Haifa Zangana: The resistance will end only if occupation ends. Otherwise Print E-mail

 you have to continue "waiting for the Barbarians".


Thursday September 14 2006

There is more than one triangle of resistance

What the occupiers of Iraq still refuse to accept is that the resistance is supported and protected by Iraqis.

Haifa Zangana*

Reuters reports that the commander of US Marines in Iraq denied on Tuesday that his troops had lost the Anbar province they patrol, after newspapers said his intelligence chief had written the grimest report from the field since the war began.

The area he refers to as the Sunni insurgency's heartland is obviously part of the disappearing "Sunni Triangle", which make us wonder: whatever happened to the Sunni Triangle, the brand name which was used by the US-UK military spokesmen and all the media outlets in reporting on the US-led occupation's struggle to maintain effective control of Iraq since the invasion in 2003?

Recent occupation statements and press releases use alternatives such as Death Triangle and Haditha Triangle, etc. But while it lasted, the Sunni Triangle, served a few purposes. It was popularised by a New York Times article of June 10, 2003, which described it as "where the minority Sunnis with deep loyalties to Saddam's regime reside". Geographically, it was used to confine the resistance to the occupation to a small area in Iraq which is: "the 100-mile swath from Baghdad, north to Tikrit where 80 percent of guerrilla attacks occur."

Psychologically, it was useful to gain the American people's empathy with their courageous soldiers; "For an American soldier in Iraq, there is no more dangerous neighbourhood than what has come to be known as the Sunni Triangle, the area west of Baghdad, around the town of Falluja."

More important was the success of the brand name to dehumanize Iraqis, to justify the occupation's atrocities, civilian's killings in particular; because; "in the Sunni Triangle, it is not easy to determine who is a combatant and who is not. And this sometimes results in unintended consequences that the military says it can't avoid. Civilians sometimes get caught in the crossfire. They get shot, or worse, they get killed."

For Iraqis, the "Sunni Triangle" has become synonymous with the US-led occupation's brutality - Falluja's destruction, followed by Samara, Tel Afar and parts of Najaf. It is symonymous with daily killings , air-strikes, arbitrary arrests, detentions and torture; with Abu Ghraib, house raids and search and destroy operations; with massacres in Haditha, Al Qaem, and Al Ishaqi. It is also the brand name for all the US-UK military operations that have killed, to date, over 100,000 civilians and driven the country into a sectarian civil war to "establish democracy". The US president recently expressed the aim: "We will fight the terrorists overseas so we don't have to fight them here at home, in the streets of our own cities"."

The reality is that the US-led occupation has not just failed to put an end to the resistance in the "Sunni Triangle" but has helped to multiply resistance triangles in other Iraqi cities. In Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, Azzaman Iraqi newspaper reported on September 1, 2006, that: "The rebels now even do not mind the presence of Americans since they never dare to dismount their armoured vehicles. US foot patrols are unthinkable as they will make the marines easy prey for snipers. Iraqi police and troops have no armored protection and drive in open pick-trucks, turning them into easy targets."

In Basra and Amara - cities south of Iraq, both are far beyond the sides of any triangle - British forces are under repeated mortar attack. They had left the Abu Naji military camp to reduce their fixed presence, and covered their retreat with a public statement that the Iraqi security forces were ready to take over, though immediately after the troops withdraw, gangs of looters moved in and stripped the barrack blocks bare, carting off roofing and airconditioners.

In Baghdad, Operation Together Forward - Amaliya Ma'an ila Al-Amam - launched by the Iraqi prime minister immediately after his return from Washington, (with 12,000. US troops, increased checkpoints, a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and house to house search in specific areas in the capital) has achieved one goal: to terrorize the Baghdadis.

The increase in attacks on occupation troops in recent months - in Basra, Amara, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Mosul and Baghdad - clearly defies the " Triangulation" and "Sunnization" of the resistance.

What the occupation and its puppets have chosen not to see is that the Iraqi resistance would not have continued and sustained its attacks, over three years, in 13 provinces unless it was first Iraqi, second national, third and above all supported and protected by Iraqi people through various social networks, communities, tribes, NGOs, and political parties.

The clear message that Iraqis have been delivering to the Bush-Blair axis of "democracy" from day one of the occupation is this: the resistance will end only if occupation ends. Otherwise you have to continue "waiting for the Barbarians".

"They were, those people, a kind of solution."



Haifa Zangana is a novelist and former prisoner of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime. She is a weekly columnist for al-Quds newspaper and an occasional commentator for the Guardian, Red Pepper and al-Ahram Weekly. She lectures regularly on Iraqi culture, literature, and women issues.

Born in Baghdad in 1950, she worked with the PLO in Damascus, Syria, in 1975, and has lived in London since 1976. As a painter and writer, she participated in various European and American surrealist publications and group exhibitions in the 80s, and performed one-woman shows in London and Iceland.

She has worked as an adviser for the United Nations Development Programme, writing a report on empowerment of women in the Arab world, and as a member of the advisory board of a Brussels tribunal on Iraq. She co-founded Act Together: Women Action for Iraq and is the chair of Iraqi Patriots in Media and Culture (IPMC). She was a founding member of the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS), and edited and published Halabja, a homage to the eponymous Kurdish town by Iraqi and Arab writers and artists.

Through the Vast Halls of Memory, her biographical novel, was published in English by Hourglass in 1990, reprinted in 1991, and published in Arabic in 1995. Three collections of short stories followed: The Ant’s Nest (1996), Beyond What the Eye Sees (1997) and The Presence of Others (1999). She has since published two more novels: Keys to a City in 2000 and Women on a Journey in 2001.

Forthcoming publications include:

  • A piece in Not One More Death, a collection of writings against the Iraq war/occupation. STW and Verso, March 2006
  • A translation of her novel Women on a Journey. Texas University Press, December 2006
  • The Three Cyclops of Empire: Targeting the Fabric of Iraqi Society, a chapter in Empire’s Law, Pluto, February 2006
  • Colonial Feminist: from Washington to Baghdad, a chapter in Barriers to Reconciliation, Washington DC University Press, 2006
  • Packaged Lives, a collection of short stories in Arabic, Dar Al Sawad.