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Anti-American Ba'th Activities in Paris By: Nimrod Raphaeli
MEMRI | Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Introduction

With the defeat of the Saddam Hussein regime on April 9, 2003, the Ba'th ruling party was outlawed and a committee for the de-Ba'thification of Iraq was established. [1] However, the Ba'th's propaganda machine appears to have found a new abode in Paris, France, whence threats to the U.S. are issued regularly in three languages - English, French, and Spanish. Not surprisingly, the Ba'thist propagandists use the word "resistance" (in French, "la resistance") to underscore the association with the struggle against the Nazi occupation of France during WWII.

The resurrection of the Ba'th Party on French soil was further strengthened by France's proposal that representatives of "la resistance" should participate in any future conference that will be convened to discuss the future of Iraq. This position was clearly stated by Michel Barnier, the French Foreign Minister, in an interview with the French TV station " France Inter." In the interview, Mr. Barnier called for a political process in Iraq that would include "a number of groups and people who have today opted for the path of resistance through the use of weapons." [2]

The National Council for the Iraqi Resistance

The National Council for the Iraqi Resistance, also referred to as the United Council for the Iraqi Resistance, was born in June 2003, comprising Ba'th activists (referred to as militants), remnants of the Iraqi army and Republican Guard, and what are described as "heroes of the national security apparatus."

The membership of the leadership of the Council remains secret, although in an interview with the former Iraqi Vice President, Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri, he was identified as the leader of the resistance. A press release identifies the forces operating under the umbrella of the Ba'thist Resistance. They include: [3]

- The Ba'thist Socialist Arab Party of Iraq (as a clandestine organization)

- The [Iraqi] "Resistance and Liberation" movement

- The Unified Council of Iraqi Resistance

- Many military forces like the "Fedayyoun of Saddam" and the "Second Army of Mohammad" [4]

Joining them "on the sidelines," according to the news release, are the various "patriotic formations" which include communists and Nasserites.

Locus of Information

The Council's material is published by the Comités Irak de Base under the editorial direction of Luc Michel, whose address is listed in 128/01 rue de Montingy-B/6000 Charleroi. E-Mail: Iraqcommittees@yahoo.com. In other newsletters, Luc Michel is listed at 39 Maagdenstraat – B/1000 Brussels (Belgium).

In a later publication, the site of the Iraq Committees is listed as: http://comitesirak.free.fr (fr. stands for France). In one of the documents the following information is provided:

For transnational coordination of the Iraqi Committees (Brussels)

Tel: International +32 2 218 73 09

Fax: International +32 2 218 73 59

Francophone Coordination (Paris)

Tel/Fax: 01 43 83 75 32 International +33 1 43 83 75 32 (France)

A newsletter identifies Luc Michel as "a Belgian publisher, well-known for the defense of the Arab cause, and editor of the newsletter 'Al-Ba'th Al-Iraqi.'"

A legal team under Me. (mademoiselle or Miss) Dominique Jourdain, "was also identified at djavo@club-intenet.fr" (a French Email address). Free subscription to the newsletter "Al-Ba'th Al-Iraqi" (Iraqi Resurrection) is offered at commiteirak@yahoo.fr.

Some newsletters carry the following: "NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes."

Given that most of the publications are issued through Yahoo France, one might suspect that most of the production is done in that country. There is no information as to who finances this production but it is worth mentioning that the group which calls itself Amitiés Francaise-Irakiennes may be the same Iraqi-French Friendship group which is listed as a beneficiary of Saddam's oil vouchers in the amount of 15.1 million barrels. [5]

A Review of Publications

A. The Defense of Saddam Hussein

A group calling itself "Amitiés Francaises-Irakiennes" (French-Iraqi Friendship) issued an international appeal condemning "the unworthy treatment reserved to President Saddam Hussein [which] violates the principles of the international law." A form was attached to the newsletter under the heading: "Signers recall solemnly that President Saddam Hussein is a prisoner of war [entitled] to fully benefit of the 1949 Conventions of Geneva." [6]

In a July 7, 2004 newsletter titled: 'The Political Defense of the President Saddam Hussein is Also Organized!', the group said, "The International Committee to defend the President Saddam Hussein" was launched. It further stated: "The Committee want[s] to answer to the campaign of hate and lies orchestrated by the media, which is controlled by the American-Zionists, and to re-establish the truth about Iraq of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'th Party." [7]

B. French-Speaking Space

In a newsletter (dated simply 2003) lacking the State of Iraq's Cote of Arms (state symbol), which appears on subsequent releases, the authors declared in an exhortative language:

"We are numerous everywhere in the world, and particularly in the French-speaking space, to wish not only the end of the Yankee's occupation in Iraq, but more the victory of the Ba'thist resistance, which claims itself of Saddam Hussein and which is organized in the Movement Resistance and Liberation [poor translation from the original in French, meaning the Resistance and Liberation Movement] of Iraq." [8]

The newsletter extends the purpose of the "resistance" not only to defeat "the American-Zionist imperialism in Iraq," but to other fronts, "particularly in occupied Palestine and Europe, where the Yankee domination is shaken today." It goes on to affirm its agreement with Che Guevara that, "imperialism has a head, the United States, and that it should be cut off!"

The French-speaking space is identified as Belgium, France, Quebec, and French-speaking Switzerland. The space will be occupied by "a French-Speaking Coordination of the Iraq Committees."

C. First Anniversary of the Occupation

On the first anniversary of the occupation of Iraq, a "political communiqué" was issued by "the Unified Council for the Iraqi Resistance." [9]

According to the Communiqué, "Ten months ago the National Council for the Iraqi Resistance was born." It comprised "battalions from the Ba'th militants, men of the armed forces, and heroes of the national security apparatus." The communiqué referred to the "noble Sheiks of tribes, the religious Mujahideen, and scores of Islamic foreigners [meaning non-Iraqis], who joined this courageous resistance in order to form an organizational framework to conduct operations and to coordinate the resistance programs and actions…"

The communiqué offered a plan of action that includes:

1. A total rejection of the occupation, its tools, its agents and whatever emanates out of it "such as structures, titles, and treacherous committees serving the invaders and betraying the people."

2. "The continuity of the resistance in all its armed forms, and the mobilization of masses through demonstrations and protests, boycott of the occupation … through all possible means."

3. The return of the state institutions and the army as they existed before April 9, 2003.

4. Under this paragraph the communiqué offers a blueprint for the establishment of state institutions and piously guarantees political freedoms, the creation of a High Council for Human Rights, and the abolition of all emergency laws. [10]

D. Transfer of Authority

In anticipation of the transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government under the provisional constitution, negotiated by Iraq's Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Ba'th Party, operating from France and Belgium, declared that: "The Iraqi resistance would target the presidency, provisional government, and foreign forces, including [those] under United Nations control, that will remain in Iraq after the supposed 'transfer of authority' at the end of June." [11]

E. Interview with Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri

Letter of Information No. 47 (October 17, 2004) had an interview by the Jordanian weekly Al-Majd with Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri, Saddam's deputy, who appears as the King of Diamonds on the famous deck of cards of the 55 most wanted Iraqis in the ancien regime. The interview refers to Al-Duri as the "elected president of the [Ba'th] Party after its late secret Congress in Lebanon." According to other sources, in the French version, it says "the secret congress in Lebanon or Syria." The last sentence was deleted from the English version.

According to Al-Duri, the Ba'th Party "is in very good health and leads the most honorable and most dignified battle of the Arab nation." When asked about possible negotiations with the U.S., Al-Duri said: "No negotiation with the U.S. under the occupation, the only dialogue between them and us [is] the dialogue of arms and resistance."

When asked as to how the capture of Saddam might have affected the Ba'th Party, Al-Duri responded: "What happened to the Comrade leader and other Comrades in the leadership was not of a surprise for us. That is why we planned for every possibility: imprisonment or martyrdom." He went on to say: "What I would like to stress here [is] that not a single one of us was duped concerning the nature of the battle, its results, or its agenda. Today and after a year and a half of the occupation, the world all over knows that the evil U.S. Administration and its allies are the ones who were taken for a ride concerning their appreciation of the long-term battle results."

As to the components of the resistance, Al-Duri maintains that it is made up of the Ba'th militants and Iraqi army elements, Republican Guards, security services, Saddam's Fidayyeen, and the Al-Quds Army. [12]

In an answer to the final question, Al-Duri did not have many good things to say about the Shi'a of the south. He argues that the Shi'a organizations "put sectarianism before the land," since some of these organizations "have given cover for the enemy criminal actions against our people." Al-Duri's response reflects much of the historical attitude of the Ba'th Party toward the Shi'a.

Interview with General Abu Mu'tassim

Newsletter 47 of November 1, 2004, had an interview with General Abu-Mu'tassim, also conducted by the Jordanian weekly Al-Majd, which "was able to get into the heart of the heroic Iraqi Resistance." [13]

General Abu Mu'tassim ( nom de guerre ) is identified as "a leader of the Resistance" and a "field general" of the now defunct Republican Guard. Abu Mu'tassim spoke of the resistance in Iraq. In Iraqi terms, the resistance "has spread its complete control over a great number of Iraqi towns." These include recent cities in the news like Fallujah, Samaraa, and Ramadi, as well as some areas and suburbs of Baghdad. The general argues that the U.S. can no longer conceal its losses. Iraqis, he said, "know the volume of these losses; they are always capable to increase them."

In the interview, Abu Mu'tassim refused to describe the structure of the military command which leads the military operations, but said there was "a unified military high-command, which supervises the rudder of the Resistance in all Iraq." The leadership includes "the best officers from the Iraqi army, the Republican Guard, Saddam's Fiddayeen, and the intelligence and security services. The military command includes a representative of the political branch of the Ba'th Party who connects the military and the political leadership with each other."

Finally, he was asked about the success of the Allawi government in neutralizing Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. His response was that, "Muqtada al-Sadr and the ones who were authorized to speak in his name are a group of morons with no political awareness."

The Recent Events in Fallujah

In the most recent newsletter issued in Paris by the Comités Irak on November 17, 2004, [14] the Ba'th Party reaffirms its pledge to the Iraqi people that the destruction of "the puppet authority infrastructure is the heart of the armed Iraqi Resistance Strategy." [In the French version, there is a reference to " du gournement fantoche de Quisling Yankee Allaoui," meaning "the puppet government of the Yankee Quisling Allawi"] [15] The newsletter ends with exhortations such as: "Long live Saddam Hussein, the fighter, who is the Comrade Leader secretary general of the Region of Iraq [as distinct from the Syrian region], President of the Republic, symbol of courage, defying the jail camps, conceiver, engineer and planner of the Glorious Iraqi Armed Resistance!"

*Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli is Senior Analyst of MEMRI ' s Middle East Economic Studies Program. He can be reached at nraphaeli@memri.org


[1] See MEMRI's Inquiry and Analysis No. 176, May 28, 2004, "The De-Ba'thification of Iraq – Pros and Cons", http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA17604.

[2] Embassy of France in the United States, September 27, 2004. A reference should also be made to a petition addressed to President George Bush, Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Anan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and others, and signed by Iraqi civil society organizations, as well as a group of Iraqi and Arab intellectuals. The petition decries the attempts of certain governments to undermine the democratic process in Iraq, and lists the French Government as "the vanguard" of these countries. www.petiononline.com/ocsi/petition/html.

[3] Press Release of the "Iraq Committees," May 15, 2004. All the publications of the Iraq Committees' cited in this report are published on the internet.

[4] Iraq's Minister of Interior Fallah Al-Naqib announced the arrest of the commander of Jaish Muhammad (the Army of Mohammad) Mu'aiyyid Yassin Ahmad (Abu Ahmad) in Fallujah. He is said to have traveled to Damascus to coordinate military operations against the coalition forces with a former Ba'th Party leader, Muhammad Yunis Al-Ahmad. Jaish Mohammad was created by Saddam prior to his fall, as the military arm of the Ba'th Party. ( Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, November 17, 2004).

[5] See Nimrod Raphaeli, 'Saddam's Oil Vouchers – The European Dimension'. A paper prepared for a conference on humanitarian corruption in the U.K. on October 1, 2004.

[6] Press Release of Iraq Committees, January 6, 2004.

[7] Press Release From The International Committee To Defend The President Saddam Hussein, July 7, 2004.

[8] The translations are from the Arabic and French, and the original text is often of a poor quality. To remain loyal to the text we shall bring the quotations as they are written.

[9] Dated April 5, 2004 and signed by the Political Branch of the National United Council for the Iraqi Resistance (UNCIR).

[10] Political Communiqué from the Unified Council for the Iraqi Resistance, April 5, 2004.

[11] Statement from the Arab Ba'th Socialist (of Iraq), May 30, 2004.

[12] This was the armed militia that Saddam intended to use to "liberate Jerusalem." According to official Iraqi sources at the time, the militia numbered in the millions.

[13] The interviews were published in the Jordanian weekly Al-Majd, No. 456 of October 11, 2004.

[14] No. 48 (November 17, 2004) by comitesirak@Yahoo.fr.

[15] Quisling was Norway's prime minister who collaborated with the Nazi occupation forces in WWII.




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