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[casi] FW: Resistance to occupation will grow

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Resistance to occupation will grow

Sami Ramadani
Monday December 15, 2003
The Guardian,2763,1107236,00.html

The joy was deep, but the pain, too, was overwhelming as I remembered
relatives and friends who lost their lives opposing Saddam's tyranny or in
his wars.
I remember my disappeared and dearest school friend, Hazim, whom I hugged
goodbye in 1969 at the canteen of the college of medicine in Baghdad. I
never saw him again. Although only 15, Hazim had the courage to distribute
anti-Ba'athist leaflets at our school in Baghdad within months of the 1963
CIA-backed coup that brought the Ba'athists to power. I remember, too, my
dear friend Ghassan, who died in a hospital in Canada after many years in
exile. He didn't live to see the moment he had waited so long for.

But here it was, at last: Saddam's surrender in ignominy. However, this
delightful moment - enjoyed by all the Iraqis I spoke to as the news of his
capture was breaking - was soured by the fact that it was Iraq's newly
appointed tyrant, Paul Bremer, doing the boasting: "Ladies and gentlemen...
we got him!"

What will the Americans do with their captive? Is Saddam going to face a
trial? Will the truth of his mass murders and crimes come out? Will the
trial shed light on how the US backed him and supplied him with chemical
weapons? Will it reveal how the US encouraged him to launch the war on Iran,
causing the death of a million Iranians and Iraqis? Will the trial go into
the alliances with and support for Saddam by so many of members and parties
now in the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council? The dark clouds over Iraq
haven't lifted yet.

Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed by the US-led unjust and
immoral war, and the death toll continues to rise as innocent people are
being killed in US military raids, bombardments and Sharon-style collective
punishment, and harmed by the depleted uranium shells used by the US-led
forces. So at this moment of joy, other questions keep intruding: Who is
going to try Bremer, Bush, Rumsfeld and Blair? Will Iraq ever be free?

One thing I do know: Saddam was not leading the resistance from his dirty
little hole. This was acknowledged yesterday by an unlikely source - Sherif
bin Ali, a relative of the last Iraqi king, Faisal II, and a strong
supporter of the US-led invasion. "The truth must be spelt out," he said,
"Saddam has nothing to do with the resistance. His cowardly surrender
confirms what we have known all along... It is time to negotiate with the
resistance. It is time to call on the resistance to declare a truce."

It has suited the US to blame Saddam for the resistance to the occupation
and to use him as a pretext for the continued occupation. But Bin Ali is
merely confirming what the CIA and US Congress sources have recently
confirmed: that there are no less than 15 organisations involved in the
resistance, which enjoys widespread support. A recent CIA report admitted
that, "there are thousands in the resistance - not just a core of
Ba'athists", and concluded that "the resistance is broad, strong and getting

Saddam's surrender is likely to embolden the political forces in Iraq which,
until now, feared that a call for the immediate end to the occupation might
help Saddam return to power.

The largely peaceful resistance in Baghdad and the so-called Shia areas of
Iraq will also attract greater attention. In the past two weeks, trade union
leaders in Baghdad and the south have been arrested. The occupation
authorities shamelessly used Saddam's 1987 law barring trade union activity
within state institutions. But such opposition will be difficult to
suppress. This week in Hilla, a so-called Shia city, a militant but peaceful
mass insurrection succeeded in deposing Iskander Jawad Witwit, the
US-appointed governor. The thousands who besieged the governor's office
called for free elections to replace him.

Now that Saddam is no longer a bogeyman to scare the people with, trade
union and other mass opposition is likely to increase, complementing and
coalescing with the armed opposition.

One demand is now uniting nearly all Iraqis, from armed resisters to trade
unionists to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Elections! And it is the one
demand to which the US has refused to agree, because it has accurately
assessed the likely result. That is also why it swiftly moved to stop
elections of city mayors and why, a few weeks ago, it sacked the elected
dean of Baghdad university after his outspoken criticisms of the occupation

Saddam's ignominious end is likely to weaken US-led efforts to divide the
Iraqis along sectarian and national lines. In memory of all those who died
resisting Saddam's tyranny, the peaceful and armed resistance is likely to
intensify and attract greater support across the world, including that of
the American people.

Sami Ramadani was a political refugee from Saddam's regime and is a senior
lecturer in sociology at London Metropolitan University

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