Alix de la Grange: Liberation of Baghdad is not far away


Richard Moore


Here's some insider info from the Iraqi resistance.



'The liberation of Baghdad is not far away' By Alix de la Grange

06/24/04 "Asia Times " - BAGHDAD - On the eve of the so-called
transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi caretaker government
on June 30, former Saddam Hussein generals turned members of
the elite of the Iraqi resistance movement have abandoned
their clandestine positions for a while to explain their
version of events and talk about their plans. According to
these Ba'ath officials, "the big battle" in Iraq is yet to
take place. 

"The Americans have prepared the war, we have prepared the
post-war. And the transfer of power on June 30 will not change
anything regarding our objectives. This new provisional
government appointed by the Americans has no legitimacy in our
eyes. They are nothing but puppets." 

Why have these former officers waited so long to come out of
their closets? "Because today we are sure we're going to

Secret rendezvous 

Palestine Hotel, Tuesday, 3pm. One week after a formal
request, the prospect of talking with the resistance is
getting slimmer. We reach a series of dead ends - until a man
we have never met before discreetly approaches our table. "You
still want to meet members of the resistance?" He speaks to my
associate, a female Arab journalist who has been to Iraq many
times. Talk is brief. "We meet tomorrow morning at the Babel
Hotel," the man says before disappearing. Against all
expectations, this contact seems to be more reliable than the
ones we have previously tried. 

Hotel Babel, Wednesday, 9am. At the entrance of the cybercafe,
mobbed by foreign mercenaries, the man we saw the day before
lays it down: "Tomorrow, 10 o'clock, al-Saadoun Street, in
front of the Palestine. Come without your driver." 

We arrive at the meeting place on Thursday morning by taxi.
The contact is there. After a brief "Salam Alekum" we get into
his car. "Where are we going?" No reply. 

We drive for more than two hours. In Baghdad, even when
traffic is not totally blocked by military checkpoints,
traffic jams are permanent. In one year, more than 300,000
vehicles have been smuggled into the country. Every other car
has no license plate and most drivers don't even know what
"driver's license" means. 

"We'll be there soon. Do you know Baghdad?", asks our man. The
answer is clearly no. To get oriented in the sprawling city,
one must circulate freely, and on foot. With criminal behavior
spreading like a virus, a wave of kidnappings, the 50 or 60
daily attacks against the occupation forces and the
indiscriminate response of the American military, there's
hardly any incentive to do any walking. 

The car stops in an alley, near a minibus with tinted windows.
One of its doors opens. On board, there are three men and a
driver carefully scrutinizing all the streets and houses
around us. If we don't know at all what we are confronted
with, our interlocutors seem to know very well who they're
talking to. "Before any discussions, we don't want any doubts
on your part about our identities," they say, while extracting
some papers from inside a dusty plastic bag: identity cards,
military IDs and several photos showing them in uniform beside
Saddam Hussein. They are two generals and a colonel of the
disbanded Iraqi army, now on the run for many months, chased
by the coalition's intelligence services. 

"We would like to rectify some information now circulating in
the Western media, that's why we took the initiative of
meeting you." Our discussion lasts for more than three hours. 

Back to the fall of Baghdad

"We knew that if the United States decided to attack Iraq, we
would have no chance faced with their technological and
military power. The war was lost in advance, so we prepared
the post-war. In other words: the resistance. Contrary to what
has been largely said, we did not desert after American troops
entered the center of Baghdad on April 5, 2003. We fought a
few days for the honor of Iraq - not Saddam Hussein - then we
received orders to disperse." Baghdad fell on April 9: Saddam
and his army where nowhere to be seen. 

"As we have foreseen, strategic zones fell quickly under
control of the Americans and their allies. For our part, it
was time to execute our plan. Opposition movements to the
occupation were already organized. Our strategy was not
improvised after the regime fell." This plan B, which seems to
have totally eluded the Americans, was carefully organized,
according to these officers, for months if not years before
March 20, 2003, the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

The objective was "to liberate Iraq and expel the coalition.
To recover our sovereignty and install a secular democracy,
but not the one imposed by the Americans. Iraq has always been
a progressive country, we don't want to go back to the past,
we want to move forward. We have very competent people," say
the three tacticians. There will be of course no names as well
as no precise numbers concerning the clandestine network. "We
have sufficient numbers, one thing we don't lack is


The lethal offensive of the American troops in Fallujah in
March has been the turning point as far as the resistance is
concerned. The indiscriminate pillage by American soldiers
during their search missions (according to many witnesses) and
the sexual humiliation inflicted to prisoners, including Abu
Ghraib in Baghdad, have only served to magnify the anger felt
by most Iraqis. "There's no more trust, it will be hard to
regain it." According to these resistance leaders, "We have
reached the point of no return." 

This is exactly the point of view of a Shi'ite woman we had
met two days earlier - a former undercover opposition militant
against Saddam: "The biggest mistake of the occupation forces
was to despise our traditions and our culture. They are not
satisfied with having bombed our infrastructure, they tried to
destroy our social system and our dignity. And this we cannot
allow. The wounds are deep and the healing will take long. We
prefer to live under the terror of one of our own than under
the humiliation of a foreign occupation." 

According to Saddam's generals, "more than a year after the
beginning of the war, insecurity and anarchy still dominate
the country. Because of their incapacity to control the
situation and to maintain their promises, the Americans have
antagonized the population as a whole. The resistance is not
limited to a few thousand activists. Seventy-five percent of
the population supports us and helps us, directly and
indirectly, volunteering information, hiding combatants or
weapons. And all this despite the fact that many civilians are
caught as collateral damage in operations against the
coalition and collaborators." 

Who do they regard as "collaborators"? "Every Iraqi or
foreigner who works with the coalition is a target.
Ministries, mercenaries, translators, businessmen, cooks or
maids, it doesn't matter the degree of collaboration. To sign
a contract with the occupier is to sign your death
certificate. Iraqi or not, these are traitors. Don't forget
that we are at war." 

The resistance's means of dissuasion led to an ever-shrinking
list of candidates to key government posts proposed by the
coalition, and this in a country ravaged by 13 years of
embargo and two wars where unemployment has been a crucial
problem. The ambient chaos is not the only reason preventing
people from resuming professional activity. If the Americans,
quickly overwhelmed by the whole situation, had to take the
decision to reinstate former Ba'athists (policemen, secret
service agents, military, officials at the oil ministry), this
does not apply to everybody. The majority of victims of
administrator L Paul Bremer's decree of May 16, 2003 applying
the de-Ba'athification of Iraq is still clandestine. 

The network 

Essentially composed by Ba'athists (Sunni and Shi'ite), the
resistance currently regroups "all movements of national
struggle against the occupation, without confessional, ethnic
or political distinction. Contrary to what you imagine in the
West, there is no fratricide war in Iraq. We have a united
front against the enemy. From Fallujah to Ramadi, and
including Najaf, Karbala and the Shi'ite suburbs of Baghdad,
combatants speak with a single voice. As to the young Shi'ite
leader Muqtada al-Sadr, he is, like ourselves, in favor of the
unity of the Iraqi people, multiconfessional and Arab. We
support him from a tactical and logistical perspective." 

Every Iraqi region has its own combatants and each faction is
free to choose its targets and its modus operandi. But as time
goes by, their actions are increasingly coordinated. Saddam's
generals insist there is no rivalry among these different
organizations, except on one point: which one will eliminate
the largest number of Americans. 

Weapons of choice

"The attacks are meticulously prepared. They must not last
longer than 20 minutes and we operate preferably at night or
very early in the morning to limit the risks of hitting Iraqi
civilians." They anticipate our next question: "No, we don't
have weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, we have
more than 50 million conventional weapons." By the initiative
of Saddam, a real arsenal was concealed all over Iraq way
before the beginning of the war. No heavy artillery, no tanks,
no helicopters, but Katyushas, mortars (which the Iraqis call
haoun), anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenade launchers
and other Russian-made rocket launchers, missiles, AK 47s and
substantial reserves of all sorts of ammunition. And the list
is far from being extensive. 

But the most efficient weapon remains the Kamikazes. A special
unit, composed of 90% Iraqis and 10% foreign fighters, with
more than 5,000 solidly-trained men and women, they need no
more than a verbal order to drive a vehicle loaded with

What if the weapons' reserves dwindle? "No worries, for some
time we have been making our own weapons." That's all they are
willing to disclose. 

Claiming responsibility
"Yes, we have executed the four American mercenaries in
Fallujah last March. On the other hand, the Americans soldiers
waited for four hours before removing the bodies, while they
usually do it in less than 20 minutes. Two days earlier, a
young married woman had been arbitrarily arrested. For the
population of Fallujah, this was the last straw, so they
expressed their full rage against the four cadavers. The
Americans, they did much worse to living Iraqi prisoners." 

The suicide attack which provoked the death of Akila
al-Hashimi, a diplomat and member of the Iraqi Governing
Council on September 22, 2003, was also perpetrated by the
resistance, as well as the car bomb which killed the president
of the Iraqi executive body Ezzedin Salim in May 17 this year
at the entrance of the Green Zone (which Iraqis call the Red
Zone, due to the number of resistance offensives). 

They are also responsible for the kidnapping of foreigners.
"We are aware that the kidnapping of foreign nationals
blemishes our image, but try to understand the situation. We
are forced to control the identity of people circulating in
our territory. If we have proof that they are humanitarians or
journalists we release them. If they are spies, mercenaries or
collaborators we execute them. On this matter, let's be clear,
we are not responsible for the death of Nick Berg, the
American who was beheaded." 

As to the attack against the UN headquarters in Baghdad on
August 20, 2003: "We have never issued an order to attack the
UN and we had a lot of esteem towards the Brazilian Sergio
Vieira de Mello [special UN representative who died in the
attack], but it's not impossible that the authors of this
suicide attack come from another resistance group. As we have
explained, we don't control everything. And we must not forget
that the UN is responsible for the 13 years of embargo we have

What about the October 27, 2003 attack against the Red Cross
in Baghdad? "This had nothing to do with us, we always had a
lot of respect for this organization and the people who work
for them. What would be our interest to attack one of the few
institutions which has been helping the Iraq population for
years? We know that people from Fallujah have claimed this
attack, but we can assure you they are not part of the
resistance. And we also add: for political and economic
reasons, there are many who have an interest in discrediting

After June 30 

"Resolution 1546 adopted on June 8 is nothing but one more web
of lies to the eyes of many Iraqis. First, because it
officially ends the occupation by foreign troops while
authorizing the presence of a multinational force under
American command, without stipulating the date of their
removal. Second, because the Iraqi right to veto important
military operations, demanded by France, Russia and China, was
rejected. Washington has conceded only a vague notion of
partnership with the Iraqi authority and did not think of
anything in case of disagreement. Iraqis are not fools, the
maintenance of American troops in Iraq after June 30 and the
aid money they will get from the American Congress leave no
doubt over the identity of who will really rule the country." 

What about a possible role for the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO)? "If NATO intervenes, it's not to help our
people, but to help the Americans leave this quagmire. If they
wanted our well-being, they would have made a move before,"
say the three officers while looking at their watches. It's
late and we have largely exceeded our allotted time. 

"What American troops cannot do today, NATO troops won't be
able to do later on. Everyone must know: Western troops will
be regarded by Iraqis as occupiers. This is something that
George W Bush and his faithful ally Tony Blair will do well to
think about. If they have won a battle, they have not won the
war yet. The great battle is still to begin. The liberation of
Baghdad is not far away." 

Copyright 2004 Asia Times


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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
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