What lies underneath (the Iraqi resistance movement)?

Daily: The Nation
Date: 01.08.04

Finally there have come the first non-Iraqi Muslim casualties in shape of loss of lives of
Sajid Naeem and Raja Azad of Azad Kashmir at the hands of their Iraqi captors. Whether it
was due to reluctance on the part of the government of Pakistan to declare categorically
that Pakistani troops would not be sent to Iraq or it was due to any allegation on the
captives of spying for any American company, the barbaric act is condemnable.

The tragic incident indicates how serious is the situation and how severe is the reaction
from Iraqis. For the outside world, it is still incomprehensible as to why is democracy being
disliked in Iraq? Moreover, do Iraqis like totalitarian regime, like the one in the past that
committed atrocities against all sections of society? That is why; the world is concerned
about restoration of law and order in Iraq by sending peacekeeping troops. The same is the
concern of all the Muslim countries including Pakistan.

Since April 2004, the Iraqi reaction against the occupying forces has got a dimension of a
resistant movement. Its birth can be traced since arrival of the invaders. However, two
actions of Paul Bremer, by using military force, gave impetus to it. First was an overreaction
at the assassination of the US contractors. Second was a suppression of a voice of dissent
that was raised through a small newspaper of a Shiite leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. Resultantly,
from Fallujah (in the North) to Najaf (in the South) — the two main hotspots — a new wave
of resistance was unleashed encompassing the North Sunni triangle and the South Shia
area. Undoubtedly, it brought more casualties to Iraqi side, but it also scared the allies (the
US and the UK). The unceremonious hand over of sovereignty on June 28, 2004 was a
main indication of that fear.

Apparently, the movement revolves around two pronged aims. First is a general disposition:
to expel all those non-Iraqis who visit Iraq with a claim to rebuild it. Second is a special
inclination: to isolate the allies both in Iraq and internationally.

In its nature, firstly the movement is indigenous. It comprises small-scattered armed groups
working on their own. The former Iraqi military officials may be participating, as evident by
few well-planned and coordinated attacks. Secondly, the movement seems more a
nationalist movement than a religious one. The main indication of which is a Shia-Sunni
alliance to help each other in any hour of trial. However, the religious tinge is also visible.
That is, there are chances of a spill over effect of what is happening in Palestine. It might
have led to the formation of Iraqi versions of Hamas and Hezbollah. Further, the role of non-
Iraqi Arabs like Zarqawi is an additional factor.

The movement possesses some similarities with the Intifada (a Palestinian militant uprising
in response to the atrocities of Israel) — whether adopted or transferred. The masked men
with guns, the Quranic verses in the background, videotape recording, voicing of demands,
and completion of any mission is one part. While the suicide missions and assassinations of
the important target personalities is a second part. The third part is a direct confrontation
with the allied forces. While doing so, if innocent people are killed no one is to be blamed.
So, when the movement is not taking care of the death toll of the Iraqi civilians, not to talk of
the non-Iraqi Muslims.

It seems that the people in Iraq have something different in mind. Interestingly, in a country
where finding of mass graves is not a new thing, no one ever committed suicide bombing or
kidnapped Iraqi officials to make their any demand met in the Saddam era. However, now,
they have been trying new and different tactics to make the world listen to their voice. A
question is: why? Are there groups who have decided to capitalize the mistake of the allies
pertaining to legitimacy of invasion? Have they eyed on the November elections? If they
could affect Spain, can they affect the US election too?

These points are also realized by the US. That is why it is looking for any ‘exit strategy’.
Hitherto, the US has shifted its basic responsibility by handing over sovereignty to the Iraqi
Interim Government. The rest lies on the successor to handle the matter. They (the allies)
say they are there in case they are needed. It seems that now focus of the US is more on
finding some high figure of al-Qaeda from anywhere in the world: whether from Pakistan or
Iran. It means that in the coming months Iran will have to face more pressure ever than
before.

The movement seems to have a certain direction. As apparent, it is a continuous physical
engagement of the allies. The engagement strategy may be a counter-reaction due to the
past behaviour of the allies towards Iraq, as witnessed in the aftermath of the Gulf War I
(1991) by imposing various sanctions on Iraq. Secondly, it may also be due to the Arab
nationalism, which has found an opportunity to find its lost glory. Thirdly, activity of the al-
Qaeda factor can be an added factor, which has found a battleground to fulfill its own
agenda.  

Looking at the expected aims, nature, progress, and direction of the movement, it is
predictable that the members of the movement are committed to continue it at all costs and
against all odds. It is interesting to watch as to who will win at the end?

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