Dr. Mohammad Bashir Al-Faidhi of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq – interviwed by Snorre Lindquist in April 2012.
I met Dr. Al-Faidhi when he, along with three other prominent Iraqis, was invited to a seminar on the Iraqi Resistance in Stockholm in April 2009. He is a spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI), which was created in April 2009 in order to unite the Iraqis in their effort to to liberate their country from the occupation. With its deep roots in the struggling civil society AMSI has an unique insight into the Iraqi Resistance.
For some years myself and some Swedish Iraqi colleagues have worked together to try and gain an understanding of the Iraqi resistance. Dr. Al-Fhaidi’s views correspond with what we learnt. I have found him to be a man of great integrity with a firm principled attitude to International Law, democracy and tolerance, an honest patriot in the best sense of the word, and as a scientist always careful with facts and logic, avoiding exaggerations. Moreover he exuded kindness and humble dignity, a true representative of an ancient and proud culture.
My meeting with Dr. Al-Faidhi in Stockholm in 2009 resulted in in my article “The resistance according to the Iraqis themselves”, which at that time was widely circulated on the net.
In December 2011 Dr. Al-Faidhi was interviewed by the Palestinian journalist Mousa Almllahi, and the interview was published on his website. That interview, which was conducted over the internet, can be seen as complimentary to the 2009 interview I conducted, and the answers are in Dr. Al-Faidhi’s own words.
About myself: I am a retired architect. One of my last commissions was the design of the Peace Center and the new Manger Square in front of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. Through this I became committed to the cause of the Palestinians, and later the Iraqis.
Snorre Lindquist: I think your visit to Stockholm in 2009, along with your colleagues, was an important event. At that time you gave an upbeat assessment of the resistance. According to my notes you stated: “The resistance is growing everywhere — in six month we believe it will be even stronger.”. In hindsight it seems that view may have been over optimistic, as it appears that there have been few strikes in recent months. According to heyetnet.org there were 16 in October, only 4 in December and none in January and February of this year. What has been happening?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: I do not believe that my answer to you in 2009 was too optimistic, and to explain the matter, there was one point that I had included, and this was: the ravaging and painful strikes that the Iraqi resistance directed at and towards the Occupation Forces and their destructive war machinery, which culminated in 2008.
The announcement of the regular American military troop withdrawal from Iraq on 31.12.2011 by the American President – despite the fact that the withdrawal was incomplete – would not have happened had it not been for these circumstances. It is the heroic Iraqi Resistance that forced the occupation to run away and retreat from Iraq.
In addition, don’t you agree with me, that the Americans would have remained in Iraq, had they felt that the Resistance had retreated or weakened, and that it no longer caused a danger to them? Didn’t the former President, Bush state that “we are staying for 50 years”? John McCain replied that “we will perhaps remain for 100 years; you know that we have a presence in Japan and South Korea”.
Although I know that the Americans have not completely withdrawn, there is no doubt whatsoever that most of their troops have actually left, and that they have emptied hundreds of their military bases and removed hundreds of thousands of their heavy, medium and light weight military equipment and machinery.They have also committed themselves publicly towards the international community that they will not undertake any military activity, at least any announced military action – after their announcement of their withdrawal.
As for the average of the operations published in the Heyetnet, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that AMSI’s website does not publish all the operations but only those that are announced. The announced operations are always much less than the operations that have actually been carried out.
Some of the factions do not make announcements about their operations in order to protect their military security, and to make the enemy miss the opportunity for taking advantage of military intelligence it could gather about these operations. Some factions operate without a title and do not even announce their operations. Some factions don’t have any experience in the media whatsoever. The American military commander, Austen, stated in 2008 that “there are no less than 100 operations that target the Americans in Iraq, daily”, at the very best only 10% of these operations seeped into the media.
Yes, In general there is a quantitative decrease in Resistance operations when compared to what it used to carry out previously, and this has substantive grounds, the most important of which I will now mention:
First: In the past 3 years, the Americans have changed their tactics, by not appearing much in the cities and depending on Iraqi security services in order to alleviate the weight of their human and material losses. This has resulted in a lack of friction with the resistance factions, which naturally results in a lack of confrontation and thus a decrease in operations.
Second: The Resistance Factions have also changed their combat tactics in a manner which is appropriate to the new American tactics.
It has started targeting American bases with rockets and mortar bombs, as well as with locally home made rockets, psychologically the most effective of their weapons, because all the American Army elements made up of commanders and soldiers remain in a terrified state, feeling that they are more greatly exposed to danger. However, at the same time it is more difficult to count the enemies losses because in this case they are not seen.
Third: We do not deny the magnitude of the loss which the Resistance was exposed to as a result of the “Sons of Iraq” (Sahwa or the Awakenings) projects in some areas such as Al Anbar and Baghdad; however it was limited in time. Therefore after the failure in the continuation of this project and the exposure of the truth to the people, the movement of the Resistance began to recover in these areas. Quite naturally complete recuperation and recovery takes time.
Fourth: After the American withdrawal from most of the bases, the Resistance was in a novel situation. According to my information the Resistance has not yet taken a unified decision to attack the government and its military and security apparatus.
Snorre Lindquist: In Stockholm, according to my notes, in answer to a question from me you stated: “I promise you, if the USA left Iraq, the Iranians and their militias in the police and the army will directly do the same!” Now, the United States of America has pretty much left Iraq, and yet Iran’s influence in Iraq seems to increase day after day. Do you stand by your statement?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: I still hold to my promise, but I said “If the United States of America left Iraq”, and in truth it has not left. Should the collapse that happened to America in Vietnam happen to America in Iraq, all its allies and agents would have collapsed with it, and at their forefront, Iran.
But the situation in Iraq differs for USA. When the troops sensed the dangers of its situation, words from Bush was leaked, expressing the size of their fears:
“we promoted claims of victory in order to capture the spirit of fears of defeat in the hearts of our soldiers, and when Bush realized that the end in Iraq may be the same as that in Vietnam, he proceeded to withdraw from Iraq in a novel manner, a quiet, slow and unannounced withdrawal.”
The withdrawal of most of its troops has taken nearly two years.
In order to avoid the bitterness of defeat to split the American psyche, America came up with the so called Strategic Framework Agreement with its client authority, that enables it to maintain a concentrated and capable presence.
According to confirmed information available to us, there are now 6 American bases with air and missile forces; armed security companies made up of nearly 50,000 personnel, and a giant embassy and consulates with no less than 13,000 officials and security. In addition there are the government’s police and security services that are still subject to the will and orders of the Occupier through the latter’s domination of Iraqi senior officers and officials who receive orders directly from the Americans.
To all this comes the presence of the allied Iranian influence and queues of its agents, spies and traitors, gangs and militias.
The New York Times mentioned that the special extended period for the presence of the American Army in Iraq will be prolonged onwards into the unknown, pointing to the existence of a secret agreement between the government of PM Nourie Maliki and American officials for the presence of American Forces beyond the specified time limit.
By the way, in spite of America’s concern to convince world public opinion of its withdrawal, as well as its strict observance of secrecy concerning its soldier`s and security companie`s activities, some accidents and incidents took place that exposed their activities and embarrassed the Americans.
For example, the forced emergency landing of an American army helicopter near the Tigris River in Baghdad on 26.1.2012, and the positioning of several checkpoints by the Americans on 18. 1. 2012, carrying out questioning of ordinary citizens in the Shomali District, south of Babil Province, as well as the Drones (the unmanned spying aircraft) that roam Iraqi airspace all the time. All this has been written about by the American press such as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and New York Times, after the supposed withdrawal. They also reported about American military aircraft that inspected and secured Iraq’s air space during the Arab Summit Meeting in Baghdad on 29.4.2012.
The coming days will reveal even more in this respect, because of observer`s preliminary estimations concerning the size of remaining American troops. They will point to the fact that there is no less than a quarter of their original size before the announcement for their withdrawal.
So whosoever states that the American Occupation has gone is very much mistaken, and the Association of Muslim Scholars in the person of its Secretary General had warned the Iraqi People in an open letter, after Obama’s announcement of the withdrawal, that the Americans are untruthful and that they have not completely withdrawn and that they continue to occupy Iraq.
Snorre Lindquist: Is there a hope that the Resistance will recover, and start new attacks, also against the Iranians and their agents inside Iraq? Some of us outside Iraq believes that it is the absolute misery of most Iraqis that drives the heads of the households to desperatly look for their daily bread instead of searching to the resistance. Is this correct?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: In our estimation, despite the severity of the siege surrounding it, its lack of resources and the large number of plots, the Iraqi Resistance is still fine; it appears that it lost little of its organization and the new generations that have joined its numbers are a great many; the generations that are waiting for a chance to join its numbers are even greater.
As I mentioned a short while ago, there are new developments that puts the Resistance in a novel situation. The occupation forces, after Obama’s announcement concerning the withdrawal, have pushed government forces, made up of police and army that have had billions of dollars expended on them, into confrontation with the Iraqi Resistance. The USA – army stands behind the lines providing government forces with all the requirements for this confrontation including military, intelligence and logistical support, with direct interference when necessary.
This is the state of the Resistance. As we said a short while ago, it is facing a new situation – because the other part in the confrontation is no longer American, but Iraqian. According to my information, the Resistance has not yet taken a unified decision to attack the government and its military and security forces, because these people are mainly Iraqis. Probably this topic is now in the process of being studied by the Resistance.
As for the misery in which the Iraqis are living and their struggle for their daily bread, it is not an impediment but a motive for the heating up of the Resistance, and maybe it is what pushed new generations to join into its folds or to look for ways of joining it.
The hope in the Resistance has not been lost. The Resistance, with God’s will is still there, for it renewed its presence just a few days ago when it threatened to target the Green Zone should the Arab Summit Meeting take place within its walls.
Despite the Americans commitment to secure the area with all available means in their possession, both technologically and militarily as well as their letters of reassurance to Arab leaders, the Resistance put into effect its threats and bombarded the Green Zone with several rockets while the Summit Meeting was being held.
War sirens were blasted at least twice inside the Green Zone. The present Minister of Foreign Affairs admitted this fact during his Press Conference held after the summit meeting, alleging that it did not affect the meeting’s proceedings and that there was no confusion.
Snorre Lindquist: In Stockholm you told us about the determination of the Iraqi people to be steadfast in the question of national unity, and you took an example from a football match in Baghdad 2008 which was very telling. Are these feelings of unity among ordinary people still the same, in spite of everything we hear from our Western media?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: With God’s graciousness and kindness, these feelings are still present and strong. The Great Iraqi Popular Revolution which broke out on the 25th February, 2011, has clear indications of this, because the Tahrir Squares in Baghdad and 16 other provinces, even in what is called the Kurdish Region, were filled with tens of thousands of the sons of Iraq demanding change, and the doing away with this client government, as well as the bringing to justice of all who are corrupt. There wasn’t a single sectarian or ethnic slogan raised during this Revolt and all the protests and demonstrations were broadcast on international media satellite stations so you will be able to check this.
In addition, during this period, some politicians attempted to set up federations in some of the Iraqi provinces, but failed. They failed for reasons of which the most important was the popular refusal of this project. One argued that in the present circumstances it would not be a federation, but a gateway for partitioning Iraq and this is a Red Line.
As for the Western media, I regret to say that a great number of them are politicized and are pushed to reflect the news with what agrees with American pre packaged policies for Iraq. This is a noticeable fact by us and one would not take trouble to notice it.
Snorre Lindquist: It is obvious that Saudi Arabia wants the Iranians out of Iraq, afraid of the growing Iranian power there. I have read that Saudi Arabia now wants to sponsor Sunni Resistance and also the Sunni parties of the “political process”. Is this true? What principle standpoint do different groups of Iraqi resisistance have to this?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: Saudi Arabia and other Arab states has been in existence earlier because they had supported the Sunni parties as well as Sunni personalities as well as Kurdish parties and Kurdish personalities. Also it has been noted that they backed Shia parties as well as Shia personalities with variations in quantity and quality. This was what was undertaken by Saudi Arabia at an early stage, based on the principle of presenting support for the political process in the shadow of the American Occupation of Iraq, and it is Saudi Arabia who should be asked about the reasons for this choice.
We, on our part, informed Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states, that the political process in the shadow of the Occupation will lead the Iraqi people to the abyss, and that offering it and also to its parties support and backing whether they are Sunni, Shia or Kurds, will neither bring security to Iraq nor to the region, because the support should be directed to the patriotic nationalist forces in Iraq, who believe in the liberation of the country, irrespective of its sects and ethnicities.
The Iraqi Resistance, in its greater part, believes in the National Plan and for this reason I do not believe that it departs from this view.
Snorre Lindquist: In Stockholm you answered my questions on the Iraqi Kurds. You told us that most of them live in poverty while the Kurds surrounding the warlords live in prosperity, and that the people had started to react against the corruption of their leaders, and that most Kurds are patriots that dislike an Iraqi federation and disruption between the Iraqis. How have these conditions developed? Is there a chance of rebellion towards the warlords?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: I still continue to think that our Kurdish brethren are an important part of Iraq, and we cannot imagine Iraq without them. According to reports we receive, most of our brethren in the north of Iraq do not want to separate from Iraq, and they are upset with the two parties as well as very angry with its leaders.
The evidence of this is that the Great Iraqi Revolution, which started off on the 25th February, 2011, was the hottest and most revolutionary in the northern areas of Iraq where numbers of protestors were concerned. The confrontation with the authorities did not stop until it was suppressed by the authorities by force of arms whence a great number of martyrs and injured fell. Mrs. Libita Ikilovia, the person responsible for Amnesty International, registered her surprise at the actions of the Kurdish Authorities at a time when the Kurds in Norway speak about Human Rights, because they used to complain about human right`s abuse during the former regime.
In a Human Rights Watch report in 2011, (8 years after the United states of America brought down Saddam Hussein, in the cause of protecting Kurdish Human Rights), America stands silently by while the Kurdish government consolidates human rights abuse and suppresses its people.
In my estimation, the Kurdish Revolt was suppressed but it has not ended, and it will rise again at the earliest chance it gets, because it is known historically that the Kurdish Youth refuses to give in to injustice.
Snorre Lindquist: According to Al-Arabiya and AP the Al-Qaida-linked “Islamic state of Iraq” recently claimed responsibility for attacks on Shiite pilgrims. Who is then responsible for the all the other massacres which took place after the Americans pulled out on December 18th?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: Al Qaeda is of no importance after the killing of its leaders. And it is now practically a definite fact that its sleeping cells have gone to work with external countries, in whose forefront is Iran. These countries, including Iran, have an interest in causing sectarian violence, because it is Iran, that pushes such organizations and others to commit massacres, that would realize such aims.
It has also been proved lately that it is the government security forces who are also involved in this. The security forces used to falsely target the Shia’ to achieve the same purpose. Some time ago I stated to the BBC that in the view of many, we are today facing a puzzle, because Shia militias, pushed by external international parties who allege their care for the Shia, target Shia pilgrims.
Therefore, we have diagnosed that those responsible for these brutal operations are the state security forces, the militias belonging to the ruling parties, as well as Al Qaeda’s sleeping cells that work for the benefit of international parties including Iran and we cannot overlook the involvement of the security companies as well as the Mossad cells. All of them work within the same frame and with similar aims.
Snorre Lindquist: Many people in the world think that part of the opposition in Syria believes that Iran is their first enemy right now, and because of this they are calling for help from USA, Israel and their friends. I have read that the Islamic Army and the Al-Rashedeen Army in statements declared that the President of Syria ought to resign and that they support “the opposition”, without wanting to intervene militarily.
a) Are these last statements true?
b) If so,does this mean that they are supporting the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army, which are calling for foreign military intervention in Syria and collaborates with France, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia etc.?
c) Have other groups of Iraqi resistance followed these groups?
Dr. Al-Faidhi: : It is clear that most of the Iraqi patriotic nationalist forces, including AMSI, stand beside the Arab Revolutions against the rulers who oppressed their people, squandered their wealth, and violated their sanctities.
The Iraqi Resistance is part of these forces. As far as the Syrian portfolio is concerned, I do not believe that the Resistance supports the National Syrian Council which suffers from divisions, and a lack of vision, and some of whose members have a cloudy past, but, as it seems to appear that it backs the cause itself and the rights of the people’s demands for freedom.
As far as international interference in Syria is concerned, and as far as I know, this is refused by all the patriotic and nationalist Iraqi forces including the Iraqi Resistance.
As for Iran it is this country, Iran, that fuelled hostility and hatred towards itself, because of the harassment of the Iraqi people as well as the sectarian cleansing and killing at the hands of its elements and allies, all of which sent a message that Iran had no credibility, and that as far as it was concerned, Islam was nothing other than a cover to hide behind, and all this bears no relation whatsoever with being humane or humanitarian.
To this will be added the fact that Iran is dealing with double standards viz a viz the revolution in Bahrain and the revolution in Syria. Iran supports the protestors in Bahrain and at the same time it supports the suppression of the protestors in Syria by the Syrian government. This destroyes any remnants of its credibility.
In truth, those crimes that Iran committed against Iraqis was covered up by American backing and international collusion for reasons concerning all the involved parties’ interests, but its performance in Syria uncovered its real intentions, and this is God’s exposure of the oppressors.