Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The IAI, a Ba'athist Poll, and Ali al-Adhadh RIP

I continue to believe that it is very bizarre for the United States government to hold talks with the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) even after all the recent communiqués from this terrorist group. These talks are allegedly taking place in Amman under the auspices of the U.S. embassy there and the Jordanian Intelligence Service.

Not only has the IAI claimed to have killed 668 American soldiers in Iraq over the last year but they have also issued a “press release” on November 10 stating that they conducted three attacks on American military targets in reprisal to the Israeli attack on Beit Hanoun in the West Bank. Hello? American soldiers are being killed in lieu of Israeli one? Is this a precedent?

The statement, attributed to the 'Military Command' of the IAI, reads: “We have often said that the battle of Iraq and [the battle of] Palestine are one…The Zionist shells that fall on our kin in Palestine are the same as the ones that fall on our kin in the land of Mesopotamia and the tears that runs in the eyes of the [mothers who have lost their children] in Palestine runs too on the cheeks of our mothers in Iraq.” The statement justifies the attacks on American soldiers by blaming the ‘Christians’ for creating Israel in the first place: “…the worshipers of the Cross (‘Christians’) that planted the rapist entity in the land of the [Prophet’s ascent].”

Three videos are released under the title “Vengeance for Our Brothers in Beit Hanoun.” The first video consists of 57 seconds of footage showing projectiles being fired from a variety of locations against presumed American bases. The second video (14 seconds) shows a Humvee being hit by a projectile, and the third segment (13 seconds) depicts a personnel carrier being hit by an IED.

Today, the IAI released its reaction to the “arrest warrant” against Sheikh Harith Al-Dhari, head of the Muslim Clerics Association that fronts for Sunni salafists in Iraq. The release was put up on the IAI’s official website: www.iaisite.info (BTW, why is this website still up? Isn’t the CIA/NSA supposed to be shutting down these propaganda tools, especially if they tout the murder of Americans?)

Here are some segments from the statement:

“The yellow Safavid winds from the mahkooma [this is a play on the word ‘hukooma’ (government) that is distorted to mean ‘enslaved’) of al-Maliki is spreading its poisons…by issuing its vile decision to arrest his eminency Sheikh Doctor Harith al-Dhari.”

“The goal of this decision is to malign the scholars and the sheikhs and every symbol of the symbols of the Sunnis…And it is an offense to every Arab and every honorable man on the part of the Safavids and their acolytes.”

“This confirms what we have always repeated that waging jihad against these Safavids is the only solution and especially the questionable bodies represented by servile mahkooma and whoever aids it…And we believe that this warrant was devised in a Safavid and sectarian manner ever since [Sheikh Dhari] demonstrated that those who kill Sunnis are the milishiyat ghadr (the ‘militias of treachery’ another word play on the Badr Brigades) and the jaish addajjal (the ‘Army of the Dajjal’ referencing the Mahdi Army)…”

The IAI calls for “shutting the door of what is called national reconciliation and we warn any honorable Iraqi against sitting at the table of treason under the guise of the so-called national interest…And that all mujaheddin must continue to hit at this sectarian and treasonous government.”

The Safavids ruled Iran many centuries ago, and fought over territory with, and fomented rebellions against, the Ottomans. One piece of real estate that went back and forth is Iraq. The Ottomans outlasted the Safavids by a couple of centuries, but I assure you that they are all very dead. The IAI are employing talking points that went stale several centuries ago. The Ba’athists delved even deeper to Iran’s pre-Islamic past to highlight the latter's alleged designs on Iraq’s territorial integrity. So, what does that have to do with the Americans, right?

But anyway, by marking out Harith al-Dhari for arrest, the Iraqi government had inadvertently turned him into the foremost post-Saddam “symbol” and hero of the Sunnis. And when US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s minions in the Maliki government—Deputy PM Barham Salih for one—began to backtrack on the warrant by saying that al-Dhari was only wanted for questioning, then the initiative was lost and the government appeared to have lost face in the stand-off with al-Dhari, who was very vocal in defying the government’s authority from the distant safety of Amman.

This whole affair came as a welcome relief to the Sunnis political class who scrambled to coalesce around al-Dhari’s leadership, especially now that Saddam is inching towards oblivion.

Moreover, by putting two and two together, one can assume that al-Dhari is in Amman as part of the ongoing negotiations between the Americans and the Islamic Army of Iraq. So it would seem that some people back in Baghdad intended to sink those negotiations by issuing the arrest warrant, and then there are those, such as the State Department and the CIA, who moved quickly to limit the damage and force the Maliki government to eat its words and dilute the warrant to a summons for questioning.

I wonder if dismantling Israel as an “entity” is on the negotiating agenda between the Americans and the IAI. Shouldn't Democratic Congressman (now Chairman!) Tom Lantos be asking these questions?

* * *

In other news, the Ba’athists seem to be in a state of total denial over Saddam’s fate. Check out the online poll being conducted by www.albasrah.net (one of the most important propaganda tools of the Ba’athists; the English parts are downright timid compared to what gets said in Arabic—again, why is this site still up?):

“How will [our] captive president Saddam Hussein be liberated?

4,264 respondents (46.8%) answered “through [the actions] of the mujaheddin
1,899 respondents (20.8%) answered “through negotiations between the insurgents and the [American] occupation”
2,954 respondents (32.4%) answered “through a popular uprising”

Total number of participants as of November 18, 2006: 9,117

* * *

Also today, insurgents killed a prominent member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, Dr. Ali al-Adhadh by intercepting his vehicle in the Yarmouk neighborhood of Baghdad and shooting him. His pregnant wife also died in the attack. al-Adhadh was a Geneva-based physicist who often represented SCIRI as an envoy to Europe and the United Nations. He was traveling without a security detail. I wonder how those who disdain “the exiles” would deal with this tragedy: here was an able man who left Switzerland in order to serve his country, and he died for it at the hands of terrorists. He chose to continue living outside the Green Zone, and traveled without pick-up loads of Badr Brigade militiamen. Too often, those who write about Iraq reduce the leaders of this new enterprise to nefarious caricatures. al-Adhadh is inconvenient because he doesn’t fit their prejudices—in fact, many of our patriots don’t. May he and his wife rest in peace.

* * *

One more thing, Iraq has earmarked 11-13 billion dollars over the next few years to build a massive port in Basra. I don’t know the details of the plan, but it sound like they are finally going to act on a proposal to build a giant concrete and steel pier out into Iraqi territorial waters. If done right, and in conjunction with a Basra Free Zone, this new port would rival Dubai’s. I am sure the Aal-Maktoums (princely rulers of Dubai) are not happy over this news. But they must have been expecting it for a while, since they seem to have given aid and comfort to many forces that sought to damage the new Iraq.


Blogger HARBOOK said...

Your voice is interesting. In it I find pieces of a democratic Iraq, the truth in what may have been dear pundit. But now, as you deride each faction in equal measure, I remind myself that your words would find nary a home in Baghdad. This external view has little internal regard. The facts may be from inside the prison, but the analysis is myopic. I hope you interpret these words as both a dose of realism and of praise.

n.b. look into the 2 billion dollar port built in Vietnam prior to pullout

9:17 PM, November 18, 2006

Blogger Nibras Kazimi نبراس الكاظمي said...

Hi harbook,

I find the hyperbolic terms used to describe the situation in Iraq as unrealistic. They smack of an agenda. Things are bad, but not that bad. People believe what they want to believe, and that certainly may apply to me as you suggest, but it also applies to those who are falling over themselves in describing Iraq as a "catastrophe."

Furthermore, I don't think comparisons to the situation in Vietnam have been very successful for those who think that Iraq is failing. The situation is very, very different. At least one difference is the American tolerance for casualties--much thinner this time around.

The port is being paid for by Iraqi oil funds. That should be kept in mind too.

Have a nice day,


12:59 PM, November 19, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is shameful that the Bush administration is negotiating with boastful terrorists. Next up the red carpet for Asad and Ahmadinejad and the keys to the Lincoln bedroom.

How did we lose our way?

3:42 PM, November 19, 2006

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