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To defend Iran?

The Iraqi Baath's position and ours

8. April 2010
By Moreno Pasquinelli

On March 23rd, upon learning that we are among the promoters of the call "Stop the aggression against Iran", Salah al-Mukhtar, a known member of the Iraqi Baath (with which we have kept close ties since the Anglo-American aggression of March 2003), has sent us a letter in which he accuses us of having become accomplices of the Americans. Let us read:


«The Iraqi resistance has been waiting years for you to stand condemning Iran for its participation in the invasion of Iraq, and dissemination of sectarian strife, but you do not do, unfortunately! It seems you are with Iran even with its occupations the Iraqi lands, in Fakka for example, and kill thousands of Iraqis and playing the most serious role in hitting the Iraqi resistance in coordination with America, which makes you practically movement loyal to America by supporting Iran the most dangerous party in the implementation of US- ZIONIST schemes to divide Iraq,. This support to Iran IS very strange because Iran is playing the role of the first partner for America in the invasion and destruction of Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan.»

Salah Al-Mukhtar

A first clarification: we certainly did condemn the Iranian backing of the Anglo-American invasion! And the members of the Iraqi Baath, both the ones active in the Resistance movement and the ones who are, like Salah, forced into exile, know this very well. The Iranians also know it very well, and due to our firm and open support to the Iraqi Resistance, they have never really looked favourably on the Anti-Imperialist Camp.

Our difference with Salah lies in the question of nationalism. We support nationalism when it represents the righteous aspirations of a people without a land (see Palestinians), when it is a weapon aimed at the imperialist and colonialist oppression. We reject it when it is only a cover-up used by some regime or other to fool its people, or worse, when it is used as an ideological tool to justify an expanionist or annexational policy against peoples who are not oppressors.

There are good nationalisms and bad nationalisms. And there are nationalisms which are good under certain circumstances and become bad under other circumstances.

Iraqi nationalism is ambivalent: it is good since it is an identitarian drive for the masses to uprise against the imperialist occupiers; it can be bad if used chauvinistically against the Kurdish minority, or against the Persian people per se. Depending on the circumstances, the Baath has used both sides of Arab-Iraq nationalism, furthermore adding to it the old Sunni hostility towards Shi’a.

The terrible Iraq-Iran war has shown us where blind nationalism and nationalist chauvinism can lead.

We did not support Iraq nor Iran in the fratricidal war of 1980-88. This bloody war was not in the interest of the Iraqi nor of the Persian people, and, by weakining both countries, actually went in favour of Americans and Zionists (which supported and armed both contenders in turn). Saddam Hussein’s government bears a huge responsability for having sparked off the war against the newborn Islamic Republic of Iran, as does Khomeini for having rejected every peace negotiate that could have led to the end of the conflict three or even four years sooner. Saddam Hussein on one side and Khomeini on the other appealed to nationalist (and religious identitarian) feelings to mobilize the masses and push them to attack each other, but the true causes of the conflict were the Baath’s ambition to regional power on one side, and the Iranian expansionist aims on the other. The war has served for both as a pretext to defend themselves from their internal enemies and crisis, by diverting the tensions towards the external enemy.
As a clarification, we did not take a stance against Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in July 1990, since this conflict, as was proved by the American aggression a few months later, was only the first chapter of a devastating war of all the coalized imperialist countries against Iraq.
As a further clarification, we did not support the simultaneous revolts of the Kurds in the North and the Shi’ites in the South, which broke out just when the American invading army was marching towards Baghdad, and were therefore objectively complementary to the invasion itself.
The Iraqi Baath should therefore not accuse us of being hostile on principle to Arab-Iraq nationalism. We were not, even when the Resistance, from 2005 on, deliberately used the old hostility towards the Shi’ite “apostates” to justify a mass murder tactic where every Shi’ite was an enemy to be destroyed. Unfortunately it was common sense among the Resistance that Iran was, after all, a worse enemy than the Americans.

We have seen with the sad debacle of the Iraqi Resistance where the indiscriminate anti-Persian and anti-Shi’ite hate can lead. It has led to the war between Sunni and Shi’ite Iraqis, to a river of blood on which lay floating the jihadi salafi-takfiri militias on one side, and the Badr, Da’wa and Mahdi death squads on the other. Salah al-Mukhtar knows very well indeed that it was due jihadi fanatics’ gain of ground (which happened mostly at the Baath’s expense), that from the end of 2006 on ten of thousands of Sunni militants went over to the American occupiers’ side (the Awakening Council). This was the beginning of the end for the Resistance. We ask Salah al-Mukhtar: would this debacle have happened if the Resistance had not adopted a frontally anti-Shi’ite policy? If it had fought against the idea that Iran was the main enemy?

We do understand that the Resistance was defeated also because of the role played by Iran and by pro-Iranian Iraqi parties. This furtherly underlines the strategic mistakes of the Resistance: if one cannot obey two masters (refering to the Shi’ite Iraqi parties), one can also not fight two overwhelming enemies at the same time. After the invasion of 2003 (and the Shi’ite anti-American revolts of 2004 and 2005), pushing the Shi’ite majority in the arms of the Americans and Teheran because of blind nationalism and sectarianism was the last thing to do.

Salah al-Mukhtar accuses us because we would defend Iran in the eventuality of an American attack. This has already been a point of disagreement with Baath members at the Conference in Support of the Iraqi Resistance which we organized in Italy in March of 2007. They refused to sigh the final declaration because among other things it included a condemnation of the imperialistic threats against Iran. For the Baath members it was unthinkable that we could support the Iraqi resistance and at the same time defend Iran against the US.

Were the Baath members, blinded by anti-Persian hate, see a contradiction, there is only coherence.

A country can play a global anti-imperialist role and a the same time pursue an expansionist policy on a regional scale. It is strange that the Baathist do not understand this, as it also applied to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. We are therefore in Iran’a side in its latent conflict with the US, and we are against the policy pursued until now by Teheran towards Iraq, which has been to this moment a policy of substantial cooperation and co-occupation.

A last thing need to be added on the concept of “expansionism” to avoid misunderstandings. The Zionist, the American and their Arab puppet regimes condemn the Iranian expansionsim in the Middle-East. They refer in the first place to the decisive support lent by Teheran to the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistances. God bless this “expansionism”, whithout which we would not have witnessed Hezbollah’s victory over Israel in July of 2006 nor Hamas’s resistance to operation Cast Lead in Gaza.