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The battle of Falluja, the uprising and temporary popular power

20. May 2004

Interview with Abduljabbar al-Kubaisi, leader of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance (IPA)

How did the battle of Falluja change the situation in Iraq?

The result was a full popular mobilisation and an uprising that surpassed all our expectations. Everybody contributed in their way. There were even old women who carried ammunition to the resistance fighters at the front line. The people and the armed resistance movement established its control over the town. But is was not only the case in Falluja but in many places. For example in Samarra it took the US occupants several weeks to put down the uprising. Also in Baghdad they lost control for a certain period. From 5th to 7th of April many parts of the town were under control of the resistance forces who were patrolling the streets. During this period, public order destroyed by the US was restored. No more indiscriminate killings, no rapes and robberies occurred.

What you think of the so-called “Falluja Army” commanded by former generals of the Iraqi army? Is its establishment a victory for the resistance or is it a new attempt to create collaborating Iraqi armed forces?

The Americans had to find a solution. Their will try to transform the newly created Falluja Army into something like their Iraqi police, that means into overt collaborating armed forces. However, most of the enlisted people come from Falluja and participated in the battle against the US army. They are close to the ranks of the resistance. They joined the army because they need to feed their families. We expect that in case of new battles most of them will go with the resistance or will at least refuse to follow US command. So as long as it remains a local phenomenon it is no big problem. But there is also a larger political strategy behind. The US try to bring many high ranking former Baathist officers. They conduct a political campaign to get them in, to give them jobs, to reinstate them. If this is spreading to a national level, then it becomes a serious problem. Thus as a system we reject this army and similar attempts elsewhere.

On May 8th, a conference led by Sheikh Jawad Chalisi and Muthanna Harith al-Darri took place in Baghdad which claimed to be part of the resistance against the occupation. However, they called upon the UN and its special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to co-operate with them.

Many of the participants are people close to the resistance. But there are also overt and covert collaborators inside who are with Talabani or Chalabi. Behind this there is an operation by the king of Bahrain in the service of the US. For the Americans it became clear that they have to co-opt the forces oscillating between the resistance and the occupants. They need to give their authorities a guise which they hope would be more acceptable to the people. The Sunni participants of the conference were for example told that they could not let the Shiite forces take power. They claim that it is for the sake of the independence of the country and that they stand against the occupation and the Governing Council. But how they can co-operate with Lakhdar Brahimi while the armed resistance has declared him a target because he is trying to give the US occupation the legitimacy of the UN? There cannot be any sovereignty as long as there are foreign troops in Iraq. Their withdrawal is a precondition. We will not accept anything less. We denounce any collaboration with the occupants even under the guise of the UN. Thus the path taken by the conference of May 8th is a danger for the resistance and we reject it.

Will the so-called “transfer of sovereignty” scheduled for 30th of June change anything?

The US need new, clean faces for their occupation administration. So they asked the UN and Brahimi to save the situation for them. They are trying to build a new faà§ade. But the people know that they are cheating. UN and Brahimi are nothing else than political agents of the US. The reality shows that they are only renaming the old “Governing Council”.

What about the formation of the political resistance front? The process seems to be delayed.

The construction of the front is a long way to go. Our experiences indicate that many forces are hoping that they can reach a compromise with the occupants selling the resistance. The latest so-called resistance conference in Baghdad is just another evidence for that. These people play a double game. On the other hand the political forces really expressing the resistance run very high security risks showing up in the public. They have troubles to engage in the political struggle and to form the indispensable front. So we must be patient.

Can you comment the uprising led by Muqtada al-Sadr? Did he react to an American provocation or did he make up his mind and joined the resistance?

It was first of all the tremendous momentum of the resistance in Falluja that drew him into the struggle. The situation and the pressure of his mass following pushed him on the side of the resistance. Most of his supporters are very poor people, young and unemployed. They feel like second class citizens and want to take action against the humiliation by the occupants, as they have nothing to loose. They are very different to the rich Shia merchants of Najaf and other places. Neither are they linked to Iran and thus defend an Arab Iraq. But not only the supporters of Muqtada rose up. About the half of the insurgents are not linked to him. They joined him only because he took action against the US. This shows that the uprising is not a religious but a political matter for which Muqtada serves as a symbol. Furthermore the uprising has shown the unity of struggle between the Shia and Sunni which the occupants intend to divide. Sunni representatives have expressed they solidarity and vice versa. On the level of the masses this sense of solidarity in resistance is even stronger. It is a very positive development and co-operation also on a political level will be more and possible.

Anti-imperialist Camp
May 15, 2004