[Marxism] Interview with Iraq's chief insurgent

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 27 07:47:41 MDT 2006


http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1218388,00.html
Monday, Jul. 24, 2006
Exclusive: Inside the Mind of Saddam's Chief Insurgent
Former deputy Deputy President Izzat al-Douri, America's most wanted Iraqi 
fugitive, tells TIME why the insurgents won't join the political process
By APARISIM GHOSH/BAGHDAD

Iraq's Ba'athist insurgents have no intention of joining a political 
process that was "manufactured by and serves the occupying force," the 
highest-ranking figure from Saddam Hussein's regime still at large has told 
TIME Magazine. In an exclusive written interview — his first to the Western 
media — Izzat al-Douri said the Ba'ath Party will continue "to mobilize and 
bring together the energies of the people for the fight to expel the 
occupation."

A national reconciliation program aimed at drawing elements of the 
insurgency into the political process is the cornerstone of the current 
Iraqi government's efforts to stabilize Iraq. And despite the government's 
insistence that there will be no amnesty for former regime leaders such as 
al-Douri because they are accused of crimes against Iraqis, analysts in 
Baghdad say the reconciliation program can only succeed if the Ba'athists 
come in from the cold. But while Al-Douri signaled a willingness to 
negotiate, he insisted the Ba'ath Party would first need to see the U.S. 
announce a timetable for withdrawal of troops, the formal recognition for 
the insurgency, and the reinstatement of Saddam's army, which was dissolved 
in 2003.

Al-Douri, the former Vice-President — the 'King of Clubs' in the U.S. deck 
of cards naming the Saddam regime's most wanted figures — is among several 
Ba'athist leaders believed to be hiding in Syria, under the protection of 
the regime of President Bashar As'sad. He is believed to be in poor health, 
possibly suffering from stomach cancer. Nonetheless, al-Douri said the 
Ba'ath Party has been restructured under his leadership as a 
"revolutionary, struggle-oriented" organization, in which he plays an 
influential role.

A U.S. official in Baghdad familiar with Sunni politics confirmed that 
claim: "He's still in charge, still dedicated to a return of Ba'athist 
dictatorship, " said the official. Although U.S. and Iraqi sources say 
there have been contacts, usually through intermediaries, with the party's 
leadership, they insist there can be no deal with Al-Douri. "The only thing 
we will discuss with him is his surrender," says the U.S. official.

TIME's questions were sent to al-Douri in May through intermediaries, and 
it's not exactly clear when his written answers, delivered in Arabic and 
authenticated by trusted sources, were composed — the fact that they refer 
in the present tense to the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi suggest 
they were written before Zarqawi was killed in June. Al-Douri praises the 
Qaeda man's "courage, the strength of his faith, and the sacrifices of his 
fighters," but rebukes Zarqawi's advocacy of mass sectarian killing of 
innocents.

Asked about the country's new government, al-Douri said he respects those 
in the political process who oppose the presence of the U.S.-led coalition 
force — a reference to Sunni politicians who have been outspoken critics of 
the U.S. military presence — but urged them to quit the process "because 
they and the agents, traitors, and spies who are with them are incapable of 
offering anything to the people while under the occupation. "

In a rare admission for a senior Ba'athist, al-Douri said the Saddam regime 
had blundered in its military strategy at the beginning of the U.S.-led 
invasion. Rather than allow the Iraqi military to confront the coalition 
forces in open combat, he believes the leadership "should have husbanded 
the army's strength and means till the second page had been turned." Still, 
he claims that Saddam's military bounced back, suggesting that elements of 
the old army are responsible for 95% of insurgent operations against 
coalition forces.

Al-Douri also claimed to have sent President Bush a letter, "via a friend 
in the official Arab circles," after the December, 2003 capture of Saddam. 
In it, al-Douri says he warned Bush that the continued presence of U.S. 
troops in Iraq would turn the country "into a world center for terrorism 
and the manufacture and export of terrorism in its many different forms." 
Al-Douri said he wrote Bush: "I know that you are courageous, and courage 
calls for a decision to withdraw immediately from Iraq."

The U.S. official in Baghdad was unable to confirm that such a letter had 
been received by the White House, but didn't rule it out, saying, "there 
are a variety of channels through which [insurgents] reach out." However, 
he added, "considering the source, I don't think such a letter would have 
been given much credence."

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