In an email exchange once with Noni Darwish, author of the wonderful book “Now They Call Me Infidel”, she commented that she doesn’t like to watch Arabic news because it is too depressing.
I understand the sentiment, but to me it’s more like a love-hate relationship. There’s nothing I enjoy more in my spare time then working through an Arabic interview, trying to understand the viewpoint of the person being interviewed. On the other hand, Noni is correct; it can be really depressing.
I just listened to an hour interview with Dr. Ibrahim al-Shamari, spokesperson for the Islamic Army in Iraq . The stated goal of his army is short and to the point; to kill as many Americans as they can until American forces leave Iraq .
The first thing that hits me when people like him speak is the intensity of their belief. They really believe that American intentions are evil and they are very serious about killing as many as they can. The second thing is the things they claim are true that I know are lies. When the interviewer asked him about the suicide bombings and carbombs that kill thousands of Iraqis, Ibrahim replied that the Americans did all this. When the interviewer expressed doubt that the Americans could persuade people to blow themselves up in suicide operations, Ibrahim replied that the Israeli Mossad and other intelligence agencies were also active in Iraq . It was these agencies that caused the vast percentage of the killing.
A third thing that caught my attention was that Ibrahim and his associates believe that the “Iranian occupation of Iraq ” is even worse than the American occupation. They know that as the Americans move out, the Iranians will move in and there won’t even be a pretense of that being a temporary state of being. So the fighting will continue even after Americans leave Iraq . When asked how long the resistance would continue, Ibrahim’s answer was revealing, “It will last until Allah who commanded us to jihad chooses to stop it.”
What most Americans probably don’t distinguish is that the Islamic Army in Iraq is not even Al-Qaidah. They are enemies of Al-Qaidah for several reasons including that Al-Qaidah in Iraq is led by non-Iraqis, and Al-Qaidah follows the practice of “takfir” or declaring that other Muslims who do not follow them are not true Muslims and can therefore be killed. So even if the American military wiped out Al-Qaidah (which is unlikely), groups such as these are waiting in the wings. The strategy might be slightly different, but the jihadi ideology is the same.
These guys are all Sunnis. During the month of April, 2008, fifty more American soldiers were killed, the highest number in seven months, but these deaths were not even caused by the Sunni groups noted above. Americans have recently been fighting the Jaysh Al-Mahdi on the Shia side of the house. These are the people whose favorite method of execution is to tie peoples’ hands behind their backs, drill electric drills into their brains, then shoot them in the back and dump their bodies on the street.
The Sunni resistance groups are just biding their time and planning their next strategy. They are fighting the current Al-Malaki government as well as the Shia Militias as well as the Iranians as well as the Americans, so it’s all a long ways from over.
There was one part of the interview I found humorous. The Iranians and Shia have a practice called “mitah” (enjoyment) marriage” in which a man can “marry” a woman for a temporary period of time. It’s basically a legalized form of prostitution, although the relationship can continue as long as both parties agree. When Ibrahim was describing the relationship between the Al-Malaki government and Iran , he said, “I don’t know whether it’s going to be a “mitah” marriage the Iranian way, or a Catholic marriage the American way.” Even the terrorists know the Pope does not look kindly on divorce!
Once last year before heading back to Baghdad I stopped in at a bar in Washington DC . I told the bartender I needed a final beer because I was going back to Iraq the next day. She said, “So you work in Iraq ? Can I ask you a couple of questions?” I replied, “Sure.” She said, “There are people over there who are called Sunnis, right?” I replied that was correct. “And there are other people who are called Shia, right?” Again I replied she was correct. “And they are fighting each other, right?” Once again I said she was correct. Her next question was, “So what the fuck are we doing there?” I still haven’t heard a good answer to that one.