[Marxism] How to beat the USA

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Aug 25 07:53:17 MDT 2005


(Thanks to Lenin's Tomb for bringing this to our attention.)

Financial Times
Tips on how to beat US from insurgents' consultant
By Dhiya Rasan and Steve Negus
Published: August 23 2005 19:08 | Last updated: August 23 2005 19:08

North of the western Iraqi town of Ramadi lies the "peninsula" a bend in 
the Euphrates, dotted with vegetable fields, orchards and occasional low 
earthen mounds on which stand memorials to the "martyrs" killed in the 
struggle against the US marines based across the river.

This is the territory of the "Omariyun," an insurgent network drawn from 
four of the main tribes in the peninsula, named after a 7th century Muslim 
ruler venerated by the Sunni.

The peninsula clans' unofficial leader and consequently the Omariyun's 
informal consultant is a former army colonel named Watban Jassam, a tall 
officer in his 50s, well groomed and well spoken, who for 15 years was a 
prisoner of war held by the Iranians and now lives on a farm with his five 
sons.

The Omariyun are very much a local movement, but similar networks are 
common across Sunni Arab Iraq. This makes Colonel Jassam, a respected 
community leader who wields influence over local insurgents but does not 
share the radical Islamist ideology of extremists such as Abu Musab 
al-Zarqawi, exactly the kind of man that the Americans want to convince to 
give up armed struggle.

However, as long as US forces remain in Iraq, and as long as pro-Iranian 
Shia parties wield power in Baghdad, he does not seem ready to be convinced.

Colonel Jassam's wartime suffering and his piety (he memorised the Koran 
while in prison) as well as his educated demeanour give him a moral 
authority with the Omariyun, even if he does not engage directly in the 
planning or conduct of operations although he once ambushed some US 
soldiers after his brother was killed in a raid.

He has no objection to his name appearing in print. He says he is known to 
the Americans and, in fact, claims that they once tried to hire him as an 
adviser, in between raids on his house.

In this part of the country, fixing guilt for supporting the insurgents 
would be difficult. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone seems to 
back the mujahideen, or holy warriors.

At one point during a meeting with Colonel Jassam, shooting echoes in the 
background. The next morning, after one of the colonel's sons talks to the 
neighbours, the family discovers that it was not an attack authorised by 
the Omariyun leadership, but rather a freelance attack by a group of youths.

"They were out to make their reputation so they will be called upon to 
carry out future operations," Colonel Jassam explains.

The colonel's advice to the insurgents is twofold: hints on how to strike 
while dodging the marines' devastating firepower, and thoughts on what 
their political goals should be. He suggests that the insurgents fire 
mortars or rockets from multiple locations at once, and then flee 
immediately, so as not to give the Americans' counter-battery radar the 
chance to locate them. He tells the peninsula's insurgents to fight smartly 
not like the Salafi Islamists, he says, "who spend too long in one place, 
and who don't think through their resistance".

The colonel's political vision, meanwhile, is shaped by his 15 years in 
Iranian detention, where he was held by the Badr militia of the Supreme 
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq an Iraqi party that fought alongside 
Tehran in the 1980 to 1988 Iran/Iraq war, and which is now the most 
important power in his own country's Shia-dominated government.

He was released in 1997, eight years after the war's end. The Badr 
militiamen, he says, tortured him harshly - a common charge heard from 
former POWs. In Colonel Jassam's case, the militia forced him to eat 2kg of 
salt a day, leaving him with kidney problems that persist.

He also says the Badr forced the prisoners to dirty themselves when they 
went to the bathroom, rendering them ritually impure and therefore unable 
to pray. He stresses he has nothing against the Shia per se. "We like 
[anti-American Shia leader] Muqtada al-Sadr. I don't have any problem with 
Shia, just with the Supreme Council and with Badr." To win the war against 
the US military and Badr, Colonel Jassam advises the Omariyun to follow two 
short-term goals to cement mujahideen control over the Ramadi area, and to 
stage operations that will increase pressure on US opinion to withdraw troops.

In Ramadi, the insurgents are setting up a nascent mini-civil 
administration in its outskirts, distributing petrol and water to 
civilians. They finance themselves through the Transport Ministry's local 
office in charge of vehicle registration, which they essentially control by 
threats against its administrators.

For a few thousand dollars they issue licences to second-hand vehicles more 
than five years old, which are banned from import under an anti-congestion 
decree passed by former prime minister Iyad Allawi. With the permits, such 
cars can be sold elsewhere in the country. To achieve their second goal, 
turning Americans against the war, the mujahideen need to shape their 
operations "to support anti-war sentiment in the west", he says.

To gauge US public opinion, he has become an avid watcher of satellite news 
channels, and never misses the White House press briefings. When he sees 
footage of another insurgent groups' attack on a bus station, he exclaims: 
"They were innocents no one should kill them." He also denounces the 
Americans for using Mr Zarqawi's name to tarnish the mujahideen as a whole.

After the mujahideen have driven out the Americans, they will move on to 
their next goal - destroying Badr as a force that could ever hold power in 
Iraq. The otherwise good-natured Colonel Jassam displays a rare flash of 
hatred when he describes his former tormentors.

"The Badr said that the Sunnis were infidels . . . but who pledges 
allegiance now to the [American] infidels?" he asks. "The Badr forces have 
abandoned Islam."

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