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Iraq overwhelmed by a war never ended

April 16, 2013 -After more than 20 years the war in Iraq has not ended. The theater became wider, some actors disappeared from the stage, the regional context seems different, the alliances underwent a multitude of transformations, the Iraqi nation doesn’t exist anymore. The "conventional" U.S. army left the country but the war is still ongoing as the American government decided that it will keep in Iraq, throughout CIA and in other ways, a large clandestine presence of special forces to protect U.S. interests. In the meantime, a couple of thousands of contractors will remain in the country in order to train local troops to fight against a possible insurgency.1 Besides the remaining – but not insignificant – complex of armed Resistance formations, the pro-Iranian Government of Nuri al-Maliki will have to face: 1) the (not necessarily peaceful) autonomist tensions of areas with a Sunni majority and 2) the Kurdish opposition, who wants to defend its relative self-governance and its preemption on oil revenues...


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Iraq overwhelmed by a war never ended

By Valeria Poletti


April 16, 2013

Translation: Marta Canuti & Joost Verhoeven

After more than 20 years the war in Iraq has not ended. The theater became wider, some actors disappeared from the stage, the regional context seems different, the alliances underwent a multitude of transformations, the Iraqi nation doesn’t exist anymore.

The "conventional" U.S. army left the country but the war is still ongoing as the American government decided that it will keep in Iraq, throughout CIA and in other ways, a large clandestine presence of special forces to protect U.S. interests. In the meantime, a couple of thousands of contractors will remain in the country in order to train local troops to fight against a possible insurgency.[1] Besides the remaining – but not insignificant – complex of armed Resistance formations, the pro-Iranian Government of Nuri al-Maliki will have to face: 1) the (not necessarily peaceful) autonomist tensions of areas with a Sunni majority and 2) the Kurdish opposition, who wants to defend its relative self-governance and its preemption on oil revenues.[2] The oil issue is obviously of major importance for the economical and political future of Iraq because of the way in which the privatization (which has by the way deprived the country of a good which has been acquired during a long revolutionary process) will be realized and because of possible effects of redistribution within the country. These effects will be in regards to the country itself, since during the belligerence the different factions have elaborated different laws to favor particular interests, and also to its relationship with other nations, since Iraq is under strong pressure from neighboring Countries [3].

Iran and Turkey are leading military operations together in northern Iraq, bombing villages on the border accused (mainly by Ankara) of hosting Kurdish guerrilla of the PKK.[4] At the moment the two regional powers, even if they have totally different positions on the Syrian crisis, possess converging interest in this narrow area. For Teheran, the Iraqi "satellite" represents a priority to project its political influence on the Arabic world, a perspective which is disturbing the strategic equilibriums in the whole Middle-Eastern area. The proclaimed ambitions of the current Iranian leadership (ambitions that, for that matter, are shared by the most traditionalist wing of Khamenei) fuel disorder and tension in all the States of the Gulf.[5]

At the moment the biggest danger for the Iraqi government and for its Iranian sponsor is perhaps represented by the Syrian rebellion. The fall of the regime of Assad (which for the ayatollah means losing a key ally and control of a territory adjacent to Libanon and Gaza, where the Islamic Republic operates throughout its outposts Hizbollah [6] and Hamas) could open a new discussion on the political structure of Iraq. It will also give new strength to the Sunnis at the expense of the Shiite parties and cause a break in the instable truce between the central power and the Kurdish factions, which would be prompted to change their tolerant behavior towards Teheran and to rebuild the frontline together with the Sunni representations. The iron hand of al-Maliki against any possible opponent and the protection agreed upon by the Kurdish regional government to the Sunni exponent ex-president al-Hashimi ("persecuted" by an arrest warrant emanated by the same al-Maliki) elucidate the stakes. The political overthrow in Iraq and the reduction of the Iranian influence are risks the Americans do not want to take, as proven by the extreme patience (demagogy on a side) demonstrated towards the Syrian president.

1. Old pictures, new strategies

Could we believe that the U.S. strategists simply lost control over the situation? Could we believe that, after "bringing Iraq back to the Stone Age", the strategies elaborated by who unleashed and lead this war have changed? When the western press talks about a possible "civil war" or about a probable "revival of sectarian conflicts" hides - behind the incessant flow of fairly truthful and partial news - that information that undoubtedly analysts can not miss: Iraq is, as today as 20 years ago, a high point within a strategy determined to destabilize and reshape the Middle-East. This can be achieved through the redefinition of the alliance agreements and the attempt to make these adaptable to the contingent needs of the only global power. How much this strategy will succeed depends, and unfortunately will depend, more on the ability of participants or regional powers to react, and not on the willingness of self-determination and redemption of the populations more directly involved in the field.

After the relative failure of the occupation troops both in Iraq (where in the final stage the marines used internal forces and first of all the Shiite militia, to crush the Resistance) and Afghanistan and with a perspective of a further extension of the war intervention, the way of conducting the war changed: the war, from a form of counter-insurgency, became a counter-terrorism action. The Obama doctrine, announced at the end of June 2011, was confirmed on the 4th of January 2012: end the massive intervention of ground forces, stop the Petraeus-style strategy (winning the people’s hearts, said the General)[7] , no nation-building project: war will be carried on with special forces and, more and more, with precision bombings and drones in order to hit "terrorist organizations" wherever they are located. A glance on the whole Middle-East makes us understand that, given the actual tumultuousness situation post-Arab Springs, there will never be a lack of terrorist organizations to hit (not only in Pakistan, where the usage of drones has already been widely experimented with). Occasions to internationalize internal problems of the Arab countries, leading to the internationalization of their economies (the Big and New Middle-East) and to resource management, will not be missing.

Such strategic vision can only mean the elimination of strong governments or of leaderships able to pursue interests which are independent from the ones of the U.S. . This also means the cancellation of ally regimes which are open to the access of western economies but also not that disposed to renounce the national sovereignty. The goals of the U.S. about the Middle-East politic do not seem to have changed. In 1991 they wanted to defeat the Iraqi military power (which was potentially able to influence the equilibrium of power in the Gulf and the Israeli arrogance itself) and spread American military bases within the territory whereas the war of 2003 started a global destabilization program. Ten years after the American victory in the Cold War, after excluding the Soviet Union (the only power influential on post-colonial regimes and frightening to the Petrol Monarchies), after co-opting Europe to a subaltern position, it was a matter of dislocating the system of stable alliances. These alliances constituted the anti-soviet barrier and now, once that the competition for hegemony was over, could represent an obstacle to the American projection of power and to the ultimate control on energetic resources. In the same way, the reasons to avoid the complete debellatio of Iraq (reasons which were valid in a moment in which it was still not convenient to provoke excessive resentments in the Arabic world and contain the Iranian expansionism) were not valid anymore.

To start realizing the new project of the New Middle-East (which should become a wide free market area subjected to western hegemony and the American energetic basin) it is now needed to destabilize north African state structures, which are not able to handle the transformation, and remove the hydrocarbon-rich areas from the biggest regional powers sovereignty. Is it in this way that the campaign for the "democratization" starts? It is a fact that, before the age of Bush II, the American Administration never had any interest in the Middle-East regimes: it was enough to keep presidencies or dictatorships in power which were on the "right" side for what regarded foreign policy. Besides, Washington, together with the ONU, never showed substantial concern for "human rights" in those countries.

Provoking regime changes without involving America in other wars (but inducing destabilization from the inside) needs the presence of allies in the field. Splitting the Islamic world by favouring sectarian wars, mainly between Sunni and Shiite, seems to be the American choice. The channels to accomplish the convergence between perspectives of the U.S.A. and of the Iranian Shiite ayatollah in the Middle-East area, were already delineated before the aggression of Iraq [8]. This "parallel convergence", started at the times of the anti-soviet guerrilla in Afghanistan (when the CIA was subsidizing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, at that time head of the pro-khomenist Hezb-i Islami), brought the neocons to promote the l’Iraqi National Congress of Ahmed Chalabi, which was at the same time close to America and a presumed agent of the Iranian services [9] . This convergence became obvious when the Islamic Republic Government supported the American intervention in Afghanistan and even more so when the Shiite militia of Muqtada al-Sadr (trained in Iran) was decisive in defeating the Iraqi Resistance (using methods which were not allowed in any western army, like massacres of civilians and human bombs).

The retreat of the American troops gave the definitive green light to the Islamic Republic to institute a protectorate over Iraq. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, elected in 2006 and a second time under the protection of the occupier in 2010, was not only under the pressure of al-Sadr, but he was (and still is) also an exponent of the pro-Iranian Da'wa party. His role might have been the mediation between the American Administration and the government of the ayatollah, and not really to conduct the transactions about the U.S. army leaving the country. The final agreement, named SOFA "Status of Forces Agreement", - which established the time schedule for the retreat of the American troops by December 2011, the confinement of marines within the fences of the 4 American bases in the country and the obligation to conduct the military actions together with the Iraqi government – seemed a relative American defeat and created disappointment at the Pentagon and amongst the neocon exponents who wanted this war.

A defeat or a change in the U.S. strategy? A possible (relative) defeat was caused by the Resistance, which was still able to operate in a big part of the country, rather than by a government nominated by Americans themselves. During the previous years Americans allowed the pro-Iraninan militia of the BADR Brigades and of the Mahdi Army to conduct a big campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against Sunni populations and single persons and communities which were connected to the Resistance front or sympathizers of the Ba’th party. In Baghdad, main example of a city with a mixed population, the vast majority of the citizens are now Shiite. In the same way Maliki has been since 2006 allowed to purge the army and to build his own militia and intelligence agencies, bringing the annihilation of the political and social opposition to an end by using authoritarian and violent methods. The premier, with the support of the occupiers, managed to survive even to the half defeat during the elections of 2010 and now has absolute power, conditioned only by the alleys of the Islamic Republic. If we would, on the other side, talk about a change in strategy we should retrace the steps of the grand bargain [10] which, since 2011 before the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, informed the relationships between Washington and Teheran, according to a well supported counter-narrative [11]. With the Obama presidency we can perceive an adaptation, rather than a change, of the strategy towards a new scenario: the extension of the social texture fragmentation model tested in Iraq and, therefore, the fragmentation of the nation towards the radicalization of contradictions (from time to time sectarian, ethnic or tribal), which will impede a possible reconstruction of a wide Arab national front, even if that means favouring the political Islam.

2. Politics and militia after the American retreat

The "latent civil war" presented by media commenting on the wave of terroristic attempts after the American retreat, which they say is caused by the re-emergence of religious tensions within the population, is de facto a struggle for power between the inside components (Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish) of the government and the parliament, components which are supported and manipulated by competing external actors. The attention given to the clamorous move of the Shiite premier al-Maliki, who ordered to arrest the Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashemi the day after the Americans left [12] , obscured a more complex policy framework. The Iraqi parliament was set (since 2003 and because of an American decision) on a principle of religious delegation similar to the one applied in Lebanon and the secular components have been put a side. In this way there is no real political delegation of the population. Political nepotism aside, the delegations do not represent either the composition neither the political view of the population. The long and extremely violent process of de-Baathification (made with extrajudicial executions and indiscriminate massacres) removed from the scene, together with a big number of Sunni citizens, the social basis (not only Sunni) of laicism. Furthermore, it emptied the country’s cultural and scientific intelligentsia which was one of the best effects of the Baathist revolution [13] . The success obtained by the secular list of the Iraqi National Movement (which included both Shiites and Sunnis, leaded by Iyad Allawi [14] , Saleh al-Mutlaq and Tariq al-Hashemi) during the elections of 2010 is a proof of the mostly non sectarian vocation of the population. The leaders of this movement had been quisling (as all the exponents of the new political class, as a result of the occupation) but it did at least express a political vision of national unity. However, the party of Allawi, al-'Iraqiya, was not able to form the new government since, even if it was specified in the Constitution that the nominated premier should have been the leader of the wining list, the two biggest Shiite parties - State of Law of Maliki and Iraqi National Alliance (al-Hakim, al-Sadr, Chalabi) – formed a coalition after the elections took place and obtained the right to nominate the prime minister, which was al-Maliki. Al-'Iraqiya lacked the power to oppose to these manoeuvres and the possibility to mobilize an armed militia.

The militias were the executive shadow of the Iraqi State and the way they acted on the field elucidates both the competition inside the factions in power and the mediation activity of the Iranian government conducted with the aim of keeping control of politics in Iraq. The antagonism between the two Shiite factions, which is now based on the competition for the power, does not originate because of a religious controversy but because these factions have different ways to collaborate with the Americans and because they get the consent from different social classes [15] . As al-Maliki as al-Sadr, both connected to the Islamic Republic, count on "private" militias: the "anti-terrorism" elitist power of al-Maliki and the Promised Day Brigades (which substituted the Mahdi Army in military actions) of al-Sadr [16] . The BADR Organization (ex BADR Brigades - whose militians were at the beginning of the American invasion for a big part infiltrators from Iran – who were responsible of the killing of selected civilians close to the Resistence and of the violent intimidations directed towards citizens who were reluctant to accept the impositions of the shari’a)[17] is the armed wing of the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council (ex Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq) which is connected to the al-Hakim family, that is to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The militia is integrated into the Iraqi National Alliance together with the Sadrist party. 'Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq (the League of the Righteous) and Kata’ib Hizb Allah [18] (which is not affiliated to the Libanese party and publishes the weekly magazine "al-Bayyina") are other militant formations which are founded and trained by the Quds Forces (special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards). In total about 10,000 men are part of these formations.

Maliki keeps hegemony because he consolidated his position within the institutions (taking the offices of Prime minister and of minister of Defence, of the Interior and of Safety and Security) and because he uses as a personal weapon the Justice and Accountability Commission, the authority in charge for the de-Baathification, defined by the ex-commander of the USA armed forces in Iraq, General Petraeus, as "an instrument in the hands of the leadership of the [Iranian] Quds Forces". The Committee has a wide range of action and not only affects followers and supporters of the Ba’th but any possible political opponent.

In order to stabilize his power Maliki needs to extend his political and military control on the Sunni provinces (the district of al-Anbar is still problematic for the central government, independently from the still active fringes of insurgents of the Resistance), to stop Kurdish demands about the management of energetic resources, to keep the bands of al-Qa’ida (who claimed responsibility for the majority of suicidal attempts) under control and to fight in any way the popular opposition who started its own Iraqi Spring. The western media almost didn’t talk about the Tahrir Square of Baghdad: hundreds of deaths, hundreds of wounded and arrested people in all the biggest cities of the country had been the result of repression (according to some information with the help of Pasdaran from Iran [19] ) of peaceful protests. The protester were asking for the re-establishment of basics infrastructure (like water and electricity utilities, destroyed and never replaced) and measures against both mass unemployment and extreme poverty, but they were also denouncing the corruption of the government and wanted the dismissal of al-Maliki and, in the Kurdish areas, of Masud Barzani, the president of the regional government[20] .

The Kurdish region, self-governed since the 90’s, still quarters about 200,000 Peshmerga paramilitaries of the militias who partially refer to the democratic Kurdistan Democratic Party of Barzani and partially to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan of Jalal Talabani, current president of Iraq. In spite of the slow process of integration inside the new national army, they stay loyal to their old chiefs (as demonstrated by the fact that 10,000 units were sent to Baghdad in December 2011 to protect Talabani from a threatened coup d’état) and they keep a high state of readiness. In fact, thanks to their active collaboration with the invasion troops in 2003, Bremer (who was at that time the governor) let the Peshmerga keep their armaments including heavy weapons, anti-aircraft artillery, armored fighting vehicles and tanks. The Peshmerga are therefore a local army which is ready to oppose the central government in case it restricts the autonomy of the regional government in terms of resource management and of appropriation of oil extraction proceeds. The centralizing maneuvers of Maliki are not well received by the Kurdish leaderships, which could form a coalition with the Sunni delegations, which could also claim a regional autonomy, to build an alternative government. Furthermore, now that the Turkish-Iranian alliance definitively broke on the Syrian front it will be the Turkish influence - thanks to the importance of its investments [21] - prevailing on the region and destabilizing the already precarious Iraqi stability.

Even if it looks downsized since 2004-07, al-Qa’ida most likely still counts on some "fighting" force in Iraq (Islamic State of Iraq since October 2006)[22]. Since 2004, the year in which it officially entered the country, al-Qa’ida have fought against the Resistance formations [23], clashing especially with the Islamic Army (not to be confused with the Islamic Party) and with the 1920 Revolution Brigades, and less with the occupation troops. It applied two different strategies: attack the Sunni Communities to correct the impious manners, imposing a Shadow Cabinet based on the shari’a, and at the same time accomplish attacks against Shiite places of worship and civilians. The second strategy had the goal of provoking the reaction of the Shiite militias to bring the Sunni population within a sectarian conflict and hoping to obtain the consent for an internal war against the government [24] and, after the retreat of American troops, against the "Iranian Occupant"[25]. The proclaimed anti-Iranian shift seems to be in contradiction to the proven (since the 90s) connivance between the Qaedist exponents and the Iranian secret services[26]. The relative independence of al-Qa’ida in Iraq from the original organization could explain the anomaly but one cannot exclude that a similar public stance had the aim of covering false flag operations. This is particularly valid if it’s true what, among others, the New York Post published on the 15th of February 2012: the United States set a price of 10 million dollars for information that leads to the capture of 'Izz al-Din 'Abd al-'Aziz Khalil (alias Yasin al-Suri), the Syrian head of al-Qa’ida in Iraq [27].

3. The trap of the Council for the Awakening

Whether the reality that al-Qa’ida was favoured by American (and Iranian) secret services or not, it is a fact that the terrorist organization has been a crucial factor in the plan of Petraeus for combating the fight of the insurgents (during its phase of maximum activity and close to achieve determining successes against the occupant), sparing the American troops and entrapping the local guerrilla supporters with no possible way out. The occupant was encouraging the organization of popular defence committee leaded by tribal chiefs, whose action was not mainly directed to the occupation troops anymore but to integralist bands instead, leaving liberty of action against militants of al-Qa’ida, who were hated by a population educated to laicism and not tolerated because of the terrorist methods they used against civilians. Thus, the Anbar Salvation Council was created against al-Qaída from the union of auto-defence groups from different districts. At the end of 2006 the Council for the Awakening (Sahwa) was established in Ramadi. The Council was composed by supporters of the Resistance who in this way turned out to be on the side of the Americans with which (in exchange for a contract on defence and local communities management) they agree to form a tactical alliance. The most dramatic consequence was the institution of a parallel militia whose strength was directly salaried by the Americans. Even if the major organizations of the Resistance officially disavowed the Council[28], many people (also baathists and insurgents) considered the integration within the Council the only opportunity to obtain a political presence (once the occupation troops would have left the country) and to reconstruct a sovereign Iraq based on former institutions. It is also true that others choose this way to guarantee the survival of the Resistance under the cover of the Sahwa. This hope turned out to be illusory. In any case, the Council for the Awakening has been, together with the massacres achieved by the Mahdi Army of al-Sadr, a determinant factor for weakening the Resistance front and for paralyzing the civilian support to the guerrilla, through police control and, in several cases, through a strictly integralist government. It is difficult to say that the institution of the districts dominated by the Sahwa reversed the outcome of the war, but it certainly delivered a fatal blow to the armed fight and, at the same time, deprived the population from having the possibility of a non-sectarian political representation.

The offensive of the Shiite parties and militias, which were controlled by the government, was addressed to the less cooperative figures in the Council and was carried out through focused murders and mass arrests and, already in September 2008, the district of al-Anbar was returned to the central government. The American promises made to the members of the organization have not been honoured. After massively boycotting the elections in 2005, according to the Resistance’s recommendations, in 2010 Sunnis could do anything but vote. However, even if the secular nationalistic list (which was composed both by Sunni and Shiite exponents) won, Sunnis have been ostracized, thanks to the Shiite fraudulent manoeuvre.

The analysis of the metamorphosis of the American military activities in Iraq (from the increasing of the troops until the disengagement) and of the new course of Obama gave rise to some questions. However important the subsidy given by Iranians to defeat the Resistance is, however influential with the Iraqi leaderships and prudential with the Americans (as George Friedman suggests [29]) the politic of Teheran is, the fact that the Administration abandoned the entire country – including energetic resources and military bases – to the mercy of Teheran seems unintelligible. The only explanation might be that a kind of Iran Connection was included in the American plans since a long time already. The role played for, during and after the invasion of Iraq by a key character like Ahmed Chalabi, man of Iran and of the CIA at the same time, could validate this hypothesis.

4. Conclusions

By concluding an Exit Strategy (which paradoxically resembles a Tehran Connection) the Americans leaves behind an Iraq lacerated by a sectarian conflict which, beyond worsening the already dramatic living conditions of the population, modified the ethnic composition of the country. The conflict, during the different phases, destroyed the national identity of the Iraqis and lead to a situation in which the population can only split on tribal and sectarian lines. In the South (ruled by Shiite militias) they speak Farsi, the Iranian language, and, together with the local currency, the Iranian rial is also used in Baghdad: the Iranian goods invaded the market [30]. The Iraqi population, which counted a little bit more than 24 million people in the year 2000, rose up to 32 million people in the year 2012 [31], in spite of the war victims (hundreds of thousands or even more than one million deaths, according to different estimates, considering the war itself, the embargo and the occupation [32]) and two and a half million refugees (in Syria, Jordan and Egypt [33]): it is difficult to believe a boom in birth rates; more realistically we have to think about how porous the border between Iraq and Iran is.

The Iraqi Resistance, which fought to defend the independency, the integrity of the country and a united national political project, crumbled while facing two fanatical and sanguinary bands: the Sadrist and the Qaedaist. It is not possible to evaluate completely how much the combatants who started the Resistance surrendered, in front of the unavoidable and undelayable need of defending the population against the systematic massacres and the suppression of any social dignity and individual liberty, ending in the trap of a other-directed political process (by subscribing the Council for the Awakening). Organizations of the Resistance still operate in the Iraqi territory and in the neighbouring Syria but the internal divisions compromise the possibility of a long-term perspective of effective action. This happens in addition to the presence of a condition of social decay and of the fall into sectorialism introduced in the popular background. The two major formations connected to what was the Ba’th party are clearly in contrast between each other (in particular regarding the assignment of legitimacy and reliability to the leadership): inside the wing of Yunis al-Ahmad (al-Awda, located in Syria) a lot of militants have been arrested in the last three years by the Defence Forces and by the Council of al-Anbar; the Jaish al-Naqshbandi (whose members belongs normally to the Sufi’s religion) kept fighters for a long time in the provinces of Kirkuk and Diyala. Hamas (a group not correlated to the homonym Palestinian organization), which constitutes a part of the 1920 Revolution Brigades, refused the integration inside the Council for the Awakening. The Islamic Army (maybe the biggest combat organization into which flew militants from other formations and a big part of soldiers of the Baathist army), after 2006, witnessed several scissions but a part of it is still active. All the Resistance formations reported the collusion between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Even if it is defeated on the whole, the Resistance is still living inside Iraq [34].

The protests which took place during the whole year 2011 [35] show the rebellious attitude of a very young population, which was born during the embargo and which did not know anything but the savagery of the war and of the occupation. On the 17th of February 2012 all the citizens of Falluja (a city victim of a war crime never punished) gave birth to a huge, united and significant protest in solidarity with the Syrian rebels.

For the whole 2012 and until now the destiny of the protests which took place in the biggest Iraqi cities –particularly in Baghdad, Samarra and Falluja – is ideally bound to the destiny of the Syrian revolution. The slogans for the fall of the government of Maliki became even more frequent and pushing. Now the long (and obscured by western media) Iraqi Spring starts defining itself as "revolution": one of the banners during the protest in Mosul on the 15th of March said:"wake up, this is an iraqi revolution not a sectarian one" [36]. As reported on the website arabwomanblues on the 16th of February 2013 [37], "protests are raging throughout Iraq...thousands upon thousands are demanding the following : - End of Sectarian Shia rule - the re-writing of the Iraqi constitution (drafted by the Americans and Iranians) - the end to arbitrary killings and detention, rape and torture of all detainees on basis of sect alone and their release - the end of discriminatory policies in employment, education, etc based on sect - the provision of government services to all - the end of corruption - no division between Shias and Sunnis, a one Islam for all Iraqi Muslims and a one Iraq for all Iraqis. The protests in Anbar, Fallujah, Sammara, Baquba, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Mosul...and in different parts of Baghdad stress over and over 1) the spontaneous nature of the "popular revolution against oppression and injustice" 2) its peaceful nature ie unarmed 3) the welcoming of ALL to join the protests regardless of sect or ethnicity as ONE Iraqi people and 4) and the March to Baghdad "[38].

During the first half of March Iraq Body Count counted 158 violent deaths [36] . As it’s for months now, the popular rebellion in Iraq is still ongoing.

Translation by Marta Canuti & Joost Verhoeven

Original article published in: Giampaolo Calchi Novati (ed.) , Primavere arabe e Grande Medio Oriente - coallana Asia Major - Carocci editore - ottobre 2012 - www.carocci.it (sezione pressonline)


[1]. " The CIA is expected to maintain a large clandestine presence in Iraq and Afghanistan long after the departure of conventional U.S. troops as part of a plan by the Obama administration to rely on a combination of spies and Special Operations forces to protect U.S. interests in the two longtime war zones. […] At the high point of the U.S. military surge in Iraq, the CIA had as many as 700 employees in the country. Most worked in Baghdad’s Green Zone, but hundreds were also scattered across safe houses in population centers and regional U.S. military outposts. […] According to former CIA officials who said the agency’s presence has probably been reduced by half. " (G. Miller, CIA Digs in as Americans Withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan, in "The Washington Post", 8 February 2012).) . "It needs to be noted that the troops left the Country but the American presence will remain massive: the staff working at the huge U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the biggest in the World, will be doubled to a number of 16,000 employees (the majority of whose will be private contractors); […] besides training Iraqi troops, Washington wants to equip them through lucrative contracts which will be paid with the petrodollars of the new Iraq (a system which has been already extendedly tested with the rich monarchies of the Gulf, which buy the most sophisticated American weaponary giving back to the U.S.A. a remarkable part of the billions of dollars earned by selling oil)" ( L’Iraq dopo il ritiro Americano: un paese fragile in una regione di conflitti [Iraq after the American retirement: a fragile Country in a conflict-rich region] , 21 December 2011 ).

[2]. The U.S. Exxon Mobil, for example, has reached an agreement for exploration of natural gas with the regional Kurdish government (KRG) without the consent of Baghdad.

[3]. Among the first acts of the Proconsul Bremer, installed by Americans in 2003, there was the privatizations of the oilfields. The law proposed in 2007 on the Production Sharing Agreement included triennial contracts with the multinationals, which could have benefited of 70% of all the profits until the coverage of initial investments was secured and of 20% afterwards (normally it is 10%). The law has never been approved. The contracts signed by the regional Kurdish government with foreign companies are considered illegal by the central Iraqi government. "Since the article 112 of the Constitution contained vague and ambiguous elements regarding the individuation of the authority for resources management, the issue should have been regulated via a specific law about hydrocarbons. The Iraq Oil law dated 2007, which has never been approved, gave authorization for signing production sharing agreements (PSA) between foreign companies and the central government of Baghdad and gave partial authority to regional powers on the management of recourses in their territory. After 4 years of stalemate, also due to political-sectarian dynamics inside the country, on September 2011 the Maliki government sent a new draft law on hydrocarbons to the Parliament which could make the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) the main authority in this sector, removing the presence of Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite delegates from the INOC Council." ( M. Carro, Le dispute petrolifere tra Iraq e Kurdistan iracheno [The oil disputes between Iraq and iraqi Kurdistan] ) .

[4]. Iraqi citizens, which during the last years have protested more than once against the new "Iranian occupation", ask the United Nations to intervene in order to stop the atrocities made by the Turkish (who bomb the north of Iraq to hit the Kurdish-Turkish refugees) and by Iranians (cfr. Iraq snapshot, in "Uruknet", 9th September 2011).

[5]. "The [Iranian, revolutionary] Guards besides training Taleban fighters at the border with Afghanistan are also supplying weapons to the Afghan forces with the directive of creating instability, to harm American forces and destabilizing Afghan government. The Guards also received the order to do the same in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Gulf. […] In the book A Time to Betray Reza Kahlili (the spy of the CIA within the revolutionary Guards) describes the mentality of the Shiite clergy and how they strive for the destruction of the World. They really believe that the end of times is close by. Last year the secret Iranian documentary The Coming is Upon Us clearly indicated that the radicals which are on power in Iran believe that the destruction of Israeli will determine the coming of the Islamic messiah" (cfr. http://www. sepahonline.blogspot.com/2012/02/blog-post.html).

[6]. In November 1982 about a thousand of Guardians of the Iranian revolution placed themselves in the Lebanese Bekaa valley and started to train various groups of Shiite militants belonging to the Resistance movement against Israeli: these groups became the core of Hizbollah. This operation was sponsored by Akbar Mohtashemi, the at the time ambassador of Iran in Damasco. (cfr. S. Mervin, Hezbollah, edited by Epoché, Milano 2009, pp. 70-1).

[7]. " General David H. Petraeus is the commander of the US Central Command since October 2008 , the military theater level from which all the strategic decisions of the whole Middle-East theater originate, including the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, where he was commander in chief of the U.S. army, he elaborated a theory that he put in practice when he became commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth (Kansas), the American strategic military centre. Here he works on his manual on counter-insurrectional activities of the American army (FM 3-24). The method […] consists of a simple statement: put the interests of the local population before everything. If Iraqis or Afghans will have nothing to complain about, they will help us. Even more: why not involve them directly inside the fight against the extremists? " ( C. Elia, Milizie tribali contro al-Qaeda: la visita del generale USA dá i suoi frutti [Tribal militia against al-Qaeda: the visit of the general from the U.S.A. bears fruit]. 22nd of January 2010 ). What "interests of the population" means, does not need to be commented about.

[8]. On December 2001 the resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Ledeen, Lawrence Franklin and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans of the Pentagon and emissaries of the Iranian government (among which Manucher Ghorbanifar) met in Rome. At the meeting Nicoló Pollari also participated, as confirmed by him in 2005 with the newspaper "la Repubblica" C. Bonini, G. d’Avanzo, Da Chalabi agli agenti iraniani la Guerra del SISMI in Iraq (From Chalabi to Iranian agents the SISMI’s war in Iraq), in "la Repubblica", 31st October 2005.

[9]. The INC, which has been created in 1992 and openly supported by the CIA and founded with American money, grouped a series of Iraqi opponents abroad and had the goal to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. The INC leader, Ahmed Chalabi, has been later on accused by the CIA itself of providing information to the Iranian intelligence, with which Chalabi admitted to be in contact. (J. Borger, Chalabi Boasted of Iranian Spy Link, in "The Guardian", 26 May 2004 ). Check also Ahmad Chalabi end his Iranian connection . About relationships with exponents of the U.S. and Iranian summit and about money received by the CIA you can check Chalabi Recounted to Al-Hayat a Long Story of Pursuit That Changed the Face of Iraq and Shook Up the Balance of the Region .

[10]. At the Conference of Bonn in 2001, Iran cooperated with the U.S.A. in choosing Hamid Karzai as president of Afghanistan. Grand bargain was the name given to the negotiation proposal (May 2003) from Teheran towards the U.S.A. about the Iranian support of Hamas and Hizbollah and about the transactions on the nuclear program. Officially, the proposal was not considered believable by the administration. After the election of Obama, during an interview for the "Los Angeles Times", ElBaradei (at that time the director of the International Agency for atomic energy) publicly supported the grand bargain. He explicitly said to recognize "Tehran's role in the region and gives it (Iran) the power, the prestige, the influence it craves " (M. Javedanfar, The Grand Bargain with Teheran, in "The Guardian", 3 March 2009).

[11]. P. Wolfowitz, Geopolitics e democracy, in "Il Sole 24 Ore", 29 September 2009.

[12]. Maliki justified the arrest of the Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashimi by accusing him of terrorism. After that act a lot of protests took place in the Sunni cities streets and banners supporting al-Hashimi and against the government were shown. (Thousands Protest in Iraq against Vice President’s Arrest Warrant, 23 December 2011 ).

[13]. Just to mention only one example, the Tribunal of Brussels made a list of 459 university professors which has been assassinated in Iraq between 2003 and 2011.

[14]. He was since decennia a worker of the CIA and he was involved in terrorist activities in Iraq since the time of Saddam Hussein. He is the prime minister of the government created by Bremer and he is responsible for the destruction of Falluja.

[15]. D. Morgan, US Policy on Iraq Shi’ites Could Aid Iran: Report, 15 November 2007.

[16]. The Mahdi Army is composed by death squads which had been (protected by the occupants) the biggest responsible of the ethnic cleansing. The atrocities carried out by the Sadrist militias, which are well documented by many Iraqi bloggers, emptied Baghdad of the Sunni population and allowed the victory against the Resistance which was deprived, in the capital, of its reservoir of consensus. It is difficult to estimate the amount of killed people, taking into account that in 2006 only in Baghdad the Shiite militias of al-Sadr killed 3000 persons during 3 days and that carnages and expulsions has been a constant factor during the entire occupation period.<> The witness is Michael Schwartz, professor at the Stony Brook University and author of the book War Without End: The Iraq Debacle in Context, Haymarket Books, Chicago 2008.

[17]. V. Poletti, L’impero si è fermato a Baghdad (The Empire stopped in Baghdad), Edizioni Achab, Verona 2006, pp. 198-9.

[18 ]. These are groups who carried on operations also against occupation troops and police forces in order to influence the choices of the government.

[19]. D. Adriaensens, Day of the Martyr, 04 March 2011. Dirk Adriaensens is a member of the Brussells Tribunal Executive Committee.

[20]. Cfr. Iraqi Student Killed at Baghdad Protest by Thugs in Ministry of Interiors suvs, 23 February 2011 .

[21]. " The amount of Turkish investments in the North of Iraq grew in the last ten years from 750 million dollars in the year 2000 to 23.6 billion dollars in 2008 and the Turkish government hopes to increase the international contacts to reach a turnover of 50 billion dollars by the year 2015. The Kurdish-Iraqi news analyst Repwa Karim Wali said that Ankara would have showed its willingness to increase the business relations also by opening in the region several branches of two Turkish State banks (Is Bank and the Agricultural Bank)". ( F. La Bella, Turchia: le due facce riguardanti la gestione della questione curda [Turkey: two sides of the management of the Kurdish issue], 20 August 2010 ).

[22]. The group assumed the name of al-Qa’ida even if it didn’t descend directly from the organization founded by Osama bin Laden. The affiliation will be declared only in May 2011. Cfr. Al Qaeda in Iraq giura fedeltà a Zawahiri ( Al Qaeda pledge Allegiance to Zawahiri ), 9 May 2011.

[23]. V. Poletti, Il campo di battaglia: i movimenti e le strategie di lotta (The battle field: the fighting movements and strategies), in "Il Ponte" (Rosso Baghdad), lxiii, 2007, 11, pp. 86-7.

[24]. Brian Fishman, professor at the Combating Terrorism Center in West Point, quotes the words of the Queadist al-Zarqawi which were written 6 months before joining the original al-Qa'ida " targeting [Shi'a] in religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies … and bare the teeth of the hidden rancour working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis as they feel imminent danger and annihilating death at the hands of the Sabeans [people in the book, non-Muslims who adhere to different religions, that is Christians and Hebrews ]", From Letter Released by the Coalition Provi-sional Authority of the 12th February 2004] (B. Fishman, After Zarqawi: The Dilemmas and Future of al-Qaeda in Iraq)

[25]. While Ahmadinejad thinks about nuclear weapons and sanctions, al-Qa’ida declares war "against the Iranian occupants in Iraq". Now that the American troops left the country – warned the terroristic organization – the attacks will be directed against the Iranian occupation and its officers, presumably the Shiite leaders. In a video-message on the Jihadist web-sites Abu Mo-hammad al-Adnany, spokesperson of the Islamic State in Iraq, filiation of al-Qa’ida, said that his organization, who belongs to the most radical wing of the Sunni Islam, " now posses the complete control of the situation and that they can hit where and when they like". The main goal will be in fact the presumed "Iranian occupation", which he defined "not less than the occupation by the American crusaders" ( Iran pronto a negoziare. L’anatema di Al Qaeda [Iran ready to negotiate. The anathema of Al Qaeda], 27th of January 2012 ).

[26]. Cfr. T. Al-Saheil, Al Qaeda-Iran Connecion, 6 August 2011 ; No Pasdaran , Ecco come l’Iran finanzia al-Qaeda ( This is how Iran subsidizes al-Qaeda ) 1st August 2001, in http://nopasdaran2.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/ecco-come-liran-finanzia-al-qaeda/; M. Levitt, M. Jacobson, The Iran-al-Qaeda Conundrum, 23 January 2009 .

[27]. Cfr. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/international/iran_helping_say_qaeda_plot_at-tack_vHxR86dFeEsI3h8Vj9acao#ixzz1ojHhyHfF.

[28]. " The Islamic Army, the main Sunni insurgent group in Iraq, is adamant it will not make common cause with the Sunni militias tackling al-Qaeda with U.S. support, and will instead fight the Americans "to the end. The Islamic Army has nothing to do with the Awakening councils," Ibrahim al-Shimmari, official spokesman of the Islamic Army in Iraq, told AFP in an email interview. No one can be a member of the Islamic Army and the Awakening at the same time. Our war is for self-defence and we are targeting those who attacked us". (Main Sunni group Vows no deal with US – Agence France Presse – January 7, 2008) .

[29]. G. Friedman, America’s Secret War, Little Brown, London 2004, pp. 245-51. The growing of the power of Iran, which nevertheless keeps on being excluded from the international consultations about the war in Syria, would impose, still according to Friedman, to the United States the need to prefigure a long lasting agreement with Teheran, reducing the opportunities for conflict to the lowest possible level. (G. Friedman, Thinking about the Unthinkable: A us-Iranian Deal, 1st March 2010 e Id., Iran, the us and the Strait of Hormuz crisis, 17 January 2012 ).

[30]. E. Garuti, Iraq: qui si parla farsi. L’avanzata dell’Iran (Iraq: here they speak Farsi. The advancement of Iran), 8 June 2007 .

[31]. Numbers from the World Bank, updated to the 5th of June 2012.

[32]. Just Foreign Policy calculates, basing on the data released by the Iraq Body Count and Lancet (one of the oldest medical journal in the world) 1,495,590 deaths until 2009).

[33]. Together with the Sunni population also the Christian community was damaged, which was forced to a mass exodus beyond the border with a very high number of internal refugees. Cfr. Vescovi dell’Iraq: non di-menticate i profughi iracheni, (Bishops of Iraq: do not forget the Iraqi refugees.) 27 March 2011 .

[34]. The guerrilla modified its combat tactics to answer to a different American military picture, which includes less and less land troops: a rocket attack to the Green Zone during the meeting of the Arab League in Baghdad during March of this year would be a response to this need.

[35]. Cfr. Gilles Munier, Iraq: una rivoluzione araba nascosta (Iraq: a hidden Arab Revolution), September 2011 ; M. Borraccino, Iraq. Noi figlie di un dio minore (We daughters of a minor God), July-August 2011 ; Fallujah, Iraq: Thousands of Iraqis Demonstrate against Assad, video, 17 February 2012 ; A. Serene, Iraq: the forgotten insurrection lives on, 28 February 2012 .

[36]. The Common Ills , Obama, If you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?.

[37]. Layla Anwar, "Worse than the Zionists"....

[38]. "Last Friday, February 8, 2013 the organizers of the demonstration decided to hold the next collective prayer of February 15, 2013 in Baghdad, in the Adhamiya mosque of Abu Hanifa. (…) all Baghdad streets were occupied by an extremely heavy military presence, check points, and patrols. (…)to save Iraq from a bloodbath, the demonstrators decided to postpone the collective prayer in Baghdad" ( BT & Iraqi Spring Media Center, What happened Friday 15 in Baghdad? – 17 February 2013 ).

:: Article nr. 96848 sent on 17-apr-2013 20:03 ECT


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