deploy them there — are hindrance tactics that we reject and that are not going to stop the growing operations of the Iraqi Resistance.
Occupiers and mercenaries
Q: What is the role of mercenaries in Iraq?
A: When American army commanders assert that the number of its forces [in Iraq] is 160,000 soldiers, they are telling the world and the societies of America and Europe one of their biggest lies.
The number of mercenaries operating within the private security company framework and fighting alongside American forces, killing Iraqis without any possibility of prosecution, is estimated at more than 180,000, of whom up to 60,000 could be foreigners and the rest Iraqis hired [by these companies] . As reported, [foreign mercenaries] gain a lot of money — sometimes their salaries exceed $30,000 dollars a month, a salary that exceeds that of the American secretary of defense. Mercenaries have committed crimes against the people; they have killed innocent Iraqis just because they suspect that there are fighters hiding in some area. They deploy their aircraft, armoured vehicles and heavy weapons. Proof of that is what happened in Nusur Square in Baghdad [in the neighbourhood of Al-Mansur, September 2007], in which 24 Iraqis were killed just because they were on the street when convoy of [Blackwater] mercenaries passed by. According to diverse sources, mercenaries from all over the world are fighting with the United States Army and Marines. A good part of the participants in the second battle of Fallujah [November 2005] were mercenaries.
Q: How many operations does the resistance carry out daily?
A: According to American commanders — who acknowledged this themselves two weeks ago — the resistance carries out around 177 daily operations. In reality, the figure is much higher: together, the various resistance formations accomplish about 300 military operations daily against the American forces, and their international and domestic allies. The attacks that target civilians are perpetrated by the occupation, mercenaries, by Al-Qaeda and by the militias and death squads supported by the United States and Iran.
Q: Does the resistance help American soldiers that want to abandon their posts?
A: American soldiers serving in Iraq suffer from grave deception; we are convinced of that. Bush has humiliated the United States in Iraq, has humiliated the people and the American army. Bush has damaged the image of the American people in the world, in the Arab region, and in Iraq. Indeed, many American soldiers are trying to flee the country and it is true that members of the Iraqi Resistance facilitate their flight .
We appeal to all American soldiers to flee Iraq before it is too late; that will save their lives, because the Iraqi Resistance is not going to stop until it expels the last of them from Iraqi territory.
Q: Where do these soldiers go?
A: Normally they flee through the north [of Iraq] through Turkey to Europe. And many of the soldiers on leave in the US are trying not to go back to Iraq despite the incentives, threats and pressure exerted on them. Therefore, President Bush and the previous and current secretary of defense decided that American military units that complete their missions in Iraq should remain in the country, fearing that their members do not come back.
The dangers of civil war
Q: In the event that American troops withdraw from Iraq, would there be a civil war in the country?
A: Can there be any further worsening of the situation in Iraq from what is happening now in the country with the presence of the Americans? As I said, there are 160,000 American soldiers and at least 180,000 mercenaries; in total 340,000 troops. The overall number of the so-called Iraqi army and police, according to the occupiers, reaches to half a million, raising the figure to 840,000 soldiers in total. In addition, we have the allied forces, including the British. Therefore, there are in Iraq more than one million armed men, but the security situation is deteriorating.
The killing continues and the violence increases. The reason is the presence of the Americans, mercenaries, militias and policemen who formed [mafia-like] bands and death squads who murder Iraqis in prisons so ruthlessly, through beheadings, for example, among other methods. This did not happen in the darkest days of Iraq. The occupation of Iraq is what has caused this chaos, sectarian strife, and terrorism. And, in spite of this, [the Americans] are still saying they have come to Iraq to bring security. The Americans are responsible for the deterioration of the illegitimate [security] forces [they] built on a sectarian basis. We are confident that following the departure of Americans from Iraq many of the structures they established will be defeated and destroyed, if they do not collapse before then.
The national Iraqi Resistance, with all its factions and its members, is on the increase and has the potential and means to control Iraq and the security situation in short order after the occupation.
Q: Why did you choose Spain as your first destination in Europe and outside the Middle East?
A: I visited Madrid by invitation of the brothers and sisters of the Spanish Campaign Against Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq, which prior to the occupation — during the period of [UN Security Council imposed] sanctions — continued solidarity activities with Iraq in the framework of the international campaign of denunciation of the embargo. After that, this campaign continues to struggle against the occupation and supports the Iraqi people. Therefore, I came here to meet with activists and Spanish friends, and others of other countries, in order to clarify our vision on how we will free ourselves from the occupation, and how to help the Iraqi people from a political and human perspective.
Moreover, this invitation is not alien to the majority position of Spanish society and its humane stance against the war and the occupation. My visit to Spain is an appreciation for the Spanish decision [in 2004] to withdraw its forces from Iraq, a courageous decision taken by the government and endorsed by parliament and society. This is a matter of gratitude for the Iraqi people, because this measure indicates that the country as a whole, its society and its institutions, concluded that the occupation was a mistake and a crime, and that the war launched against Iraq had no basis and was illegitimate; an invasion whose sole aim was to destroy this important country, both regionally and internationally.
We hope that
Spain plays a renewed role in supporting the Iraqi people in their
effort to liberate themselves from the occupation and escape the
destruction it brings.
1. See: “With
the US congress insisting to divide Iraq, there is no more room today
for discussion or debate; the decisive hour has come and every one
should choose his real trench […] US and Iranian insistence on fuelling
and heightening sectarian (fitna) ill feeling in Iraq and the
systematic destruction of every normal human life in our homeland were
interconnected steps designed to pave the way for the right environment
to divide Iraq
Therefore, the time for talk is over! What is requested from all Iraqi
Resistance factions and all Iraqi patriotic forces should be the
Spanish Campaign Against the Occupation and for the Sovereignty of Iraq (CEOSI)
The Political Program of the Baath and its National Resistance: (The
Program of Liberation and Independence).