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Pro Iraqi Resistance Movement in Sweden

15. February 2005

by Anders Püschel

Short overview of the situation in Sweden regarding the solidarity movement with the Iraqi resistance

By Anders Püschel, chair of the Iraq Committee in Malmö, Sweden[1]

At present, there is no countrywide organisation in Sweden in support of the Iraqi resistance. But then again, there never was any countrywide organisation against the U.S. and allied invasion before it occurred. Of course, as in most countries, the opposition to the invasion – which was considerable before it took place – diminished after March 20th 2003, and evaporated after the fall of Baghdad on April 9th. The aim today is not, and cannot be, to rebuild this movement, but to build a new movement of the same magnitude in support of the Iraqi resistance.

Among those who opposed the invasion before March 20th 2003, there is a segment that today openly supports the occupation. They are a distinct minority, but our government and a probable majority of our parliament, as well as an overwhelming majority of opinion-makers in the media share their view. Indeed, while Sweden has no troops in Iraq, our country today officially supports the occupation through its involvement in the education of officers for the occupation-controlled Iraqi police force, and by other means as well.

A second minority among those who previously opposed the invasion are those who today support it surreptitiously. They comprise groups of Iraqi exiles who claim that they are against the occupation, but whose counterparts in Iraq are collaborating with the occupiers. Foremost among them are, of course, the Iraqi Communist Party.

A third minority are those who, although they are against the occupation, refuse to support the resistance. Their motives for this stance vary from complete opposition to the resistance because of their disapproval either of its methods (“terrorism”) or of its supposed aims (“islamicism”) to tactical considerations along the lines of “we cannot openly support the resistance if we want to build a broad-based movement”. Those who use the latter excuse commonly adopt as their policy the principle of supporting the right of the Iraqi people to resist the occupation, but refuse to support the actual resistance that the Iraqis have mounted.

There is a good deal of overlap between the second and third minorities. Indeed, part of the reason for the third minority, is the machinations of the Iraqi Communists, who very skilfully use their front organisations to further their collaborationist agenda, both among the vacillating minority and more generally, even managing to receive recognition and appreciation from some of our government agencies, such as SIDA (a development aid agency).

On the other hand, part of the reason for the success of the ICP diversionists, is that their target audience (or at least a part of it) already shares their orientalist idea that the solidarity movements in the occupying countries have a right to dictate to the occupied.

But the vast majority of former opponents of the invasion have simply given up. They don´t support the occupation, but nor do they necessarily oppose it, and much less actively so. This group is, or should be, the primary target audience for us who oppose the occupation and support the resistance. We comprise the fourth minority among the former invasion opponents.

However, our movement is still in its infancy. As I stated initially, we have no countrywide organisation. Instead there are local committees in a number of places. For my own part I am active in the local committee in Malmö (in the south of Sweden; the country´s third largest city). We do mundane grass roots activities: leafleting, organising public meetings, that sort of thing. Although we are a local group, we are really at the forefront of the Swedish solidarity movement with the Iraqi resistance. In Sweden´s second largest city, Göteborg, there is a group that supports the Iraqi resistance. However, unlike our own committee, they do not regard the struggle against the occupation of Iraq as their foremost issue (accordingly they call themselves “The network against U.S. war”). In the Swedish capital, Stockholm, there is nothing more than the first steps towards something akin to a local Iraq committee. Furthermore, if and when they do establish themselves it is doubtful that they will explicitly support the Iraqi resistance.

However, there are local committees like our own in other, smaller cities, such as Lund and Umeà¥.

Here in Malmö we regard a united, countrywide organisation in solidarity with the Iraqi resistance as a necessity for the longer term, but it is also necessary to have a solid local foundation for such an organisation, if it is to be successful. For the shorter term we therefore concentrate on our own, local activities. However, we try as best we can to support any other groups in our country that form in solidarity with the liberation struggle of the Iraqi people.

Anders Püschel

[1] My affiliation is for identification purposes only. The request for this submission came too late for me to be able to confer with the other members of the board of our Committee.