Jamail: Southern Iraqi Tribes Joining Armed Resistance


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

January 21, 2007
Southern Iraqi Tribes Joining Armed Resistance
Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

BAGHDAD - Violence is spreading further across Iraq, as Shi'ite Arab tribes in 
the south begin to engage occupation forces in new armed resistance.

Resistance in the southern parts of Iraq has been escalating over the last three
months, leading to increased casualties among British and other occupation 

In the last seven months, at least 24 British soldiers have been killed in 
southern Iraq, with at least as many wounded, according to the independent 
website Iraq Coalition Casualties. So far at least 128 British soldiers have 
died in Iraq, along with 123 of other nationalities. Most of these have been 
stationed in southern Iraq.

Casualties earlier were far lower.

Attacks against occupation forces appear to stem from a growing nationalism.

"This is not about vengeance," a former Iraqi army officer from Kut, 200 km 
south of Baghdad told IPS in Baghdad. "People have lost hope in the US-led 
occupation's promises, and they are thinking of saving the country from Iranian 
influence which has been supported, or at least allowed by the Multinational 

British and US military leaders tend not to say who has been targeting their 
forces in the south. They simply call the resistance fighters "terrorists," or 
they point to the Mahdi Army led by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as the only 
source of disturbance in the south.

While members of the Mahdi Army certainly carry out attacks against occupation 
forces in southern Iraq, other homegrown resistance seems to have taken root, 
fed also by earlier memories.

"People here have always hated the US and British occupation of Iraq, and 
remembered their grandfathers who fought the British troops with the simplest 
weapons," Jassim al-Assadi, a school headmaster from Kut told IPS on a recent 
visit to Baghdad.

Al-Assadi was referring to the Shi'ite resistance that eventually played a key 
role in expelling British forces from Iraq during the 1920s and 1930s.

Armed resistance against the occupation in the south was slow to begin with 
because religious clerics instructed their followers to give the occupation time
to fulfill promises made by the Bush and Blair administrations, al-Assadi said.

"But now they do not believe any cleric's promises any more. They have started 
fighting, and that is that."

A political analyst in Baghdad, who asked to be referred to as W. al-Tamimi, 
told IPS that he believes occupation forces have been working in tandem with 
death squads. "We have been observing American and British occupation forces 
supporting those death squads all over Iraq, but we were still hoping for 

Al-Tamimi said the sheikh of his tribe, which is both Shi'ite and Sunni, was 
"under great pressure by the tribe's young men to let them join the resistance."

The force of the growing resistance in the south has become more and more 
evident. Late last August 1,200 British soldiers known as The Queen's Royal 
Hussars abruptly evacuated their three-year-old base after taking continuous 
mortar and missile fire from Shi'ite resistance fighters.

The British military announced the move as part of a long-planned handover of 
security to the Iraqi government, but it was clear that the move was abrupt. 
Iraqi authorities were not notified.

"British forces evacuated the military headquarters without coordination with 
the Iraqi forces," Dhaffar Jabbar, spokesman for the local governor said at the 

Looters promptly moved into the empty base and removed an estimated half a 
million dollars worth of equipment the British left behind in their hasty 

In another significant event last August, Sheikh Faissal al-Khayoon, chief of 
the major Shi'ite Arab tribe Beni Assad, was killed by death squads with 
suspected Iranian backing. The killers are believed by men from the tribe to 
have been working for the Iraqi Ministry of Interior in Basra.

Khayoon's tribe members reacted immediately. They took over the streets and 
government offices, and set fire to the Iranian consulate in Basra. The protests
continued until clerics and Iraqi government officials promised them a full 

"It was another lie that some of us believed," a senior Beni Assad leader told 
IPS on condition of anonymity. "The Sheikh was killed by Iranian collaborators 
and we made a promise to his soul that his precious life will be avenged."

Beni Tamim is another tribe with both Sunni and Shi'ite members. Members say 
their Sheikh, Hamid al-Suhail, was killed Jan. 1 this year by the Mahdi Army, 
which they believe has Iranian support. He died in the northern Baghdad 
Shi'ite-dominated Shula Quarter.

"He was 70 years old, and brutally killed by Mahdi death squads by pushing him 
from a high building," one of the sheikh's nephews told IPS in Baghdad. "Iran is
behind all this and we, Beni Tamim are well prepared to face their yellow winds 
that are blowing Iraq apart."

Leaders of the two tribes, among many other tribal chiefs in the south, are 
working to achieve unity between Sunni and Shi'ite groups.

(Inter Press Service)
Posted by Dahr_Jamail at January 21, 2007 02:37 AM

Escaping the Matrix website     http://escapingthematrix.org/
cyberjournal website            http://cyberjournal.org
subscribe cyberjournal list     mailto:•••@••.•••
Posting archives                http://cyberjournal.org/show_archives/
  cyberjournal forum            http://cyberjournal-rkm.blogspot.com/
  Achieving real democracy      http://harmonization.blogspot.com/
  for readers of ETM            http://matrixreaders.blogspot.com/
  Community Empowerment http://empowermentinitiatives.blogspot.com/
  Blogger made easy             http://quaylargo.com/help/ezblogger.html