THE ROVING EYE It's the resistance, stupid By Pepe Escobar
The ultimate nightmare for White House/Pentagon designs on Middle East energy
resources is not Iran after all: it's a unified Iraqi resistance, comprising
not only Sunnis but also Shi'ites.
"It's the resistance, stupid" - along with "it's the oil, stupid". The intimate
connection means there's no way for Washington to control Iraq's oil without
protecting it with a string of sprawling
The ultimate, unspoken taboo of the Iraq tragedy is that the US will never
leave Iraq, unless, of course, it is kicked out. And that's exactly what the
makings of a unified Sunni-Shi'ite resistance is set to accomplish.
Papa's got a brand new bag
At this critical juncture, it's as if the overwhelming majority of Sunnis and
Shi'ites are uttering a collective cry of "we're mad as hell, and we won't take
it anymore". The US Senate "suggests" that the solution is to break up the
country. Blackwater and assorted mercenaries kill Iraqi civilians with
impunity. Iraqi oil is being privatized via shady deals - like Hunt Oil with
the Kurdistan regional government; Ray Hunt is a close pal of George W Bush.
Political deals in the Green Zone are just a detail in the big picture. On the
surface the new configuration spells that the US-supported Shi'ite/Kurdish
coalition in power is now challenged by an Iraqi nationalist bloc. This new
bloc groups the Sadrists, the (Shi'ite) Fadhila party, all Sunni parties, the
partisans of former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, and the partisans of
former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. This bloc might even summon enough
votes to dethrone the current, wobbly Maliki government.
But what's more important is that a true Iraqi national pact is in the making -
coordinated by VicePresident Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, and blessed by Grand
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani himself. The key points of this pact are, no more
sectarianism (thus undermining US strategy of divide and rule); no foreign
interference (thus no following of US, Iran, or Saudi agendas); no support for
al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers; and the right to armed resistance
against the occupation.
Last Friday Grand Ayatollah Sistani finally confronted the occupation in no
uncertain terms. Via Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala'i, his representative in the holy
city of Karbala, Sistani called for the Iraqi parliament to rein in Blackwater
et al, and most of all the "occupation forces". He has never spoken out in such
blunt language before.
For his part Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi
Council (SIIC), one of the two key, US-supported Shi'ite parties in government,
is back in Baghdad after four months of chemotherapy in Tehran. But it's his
son, the affable Ammar al-Hakim - who was the acting SIIC leader while his
father was away - who's been stealing the limelight, promising that the party
will do everything in its power to prevent those US super-bases being set up in
Iraq. Up to now SIIC's official position has been to support the US military
Ammar al-Hakim even went to Ramadi on Sunday to talk to Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha,
brother of the late Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, the former leader of the tribal
coalition Anbar Awakening Council who was killed by a bomb last month. It was
the first time since the invasion and occupation that a SIIC leader went to
hardcore Sunni Anbar province. Ammar al-Hakim glowingly described the dead
sheikh as "a national hero".
Most interesting is that Ammar al-Hakim was flanked by none other than feared
Hadi al-Amri, the leader of the Badr Brigades - the SIIC militia trained by
Iran's Revolutionary Guards, that in fact comprises the bulk of death squads
involved in the avalanche of sectarian killings.
Ammar al-Hakim may now be against permanent US bases and in favor of
Sunni-Shi'ite union. But although he now says he is against federalism, he's
actually in favor of "self-governing regions". That makes him for many Iraqis a
partisan of "soft partition" –- just like US congressmen. He qualifies the
central government in Baghdad as "tyrannical".
For their part the Sunni Arab sheikhs in Anbar are totally against what would
be a Western Iraq provincial government - possibly encompassing three,
majority-Sunni provinces, Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh.
If on one Shi'ite side we have Ammar al-Hakim from SIIC, on the other side -
literally - we have Muqtada al-Sadr. The same day Ammar al-Hakim was courting
the tribal sheikhs, pan-Islamic Muqtada was saying he was against any soft
partition or provincial governments. That's exactly what the sheikhs like to
So now, in theory, everyone in the Shi'ite galaxy seems to want (more or less)
the same thing. Tehran worked very hard to forge the recent peace pact between
the al-Hakim family and the Sadrists. SIIC and Sistani are now explicitly
saying that a unified Iraq must rein in the Pentagon and throw out the
occupation - that's what Muqtada had been saying all along. Tehran and
Tehran-supported SIIC must obviously have seen which way the Shi'ite street
wind was blowing, so now we have a new, anti-sectarian, anti-occupation SIIC.
But it will require concentric halos of forgiveness for Sunnis to forget that
the Badr Brigades have been responsible for a great deal of the ethnic
cleansing of Baghdad, have cynically collaborated in synch with both the US and
Iran, and have been focused on building a virtually independent "Shi'iteistan"
in southern Iraq.
'We want you out'
Away from the Anbar sheikhs, the Sunni front is also moving fast. Last week six
key, non-Salafi jihadist resistance groups, on a video on al-Jazeera,
officially announced their union under the "Political Council of the Iraqi
Resistance". They are the Islamic Army in Iraq, the al-Mujahideen Army, Ansar
al-Sunna, al-Fatiheen Army, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI),
and Iraqi Hamas.
The whole process has been on the move since early summer. The council has a
14-point program. The key point is of course guerrilla warfare as the means to
throw the occupiers out. A very important point - deriding the usual Pentagon
rhetoric - is that the council is fiercely against al-Qaeda in the Land of the
Two Rivers. The council also rejects all laws and the constitution passed under
the occupation; calls for an interim government; defends Iraq's territorial
integrity and rejects sectarianism.
It has been the Sunni Arab guerrillas that have virtually defeated the US in
Iraq. And what's even more remarkable is that, unlike Vietnam, this has not
been a unified resistance of Sunnis and Shi'ites.
A very important issue concerns a group that decided not to be part of the
council: the 1920 Revolution Brigades. The brigades are basically Iraqi
nationalist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. They totally reject any sort
of collaboration with the US.
But they may join the council in the near future. In a statement released in
early September, the brigades stressed what an overwhelming majority of Sunnis
agree on: "The democrats have a chance to end this conflict in a face-saving
solution for the US, by first declaring that they recognize the factions of the
Iraqi resistance as the representatives of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi
Republic. After which a negotiating team would be arranged to negotiate your
troop withdrawal, compensation for Iraq, and matters of future interest. It is
only through the Iraqi resistance that a solution may be born."
Or else, it's "variable, adaptable and reversible asymmetric warfare that will
set the standard for years and years to come".
And there's still more - the coordinated, "new Ba'ath" front: 22 resistance
groups, under the command of former Saddam star Izaat al-Douri, already
seriously talking with the Iyad Allawi bloc - thus part of the nationalist
front - and dictating their conditions, which include a resistance ceasefire in
exchange for a precise US timetable for withdrawal.
As far as all the key Sunni and Shi'ite factions in Iraq are concerned, they
all agree on the basics. Iraq won't be occupied. Iraq won't hold permanent US
military bases. Iraq won't give up its oil wealth. And Iraq won't be a
toothless pro-Israel puppet regime.
As far as a concerted Iraqi resistance is concerned, the only way is up. What a
historic irony that would be - before the Bush administration is finally
tempted to attack Iran, it may have to face a true benchmark imposed on it in