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The Ba'athist insurgency in Iraq

By Bill King
web posted November 8, 2004

Many opponents of the war in Iraq in North America, particularly those on the left, dismiss the suggestion that the Iraqi "resistance" is made up of remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime, i.e. former armed forces, paramilitary -- such as the Fedayeen Saddam, intelligence apparatus, and Ba'ath Party militants. Instead, North American leftists usually use the vague and more positive sounding term "nationalist" to describe the non-Islamist component of the insurgency, with the aim of giving it more legitimacy thereby buttressing their arguments against US efforts in Iraq.

But in Europe (where the political dynamic is very different and where anti-Americanism is on the verge of becoming the official religion), as well as throughout the Middle East, opponents of the war are not as circumscribed when it comes to talking about the real nature of the Iraqi insurgents. The result is some often very informative and revealing items that are unfortunately only rarely translated into English.

A case in point is a recent article from the Jordanian newspaper Al Majd, which was translated into Spanish on the web site of the Spanish anti-war group CSCA (Committee of Solidarity with the Arab Cause). The article is an interview with a former general in the Iraqi army, under the pseudonym of "Abu Mutassim", who is involved in what he describes as the "military leadership" of the insurgency. It clearly lays out what should be a surprise to no one, namely that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who made up Saddam Hussein's army, police, and other repressive forces, as well as Ba'ath Party cadre, did not simply vanished into thin air, but rather that thousands of them are actively engaged in the Iraqi "resitance".

The most pertinent parts of the article, mainly direct quotes from "Abu Mutassim", are translated here:

The newspaper Al Majd has obtained an interview with an ex-general of the Iraqi Army, whom it refers to as Abu Mutassim, and who is identified as one of the main leaders of the resistance, linked to the Ba'ath Party. He says that they are very satisfied with what the resistance has accomplished, [and] that it has clearly become a popular phenomenon… "When speaking of the resistance it is necessary to do so in two terms: first, Iraqi. The resistance has or has had a presence in a great number of cities: Faluya, Samarra, Qaem, Baquba, Hawijah, Talafar, Heet, Ramadi, Rawa and other cities… The resistance also totally controls some areas in Baghdad and suburbs such as Yusufia, Latifiya, Abu Ghraib, etc., which demonstrates that the occupation and its agents [ ] are in a political impasse (...)"

"[The] military cooperation between the factions of the resistance is extensive and well organized. There is a unified military leadership that conducts operations in each city. What is happening in the provinces of Al Anbar, Diyala, Mosul, and Babylonia is a shining example of what I am saying. The military leadership is responsible for all the factions of the resistance and of its fighters, whether they are Ba'athist or Islamist, or other patriotic forces. I am not disclosing any secrets when I say that there is a unified military leadership, which supervises the resistance in all Iraq. This leadership includes qualified people from the military and intelligence, as well as a representative of the Ba'ath Party, who is in charge of linking the military aspect with the Political Directorate (...)"

"On the kidnappings: the resistance has a clear agenda in this area, our demands are political and the military, and all factions confine spies and collaborator. We have in this field a clear agenda. We not undertake any action unless we have exact information, thus reducing errors to a minimum, and if we discover that they have captured a wrong person, we will release them immediately (...)"

"(...) [The] combatants of the resistance are the masters of the Iraqi street. I do not exaggerate when I say that the soldiers of occupation can barely leave their fortified positions. And the same applies to the traitors who came with them. The struggle can last many years, but the occupation will not last as long (...) [The] political program is not our business, but that of the political branch of the resistance, that is to say, the leadership of the Ba'ath Party; they have a clear political program and that covers all our actions ".

[Source: Al Majd, translated by Al Moharer. Elaboration: CSCAweb ]

There is clearly a certain amount of exaggeration and braggadocio in "Abu Mutassim's" comments, which is itself typical of Ba'athist-Saddamite discourse. In particular, it is doubtful just how much "leadership" or control the Ba'ath Party has over the Islamist and al-Qaida elements in Iraq. But it's also clear that those North American anti-war activists who maintain that only innocent and patriotic "nationalists", together with the Islamists, are involved in the insurgency are either poorly informed or are consciously trying to conceal the true nature of the insurgents in order to push their agenda of defeating the struggle for democracy in Iraq.

Bill King is a freelance writer in Surrey, BC.

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