Who is the “Iraqi National Resistance”?

A statement from an entity called the Iraqi National Resistance purports to put forth conditions for peace. It is said to represent both armed insurgent groups and supporters in civil society. From Tom Hayden’s blog in The Huffington Post:

On the Iraqi side, there also is a proposed withdrawal plan that generally fits the contours of the American “strategic redeployment” proposal. According to reliable sources in Amman, the author is Dr. Khair-eddin Haseeb, a former governor of Iraq in the Sixties. The core provisions of the draft, titled “Iraqi National Initiative to End Occupation of Iraq Unconditionally, Reflecting the Will and View of the Iraqi National Resistance and Other Major Political Forces Opposing Occupation”, are these:

*an American declaration of intention to full withdrawal in six months;
*a cease-fire by the insurgents during the American withdrawal;
*a United Nations-authorized transitional government, pending internationally-supervised elections;
*a peacekeeping force composed of countries not involved in the present occupation;
*US and UK commitments to compensation in the range of $70 billion.
*permission for US-based contractors to bid on reconstruction contracts.

This document suggests a Sunni nationalist agenda, and will require further dialogue, but it is Arab nationalism, mainly Sunni but also Shiite, that the US is fighting on the battlefield. In addition, according to recent surveys, 45 percent percent of all Iraqis support armed resistance against occupation, while seventy percent support a timetable for withdrawal between six months and two years. If Sunnis constitute only twenty percent of the population, then the demands of the peace proposal must be supported far beyond the so-called Sunni Triangle, though one would never be aware of this from reading the American press.

The “Iraqi National Initiative to End Occupation” document also proves that political negotiations are possible, and have been possible for some while, despite claims by the war camp that there is no “other side” to negotiate with. Negotiating is a process, sometimes indirect, not necessarily representatives sitting down at one table. There is growing evidence that the Iraqi resistance, leaving aside the al-Zarqawi elements, has signficant capacity to coordinate its operations without being represented through a political organization or party. They observed a several-day cease-fire in observance of the recent elections. More recently, “the activities of the resistance are at a halt, now until we have a new government…that’s the information we have from the resistance”, said one tribal source. [LA Times, Feb. 10, 06].

Hayden also links to a PDF of the statement at AfterDowningStreet.org, calling the Iraqi National Resistance “a network of resistance groups and their allies in Iraqi political and civil society.” So what are these civil society groups in question? Which of the armed insurgent groups is represented? What does it mean that Dr. Khair-eddin Haseeb is “a former governor of Iraq” from the ’60s (when Iraq was an independent country, and had a president, not a “governor”)?

An “Iraqi national resistance” is also mentioned, albeit in the lower case, in this Reuters account from March 4:

Armed men on both sides of Baghdad’s sectarian divide say they want peace but, ominously for U.S. and Iraqi leaders struggling to avert civil war, they are preparing for conflict.

A local commander in the Mehdi Army in the east of Baghdad said the militia of firebrand Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was ready to defend Shi’ite Muslim and other areas of the capital from violence.

Across the Tigris river in the west, a self-styled spokesman for an armed Sunni group said gunmen from the Sunni hinterland were quietly moving into Baghdad, swelling numbers of existing irregular forces ready to protect their neighbourhoods and mosques in case sectarian violence escalates.

“The Iraqi national resistance will stand against the plan of provoking civil war in Iraq, and we are ready to fight to prevent it,” said the 40-year-old Sunni university graduate who identified himself only by his familiar name, Abu Mohammed.

We have noted that there is also an Iraqi National Foundation Congress (INFC), also purporting to represent parties and civil society groups as well as armed insurgent organizations. Is this the same group?

See our last post on Iraq, and the anatomy of Iraq’s insurgency.