Global Policy Forum

Fighters Welcome Report That

Integrated Regional Information Networks
December 7, 2006

Insurgents and militias in Iraq on Thursday welcomed the recommendations made in a report by the Iraq Study Group that indicated that US policy in Iraq was not working and that its troops should be pulled out earlier than current projections suggest. "The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has been one of our foremost demands since 2004. The presence of foreign troops in our country is the reason why we continue to fight, resulting in the killing of thousands of Iraqis," said Abu Baker, a member of Sunni insurgent group Jeyshi Muhammad (Muhammad's Army) who declined to give his full name.

Led by co-chairs James Baker III, former secretary of state, and Lee Hamilton, former congressman, the Iraq Study Group is a bipartisan group of 10 former civil servants charged with making an "independent assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq, its impact on the surrounding region, and consequences for US interests". Launched on Wednesday, the 160-page report – entitled: ‘The Way Forward - A New Approach' - is available in bookshops and online. Beginning with the words, "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating", the report is a harsh evaluation of US policy in Iraq to date.

The report is not, however, binding on US President George Bush. Separate policy reviews are being conducted by the National Security Council and the Pentagon, which Bush could turn to as alternative sources of advice.The report's main points are to engage Iraq's neighbours, chiefly Syria and Iraq, in a "new diplomatic offensive"; a renewed and unified sense of political purpose among US citizens; and increased pressure on the Iraqi government and its security forces to take control of the country and facilitate a faster exit for US troops. For militants and insurgents in Iraq, the report represents hope that the Americans will finally leave, and sooner than expected.

Occupation in Iraq is unacceptable

"The occupation in Iraq is unacceptable to every Muslim fighter group and the Iraqi resistance believes that the country can only be governed by Iraqis without interference by US soldiers or politicians," Abu Baker said. "This report just makes us stronger in our beliefs and reinforces our view that the best choice to be taken by the United States is to leave Iraq soon," he added.

However, insurgents also say that their own government is failing to address Iraq's deteriorating situation and that giving amnesty to selected armed groups would only provoke others to revolt. "They [the government] do not want to find a solution. The only thing we ask is the withdrawal of US troops and that is the only thing they refuse to do. The result of that can be seen in Iraq today," Abu Baker said. Al-Qa'eda representatives in Iraq have long called for US troops to leave the country and see their continued presence as a direct cause of the increasing bloodshed there.

"No Muslim country should close their eyes over this occupation that is destroying the country. The occupation is not popular with us Iraqis and that is why you can see an increase in the numbers of Iraqis who have turned into fighters against the US occupation," said Abu Ahmed, who claimed to be a member of al-Qa'eda in Iraq and declined to give his full name.

He warned that the departure of US troops is not enough and said members of the Iraqi government and parliament who are pro-US should quit their positions "to clean the government of US ideology". The alleged Iranian support of Shi'ite militias in Iraq was another factor highlighted by the al-Qa'eda member. "Iran is one of the main supporters of [Shi'ite] militias in Iraq today and is responsible for the sectarian violence that has spread over the country. The US forces are busy searching for Sunni fighters but they have to stop the militias too, which have the support of the Iraqi government," Abu Ahmed said.

Commanded by the preacher Muqtadar al-Sadr, the Mahdi Army is one of the most prominent and fearsome of the Shi'ite militias in Iraq. They too are united with Iraq's other armed groups in wanting an immediate withdrawal of US troops.

"They have to return to their country to look after their problems because for sure all Iraqi groups can unite to govern the country. But as long as they keep occupying our country, we are going to fight and the results could get much worse for them," Ali Kashrum, a member of the Mahdi Army, said.

"The report paints a clear picture of the situation in the country and... we expect that now the US can wake up and follow the report's advice and leave Iraq as soon as possible," Kashrum added.

More Information on Iraq
More Information on Iraq's Resistance to the Occupation
More Information on the Occupation and Rule in Iraq
More Information on Withdrawal?


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