Islamic Army Founder: Sunnis Fighting for Self-Defense Against Maliki


Islamic Army Founder: Sunnis Fighting for Self-Defense Against Maliki- By RUDAW 22-6-2014 – RUDAW

Ahmad Dabash: ‘Allah has ordered us all to defend ourselves’ Ahmad Dabash, a founding leader of the Islamic Army of Iraq that fought the 2003 US invasion, denies that the turmoil in Iraq is caused by the military advance of Sunni insurgents, led by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He says the war is really an uprising by ordinary Sunnis, who are standing up in “self-defense” against an ongoing campaign by the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  In an interview with Rudaw, Dabash says that Iraq should be divided into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions, where the provinces would have extensive autonomy to run their own affairs. “Allah has ordered us all to defend ourselves,” says Dabash, whose group has been listed as a terrorist organization by the Iraqi government and he is wanted for trial in Baghdad on terrorism charges. Here is an edited transcript of his interview with Rudaw:

Rudaw: How do you assess the situation in Iraq today in light of the recent attacks by the ISIS?

Ahmad Dabash: Allah has ordered us all to defend ourselves. Every Muslim has the right to defend his life and honor when attacked. When the government of Nouri al-Maliki attacks us and destroys us, we have the right to self-defense.

Rudaw: So you think the ISIS attacks as a right thing?

Ahmad Dabash: What has happened over the past 10 years has created a vacuum that is responsible for reaching the point of terrorism. After the American withdrawal the Iraqi government started killing the Sunnis in the name of fighting terrorism. So the people you see on the fronts today are ordinary Sunni people who have been persecuted and attacked by Maliki, and they are defending themselves and their people.

There is no doubt that Maliki and his forces are doing this. If you look at the hospitals, the morgues and graveyards, you will see that Maliki has subjected the Sunni people, and people are reacting to him. It is not only the Sunnis, but the Kurds and even some Shiites. Like the Sadrists, they are against him, too.

Rudaw: Is the ISIS war against Maliki a correct war?

Ahmad Dabash: Without a doubt. As I said, in all Sunni provinces, all along the border areas, Maliki has extended his terror against the Sunni people. The world knows that it is a lie when Maliki’s government says that Sunnis live freely under his rule. That is why in Anbar, in Mosul and everywhere else, people and tribes have taken up arms against him in self-defense. And there are different groups who try to protect the Sunnis.

We do not think there is such a thing as ISIS. What we have is repression in our areas. If there is ISIS, we should ask who they are, how many they are and what is their influence in the Sunni areas. They make up a small group. The people who fight in those areas are ordinary Sunnis and tribal chiefs, as well as former soldiers and officers. In fact, the government has often tried to blame its own killing of the Sunnis on the ISIS. Last week, at a prison, the government killed 60 to 70 Sunni inmates. In Diyala it killed 63 prisoners. They were killed under the pretext that they were terrorists.

Rudaw: You say that the Iraqi army is the army of Maliki? But in that army there were Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites.

Ahmad Dabash: I am asking you, what was the percentage of Sunnis and Kurds in the army? The Sunnis didn’t reach even six percent and the rest were all Shiites. They wanted to keep the Sunnis away.

Rudaw: But after the regime change, it was the Sunnis’ own fault when they didn’t join and participate in Iraq’s political process.

Ahmad Dabash: As the people of Iraq we wanted a government that wasn’t under any foreign influence, whether American or anyone else. We wanted to be part of a genuine process. The current Iraqi constitution that was written by Maliki’s government and under American supervision does not represent the Sunnis in any way. We rejected the constitution and it was only imposed on us by force.

Rudaw: But the Americans came and rid the country of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. Do you prefer Saddam’s dictatorship?

Ahmad Dabash: The dictatorship we see today is 10 times worse than Saddam’s dictatorship. It is true that Saddam killed our Kurdish brothers in Halabja and Dujail, but today 10 times that number of people is getting killed.

Rudaw: How come you knew so early on that one dictator was being replaced by another and immediately took up arms against the Americans? Did you have some kind of revelation?

Ahmad Dabash: We are sure that America had come to destroy Iraq with a clear plan. They created the Governing Council, where the Kurds and Sunnis had little representation, and the rest of the power was given to the Shiites. America came and handed Iraq over on a golden plate to Iran. So what we see today is a complete failure of Iraq’s political process, and it will only be solved by giving the country back to its people. Both Iran and America have had a hand in destroying Iraq and leading it to what we see today.

Rudaw: You call this Shiite government dictatorial. And in the past there was a Sunni dictator. Who should the people of Iraq believe? Can both Shiites and Sunnis be dictators?

Ahmad Dabash: The dictatorship of the past cannot be compared to the one of now. I know you Kurds had your own fight against Baghdad then, but today the killing, repression and terror is a hundred times more. And Sunnis didn’t really join the political process because we don’t believe in an illegitimate government. The government in the past 10 years has run on fraud, suppression and terror. Those few Sunnis who joined the process were opportunists. The real representatives of Sunnis were the ones who fought the foreign occupation.

Rudaw: What do the Sunnis want today? A separate region of their own or do they want to run all of Iraq again?

Ahmad Dabash: Today, taking into account the circumstances and the way things are with the population divide, there must be a system of regions. Iraq can stay under one system, but three separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite regions. There is no better solution than that. What has happened between people in the past 10 years in terms of killing and repression makes it impossible to go back to how things were before 2003.

Rudaw: Where would the borders of the Sunni region be, especially with the Shiite south?

Ahmad Dabash: It is clear where the Sunni provinces are. Then there are the disputed territories with the Kurds and Shiites, where we should be able to reach an agreement that would satisfy all sides in order to create a stable Iraq. There could be a central government in Baghdad to run the affairs of the country, but the provinces should be able to run their own religious, political and economic affairs.

Rudaw: Why are you wanted by the Iraqi government for terrorism?

Ahmad Dabash: It is an honor that I am a wanted person by Maliki’s government. Our group fought Maliki’s government and the occupying forces. What our group did in standing in the face of the biggest occupation for several years is something to be proud of. It is an honor for me to have been part of that resistance.

Rudaw: You had someone who was known as the “Sniper of Baghdad” who is said to have killed 643 American soldiers in Baghdad. Do you really think that was a right thing to do?

Ahmad Dabash: We are proud that the Sniper of Baghdad was from the Islamic Army. He became the legend of the resistance. He is known and talked about the world over.

Rudaw: What do you think of the Peshmerga forces and their move into the disputed territories?

Ahmad Dabash: First of all, I should thank the Kurdish leaders for their great position against the government of Baghdad and their support for the Sunnis in the past year-and-half by opening their borders to our people who had to flee. It was an honorable act. As regards Kirkuk, it is a disputed territory where Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen live. The people there should be able to live in peace and decide the affairs of their city. We do not care who becomes governor or ruler of the city as long as people, especially Sunni Arabs, feel security and everyone lives in harmony.

Rudaw: There are some groups in those areas who are attacking the Peshmerga forces daily. Who are they?

Ahmad Dabash: Whoever they are, I tell them from here that they should not attack the Peshmerga because it is not in our interest. I hope they are rational and refrain from any acts that could be exploited by our enemy.