"First national liberation, than democracy"


Interview with Sammi Alaa, Iraqi Patriotic Alliance, on the results of the WSF in porto Alegre and the need of an International Anti-imperialist Forum

Q: Why did you come to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre?

We have been discussing with our colleagues of the Anti-imperialist Camp and the network of Free Iraq Committees in Europe whether it was worthwhile to attend. We eventually decided to form a common delegation "Support the Iraqi Resistance" unifying our efforts to address the anti-imperialist forces within the WSF´s participants. We did so because we do not agree to the official agenda of the WSF which is concentrated in the slogans "no to war, no to violence" and "another world is possible". This does not make any sense in the reality of the world today. Imperialism is waging an all-out attack on the military, political, social and cultural level not only in Iraq. Iraq and Palestine are the most clear and extreme expressions of this tendency. We are convinced of the necessity to appeal to the anti-imperialist forces of the Brazilian and international left to focus their attention to the support of the Iraqi Resistance in order to defy US imperial designs.

Q: You called for a demonstration in Porto Alegre in support of the Iraqi Resistance? Are you content with the response?

We really appreciated the strong response to our appeal. We were even surprised by the number of participants and endorsers. There were international delegations from Argentina, the US, Peru, Korea to mention only some. Already before arriving to Brazil we had heard about the strong anti-US empire and pro-Iraqi Resistance sentiments in the population. The wide echo the call enjoyed among the Brazilian parties confirmed this. We believe that the Iraqi Resistance provides a viable platform to unify the anti-imperialist forces and mobilize on this ground.

Q: The demonstration took place on the day of the election in Iraq which it opposed. How do you evaluate their impact?

The Iraqi Patriotic Alliance considers the war of 1991, the UN embargo and the war and occupation starting in 2003 illegitimate and illegal according to international law, the Geneva convention and the UN charter. Therefore the elections are illegitimate and illegal as well as all political institutions emanating from them. The entire political process set in motion by the occupants ranging from the "Governing Council", over the "Transfer of Sovereignty" and the "Interim Government" to the so-called elections is illegitimate. Therefore we called to our people to boycott the elections. We appreciated the call of some 50 Iraqi parties to boycott the elections and we ask all parties refusing to participate in the "political process" to take a further step ahead: to join hands in a political front including all forces of the Iraqi Resistance.

Q: The Western media claim a high turn-out and thus hail the elections as a success of democracy. Isn´t it a defeat for the defying forces?

It was clear that the corporate media would celebrate a victory of the US. They did the same in Afghanistan while in reality the elections took place only in Kabul. In a statement the Danish foreign minister, Per Stig Moller, was more sober. He said that such kind of elections would be better than no elections at all. It comes to us also as no surprise that the European Union is participating in that canon willing to deal with the government legitimized by the elections. The EU is also composed of imperialist forces and their contradictions to the US are only temporary and secondary.

But how can one speak of a success if the influential Sunni minority nearly completely refused to go to the ballots? In a large number of cities a total boycott was recorded like in Diala, Baquba, Anbar, Falluja, Samarra including entire districts of Baghdad like Adamiya, Amariya and Sadr City with its two million inhabitants?

On the first day after the elections the Allawi administration claimed 70%, the next day 60% and today they backtracked to 50% participation. We will see whether he dares to admit 40 or even only 30% turn-out.

We need, however, to bear in mind that the US set up a revolver democracy. They threatened the people in many ways to participate. People used to receive their food ration cards by the end of the year. This time the Alawi government postponed the issuance of the vouchers until the elections and combined it with the casting of the vote. Ergo: no vote, no food. For many people the UN food program is the only way to survive. But they used also more direct and brutal methods. The exponents of the Muslim Cleric Council which called for a boycott received death threats. Actually half a dozen of its members were assassinated. Also many figures of the Sadr movement were jailed to pressurize them into electoral participation.

Q: Who the elections will effect the Resistance?

I will answer by outlining the two opposing political strategies, the Iraqi Resistance´s one and the occupation´s one. While the Iraqi Resistance succeeded in the last two years in marginalising all the institutions set up by the occupation power and polarising the politial landscape in Iraq, the occupation completely failed to find a reliable Iraqi ally. So the Iraqi Resistance will continue to fight for its two main goals: Firstly the liberation of Iraq and the re-establishment of the Iraqi independence and secondly the building of a united and democratic Iraq for all.

Q: Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi also called for an election boycott and the furthermore even participated in your demonstration in Porto Alegre. Why you did not succeed to build a common front with him?

We highly appreciate this boycott call and his participation in our mobilization in support of the Iraqi Resistance. With all the respect to the Muslim Cleric Council´s support to the Iraqi Resistance we believe that is not enough. Our differences touch two issues. First the Muslim Cleric Council is looking for a international political solution to end the occupion inspite of the presence of an Iraqi solution represented by the Iraqi Resistance. The second issue is an internal one. After two years of occupation we urgently need a political front of the Iraqi Resistance. That means to gather all the political forces, which remain outside the "political process" initiated by he occupation, into one single Political Resistance Front. While the armed resistance is huge and consolidated, the political front is still lacking. Khalisi and the other members of the Council are still hesitating to really work on this front, because they object to the participation of the Baath Party. But we think that it is not the right time to cultivate mutual conflicts between the Resistance forces. They cannot speak of the unconditional support to the Resistance and at the same time deny this very support to the Baath Party, which is the major patriotic force and the strongest military and political component of the Iraqi Resistance. We really hope that after the elections the Council, which we consider to consist of convinced Iraqi patriots, will swiftly and honestly reconsider their position and start to work with us to establish the required Political Resistance Front. We need an historical and political reflection of the past 35 years in form of a commission for truth and natioanl reconciliation. But we think that it is not the right time because of the presence of occupation powers in Iraq. We must remove all political obstacles to the unification of our struggle to end the occupation.

Q: In a workshop of the WSF you strongly attacked your compatriots Amir al-Rekaby and Ibrahim al-Saqban. Why?

It was necessary for me to reply to their analysis on the situation in Iraq which I belive is fundamentally flawed. We should not forget the subject of the debate which was how to end the occupation of Iraq. Rekaby came up with a well-worded theoretical discourse to find a new definition of occupation according to which a new political project with a new notion of patriotism is necessary. Saqban, the representative of the Iraqi Communist Party (Central Command), on his turn, advocated that to end the occupation we have to wait until all the religious and sectarian groups of the country are unified. Similarly, Rekaby wants to first install democracy and then achieve liberation from occupation. Both never voiced a clear-cut support to the Iraqi Resistance. On the contrary they demonise the Resistance by claimed that they would kill civilians and would consist of foreign fighters. Under these circumstances Khalisi felt himself forces to take the microphone and to underline that the Iraqi Resistance is a broad and popular one which must be supported. Rekaby and Co follow a hidden agenda which is a UN-brokered solution with the support of the so-called international community. That means to give legitimacy to the aggression and also to imperialist troops remaining in Iraq. Where ever this circle participates (WSF, ESF etc.) their advocate this perspective. They do neither speak of aggression nor of imperialism. And we can not see any serious effort by them to unify the resisting forces in Iraq. They still focus on Saddam Hussein and the Baath party while most of their leading cadres are in jail and the US has been occupying our country for more than two years.

For the IPA the Iraqi Resistance is the only legitimate representative of the Iraqi people. Any political solution which is not based on this fundamental fact is doomed to fail, therefore is no solution. The last two years have clearly taught this. Half a dozen regional and international conferences claiming to bring about a political solution but in reality intending to split and defeat the Iraqi Resistance miserably failed.

Q: In its final resolution he WSF calls for an international day of action on March 19/20 to protest war and occupation. Doesn´t that show that the Forum is a viable instrument of struggle?

Nowhere the WSF states its support for the Iraqi Resistance. But this is today the fundamental question. We saw in many debates that among the Brazilian and also the international participants there is the readiness to lend support to the Iraqi Resistance. But the leadership of the WSF decides independently, without involving the mass base. Thus it does not express their standpoint having come forth also in the arena Porto Alegre. They are increasingly afraid of the widening gap between the popular interests and the leading group. Therefore they could not do other than to call for the international day of action. Only doing so they can avoid a clear message against imperialist occupation in support of the Iraqi Resistance. There are two fronts in the ongoing war in Iraq and one must choose and take side.

Q: The WSF could only take place because of the massive support by the Lula government. What are your suggestions to the Brazilian anti-imperialists in regard to this contradiction?

The Workers´ Party (PT) and its Social Democratic brother parties in he West are part of the capitalist establishment. Lula´s government is implementing the IMF and WB program in Brazil which only serves the rich classes. Therefore there is no hope to find a solution for the interests of the por classes inside the establishment. We appeal to our comrades in Brazil to unify in an anti-imperialist front which can be part of an international anti-imperialist front. The WSF cannot give any satisfying answer to for the anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the world. We need to work seriously to establish and International Anti-imperialist Forum as an alternative to the WSF challenging the imperialist agenda. His is the urgent necessity of today.

Interview conducted by Willi Langthaler
Porto Alegre, Brazil
February 1, 2005