On Sunday April 15th I interviewed a high ranking member of Iraq’s Ba’ath Party in Damascus, Syria. Like many senior party members, he lives in exile in Syria, and spoke on condition of anonymity by asking to be referred to as Abu Mohammed. The following is an exclusive interview:
Dahr Jamail: Please tell me a little about your position.
Abu Mohammed: I am a representative of the Ba’ath Party and Iraq’s National Resistance.
DJ: Western corporate media portrays most of the violence in Iraq as if it is the Iraqis who are killing each other with suicide car bombs in markets, etc. What is your opinion of Iraqi on Iraqi violence?
AM: As a matter of fact, since the beginning of the occupation, the Iraqi resistance has been doing their operations only against American troops and their allies. Iraqis killing each other and civilians dying is the fault of the invaders because there are too many parties and all these parties formed militias. Some of these are supported by the Americans, some by the Zionists, and some by the Iranians. But the job of the Iraqi resistance is to get rid of the American occupation and they are not killing civilians.
DJ: Then who is responsible for killing the civilians?
AM: The militias and invaders. The occupation forces and militias sponsored by the Americans, the militias backed by the Americans, Zionists, and Iranians. The goal from this is to make the resistance appear bad, as well as simply to kill Iraqis.
DJ: Friends I know in Baquba say the resistance is fighting Al-Qaeda there. Is this happening in Al-Anbar province as well?
AM: Al-Qaeda was not in Iraq before the invasion, nor their allies. Al-Qaeda started their work in Iraq after the invasion. As Ba’athists, we look at Al-Qaeda as different-they have different strategies, beliefs and tactics, it’s all different. Al-Qaeda aims to follow the Americans and kill them anywhere in the world. The Iraqi resistance only kills American troops in Iraq-so this is an important difference between us.
DJ: American leaders claim they have had talks with the Iraqi resistance. Is this true?
AM: The American administration and the American troops are getting used to lies. They invaded Iraq, they looted Iraq, they killed Iraqis and all of this was based on lies. They took the former government to a court and judged them and executed them and all of this was based on lies and illegalities. The invasion itself was based on weapons of mass destruction, and relations with Al-Qaeda – then it turns out there are no weapons of mass destruction and no relations with Al-Qaeda, so they were both lies. The Americans having negotiations with the resistance is also a lie. Up to now we’ve seen no move towards negotiations with the resistance about Iraq’s rights. If the Americans want to get out of Iraq and save face, they have to negotiate with the resistance and Ba’ath Party leaders in order to negotiate Iraq’s rights.
DJ: Why do you think they have to negotiate with Ba’ath Party leaders?
AM: They won’t negotiate with the Ba’ath Party because the Ba’ath Party and our resistance is the main branch of resistance in Iraq. Nevertheless there are other resistance groups in Iraq that we do respect. The resistance we’re talking about is the Ba’ath party members’ resistance and other groups as well. If the Americans wanted to negotiate with the resistance they can negotiate with any group they want that represents the resistance.
DJ: What exactly is the Iraqi resistance? What are they comprised of?
AM: The Iraqi resistance is a patriotic resistance by the Iraqis. It has many groups from many sects of Islam and it’s not exclusively in one area of Iraq. There are so many parts of the resistance. Some are Ba’athists, some are Islamists. We hope that the next government will be democratic and include all the sectors and sects of society because the new government should be of one sharing government.
DJ: Who is funding and arming the Iraqi resistance?
AM: In Iraq there are so many weapons. The Ba’ath provided enough to fight for the next 15 years. About funding, Iraq is a rich country with many rich people, so we can get the funding from inside of Iraq.
DJ: What are the demands of the Iraqi resistance?
AM: We declare liberation and independence. We do not have demands. We have rights. We want Iraq’s rights. Our demand is to give back Iraq’s rights. The rights of our people include the following:
1. All parts of the Iraqi resistance should be the exclusive representatives for Iraqis.
2. An immediate withdrawal of American forces without conditions.
3. Full compensation for both Iraq and Iraqis for those who have been killed since the sanctions starting in 1991 until now. During the sanctions, 1.7 million Iraqis were killed. And according to the Lancet report, 655,000 have been killed, and by now possibly even one million.
4. The release of everyone in prisons.
5. Canceling all the current political procedures and all the 100 Bremer Orders legislation done during the Iraqi Governing Council because according to international law, it is illegal to make any political and legislative action while the country is under occupation.
6. Canceling the UN legislation that has been passed since the sanctions.
7. Putting all the traitors, those who betrayed Iraq, and those who are allies of the Americans into trials.
These are the rights of the country and if the Americans and their allies respect these rights, we can sit together. Not to negotiate these rights, but to plan the withdrawal and discuss the implementation of these rights. Also, the resistance will go on no matter how long it takes or how much it costs, until there is a withdrawal.
DJ: What do you think the solution is to the crisis in Iraq?
AM: This is the only solution we have.
DJ: How do you think the Americans are going to leave Iraq?
AM: I’ve mentioned before that they have two ways. The first way is to respect Iraq’s rights, and to sit with the Ba’ath party and the resistance and resistance leaders to implement these rights. Then we will allow them to go out with whatever is left of their troops, and with saving some face. The second way is the resistance will continue until they withdraw, and they will not save face.
DJ: What is the strategy of the Iraqi resistance towards Iran?
AM: The resistance strategy against Iran is to liberate Iraq not only from the Americans but to liberate Iraq from the sectarian intruders of Iraq and the separation and extortion that the occupation created. We are aiming for a deep and radical liberation of Iraq.
DJ: What is your opinion of the role of the UN, Arab League, and neighboring countries?
AM: This role will be summarized by them giving humanitarian support to Iraqis after the withdrawal of the Americans.
DJ: Who is responsible for the attacks against occupation forces in the south?
AM: The resistance is spread all over Iraq, from the north to the south. The resistance in the south against the British army is a pure Iraqi resistance that includes the jihadi resistance and some Ba’ath party leaders.
DJ: Is the majority of the Iraqi resistance from the former army?
AM: Most of the resistance are former Iraqi Army military.
DJ: What are your comments on the growing conflict between the Shia and Sunni in Iraq?
AM: The truth is that the so-called conflict between the Shia and Sunni is not something real. It is due to political goals. Shia, Sunni and Kurds have been living in Iraq for over a thousand years together and there have not been conflicts such as these we see today. This conflict is growing because of the invaders. And when the occupiers, invaders and their allies withdraw from Iraq this conflict will end.
DJ: What message would you like to give to the people of the U.S.?
AM: George Bush has insulted America in Iraq. I would like to say the American troops are humiliated in Iraq. Your troops are crying in the streets of Iraq, and they are defeated. Bush is lying to you. The number of American casualties exceeds the announced number by thousands. The real number is so much higher. This is my message. And I would like to ask them to push their government to withdrawal from Iraq, otherwise they will be annihilated. I would also like to say that they have to respect our rights. If they withdrawal by the aforementioned plans, we can say we do not hate the Americans and we are willing to have good relations with America and her allies.
DJ: What message would you like to give the Bush administration?
AM: The American administration is full of criminals and liars. They have to respect the rights of the Iraqis. We will charge them in international court for what they have done in Iraq and they should have to admit their fault in front of the whole world as well as the American people. They should not lie anymore and they should be rational and withdrawal their troops.