Iraq: Baghdad investigates US pact with Sunni "resistance"
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said July 25 that it is verifying reports about the signing of a protocol between the US and parties of the "Iraqi resistance"—without the Iraqi government's knowledge. The aim was apparently including these parties in the political process and allowing them to participate in the upcoming legislative elections, due to be held in January. Iraqi media have quoted from a protocol allegedly signed in Istanbul on March 6 between US diplomats and representatives of the "Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance." When the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat asked the US Embassy in Baghdad whether these reports are true, it received the terse reply: "We have no comment."
The document apparently establishes protocols for negotiation between the US and Sunni insurgents. It identifies member of an Iraqi Resistance negotiating team, and states that if any members are arrested by Iraqi forces, the US and Turks will exert efforts to have them released.
Iraqi MP Hamid al-Malah, a leading figure in the Shi'ite Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, said the Iraqi Resistance council is the group of Izzat al-Duri, a top-ranking deputy of Saddam Hussein. Al-Malah called on "the parties concerned to take a clear stand" on charges, noting that "the Iraqi constitution is clear in its dealing with the armed groups."
Meanwhile, Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, spokesman for the banned Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, said that "resistance" in Iraq has 100 factions, and that only four of them are under the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance. He named these as Hamas of Iraq, the Islamic Army, the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance-JAMI, and the Ansar al-Sunnah Shariaa Commission.
He admitted to a deliberate policy of leaderless resistance: "With regard to the unification of the resistance ranks, this cannot be done for security and political reasons because the factions from the north to the south operate separately and sometimes collectively. Their work and policies cannot be unified because there is resistance in every inch in Iraq."
Asked about the role of the Baath Party and al-Qaeda in these factions, Al-Faydi said: "The Baathists have their jihad and liberation leadership, and they operate separately under this leadership. As for Al-Qaeda, it has global goals that have nothing to do with the resistance." (Asharq al-Awsat, July 26)