The Islamic Iraqi Resistance Front (al-Jabha al-Islamiyya lil-Muqawama al-Iraqiyya, JAMI) on February 22 reprinted on their website (http://www.jaami.com/vb/showthread.php?t=140) a statement—allegedly issued by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a major Iraqi Shiite group—calling for Iraqi Shiites to stand firm and united in fighting Sunnis to avenge three decades of unfair treatment by the Ba’ath party, which was largely dominated by Iraqi Arab Sunnis.
The release of the statement came on the same day of the bombing of the Shiite Golden Dome, the revered al-Askari Shrine in Samarra (90 miles north of Baghdad). More than 100 people have been killed since the bombing in apparent revenge attacks. Dozens of bullet-riddled bodies have been found in Baghdad and several Sunni mosques were attacked. A bloody assault on a factory left 47 workers killed few miles from the green zone in the capital on Thursday, February 23.
While posted on the JAMI website, which is thought to be mostly comprised of former Ba’athists, the actual text of the statement was signed by the Army of Muhammad, another, smaller Iraqi resistance group. The comments that accompanied the SCIRI statement degraded the Shiites in a clear attempt to fan the flames of sectarian violence in Iraq.
The statement, along with the violence that followed it, seem to reflect Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s earlier and much publicized plans to foment civil war in Iraq. “The al-Qaeda Organization in the Land of Two Rivers [Iraq] is declaring all-out war on the Rafidha [an insulting term for Shiites] wherever they are in Iraq,” Zarqawi said in September 2005 (al-Jazeera, September 17, 2005).
The SCIRI statement was signed by Abdulaziz al-Hakeem, a major ally to both the coalition forces and Iran, and calls upon Iraqi Shiites to fight Sunnis to avenge their association with the former Iraqi president; to follow the path of Iran’s Islamic revolution; to fight the Saudis for their “continues offences against Shiites;” and to oust the Salafis from Iraq.
“We have accomplished many goals in the past three years including dominating security forces in the country, avenging injustice from the Ba’ath party, and weeding out many Salafis. However, our struggle just started. I urge you, Shiites, brothers and sisters, to join me in achieving our noble goals: establishing the Shiite state in Iraq and the neighboring Arab states in order to be faithful to Grand Ayatollah Khomeini’s message: spreading God’s word all over the world,” al-Hakeem said in the statement.
He asked his followers to expand the geographical area of their [military] operations against Saudis to include not only al-Ihasa’a and al-Qatif (Eastern region of Saudi Arabia) but also the heart of the Saudi regime in the capital Riyadh and the kingdom’s commercial center in Jeddah.
Al-Hakeem’s organization, with its armed wing Badr Brigade—a well-trained militia of 10,000—controls Iraqi security forces, including those in the Ministry of Interior. SCIRI has been frequently accused by Sunni Arabs of organizing death squads and the assassinations of their political opponents.
Iraqi Sunnis fear the Badr Army and accuse it of serving Iran’s interests in Iraq—rather than helping their fellow Iraqis.
Many moderate Arab writers spoke out against al-Qaeda’s role in Iraq. Some of them believe the role of SCIRI is similar to that of al-Qaeda. “Both parties are feeding terror. Al-Qaeda would have no support at all in Iraq if SCIRI didn’t exist,” Ahmed al-Noa`imi wrote on the Jordanian Al-Ghad newspaper on February 23.
Yet, as the recent spate of sectarian attacks and revenge attacks has shown, al-Qaeda—or at least those who share its mission—are succeeding in driving a wedge into Iraqi society and threatening the fragile political system in place.