Dr. Muhammed Bashir Al-Faidhy, spokesperson for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI).
They went to Amman in Jordan to meet Dr. Muhammed Bashir Al-Faidhy. Mats Gabrielsson, a Swedish film maker documented the interview. It was interpreted from Arabic to English by Mrs. Al-Haidari from AMSI.
Since the end of 2013 there is a bloody battle of wills going on in Iraq that could change the course of history in the Middle East. Few took notice until the invasion of Mosul on June 10, 2014, and western media said nothing. And this when half of Iraq was already in a chaotic war situation. The town of Faludja was under siege and being bombed for the third time in a decade, this time by parts of Iraq’s new army of millions with a new stockpile of weapons supplied by the US. Nevertheless, though seven months have passed and deliveries to the town are waylaid, the defenders still refuse to give up.
As soon as the acts of war started, western media established that Iraq’s army was heroically fighting the Al-Qaida group ISIS/ISIL that had crossed the border from Syria to take control of the towns. The media had completely adopted the version given by the US and the Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maki, although there were few facts to support it and reports were contradictory. This is still the all-dominating view, thus hiding the popular uprising.
Oddly, a few influential and usually critical writers on the internet, such as Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com, Christof Lehmann at NSNBC International and the Swedish journalist Stefan Lindgren, followed suit. Lindgren is a prominent left activist with a background in the solidarity movements for Vietnam and Afghanistan. He went as far as to say that giving medical assistance to the up-risers was wrong, other than through the Red Cross.
On the other hand, writers at the Brussels Tribunal who are closer to reality in Iraq said that Al-Maliki is fighting his own people who after three years of fruitless peace demonstrations that were met with massacres, are engaged in an armed uprising against oppression, a corrupt legal system and mismanagement of the country. Al-Qaida is a scapegoat, used to blind the West, they said.
AMSI works inside Iraq for humanitarian aims and has boosted moral opposition and cohesion in the country. So much so that its leader, Sheikh Dr. Harith Al-Dhari, was given the responsibility of being spokesperson and international representative for some of the armed resistance groups that fought hardest and were most determined to drive out the US occupation army. AMSI is linked with the Brussels Tribunal and Dr. Al-Faidhy was a speaker at the conference in April 2014.
Question: The Iraqi prime minister Al-Maliki’s support of the Assad regime in Syria is seen by many in the West as definite proof that Iraq has won back its independence and sovereignty after the US army left the country. Could you comment on this?
– The US views the ”Arab Spring” differently from country to country. For example Syria compared to Yemen. Its view of the uprising in Iraq is totally different from its view of popular uprisings in other Arab countries. We saw how the US supported the rebels in Libya and involved itself militarily. Up until now the US has refused to involve its military in Syria, despite many more deaths there than in Libya. Syria is different because it is bound to Iran. Russia supports Syria because of its liaison with Iran. But at the end of the day, the way the US sees the rebels in Syria has in fact become support for Maliki’s regime in Iraq.
I can give you an example: It is a fact that Iran sends troops and weapons to Syria through Iraq. The US knows this well and has repeatedly asked Al-Maliki to stop the consignments. It has been officially confirmed that Al-Maliki ignores the US requests. Despite this, the US still supports Al-Maliki because it has a project in Iraq and it wishes to maintain and to protect its position. The US cannot afford to cause a crisis with Maliki and must therefore accept that it does not get everything it wants. In short: Conditions in Iraq are very different compared to those of the rest of the Arab world. The US is not interested in democracy, only in its own interests.
Remember the huge peaceful demonstrations that took place in 16 of Iraq’s 18 provinces from 2011 to 2013. When there were similar uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the US seemed to support them. Read Obama’s comments at this time! But there was no word of support for the great democratic revolution in Iraq! There was no support from the US because, of course, Maliki was there! Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds took part in the uprising.
Al-Maliki represents US interests in Iraq and also Iran’s interests in Iraq. These interests are linked and tied up with each other, which makes the situation complicated and difficult to understand for outsiders.
Did the US and Iran conspire in secret from the very start of the occupation in Iraq? And has the situation now changed in Syria? There is an ongoing international discussion about this. Who are the Syrian rebels and who is paying them?
– It is complicated. The super powers interfere and some of them actually, and in principal, take the side of the Syrian rebels. On Syria’s side there is Russia, Iran and Al-Maliki’s Iraq. On Iran’s side we have Russia and China too. On the opposite side are the US and Europe. The uprising in Syria was started by the people, and in fact was very successful to begin with. But it got stuck in Damascus. Hezbollah was drawn in to fight and Iran and Russia started supplying Syria with weapons and troops. This changed the situation.
There is an important factor that nobody speaks about, and that caused the loss of international support for the uprising. Iran ordered Maliki to release a substantial number of imprisoned Al-Qaida, in order to take them to Syria to fight and create an organisation that would terrify the world. The aim was to alter world opinion of the uprising and support Assad in his struggle against the new organisation. This is not an accusation, not something that can be said without argument. We have evidence in the shape of a digital recording by Iran’s current minister of justice where he confirms it. He said that the smuggling out of the Al-Qaida members was done under the supervision of senior civil servants in Iraq. These elements of Al-Qaida are the most dangerous of the dangerous. The Americans arrested them and turned them over to their Iraqi vassal regime. Time to repeat the happenings from Syria in Iraq.
Is the war in Syria a proxy war? Supporting the downfall of Syrian’s Assad but condemning the downfall of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein seems inconsistent from the perspective of international law. Is not the principle of sovereignty universal?
– Yes, this is a proxy war, a war waged by agents. This is a game played by the super powers where Assad according to international law is defending his country. Initially, the international community said that the regime had to be changed. And now, as a result of what has happened, it is said that it is necessary to work together with Assad in order to stop the fighting. This is a dirty game where everyone pays Al-Qaida for an agenda in their own interests – the US, some Arab states and Iran – and in the end it is the people who pay.
The Assad regime pays Al-Qaida too. There is an agreement between Assad and Al-Qaida. Two days ago, The Times reported that Assad had decided to buy oil from land controlled by Al-Qaida in Syria. This confirms, indirectly, that oil is controlled and sold by Al-Qaida. We knew this before. You will be surprised when I now tell you that when the US was physically occupying Iraq, they paid Al-Qaida. The members of Al Qaida that were arrested by the US in Iraq were set free after only six months. Al Qaida is a tool. Different countries pay Al-Qaida to carry out atrocities that serve the interests of their respective countries.
What is the relationship between the opposition in Iraq and the Assad regime?
We support the people of Syria against the oppressor Assad and against Al-Qaida. The opposition in Iraq proudly and strongly sympathises with the Syrian people and their struggle against the Assad regime, but it has not intervened and does not send troops. The support is ideological. It sees the Assad regime as a dictatorship and an oppressor, and as such it must be combated.
The Assad regime receives the support of Shiite militias who have been trained in Iraq and who are some of the Iraqi opposition’s worst enemies. There are two rivalling projects in the area:
1) The Iranian project that runs from Tehran to Beirut. It is underpinned by Khameni, Al-Maliki, Assad and Hassan Nasrallah. They play in the same orchestra.
2) The Arab project which consists of the Syrian uprising and the Iraqi opposition.
As the US at the moment is linked with Iran in the Iraqi situation, it seems obvious that it will have difficulties solving the Syrian problem, because it does not wish to disturb Iran.
What is happening in the Middle East and thereabouts seems like the fullfilment of ”The Zionist plan for the Middle East”, translated in 1982 from Hebrew by Israel Shahak. It entails the destruction of existing states in the region by dividing them up into smaller units which would fight each other – not the traditional imperialist model for gaining access to commodities and cheap labour. Do you agree?
Unfortunately, what you describe is now taking place. There are those who say that the US created these uprisings. And there are those who say that the uprisings in the Middle East are a natural result of oppressive dictatorships. I do not wish to discuss any of these possibilities. Is it all planned ahead or have the various sides acted in order for it to happen thus? The outcome is the same whatever happens, in Tunisia, Libya, Somalia and in Iraq. However brilliant the plans are, the outcome has seen countries implode, not explode. It is the powers behind this that created the dictatorships.
There is a new plan that causes those dictatorships that are allied, but not useful to the US, to fall apart. Take Gaddafi, he wanted to keep and protect Libya. Take Saddam Hussein who wished the same for Iraq. Did these dictators start to become too independent? No, they saw their countries as possessions. But the people’s uprisings were genuine.
This is why the US initially supported the revolution. What had happened in Iraq now happened in Syria. If Assad were overthrown, Russia’s interests would be destroyed. So Russia became involved. The conflict in Syria has become international. But in Iraq the super-powers have reached an agreement. Almost 2.5 million Iraqis have been killed or wounded. Where is Ban Ki Moon? Where is Europe? When a cat is killed, there is a big hullabalou. The people of Europe see hundreds of Iraqis being killed every day, but they are silent.
What is your view of the role played by the Jewish state and Palestine in these games?
– Israel’s goal is to keep the entire region unstable. Israel’s and the US goals are interchangeable. Israel acts like the US and its allies’ spoilt child. The war is waged primarily for the interests of Israel, then those of Iran and lastly of the US. In 2004 I said on a German satellite TV channel: Israel has now ridden the American donkey. How? The US loses thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars in Iraq and its international reputation is shattered, and the winner is Israel. That is why I said that Israel rides the American donkey.
We have no problem with the Jews. We see Judaism as a religion given by God. We believe in their holy scriptures and in the prophets. We are prepared to live in eternal peace with the Jews. The problem is Zionism and the occupation of Palestine.
Israel controls the US through its control of the economy, the finances, media and culture. Israel influences decisions made in the US. Do you remember the time when the Israelis shot at a small boy? The picture of how he sought protection with his father? The photographer was French and the picture was shown all over the world and created an anti-Israel opinion. What did Israel do? Archives were searched, a picture was found of Palestinians who had got hold of some settlers, killed them and thrown the bodies out of the window. They are very good at this.
Why do you and other leaders in the Middle East not speak openly about who rides the donkey?
– I do not believe it is wise to speak openly of these things. The outcome could be even more enmity against us from the Americans. It could cause more complications in the region, from the Israelis too, who actually cause the problems. We do not blame Israel. It is the fault of the US.
This is the duty of the enlightened American elite. My duty is to enlighten my own people. I am an Iraqi, I have no responsibility for what happens in the US. If I were given the chance to do what you suggest in the US, I would do it. I am quite sure that this would not bother Israel at all. Those who are familiar with how Israel’s elite issue statements know how proud they are of ruling the world. So if I said this, I would not have been revealing any secrets.
Is the occupation over now?
– The military American occupation is over in the way the media means; most of the huge mass of US soldiers have gone. Likewise the tanks and the attack planes. We are now under the shadow of a different kind of occupation, one where the the occupation powers are everywhere, looking after their interests. This is not new. When the Germans invaded France and the French resisted, the Germans handed over administration of the country to the Vichy government while the real power remained in Germany. The French did not consider themselves liberated until the Vichy government had gone and Germany’s power with it. The situation is similar in Iraq. The Maliki government is an American government and represents US interests in Iraq and implements US plans. We do not consider ourselves liberated until the government they left to us has gone and the entire system they brought with them has disappeared.
The correct answer to the question ”Is the occupation over?” is this: ”Yes the occupation has gone – but no, it is still here.”
Is Iran to be seen as an occupation power along side the US do you think?
– The US and Iran are strong allies and work extensively together in Iraq. Iran calls the US ”the big Satan”. But ask any Iranian who is the US’ great friend and the answer will be ”Iran is the US’ great friend”. Iran has shown the US great friendship during the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.
Abtahi, adviser to Khatami, former president of Iran has said: ”If it had not been for Iran, neither Kabul or Baghdad would have been occupied”. And this is correct. But Iran did not want the US just as a friend. Iran has interests and the occupation can be advantageous in realising these interests. Who rode the donkey? Was there someone else? Iran rode the donkey too!
How much US military personnel is there today in Iraq? Regulars and mercenaries?
– It is difficult to say exactly, the Americans keep it strictly secret. We have information of more than 13.000 public officials. They have bases, but we do not know how much military personnel they have on them: bases in Baghdad, Nazeriya, Bala and Mosul. The do not launch attacks. The number of mercenaries has decreased. The Americans do not officially take part in the fighting, but there is video coverage from operations in Anbar recently where American accents are heard among the soldiers. We believe that it is entirely possible that American officers are being used as advisers, but we have no evidence.
How do you view the legitimacy of the Al-Maliki regime from the perspective of international law?
– International law is defiled by the US. Ban Ki Moon talks of massacres in Syria but not of those in Iraq. For example using water as a weapon when Maliki ordered floods in Fallujah. Hitler did the same thing. The US had a new constitution written for Iraq , on which rests the choice of Maliki. According to international law, a constitution cannot be written under occupation. This renders the present regime in Iraq illegitimate. There are currently uprisings in six provinces. In four of these Maliki’s regime totally lacks control according to a number of members of parliament. Hundreds and thousands of Iraqis have fled to the desert. It seems ridiculous to carry out an election in these circumstances. Ban Ki Moon does not care that the rule of international law is ignored.
Three days ago a US spokesperson from the State Department called the election in Syria ”a disgrace”. Why is Syria’s election ”a disgrace” while the election in Iraq is a sign of democracy? Iraq’s election serves US interests, the election in Syria does not. If the world does not stop the US it is on the way to new mediaeval times, where the law of the jungle rules.
How many Iranians working for Iran are there inside Iraq today?
– Iran does not interfere in Iraq’s domestic affairs by sending in Iranians, but through the political class that exists inside Iraq.
Al-Maliki is commander-in-chief of the army and defence minister, and at the same time head of all security ministries, with a total of 1.250 million men, and the militia with circa 1 million men. He takes his orders from Kasem Suleimany who is directly linked to Khameyni. Suleimany is one of the generals who are responsible for Iran’s Al-Quds army. One can say that Iraq is now a province in Iran. And the US knows this. Obama has been criticised for it by some members of Congress. The said that he has handed over Iraq to Iran.
This is the reason why, up until now, the US has avoided angering Iran, because it has interests in Iraq and Iraq is in the hands of Iran. Perhaps you will recall the speech given by the ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Washington? ”It is not logical for the US to present Iraq on a golden platter to Iran”. Iraq is governed by Khameyni and Al-Maliki is merely a public official.
What you are saying is that although the US is the world’s greatest military power today, it, and others, are de facto weak!
– Absolutely, anyway as far as Iraq is concerned. The US ambassador in Baghdad cannot do anything without first consulting Iran’s embassy in Baghdad. But I can assure you, the power Iran has in Iraq will soon cease to exist. Iran’s project in Iraq serves the interests of the US when it comes to the destruction of Iraq. In 2006, the State Department sent a memorandum to Bush noting that Israel’s Mossad was going to liquidate 300 of Iraq’s foremost academics and scientists, assisted by US troops. The US is a super power. In a historic perspective, the US is mainly responsible for these deaths. The document is proof and a confession. Now the Iranians are doing the deeds. Why should Mossad and the CIA do the killings when Iran is there? This is an example of the complicated relationship between the US and Iran.
How much money and weapons do Saudi Arabia and Qatar send ISIS and Al-Qaida in Iraq?
– The Arab support is aimed completely at the rebels in Syria because this is what the US allows. Support for Iraq is not allowed. These Arab states do not want difficulties with the US. If they are not permitted to support the Iraqis – how would they then be able to support Al-Qaida in Iraq?
Does the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) get involved in any way in Iraq’s domestic affairs?
– MB belongs to the US gang. MB was a cornerstone of the provisional council set up in Iraq in 2003 through the Islamic party and is still part of the government. But they have no credit with the Iraqi people. We see them as part of the occupation project.
How has the opposition evolved?
– In Iraq there is a people’s revolution against the system brought to the country by the US through the occupation of Iraq. A revolution is about people. Around the world, revolutions take place for many reasons. There are uprisings against poverty, oppression, dictatorship, corruption and for identity. All these reasons exist in Iraq. The people of Iraq are now being subjected to a prolongation of the American occupation that aimed to wash away Iraqi civilisation. Iraqis are being killed and put into prison, their nation´s riches are being plundered and their national identity taken away. Perhaps this revolution is a little late, but people have been busy fighting to survive. The US suffered substantial losses at the hands of the opposition, but the Iraqi people also suffered great losses.
The US bombed towns from the air, but was forced to retire and appointed Al-Maliki, who carried on in the same way. Al-Maliki represents Iran’s project. And he introduced methods he had learned from the US and from Iran, new methods that were even worse than those under the US. The people were against the US and against the persecution during this entire period. Earlier on, the methods were ”US style”, now they became ”Iran style”. We exchanged letters with the resistance movement during this whole time when the nation/people were suffering such persecution.
When the US implemented its stop for military activities, the Iraqi army continued the work with an onslaught, but the resistance saw them as Iraqis. It was difficult to point weapons at them, at the end of the day, they were Iraqis. The whole time, from 2011 to 2013, the resistance men were calm and silent, using the time to organise a movement of great strength and breadth with hundreds of thousands of new activists in Diyala, south Iraq, and the areas around Baghdad.
Al-Maliki used the time to allow his military to drive Sunnis from their lands. There are statistics to show that the clear-out was successful, and that it was undertaken by soldiers. Iran’s project is based on ethnic cleansing. In one year, 20000 Sunnis were driven out of the areas surrounding Baghdad. It is important to note that all Iraqis were subjected to persecution, not just Sunnis. Murder, torture etc against the opposition. Six provinces were particularly exposed. That it is a matter of ethnic cleansing has been confirmed by international NGOs and the MEP Struan Stevenson in an appeal to the European parliament. The US and western media reacted with total silence. The revolution started on the February 25, 2011 as a result of the oppression, with huge demonstrations in 16 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites took part. Al-Maliki’s retaliated with murder and arrests, striking down the uprising after six months.
Tahrir Square in Baghdad filled with tens of thousands of demonstrators. They demanded the resignation of Maliki’s government. We have proof in pictures of Iranian leaders being there, as inspectors, watching it all from high buildings. They are wearing military uniforms and have beards, a common practice in Iran’s army. We Iraqis know that beards are not allowed in Iraq’s army. Their clothes and faces give them away too. Iran’s interference was obvious.
The US had no problems, all they wanted was the demonstrators to go away. But as the old Iraqi saying goes: ”As long as there is fire under the pot it will keep on cooking”. As long as there are Persians (in Iraq) the revolution keeps on going. I said in a statement that the revolution will be back. Now it is back, but not in the 16 provinces I spoke of, but in just 6 provinces where Sunnis are in the majority: Anbar, Baghdad, Salahuddin, Diyala, Tàmim and Nineveh. And why not in all provinces? There are two reasons:
1) The oppression is fiercest in these six provinces, Maliki concentrates all his troops there.
2) In the southern provinces, forces loyal to Iran can control the population through their comprehensive security services there. There have been several murders of members of the opposition, and they have managed to terrify the population. In the north of Iraq, the two Kurdish parties have managed to stop people from demonstrating.
Do the Iraqi people want a division of the country, or will it be united?
– The Iraqis oppose division – the Sunnis, Shiites , Kurds and Arabs. Some say that a division would lead to less oppression. An opinion poll today would probably show that a substantial majority of people do not wish for a division of the country. The US also is no longer convinced that division is the answer. A divided country would mean that the south became Iranian. And Kurdish separation in the north would offend Turkey. Iran, previously in favour of division, is no longer interested because they want it all.
How does the opposition organise its armed struggle today? What happened to the Al-Rashedeen army and all the other fractions?
– When the Americans left, the resistance movements stopped fighting. But when the fighting began again in Anbar in December 20013, wise people started a discussion between the leaders of the fractions. They convinced the revolutionaries to set up a number of military councils headed by senior and experienced officers from Iraq’s old army. They were called ”The Military Councils for the Revolutionary Tribes”. There are nine; in Anbar, Bagdad, Mosul etc. These councils organise movements and operations. The old fractions, the Mujahedeen army, Al-Rashedeen army, 1920 Revolution Bridges now work under the new umbrella and their previous names are no longer seen. Because of this the organisation is now more efficient.
The Americans work day and night in order to see that they do not succeed. The do everything they can to help Maliki with weapons. They stop the world’s Arabs from giving any help and likewise international organisations from performing acts sympathy.
For the same reasons that our opposition against the US was successful when we went through bad times, for the same reasons this revolution, despite huge difficulties, will be successful. We receive no funds, no deliveries of goods and no political support from anywhere. America is trying to create the same situation now as they did then. They are now funding so-called Al-Qaida groups, those paid mercenaries that we managed to get rid of previously, to hide and discredit the popular revolution. Now they are mushrooming again. It will be like in Syria, there is only Dàash (the Iraqi name for Al-Qaida). The gangs from Syria are now re-enacting their crimes in Iraq.
You mean that the traditional, ancient tribal system unites people in Iraq by linking together Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds? Tribal loyalty unites the opposition and defeats the occupier’s ”democracy”?
– The tribes say that they wish for independence and democracy. But the US refuses. If you ask an Iraqi what people want, the answer will be: We want a democracy! I have to be an optimist. I hope America will become more just. At the moment they treat us like non-persons and viruses that have to be destroyed.