Iraqi Resistance You Don't Hear About
Weinberg, Bill, National Catholic Reporter
Eclipsed from the headlines by the carnage in Iraq, there is a civil resistance in the country that opposes the occupation, the regime it protects and the jihadist and Baathist "resistance" Mike. This besieged opposition--under threat of repression and assassination--is fighting to keep alive elementary freedoms for women, leading labor struggles against Halliburton and other U.S. contractors, opposing privatization of the country's oil and resources and demanding a secular future for Iraq. They note that what they call "political Islam" dominates both sides in the Iraq war--the collaborationist regime and the armed "resistance."
The Iraqi Freedom Congress is a new coalition, founded just a year ago, bringing together labor unions, student groups, women's rights organizations and neighborhood assemblies. At a Jan. 28 and 29 conference in Tokyo, organized by Japanese antiwar activists to support the congress, the organization's president Samir Adil spoke of their struggle to maintain a political space for civil society in a country increasingly dominated by utterly ruthless armed actors. "Civilian people are paying the price for the armed resistance, so we believe it is a bad tactic," he said. "But we are mobilizing the people to protect themselves."
One of the member groups of the congress, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, led a successful campaign against a proposed measure for the interim constitution to grant Islamic clerics power to adjudicate in domestic disputes and impose Shariah law--which many use to deny divorce and inheritance rights to women. Following a series of public protests by the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq and other pro-secular groups, in February 2004 Iraq's Governing Council narrowly voted the measure down. Women's Freedom leader Yanar Mohammed has since been the target of repeated death threats.
Now, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq is fighting a similar measure that has been included in the permanent constitution approved in October 2005. The organization blames the United States for acceding to this policy and making common cause with fundamentalists.
Yanar Mohammed argues that far from protecting Iraq from a descent into ethnoreligious warfare, the United States has laid the groundwork for exactly that: "Since the beginning of the occupation, the U.S. administration has recognized Iraqis according to their ethnic/nationalist and religious identities. This pre-determined polarization of the society around its most reactionary forces has resulted [in] a most lethal weapon, which is a government of division and inequality--a potential time-bomb for a civil war that has already started."
Because the new order in Iraq is being crafted on these quasi-theocratic lines, and under the auspices of a foreign-occupation, the Iraqi Freedom Congress advocates noncollaboration with the "official" political process. …