It seems that even with Zarqawi’s death, misstatements and propaganda about Iraq’s resistance still abound. I recently lodged a long comment at Robert Lindsay’s blog, which focuses mainly on the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
Although Robert provides a great service in describing the situation in Afghanistan as well as providing a level of analysis often missing in the press, I feel that many of his statements reflect the continuing misunderstanding of Iraq’s resistance by many in the United States, and elsewhere in the “West.”
I left a long response to this recent entry, and felt it would benefit my readers here at AiB as well:
I have to lodge some friendly disagreements with you here. Al Qa’eda in Iraq took a subservient role to the Iraqi nationalist resistance some months back, with the formation of the Mujahideen Shura, or Mujahideen Council.
This “Council” is essentially a “unified command” of most of the major resistance groups, excluding Jeish Al Islamiyah, or the Islamic Army in Iraq.
A really essential detail that much of the media has overlooked is the change of perspective in the Iraqi populace towards the resistance.
When I was last in Iraq, nearly everyone outside o so-called Salafis and fundamentalists, utilized the arabic word Maqowamah, which literally means “resistance” to describe the fighters resisting the US with a focus on coalition forces, as opposed to those who are fighting a “Jihad.”
Unfortunately in recent months more and more Iraqis are using the word “Mujahideen” which directly translates as “fighters for god” either exclusively, or at the least interchangeably, with the term “Maqowamah.”
This should be understood to be a really negative change in the Iraqi civilian perspective. It appears to reflect a change of opinion regardin the resistance.
Rather than seeing hope for a return to secularism in Iraq, more and more Iraqis are seeing the Islamic forces as a last resort against the occupation.
This also exacerbates the possibilities of civil war, given that Muslims on either side can refer to Mujahideen from their own religious perspective.
This brings us to my other major concern with your post, the so-called “Shi’a resistance.”
Prior to the middle/end of 2005, Shi’a and Sunni nationalist “guerrillas,” to use your term, could be seen fighting side by side in many of Iraq’s largest battles, in particular Najaf and Fallujah come to mind.
Now that all major Shi’a parties have joined the government, we have seen the inclusion of militias in Iraq’s security regulars.
The Shi’as have not been “caught up in the sectarian struggle.” Instead, I would argue that Falek Badr, or the Badr Militia, has always been involved in “sectarian violence” against Sunnis.
In January 2003, Ayatollah Bakr al-Hakim, then spiritual leader of SCIRI and particularly Badr, informed Zalmay Khalilzad and the US/West generally, that when he decided the US was intending to occupy and not “liberate” Iraq, he would order his ten thousand strong Badr forces to begin attacking Coalition regulars.
Unfortunately, Hakim’s view of liberation directly chafed with that of Iraqi Sunni and Shi’a civilians, as well as those members of Iraq’s resistance intending a nationalist movement.
The situation now in Iraq seems more and more to have been inevitable given the US and UK’s actions in Iraq, the writing on the wall was there far longer than a few months or years back.