Iraq: Major resistance groups to form united front

Issue 

"Seven of the most important Sunni-led insurgent organisations fighting the US occupation in Iraq have agreed to form a public political alliance with the aim of preparing for negotiations in advance of an American withdrawal", the July 19 British Guardian reported it was told by leaders of the groups.

In their first interviews with the Western corporate media since the March 2003 US-British-Australian invasion of Iraq, Damascus-based spokespeople for three of the major Iraqi guerrilla organisations — the 1920 Revolution Brigades, Ansar al Sunna and Iraqi Hamas — told the Guardian that they planned to hold a congress to launch a united front, and that they would continue their national war of resistance until all foreign troops were withdrawn from Iraq.

They appealed to Arab governments and the UN to help them establish a permanent political presence outside Iraq.

The Guardian reported that the three groups, along with the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujaheddin Army and the Rashideen Army, would form a common political front under the name Political Office for the Iraqi Resistance.

Abu Ahmad, spokesperson for Iraqi Hamas said: "Peaceful resistance will not end the occupation. The US made clear it intended to stay for many decades. Now it is a common view in the resistance that they will start to withdraw within a year."

Leaders of the three groups told the Guardian that they had agreed on a joint political program, including a commitment to free Iraq from foreign troops, rejection of cooperation with parties involved in political institutions set up under the US-led occupation and a declaration refusing to accept all decisions made by the US-led occupation authority and Washington's puppet Iraqi government.

The aim of the united front, they told the Guardian, is to link up with other anti-occupation groups in Iraq to negotiate with representatives of the US government in anticipation of the beginning of a US troop withdrawal within the next year. They said the alliance's political program envisages a temporary "technocratic" government to run the country during a transition period until free elections can be held.

The Guardian reported, "all three Sunni-based resistance leaders say they are acutely aware of the threat posed by sectarian division to the future of Iraq and emphasised the importance of working with Shia groups — but rejected any link with the Shia militia and parties because of their participation in the political institutions set up by the Americans and their role in sectarian killings".

Suleiman Omary, head of the political department of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, told the Guardian: "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."

Omary insisted that the 1920 Revolution Brigades — which takes its name from the 1920 Iraqi uprising against the British colonialists — was not a Sunni Arab sectarian organisation. "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."

The three resistance group leaders also said they were opposed to cooperation with the Sunni fundamentalists of the group al Qaeda in Iraq.

Abd al Rahman al Zubeidy, political spokesperson for Ansar al Sunna, told the Guardian: "Resistance isn't just about killing Americans without aims or goals. Our people have come to hate al Qaeda, which gives the impression to the outside world that the resistance in Iraq are terrorists. We are against indiscriminate killing, fighting should be concentrated only on the enemy."

He said that "a great gap has opened up between Sunni and Shia under the occupation and al Qaeda has contributed to that ... Most of al Qaeda'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."

Zubeidy's last comment is supported by a tabulation compiled by the US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website, which showed that out of 357 attacks on US forces in March, the Islamic State of Iraq (al Qaeda in Iraq) claimed responsibility for 14, the Mujaheddin Army claimed responsibility for 132, the Islamic Army in Iraq for 80 and Ansar al Sunna for 44. The 1920 Revolution Brigades rarely makes public the number of operations it carries out.

The July 24 Time magazine reported that a conference organised by former officials of Iraq's ousted Baathist regime, "scheduled to take place Monday at the resort-like Sahara Hotel outside Damascus", was shut down by the Syrian government "within hours of the plenary session actually starting".

"However", the magazine reported, "high-level representatives of much of the Iraqi nationalist insurgency, remained at the venue informally negotiating and laying out a framework for what a post-US Iraq would look like". "Late Monday evening, dozens of conference attendees — a group drawn primarily from the ranks of former military officers, Baathist officials, and the Sunni insurgency — gathered for a catered dinner beside the hotel's outdoor pool ..."

"The American project in Iraq is now precarious", Nizar al Samarai, a conference spokesperson and former Baathist regime official, told Time. "We are sure of our victory now, so we decided to meet."

Time reported that attendees "said they remained committed to ending the US military presence 'by all means' and eliminating all vestiges of American influence, including the current political process.

"Once the majority of American troops have left, the alliance plans to throw out the constitution, dissolve the parliament, cancel all resolutions issued from the Bremer era on, and disband the existing security forces and US-trained Iraqi Army divisions.

"The US embassy in Baghdad, they said, would have to close — 'as in Saigon. With helicopters on the roof' said Samarai — until Washington recognized a new, resistance-led Iraqi governing council, and offered compensation to all individuals and organizations affected by the war."

Time reported that attendees of the postponed conference said a resistance-led Iraqi government would "immediately seek criminal charges and file civil suits against the US government and major American war supporters in international courts".

Meanwhile, US military spokespeople continue to claim to be making "progress" in their war against the Iraqi resistance fighters, despite the guerrillas having killed more US troops in the second quarter of this year — 331 — than in any other three-month period since the war began.

At a July 18 Pentagon media conference, US Army General Kevin Bergner, speaking via telelink from Baghdad's heavily fortified "green zone", said that the surge of US military operations in Iraq that has accompanied the surge in the size of the US occupation force to 160,000 troops (up from 138,000 in January) was "increasing pressure on extremists by disrupting their networks, denying safe havens and reducing operating bases".

Bergner repeated the claim made last month by General Joseph Fil, commander of the 40,000 US troops deployed in the Baghdad area, that US troops had "control" over half of the Iraqi capital's 474 neighbourhoods, up from 19% in April.

This "control" however does not extend to being able to stop Iraqi resistance fighters carrying out attacks on the green zone, the 10 square kilometre compound in the centre of Baghdad that houses the US occupation command HQ, the US embassy and the offices of Washington's puppet Iraqi government.

The UN reported in June that there had been at least 85 rocket and mortar strikes from surrounding neighbourhoods into the green zone since February. The July 11 Los Angeles Times reported that "at least 20 mortar rounds and Katyusha rockets struck the fortified 'green zone' on Tuesday [July 10] afternoon, killing a US service member and two other people ... About 18 people were injured, including two US military personnel and three US contract employees ...

"A US embassy spokesman said he could not confirm whether the embassy was a target, and he said the frequent attacks on the green zone are not a barometer of the security situation in the capital. 'There's fire into the green zone virtually every day, so I can't draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that', he said."

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.