Friday, October 12, 2007

Iraq's resistance coalition

Six Iraqi resistance groups form a united front to evict the occupiers, called the Political Council for the Iraqi Resistance. This consummates a proposal first reported in the UK press a few months back, and comes with a fourteen point programme, the first of which is a commitment to the ongoing military struggle against the occupiers. Another commitment is to rescind all laws passed since the occupation, which is an excellent idea. The 1920 Revolution Brigades has decided not to get involved because it doesn't want to end up fighting against those tribal forces who have taken American arms to combat 'Al Qaeda', but denies it is working with the occupiers and insists it still attacks US troops. This is therefore still a limited coalition and has the potential to fall back into sectarian intrigue very quickly. And in addition, while it claims that the armed resistance is the legitimate successor to the present puppet government, this sort of excludes most existing Shi'ite blocs including the Mahdi Army. Such an apparently narrow agenda (I have no idea how well English language sources are reporting this, and it would be good to actually see a full translation of the fourteen points) would actually run against the grain of attempts at anti-occupation national unity among some of the parliamentary representatives opposed to the pro-US sectarian parties.

Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation reports that the combination of the Blackwater murders, the Biden proposal to partition Iraq, and the ongoing attempts to privatise Iraq's oil, have stimulated a surge in Iraqi nationalism:

Across the political spectrum, on both the Sunni and Shiite sides of the divide, a nationalist bloc is emerging to challenge the alliance of Kurdish and Shiite separatists that has governed Iraq for three years under American tutelage ... the emerging nationalist bloc could get enough votes in Parliament to topple Maliki's shaky coalition. Its components include two major Shiite factions, Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc and the Fadhila (Virtue) Party, which together hold forty-seven seats in Parliament; the entire Sunni bloc, led by the Iraqi Accord and the National Dialogue Front, which have fifty-five seats; and the secular bloc led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, which controls twenty-five seats. In addition, say well-placed Iraqi sources, former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Maliki rival in the ruling Islamic Dawa Party, has upward of twenty Shiite deputies in his camp, and Jaafari is negotiating to be part of the new alliance. The addition of Jaafari's bloc would give the alliance at least 147 votes, a clear majority in the 275-member assembly. On September 26 Tariq al-Hashimi, the Sunni vice president, announced the formation of a National Pact project intended to unify the emerging bloc, and he promptly traveled to Najaf to get Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's blessing for the effort. Hashimi's twenty-five-point plan, similar to one launched earlier by Allawi, calls for equality for all Iraqis, an end to sectarian killing, opposition to foreign interference in Iraq, support for the legitimate right of armed resistance and a declaration (aimed at Al Qaeda) that "terror is not considered resistance."

So, expect the partition plans to be hurried through rapidly, before this thing gets out of control.