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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Hello all, there are two different kinds of "opposition". There is the opposition that "lays its eggs in the nest of the US". And there is the opposition that will fight the US against a possible aggression, alongside the Iraqi people and its leadership. I met several honest opponents (not paid by the west) during my different visits in Iraq. And these people are willing to support the government against the imperialist forces of the US/UK if they should decide to invade the country. This is an interesting interview. Please read carefully. You won't read this kind of interviews in our western media. Dirk Adriaensens. www.irak.be Interview in Baghdad with Abd al-Jabbar al-Kubaysi, a leading member of the patriotic Iraqi opposition Interview conducted by Ibrahim Alloush in Baghdad, 13 December 2002 (Free Arab Voice) http://www.freearabvoice.org/interviews/alKubbaysi.htm FAV: Mr. Abd al-Jabbar al-Kubaysi, could you please introduce yourself and tell us how you became an oppositionist? Al-Kubaysi: My name is Abd al-Jabbar al-Kubaysi. I graduated in civil engineering from the American University in Beirut in 1967. I remember that the last test I took that year took place on the 5th of June - the day of the great set back. I had joined the Arab Socialist Baath Party in 1958 at the age of 15. I was arrested in 1959 in the days of Abd al-Karim Qasim, and again in 1960 because of my student activism. In 1961 I went to Beirut and came back to Iraq after obtaining my university degree. When I came back, I was required to perform my military service. I entered the reserve officers' school and graduated at the head of my class. That gave me the right to choose the place where I would serve my period of military conscription. I chose the al-Walid base near the Jordanian border. The Palestinian resistance movement was in its infancy then. I used to spend my leaves in Jordan - ten days every three weeks. I used to transport whatever weapons I could bring over, since the nature of my work as an engineer of airstrips and bomb shelters involved frequent trips to Jordan as part of my job, and I drove a military vehicle that was not subject to customs inspection. After 17 July 1968, when Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr came to power in Iraq I was arrested for a period of nine and a half months. I was then released but re-arrested a month later for a period of a year and seven months. I was then released in June 1971. FAV: Why were you arrested by your Baathi comrades who had just then taken power? Was it for some specific charge, or because you belonged to the other wing of the Baath Party? Al-Kubaysi: Yes, there was no specific charge. Maybe the first arrest was just a precautionary measure because they had recently come to power. But the second period of incarceration came after someone confessed that I was in the military branch of our wing of the Baath Party. That was arrest without trial by the way. But after I was released I returned to work at the oil company where I had been working before, and it was a government-owned oil company, incidentally. Then I remained in Iraq working in the secret organization of the other wing of the Baath Party until August 1976. FAV: What happened in August 1976? Al-Kubaysi: The top man in charge of secret work of the party in Iraq, Ahmad al-Azzawi, was assassinated in Damascus. He had been a member of the pan-Arab leadership of the Party headquartered in Syria. I was called on to go to Damascus to take his place. FAV: So you showed your cards? Al-Kubaysi: I went to Damascus with no intention of coming back. I had been working underground. I left the country for Cairo and from there went to Damascus to become the official of the secret organization in Iraq . . . FAV: And you didn't go back to Iraq until . . .? Al-Kubaysi: Until 11 November 2002, when I returned to Baghdad. FAV: What were you doing in Syria? Al-Kubaysi: I was a member of the Pan-Arab leadership of the Baath Party, in charge of the office concerned with relations with all the Iraqi opposition groups, both Arabs and Kurds. In 1980 the Democratic National Patriotic Front was formed in Damascus, uniting all the groups that were Iraqi opposition parties. They had no chief, but there was a general secretariat, and I was one of its members along with [Kurdish leader] Jalal al-Talibani and Aziz Muhammad from the Iraqi Communist Party, and Awni al-Qalamji, and others. Membership in the Secretariat of the parties did not go to individuals but to the parties and every party could chose its representative to the Secretariat. FAV: But the relations with the Syrian regime began to sour after that? Al-Kubaysi: On 13 July 1982 we issued a declaration in the name of the Baath Party and the Front condemning attempts by Iran to attack Iraqi territory. Specifically, we had taken a stand against the war from the beginning, and against the entry of Iraqi forces into Iran. So it wasn't reasonable after that for us to agree to the entry of Iranian forces into Iraq. This worsened our problems with the Syrian regime. Things came to a head some years later when Iran occupied Faw Island, and we issued a declaration condemning the attempts at occupying Iraqi territory. As a result of that I was put under house arrest in Damascus. A number of my Iraqi Baathi comrades who were loyal to the Baath wing that was ruling in Damascus were arrested and were not released until 1989. After that came the story of Kuwait, I mean, when Kuwait returned to Iraq. At that point there were meetings with the Syrian leaders. They asked me to return to work with them, but I refused. So I was again placed under house arrest, after I had briefly been let out. That continued until exactly a week after the end of the Second Gulf War. After that, the security guards from around where I lived were taken away. But I had no way to travel outside the country because I had no passport. During the First Gulf War [the Iran-Iraq War] Iraqi opposition forces began to leave Syria, among them the parties that have an Arab nationalist character, and some Communists who had severed their connection with the Communist Party because of the Communist Party's fighting with the Iranian army and because the Communist Party had fallen under the rule of the Kurds and the political influence of the Syrian leadership. After the end of the Second Gulf War [the US Aggression against Iraq, 1990-1991] Iraqi oppositionists left in greater numbers from Syria, going to Europe. As for me, I stayed in Syria until 1997. In 1996 they returned to me my Syrian diplomatic passport. When I used it, I never returned to Syria. FAV: How were your relations with the Iraqi opposition groups in Syria at that time? Al-Kubaysi: We shared a common stand against the Iraqi regime and for democracy and freedoms in Iraq. But political developments led to a split in the opposition into two blocs. These blocs crystalized during the second period of the First Gulf War and during the 30-Nation Aggression Against Iraq. One bloc of the opposition was made up of the official Communists and the two wings of the Kurdish national movement. The other opposition bloc represented the Arab nationalist forces and those Communists who refused to cooperate with Iran. FAV: Mr. Abd al-Jabbar, you have come to Iraq as a representative of the Iraqi National Alliance together with a delegation that includes five others who represent other wings of the leadership of the Alliance. What exactly is the Iraqi National Alliance and who belongs to it? Al-Kubaysi: The same groups that took a stand in Syria against the American aggression against Iraq and later left for Europe. Before that they were the same people who had a position on Iran's invasion of Iraq. All these groups held a congress in Sweden in June 1992 where they formed the Iraqi National Alliance based on a view of the events that had taken place and on the basis of a condemnation of the embargo on Iraq and a demand for the spread of freedoms there. The groups that participate in the Iraqi National Alliance are: The other wing of the Arab Baath Socialist Party, The Socialist Unity Party (of Nasserite orientation), The Arab Labour Party (Arab Nationalist - Marxist), The Arab Socialist Movement (the remainder of the Arab Nationalists' Movement, mostly inclined to Marxism), The Kurdish Islamic Army, The Kurdistan Peace Party (an elite of Kurdish intellectuals and journalists), The patriotic current in the Iraqi Communist Party, A group of independent political and intellectual figures. FAV: What real political weight do all these organizations have with Iraqis in emigration? Al-Kubaysi: We really have no way of posing the question in that form. Iraqi citizens abroad left home in search of a living and none of the opposition parties have any real weight with them. This is true not just of us but of the Iraqi opposition forces that obtain funds from the Arabian Gulf regimes and which enjoy the political facilities that America imposes on the states of the world. They have means, but they don't have any mass following. The number of Iraqi opposition organizations abroad is 173, most of them being mercenary and having no authentic roots either in Iraq or abroad. FAV: OK. So, do you have a mass following inside Iraq? Al-Kubaysi: Yes, we have a mass following inside Iraq. This is because we haven't come out of nowhere. But we don't have organized forces. Historically, the Arab nationalist current in Iraq had two wings: the Baath and the Arab Nationalists' Movement. We paralleled or more than paralleled the currently ruling Baath current. Our masses are in agreement with the regime in broad patriotic and Arab nationalist terms, but not on the issue of freedoms, which are still a matter on which we differ. The ruling party rules by itself. The masses whom we met when we came here support the regime in its patriotic and Arab nationalist orientations, and are ready to fight in defense of Iraq against the embargo and any aggression. But they believe that the spread of political openness will strengthen the resiliance of the homeland to aggression and embargo. These masses welcomed our arrival. They considered it a step on the right path. Even if the regime wants to kill us we must fight together with it against aggression. If we don't, we will lose the justification for our existence. FAV: You have anticipated my question regarding the reasons for your return to Iraq . . . Al-Kubaysi: Since 1992, our political line has been against the American projects, and a condemnation of those forces that cooperate with the foreigners. We endorsed the steadfastness of our people, the rebuilding of our country and their standing up to the embargo. Since that time we have been convinced that Iraq has entered into an historic confrontation which will have many pages; the last was not turned in the year 1991. It is a confrontation that will continue in many different ways. We are not convinced that the embargo will be lifted in a year or two. This confrontation demands that an opportunity be given to releasing political freedoms. On this basis we have appealed for a patriotic reconciliation to strengthen the resilience of our people to the embargo and aggression. In September 2000 we convened the Second Congress of the Iraqi National Alliance in London. It was attended by 104 delegates from other countries. And I'd like to point out that the congress was entirely self-funded by the participants. FAV: Haven't the Americans tried to build bridges to the Iraqi National Alliance or to make contact with you? Al-Kubaysi: Never. This is because our position on them is well known. We call for fighting them. We held demonstrations against them in front of the American embassies in western Europe to demand an end to the embargo and in protest against the continued American genocide of Iraqi children. FAV: What about the other opposition forces, the ones that cooperate with America, such as the Iraqi National Congress? Have they not tried to coordinate with you? Al-Kubaysi: They are creatures of the Central Intelligence Agency. These are groupings that were hidden in deep freeze that they brought out and thawed out a little. Many of their figures were part of the regime, by the way. When things got bad in the country, they simply "packed their bags" and left to join the other side. FAV: What about the Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq? Have they tried to contact you? Al-Kubaysi: the Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq is an Iranian card (arm). Its base is with some of the Iraqi prisoners captured in the Iran-Iraq war and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Among their leaders there is not one native Iraqi. Even Baqir al-Hakim is originally from Isfahan, Iran, not Iraq. And they haven't tried to make contact with us either. FAV: And in the Kurdish north of Iraq? Al-Kubaysi: Up there there are the official Communists and the two Kurdish wings that existed before 1991. These are movements that are native to Iraq. As to the Kurdish movements, we are in contact with certain individuals. As to the political movements, we cut off contact with them in 1991. As regards the Communists, two patriotic blocs have split off from them. One of them is with us in the National Alliance (the bloc of Khalid Salam and Ahmad Karim) and the other bloc is the Advanced Cadre (the bloc of the member of the Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party, Baqir Ibrahim al-Mousawi). We are in weekly contact with them. They don't want to enter into any coalitions before their own organization has crystallized. The official Iraqi Communist Party is under the influence of the Kurdish National Movement, but more than half of its rank and file members at least are patriotic individuals about whom there can be no doubt. If there were in Iraq a call for reconciliation, and if we are able to create an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect, I believe that those brothers in the Iraqi Communist Party would not accept the course of their current leaders and would return to their country to form their own patriotic Communist bloc. The real bloc in the Communist Party is patriotic, without doubt. But the American efforts directed at Iraqis abroad and the lack of détente inside Iraq puts this patriotic bloc in its present situation. As to the leaders of the Communist Party, they have drowned in Kuwaiti money. The US State Department issued a list of 17 Iraqi organizations that have been receiving funds from it when it was asked by the US Congress which parties outside the Iraqi National Congress are receiving American money. This list included the name of a club or platform of Iraqi Communist intellectuals in London. FAV: Are we to understand from all that that there is no Iraqi opposition abroad with any weight or credibility which could form an alternative to the regime? Al-Kubaysi: No! [There isn't.] FAV: Even those who are with the Iranians? Al-Kubaysi: You said "Iraqi", not extensions of the Iranians. Be aware of the fact that the opposition abroad is split up along ethnic and confessional lines. If America brings them in, there will be massacres in Iraq, because they are oppositions that are narrowly restricted in terms of what religious and ethnic groups belong to them. Not only that, but there are six or seven Turkmen parties, for example. In addition there are three Assyrian organizations. These have never established Iraqi organizations; rather they have established a climate and a basis for the growth of real domestic civil warfare. There will be blood-letting if they are fated one day to take power. From this we see the importance of the movements in our Iraqi National Alliance and of the rank-and-file of the Communist Party (whose leaders are now pursuing a destructive and unpatriotic course). The real patriotic Iraqi oppositionists today are the ones who own nothing and are supported by no foreign state. If they came to Iraq, they would come together on the basis of their patriotic line in it. Even the Kurds. I am not saying that the Kurdish movement as a whole is a creature of the Mossad and CIA, but there is no doubt that the Mossad and the CIA take advantage of the Kurdish movement. FAV: Since these are your positions, why has it taken you so long to return to Iraq? Al-Kubaysi: Let me first make clear that I am not a criminal who has come back under some sort of amnesty. There was an environment of very costly infighting. For example, my two brothers were executed in 1981, for no reason other than being my brothers. Such an environment of infighting requires a long time to create an atmosphere of trust. The leadership in Iraq was meeting us in the past while totally focused on the work of lifting the embargo. Our viewpoint was that the precondition for confronting the embargo was the spread of an atmosphere of reconciliation with Iraqi patriots, not the postponement of such a reconciliation. Let me make clear that we have no aspirations to taking power, nor will we accept a share in power. But we want a chance to fight in defense of the homeland. After occasional meetings over a period of years we received an official invitation to come, based on a resolution of the Iraqi leadership to engage in preparing legislation, as we have been told, to provide for political pluralism and freedom of the press for political parties, and also providing for undertaking a series of measures to create an atmosphere of tolerance. We were supposed to arrive two months ago, but we did not receive the necessary entrance visas until the beginning of November. FAV: How were you received? How did your meetings with officials go? Al-Kubaysi: We were received well and the meetings were warm. The officials praised our making the effort to come. We presented the need for mutual respect and the spread of an atmosphere of reconciliation, and we presented the need for permission to be granted for political parties to be formed and for the emergence of a free press ON THE BASIS OF RESISTANCE TO AGGRESSION AND AMERICA'S PROJECTS IN THE REGION. We emphasized the importance of working to rally the forces and make national unity firm again, noting that these are the basic tools for resistance. We might not be able to win militarily, but we can resist and resistance is what can raise the cost of aggression to the extent that it forces the enemy to withdraw. We said that we hope that the leadership will be flexible in dealing with the matter of weapons and inspections because the fact that war does not happen is itself a victory for Iraq. FAV: Did you find the leadership receptive to what you proposed about pluralism on a patriotic basis, and are there actual steps being taken in this regard, and a specific schedule? Al-Kubaysi: A Supreme Committee was formed, under the chairmanship of Dr. Izzat Ibrahim to prepare a constitution and a law of political party pluralism and a law on the press that gives parties the right to issue newspapers. We were told that the preparation of drafts will take at least a month. After that these laws must be brought to the Legislative Council, and this will take some time too. But as for us in the Iraqi National Alliance, we have been told that we can implement these rights immediately under the provision that they are "under construction". FAV: Will you make use of this offer? Al-Kubaysi: We must go back to Europe to discuss these matters with our brothers. It is possible that some of us will come to work on the basis of this offer within three months, and that after that a larger number of us would come at the start of next summer. But until that time, the Iraqi state can, and indeed must, resolve to augment these laws to facilitate life for the citizens, and to cancel all the measures of a coercive nature. For example, with respect to the infighting amongst patriotic forces that has gone on since 1959, we hope that a decree will be issued whereby all those who fell or were killed in this internal struggle from all parties will be considered martyrs for Iraq and not martyrs of this or that political party. This will help many families regain status and reduce the administrative hindrances to their exercising their civil and natural rights and it won't cost the regime anything. Similarly, there must be compensation for the families of those executed and whose property was expropriated. Also the language used with all the opposition groups must be the language of reconciliation. They have said that every Iraqi oppositionist, however far he's gone in attacking the regime may return without being questioned or interrogated or pursued. They have said that the only ones they will pursue will be those who take part in American or Zionist intelligence efforts. We hope that this position will be reflected in announcements and in official statements. However an Iraqi abroad may have erred, this goes back to American efforts and the absence of any reconciliatory dialogue domestically in Iraq. We must break up this American effort by means of internal reconciliation. The biggest bloc of them is not treacherous, but patriotic. We differ from some of them, yes, but to fight among ourselves, or make one another our enemy? No. Some of them have attacked us in our demonstrations yet inspite of that we have not lost our vision with respect to them. We must save them from the circle of error, and the Iraqi state bears responsibility for this. Iraq is a country that has become great abroad by mounting a confrontation on behalf of the Arabs and all of humanity against American aggression. It is appropriate for this country to have a domestic project that is also great. FAV: Is there anything you'd like to say in closing? Al-Kubaysi: Yes. I want to say that limiting the confrontation with aggression to the geography of Iraq is not in the interest of the Arab Nation. I am not talking about fighting the aggressors outside of Iraq here. Rather I am saying that we must build a model for political life in Iraq that binds the whole Arab Nation to it. It must be a positive model for the entire Arab Homeland. We must build a political life that we can be proud of, a model for the Third World beyond the Arab Homeland. All of humanity will one day discover that they are indebted to the Iraqis for confronting American savagery. So we must cause the "dictatorship card" to fall from America's hand, the way we have made them drop the excuse of "mass destruction weapons". We know that they do not want democracy. Democracy does not come from missiles and gunboats. We have an Arab National project for renaissance and we want to fight the Zionist project in our countries. We must, therefore, build a fighting political force. The issue is not only an issue of stability of the regime. It is an issue of how to spread the project of Arab renaissance throughout the Arab homeland. I do not want a government post as long as I live. I only want my right to an independent opinion, not subjected to the authorities. We know that the leadership in Iraq was told more than two weeks before UN Security Council Resolution 1441 was passed that Iraq's problems could be solved if it agreed to establish relations with "Israel" in the framework of a so-called "just and lasting peace", and that they rejected this unequivocally. They remain insistent upon this rejection, and we cannot differ from them. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk