Skip to comments.Resistance is the first step towards Iraqi independence
Posted on 11/02/2003 7:30:10 PM PST by Pikamax
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Resistance is the first step towards Iraqi independence
This is the classic initial stage of guerrilla warfare against a colonial occupation
Tariq Ali Monday November 3, 2003 The Guardian
Some weeks ago, Pentagon inmates were invited to a special in-house showing of an old movie. It was the Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo's anti-colonial classic, initially banned in France. One assumes the purpose of the screening was purely educative. The French won that battle, but lost the war. At least the Pentagon understands that the resistance in Iraq is following a familiar anti-colonial pattern. In the movie, they would have seen acts carried out by the Algerian maquis almost half a century ago, which could have been filmed in Fallujah or Baghdad last week. Then, as now, the occupying power described all such activities as "terrorist". Then, as now, prisoners were taken and tortured, houses that harboured them or their relatives were destroyed, and repression was multiplied. In the end, the French had to withdraw.
As American "postwar" casualties now exceed those sustained during the invasion (which cost the Iraqis at least 15,000 lives), a debate of sorts has begun in the US. Few can deny that Iraq under US occupation is in a much worse state than it was under Saddam Hussein. There is no reconstruction. There is mass unemployment. Daily life is a misery, and the occupiers and their puppets cannot provide even the basic amenities of life. The US doesn't even trust the Iraqis to clean their barracks, and so south Asian and Filipino migrants are being used. This is colonialism in the epoch of neo-liberal capitalism, and so US and "friendly" companies are given precedence. Even under the best circumstances, an occupied Iraq would become an oligarchy of crony capitalism, the new cosmopolitanism of Bechtel and Halliburton.
It is the combination of all this that fuels the resistance and encourages many young men to fight. Few are prepared to betray those who are fighting. This is crucially important, because without the tacit support of the population, a sustained resistance is virtually impossible.
The Iraqi maquis have weakened George Bush's position in the US and enabled Democrat politicians to criticise the White House, with Howard Dean daring to suggest a total US withdrawal within two years. Even the bien pensants who opposed the war but support the occupation and denounce the resistance know that without it they would have been confronted with a triumphalist chorus from the warmongers. Most important, the disaster in Iraq has indefinitely delayed further adventures in Iran and Syria.
One of the more comical sights in recent months was Paul Wolfowitz on one of his many visits informing a press conference in Baghdad that the "main problem was that there were too many foreigners in Iraq". Most Iraqis see the occupation armies as the real "foreign terrorists". Why? Because once you occupy a country, you have to behave in colonial fashion. This happens even where there is no resistance, as in the protectorates of Bosnia and Kosovo. Where there is resistance, as in Iraq, the only model on offer is a mixture of Gaza and Guantanamo.
Nor does it behove western commentators whose countries are occupying Iraq to lay down conditions for those opposing it. It is an ugly occupation, and this determines the response. According to Iraqi opposition sources, there are more than 40 different resistance organisations. They consist of Ba'athists, dissident communists, disgusted by the treachery of the Iraqi Communist party in backing the occupation, nationalists, groups of Iraqi soldiers and officers disbanded by the occupation, and Sunni and Shia religious groups.
The great poets of Iraq - Saadi Youssef and Mudhaffar al-Nawab - once brutally persecuted by Saddam, but still in exile, are the consciences of their nation. Their angry poems denouncing the occupation and heaping scorn on the jackals - or quislings - help to sustain the spirit of resistance and renewal.
Youssef writes: I'll spit in the jackals' faces/ I'll spit on their lists/ I'll declare that we are the people of Iraq/ We are the ancestral trees of this land.
And Nawwab: And never trust a freedom fighter/ Who turns up with no arms/ Believe me, I got burnt in that crematorium/ Truth is, you're only as big as your cannons/ While those who wave knives and forks/ Simply have eyes for their stomachs.
In other words, the resistance is predominantly Iraqi - though I would not be surprised if other Arabs are crossing the borders to help. If there are Poles and Ukrainians in Baghdad and Najaf, why should Arabs not help each other? The key fact of the resistance is that it is decentralised - the classic first stage of guerrilla warfare against an occupying army. Yesterday's downing of a US Chinook helicopter follows that same pattern. Whether these groups will move to the second stage and establish an Iraqi National Liberation Front remains to be seen.
As for the UN acting as an "honest broker", forget it - especially in Iraq, where it is part of the problem. Leaving aside its previous record (as the administrator of the killer sanctions, and the backer of weekly Anglo-American bombing raids for 12 years), on October 16 the security council disgraced itself again by welcoming "the positive response of the international community... to the broadly representative governing council... [and] supports the governing council's efforts to mobilise the people of Iraq..." Meanwhile a beaming fraudster, Ahmed Chalabi, was given the Iraqi seat at the UN. One can't help recalling how the US and Britain insisted on Pol Pot retaining his seat for over a decade after being toppled by the Vietnamese. The only norm recognised by the security council is brute force, and today there is only one power with the capacity to deploy it. That is why, for many in the southern hemisphere and elsewhere, the UN is the US.
The Arab east is today the venue of a dual occupation: the US-Israeli occupation of Palestine and Iraq. If initially the Palestinians were demoralised by the fall of Baghdad, the emergence of a resistance movement has encouraged them. After Baghdad fell, the Israeli war leader, Ariel Sharon, told the Palestinians to "come to your senses now that your protector has gone". As if the Palestinian struggle was dependent on Saddam or any other individual. This old colonial notion that the Arabs are lost without a headman is being contested in Gaza and Baghdad. And were Saddam to drop dead tomorrow, the resistance would increase rather than die down.
Sooner or later, all foreign troops will have to leave Iraq. If they do not do so voluntarily, they will be driven out. Their continuing presence is a spur to violence. When Iraq's people regain control of their own destiny they will decide the internal structures and the external policies of their country. One can hope that this will combine democracy and social justice, a formula that has set Latin America alight but is greatly resented by the Empire. Meanwhile, Iraqis have one thing of which they can be proud and of which British and US citizens should be envious: an opposition.
· Tariq Ali's new book, Bush in Babylon: the re-colonisation of Iraq, is published this week by Verso
Thanks Tariq, that's a great idea!
Who would have thought that Mr. Ali would come up with such a helpful suggestion-- "Guantanamo" has a meaning like "Devil's Island" in the Muslim world.
Bilge water. I'll deny it.
I appreciate having it posted. Thanks.
Opposition in post-Saddam Iraq
Wednesday November 5, 2003
Is the best Tariq Ali can come up with (Resistance is the first step, November 3) a spurious comparison with the resistance to French colonialism in Algeria? Many groups opposed to the occupation in Iraq do not necessarily feel the militaristic tactics of those Ali lists provide the best way forward. Small opposition groups such as the Union of Unemployed Workers, the Workers' Communist Party and the fledgling independent unions and womens' organisations are using the space opened up by the removal of the Ba'athist regime. Does Ali think they can't do this and at the same time oppose the occupation? They know it will be much more difficult in the middle of the anarchy being propagated by Ali's "resistance".
Moreover, they know that the forces of this resistance are among those opposed to what they are doing. By what principle are the Iraqis obliged to resort to armed conflict as the first and only resort against an occupier? If Iraq is "in a much worse state than under Saddam", does he think a return to Saddam would be progressive?
Tariq Ali is to be complimented for his splendid analysis. The US mishandling of Iraq following Saddam's overthrow has provided Israel with the arguments it longs for to justify its military occupation of Arab lands. While the US hawks were willing to take strident measures against Saddam's gross violations of human rights, they have consistently abstained from taking parallel steps against Israel to halt its systematic attacks against the Palestinian civilian population. The feeling of desperation among Arabs is the spark that would rekindle their struggle against colonial oppression and injustice.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
So the Iraqis should be proud of their "opposition"? An opposition that regularly murders them on the streets and outside their mosques? And I hadn't realised that the occupation of Iraq and Palestine is a "dual occupation", whatever that is. Now we know it is all Israel's fault after all. At least Ali, in his obsession with Israel, is consistent: he supports murderous terrorists wherever they might be.
Support of Iraqi Resistance
An editor of the international political journal New Left Review, Tariq Ali, says Iraqis should be -- "proud" of the opposition in Iraq and Americans should be -- "envious" of it. Ali, in a column on counter-punch.com, says Iraqis' reluctance to -- "betray those who are fighting ... is crucially important, because without the tacit support of the population, a sustained resistance is virtually impossible." Ali, by the way, has a new book titled Bush in Babylon. The cover features a boy urinating on an American soldier.
TARIQ ALI PROFILE
If 1967 saw the Summer of Love, the following year could not have been more different. As riots swept the streets of Paris, President de Gaulle fled to Germany, seemingly impotent in the face of radical student leaders like Daniel Cohn-Bendit - Dany le Rouge.
Across the Channel 25,000 students marched on the American Embassy in London in a violent outburst against the Vietnam war. At their head the moustachioed Tariq Ali, blessed with film-star good looks, urged the masses on to revolution.
AN ATHIEST AT CATHOLIC SCHOOL
Tariq was born in Lahore, now in Pakistan, then part of British-ruled India, in 1944. A Catholic school education did nothing to shake his life-long atheism, which he shared with his communist parents.
Later, while studying at Government College, part of Punjab University, Tariq Ali was elected President of the Young Students' Union. He organised public demonstrations against Pakistan's military dictatorship and was banned from participating in student politics.
After graduating, his uncle, then head of Pakistani Military Intelligence, told Tariq's parents to send him abroad: his radicalism was becoming dangerous and he risked imprisonment. He came to Britain and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Exeter College, Oxford.
DINNER WITH MARLON BRANDO
Joining the University Labour Club, he was a committed member of its Socialist Group before becoming President of the Oxford Union in 1965. With the Vietnam war at its height, Tariq Ali earned a national reputation through debates with figures like Henry Kissinger and the then British Foreign Secretary, Michael Stewart. After one of these was televised in the United States, the actor Marlon Brando invited Tariq to dinner.
"It was the Vietcong guerrilla fighters who really set the example," he wrote later. "When they showed they could inflict major defeats on the Americans, people all over the world said, 'if they can do it to the Americans, we can too'".
The rampant anti-Americanism which fuelled his student campaigns had begun, by the late 1960s, to evolve into a sophisticated credo. Tariq came to believe that a more systematic political approach was required to further his revolutionary aims.
MARXISM AND MOVIES
Ditching the Labour Party he embraced Leninism, becoming a leader of the International Marxist Group (IMG). "One can see," he said then, "that we shall once again see (workers') Soviets in Europe in the 70s".
But it was not to be. Tariq Ali quit the IMG as the burgeoning consumer society swallowed 60s radicalism and the highly-factionalised radical left imploded under the weight of a host of trivial internecine arguments.
Since then he has devoted himself to writing books, newspaper articles and polemical commentary on social and political matters. Still a radical, he has remained at the forefront of anti-war campaigns. Conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Serbia have all led Tariq to speak out.
He is also a noted broadcaster, reassessing the developing world on Channel Four's Bandung File and collaborating on stage plays with Howard Brenton and on a film about the philosopher Wittgenstein with the late Derek Jarman.
Tariq Ali has always been, and will certainly remain, a dissenter. "The way capitalist politics is functioning," he says today, "is increasingly authoritarian, designed not to wipe out, perhaps, but completely to marginalise dissenting voices."
In his late 50s, the firebrand may not be shining as brightly as before but it is, without doubt, still aflame.
Google Search for FR threads mentioning "Tariq Ali".
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