Special Topical Studies
to main GIS index page
Return to Iraq War index page
April 6, 2004
Iraqi Opposition Offers a Plan to Rival the US Promise of Democracy
Exclusive. Analysis. By Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, GIS. In late March 2004, about six weeks after the announcement of the formation of the Iraqi “Liberation Front - Provisional General Command”, and the declaration of its political plans and aspirations, the Iraqi resistance published a comprehensive and sophisticated political program. The program was issued as a communiqué of the “Unified National Council of the Iraqi Resistance” [al-majlis al-watani al-muwahhad li al-muqawamah al-iraqiyah]. Like the Liberation Front's original communiqué, the Council’s political program was warmly endorsed by both the westernized urban élite and the Islamist-jihadist leaders, thus giving credence to the Council’s claim of representing a wide ideological spectrum and all segments of the Iraqi population.
See Defense & Foreign Affairs Daily, March 23, 2004: New Development in Anti-US Resistance in Iraq.
According to the political program, the Council “was established more than 10 months ago to bring together the brigades of the mujahedin from the Ba’athist strugglers, the armed forces men, and the national security apparatuses heroes and with them in cohesiveness tens of thousands of Iraqi patriots who reject the occupation and refuse to yield to the imperialist. The noble tribal sheikhs, the mujahedin clerics, and several Islamic forces joined them as to be an organizational framework that leads the valiant resistance operations and organizes their programs and operations according to the developments in the military and political situations.”
The political program is a natural evolution and an
integral component of the anti-US armed struggle. The Council stressed that the
mere existence of “a political program
underlined the importance of escalation [of the guerilla warfare] so as to end the occupation as soon as possible”. Addressing the forthcoming military resistance escalation, the Council anticipated “black days for the occupying invaders” and said that “the year 2004 will be the year of total liberation”.
It is because of this time-frame that the consolidation of political program and interim government for Iraq are an urgent imperative. Indeed, the Council's political program appeared to be being published in anticipation of the impending collapse of the occupation authorities and their Iraqi collaborators. The Council emphasized that its program was “for all the honorable Iraqis and Arabs”, and thus applied also to the collaborators who now repented their errors. Hence, the Council “urges sincerely all the Iraqis who have made mistakes and are serving the occupation in one way or another to make a quick self-appraisal, abandon immediately this dishonorable stand, and return to the fold of the resistance and let bygones be bygones”.
The actual political program of the Unified National
Council of the Iraqi Resistance blended traditional Arab nationalism and
Ba’athism with Western democratic concepts.
The Council said that there could be no compromise with, or acceptance of, any form of foreign occupation, including the US-created Interim Governing Council. The Council reiterated its unwavering commitment to the armed struggle as the primary instrument for freeing Iraq, noting:
The continuation of the resistance in all its armed forms, the mobilization of the masses, the demonstrations, the protests, and the boycott of the occupation and its structures with all possible means until the departure of the last soldier from the noble land of Iraq. ... There is no place for the traitors, the thieves, and the mercenaries in Iraq.
The Council then demanded the delegitimization and annulment of all political institutions enacted by the occupation authorities. The Council said that the emergence of a genuinely free Iraq must include “the return of the state and all its national, sovereign, and services institutions the moment the invading occupiers leave and Iraq is liberated as well as the return of the army as a unified national institution to its former state, that is, as it was before April 9, 2003”. The Council’s emphasis here is on the restoration of sovereign state institutions and not the return of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
The political program of the Unified National Council of the Iraqi Resistance offered a detailed plan of action starting the moment Iraq was freed from foreign occupation and dominance. The political plan blends traditional socio-political Islamic values, nationalist-Ba’athist themes with Western-style political pluralism in an effort to attract a wide segment of Iraq’s diverse population. Even before the complete eviction of foreign presence, the Council promised to “announce at the proper time the formation of an interim national unity government for two years that will be sovereign, represent Iraq, act to achieve the urgent national tasks, heal the wounds, help the wronged sectors of the people, and undertake the task of rebuilding the State’s departments and vital installations”.
Six “national tasks” would be at the top of the agenda of the interim government:
(1) Conduct free elections for a new National Assembly — essentially, the lower-house in a bicameral system — to be held under the supervision of the Arab League, international observers, and “respectable international organizations that are interested in democracy”;
(2) Establish a Shura Council comprised of 150 members, essentially, the upper-house in a bicameral system, fashioned after the British House of Lords. The Shura members would be “sincere Iraqi opinionmakers and wise persons whose hands have not been tarnished with the occupation” who would constitute the traditional Islamic “council of wise people that gives advise and opinion”, this time to the interim government of Iraq. Shura members would join the proposed interim government “in preparing a permanent constitution for the country that [will] include all the citizens' basic rights and [will] protect Iraq's unity and Arab affiliation”. The constitution would then be put to “a popular referendum 18 months from the date of the invaders’ evacuation”. Meanwhile, the Shura Council and the interim government would repeal all the laws and decisions enacted during the US occupation;
(3) Nominate a national Presidency in preparation for popular approval soon after the ratification of the permanent constitution. The just-elected National Assembly and the just-nominated Shura Council would meet and jointly “elect a President of the Republic and a Vice-President” who would both serve five years. However, before assuming office, both the President and the Vice-President would be subjected to public approval “in a general referendum” in which they “must get 60 percent of the votes of the participants” before being sworn into office;
(4) Legislate “political freedoms in accordance with a law that regulates them, including the freedom to establish political parties and societies and civil society establishments, and to organize the process of publishing newspapers, release press freedoms, adopt the criteria of patriotism, competence, and loyalty for appointment in the State’s public posts, and consolidate the concept of the state of the law, order, and institutions”;
(5) Form “a higher council for human rights” comprised of leading Iraqis “known for their national integrity and honesty”. This council “will have extensive powers, including that of investigating, inspecting, and bringing to account those involved in violating the [average] Iraqi’s human rights and dignity”. The council would submit its reports and recommendations “directly to the President of the Republic”, as well as to the Prime Minister and the National Assembly, and would work with all national institutions “in a spirit of unity to renounce the hateful sectarianism and consolidate the principle of equality before the law”.
(6) Develop “the self-rule for the Iraqi Kurdistan region” in order to “ensure the national and cultural rights of the Kurdistan region within the framework of Iraq’s unity and sovereignty”. The proposed new Iraqi government would “discuss these matters in the spirit of dialogue and interaction with the Kurdish forces within the context of constants and the concern for Iraq’s flag, sovereignty, foreign policy, and national security”.
The Unified National Council of the Iraqi Resistance concluded its political program “saluting with profound pride and honor the sacrifices of the noble martyrs of Iraq and also sending its salute of steadfastness to all the prisoners and detainees in the occupation's prisons. The day of victory is near, by the will of Allah who says: ‘How oft, by Allah’s will, hath a small force vanquished a big one?' [Q’uranic verse].” The political program was formally signed by “The Unified National Council of the Iraqi Resistance - Political Wing”.
* * * *
The mere release of a comprehensive political program by the Unified National Council of the Iraqi Resistance was extremely important because this political process emanates from, and appeals to, the Iraqi educated élite, particularly the westernized élite of Baghdad and other urban centers. These Iraqis constitutes the key to any political posture in post-war Iraq, either pro-US or, as it seems more likely now, hostile to the United States.
Hence, the mere existence of a viable alternative to the modern state the US is offering — even if in the form of underground communiqués and messages — serves as an inducement for the Iraqi élite to not only distance themselves from the US occupation but to instead further assist the armed resistance in order to expedite the emergence of what they see, or what is being propounded as, a genuinely free and independent Iraq.