Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Extraordinary interview with pro-resistance Iraqi Nationalist
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[left: Latuff cartoon]
“Political process to the benefit of al Qaeda”
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
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
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
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 façade 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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