In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Iraqi resistance seeks cross-sectarian unity

Posted by seumasach on June 21, 2008


FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2008


Good news(Missing Links)

The names and orientations of political parties registered for the upcoming provincial elections show a dramatic shift from sect- and other small-group orientations to a focus instead on nationalist themes (summary of the trend by Visser here; report by AlHayat here).

Following on the heels of that, Zaid al-Zubaidi, writing in Al-Akhbar, says his discussions with leaders of some of the armed resistance factions show they too are implementing a shift away from “sectarianism” (or the appearance of sectarianism) to a similar focus on a more open attitude–in their case the gist of the change being to try and incorporate or amalgamate the “secular, leftist and nationalist” groups that oppose the occupation, in part by abandoning some of their sectarian trappings, and also by working together on substantive issues of post-occupation policy.

In particular, the journalist quotes a leader of the Reform and Change Front (Brigades of the 1920 Revolution and other groups, close to the Association of Muslim Scholars) who told him his group “has announced it is prepared to cooperate and ally itself with leftist, secular and nationalist forces that oppose the occupation, whether they follow programs of armed resistance or of peaceful resistance.” 

The discussions within the Jihad and Change Front are continuing, and they include for instance a proposal that the group announce its intention to abandon its arms once the occupation withdraws, and commit also that its members won’t seek political positions thereafter, relying instead on experts and specialists, no matter what their political orientation. The spokesman said the majority are in favor of this proposal, but there are some who see it as an attempt to do an end-run around those who have borne the brunt of the fighting, in the interests of the secularists and Baathists and so on, who are stronger in terms of the type of expertise referred to. 

The journalist also talked to a leader in the Rashideen Army (one of the Jihad and Change groups) who elaborated on the problem of attracting secular resistance people to these groups as long as they retain their religious and/or sectarian names and identities, suggesting this will have to be changed if the resistance is to finally unite all of its elements in a final push against the occupation. Unifying now with the secularists, he said, would help eliminate the feeling that some of the fighters have that the fruits of their efforts are going to be usurped by others (meaning the secularists). 

The journalist says this new mood is a result of recent experiences, including: (1) Generally, the fact that a “sectarian” image has cost the resistance dearly in terms of popular support; and (2) more particularly, the following:

According to those who follow the affairs of the resistance, the factions have been facing a major difficulty, since their enemies (or rivals) among those who participate in the political process have grasped the dangers of sectarian and religious confrontations, and some of them have announced they are abandoning their sectarian blocs and staying away from religious-political disputes, while the resistance is lagging behind in this proposition…


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