Najaf: ambiguous victory of the resistance


Given the huge disproportion of military force the eventual withdrawal of the US marines from Najaf constitutes a resounding victory of another battle of the resistance against occupation. Neither the members nor the leader of the Mahdi army will be prosecuted but could leave the battle ground as free men. Although a disarming of the resistance militia was pre-concerted it actually could not be enforced by the assailants. Protected by the popular march coming for relief the fighters could slip out of the encirclement retaining their weapons to a far reaching extent. It suffices to compare this reality on the ground with the void threats of the Iraqi puppet regime who promised to "teach Muqtada a lesson he will never forget".

Actually the lesson is conspicuous – resistance against the militarily overwhelmingly superior occupant is possible thus confirming the experience of Falluja in last April.

The defence of Najaf has undoubtedly further increased the political influence of Muqtada al-Sadr and his movement against the occupation. The Western corporate media tried to interpret the resolution of the confrontation without showdown as a success of the collaborationist Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Actually it is the other way round. The occupants had evacuated him to London right before the beginning of the attack on Najaf and the Mahdi army. With the elongation of the battle the pressure on him to save the holy shrine and its defendants against the US aggression became unbearable for him. The political pressure from the popular masses forced him to intervene thus defending also al-Sadr. When his relief march approached Najaf thousands of supporters of Muqtata joined it making the effigy of al-Sadr as widespread as al-Sistani´s. Even a cruel attack on the march by the Iraqi puppet forces killing dozens could not stop them. Although nobody dares to touch the religious dignity of the Marja, speaking in political terms one must admit that it was al-Sadr to force upon al-Sistani the former´s defence.

The battle of Najaf and the political realignment it brought about also decisively frustrated the US attempts to reinforce its puppet regime by staging the "power transfer". No further significant forces could be gained to support the regime which is as isolated as the former Governing Council it chose to replace.

However, their remain some clouds of ambiguity above Muqtada´s future struggle against occupation – an equivocalness which has been latent since the inception of the resistance. While many of his supporters defied his repeated appeals to stop the fighting, Muqtada announced that he would join the "political process". What this exactly means and which role the Mahdi army will play, remain – apparently deliberately – unclear. It is obvious that the military resistance must be combined with the creation of a political front of all resistance forces establishing the embryo of a future independent state in defiance of the one propped up by the occupants. Nevertheless the meaning the media and the public opinion give to "political process" is the one the US want to set in motion in order to create consensus for their puppet regime.

In any case, we will continue to support the necessary armed resistance as well as all attempts to give to this diverse popular movement a unified expression in form of a political front.

Anti-imperialist Camp
September 1, 2004