Sheikh Hassan Al Zargani, foreign affair office of Moqtada Sadr
Q: Can you give us an update on the situation in the south of Iraq and especially the current of Moqtada Sadr?
Our movement started with the fall of the Saddam regime. We took over the responsibility for the medical, food and fuel supply as the Iraqi state was absent. The same applies for the security. We are organizing the people around the mosques guaranteeing security and ending plunder. We even are regulating the traffic.
The Sadr movement looks back on a long tradition and is part of the conscience of the Iraqi people. It exists since the 70ies with the first Sadr and continued with the Second Sadr who was martyred in 1999. Now it is carried on under the leadership of Moqtada Sadr after the death of his father, his brother, his ant and his uncle.
You can call it "current", you can call it "line" or whatever, this movement is coming from the people and working for the people of which it represents the half. This fidelity comes from the loyalty of Moqtada to his principles and to responsibilities. The current had no appetite to take governmental offices. We refused to form part of the new government based on the confessional quota principle.
So many sectors of the masses and also many religious leaders gathered around this young and energical leadership. After the fall of Baghdad we immediately participated in the pacific resistance consisting in strikes, demonstrations and all form of protests.
Then came the time when the American troops started to shoot on peaceful demonstrations and closed the offices of Imam Moqtada Sadr and his newspaper. They threatened us with a penalty of USD 100.000 if we would continue to publish and speak about our movement. They did so because we wrote for the people and worked for their interests. We didn`t bend down our head. We started a popular uprising. We were the only ones who adopted officially the resistance. We fought with uncovered face, known name and a political line which is known by everybody. We are proud of this. Because there is no other force on the earth who stood openly against USA being on its own ground and fighting with its own masses without having to disappear and to go underground.
Q: What is the relationship with the other forces of the resistance?
We coordinate will all the forces of the resistance but we do not consider as resistance those who just want to export the criminal violence into Iraq, putting bombs beside mosques, churches, students and simple policemen killing innocent people. These are terrorists and actually forces resisting the resistance. They damage the reputation of the resistance, weaken its popular bases and deepen the split between the different confessions. But practically, we had a coordination with the other parts of the resistance and we participated in the battle of Fallujah. Tn Fallujah the mujahidin rose the photos of Moqtada Sadr and the banners with the slogan "From Fallujah to Kufa, we will not give up our homeland". Now we have a cemetery in Fallujah which is called after Sadr. From the beginning of the confrontations in Fallujah – and I mean defending the city against the invasion and not the guerrilla street fights – we had four brigades of the Mahdi Army defending the city.
There is a documentary and official books. Everybody admits this and nobody dares to deny it. Also the fighters of Fallujah came to Najaf and participated in the fights there. They supplied us with food and medicines during the battle of Najaf and as we had done with them. That exhausted the enemy. Therefore they increased the attacks against Imam Sadr and therefore they claim that the Kurds and the Shiites were victims of the former regime and that the Resistance existed only in the Sunni zones exclusively performed by followers of the Baath regime. The resistance led by Sadr – who himself was an important opponent of the former regime – overcame the confessional limits and gave the resistance an Iraqi national dimension.
The second point is the charisma of Moqtada Sadr who gained popularity after the confrontation against the American destroying the image of the invincible USA using simple weapons. The third point is that this resistance formed a strong solidarity between all the Shiites of the population and showed that the resistance is an important factor unifying the Iraqi people. That is why the attacks against Imam Sadr was crucial and went hand in hand with a strong media defamation campaign. The Iraqi people understand this role and the related difficulties and responsibilities. Its support to the Sadr current increased and the masses defended the offices of Moqtada Sadr in Najaf, Kufa and all cities of the South, the middle and the north and in Kirkuk. I have to mention that Kirkuk called for help with regard for the damage caused by the Kurds. Nobody was ready to help except the Mahdi Army. That is why the people of Kirkuk are proud of the Mahdi Army and thankful to Moqtada Sadr who saved them from the hegemony of the US allied peshmergas.
Q: What are you perspectives for the future?
We hope for a better Iraq because there are many resisting people who refuse the occupation but we have to be careful because some fundamentalist groups are trying to cause a conflict between the confessions or between the political parties, the different nationalities or between the Muslims and the Christians putting bombs. Many challenges are still to face. The occupation and the traitors are still here. But we still have the big bases of the popular masses believing in the victory of the Iraqi homeland against all these phenomena.
Interview: Bahar Kimyongür, Front for Rights and Freedoms (HÖC; Turkey)