Intro and Analysis
The latest Naqshbandi Army (JRTN) statement reaffirms many prior JRTN messages, including the stress on the necessity of 'revolution', rejection of federalism and any other projects regarded as 'dividing' Iraq, accusing the government of being behind displacements of members of Iraq's various sects, destruction of shrines etc. There is still no indication of any intention of a plan to confront the Islamic State (IS) on a broader scale despite the distancing from IS' actions against minorities and heritage sites.
Quite predictably, it did not take long for the JRTN's activist wing Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq to issue a pretty much identical statement foremost reaffirming 'revolution' to be the only path forward, which was then disseminated among other JRTN front groups.
In light of the extensive references to the United States in this latest statement, I should say that those who would advocate that the U.S. should work with JRTN to counter IS are deeply mistaken. By its very nature, JRTN is a revolutionary organization and any support for it is fundamentally incompatible with any kind of perceived support for the Iraqi government in Baghdad, including recognition and maintenance of diplomatic relations with said government. To the extent that Baghdad or the West could ever work with JRTN members against IS with a view to restoring some kind of government control over areas like Mosul and Tikrit- no matter how autonomous- it would be such that these JRTN members cease to be JRTN, in so far as they realize the futility of their goals of 'revolution' under their leadership and implementing their political vision with the restoration the pre-2003 Ba'athist state. Indeed, it would be analogous to Syrian rebels- whether FSA-banner, Islamic Front or whatever other coalitions they gather around- allying with the Assad regime to crush IS, for the rebels, despite the differences in ideology by coalition, nonetheless share the revolutionary goal of overthrowing the regime, and in turn the regime accepts no less than subjugation. If the rebels should choose to work with Assad, they would cease to be rebels.
In any event, Atheel Nujaifi- the only figure within the Iraqi political system who claimed contact with JRTN to push back against IS in Mosul and set up some sort of local government in Ninawa province- has completely abandoned this line he was playing up last month (hardly surprising as JRTN openly rejected the Nujaifi family's 'Mosul Battalions' initiative against IS, with IS having become the focal point of the Nujaifis' concerns). Instead, Atheel is now pinning his hopes on the formation of the new government under Hayder Abadi (also rejected by JRTN), thus his statement on 24 August:
"Government formation talks point to a preliminary agreement on the part of the National Alliance [the main Shi'a bloc] on the formation of a local force in the provinces, the establishment of [federal] regions, an end to or suspension of de-Ba'athification: and further that these issues will be within the programs of the upcoming government. These are excellent indications but we will continue to push for agreement on the details. Also our people need clear public statements from the National Alliance leadership in support of that."
The autonomist decentralisation agenda Atheel is pushing for is wholly at odds with the JRTN's vision for Iraq that sees such initiatives as part of an evil conspiracy to divide the country; further, his apparent new-found willingness to give the National Alliance some credibility is to be contrasted with the JRTN's repeated denunciations of the body (the latest in this new statement) as a mere sectarian agent of Iran. Assuming Atheel's contacts in July with JRTN in Mosul were genuine, then it could well be that he eventually realized that he was being played by JRTN.
Here is the latest statement. Translation below as always.
Statement by JRTN's official spokesman regarding the sectarian government's crimes against the Iraqi people and our Arab Islamic Ummah.
Oh dignified people of Iraq,
Oh sons of our Arab Islamic Ummah,
Oh free people in the entire world.
Verily the racist sectarian government has persisted with intensity in its killing of Iraqis and spilling their blood since the American enemy gave it authority over the sons of our people, and it has committed hideous and dreadful massacres against them: among them, the massacre of the mosque of our Sayyid Mus'ab bin Umair (may God be pleased with him) that the criminal SWAT militias perpetrated under orders from the racist sectarian government, and thus that government has proven what we affirmed in previous statements: that even if faces have changed the sectarianism, racism and subordination to Iran have not changed, also because the lackey sectarian racist government continues to rule over us while implementing the racist, sectarian expansionist plans of Iran. In light of these dangerous associations, we draw the attention of our people, our Ummah and the entire world to what follows:
1. Our Iraqi people will never obtain their freedom, their rights and their security except by continuation of their blessed revolution until victory is realized and the sectarian, racist and corrupt followers of Iran are expelled. And indeed all that has happened and is happening with the killing of Iraqis over identity, forced displacement, violation of their taboos and holy sites, violation of their honor, stealing their wealth and terrorizing them: all this is because of the continuation of this government and the sectarian, racist Unnational Alliance [National Alliance] that professes allegiance and subordination to Iran: the enemy of peace and stability in Iraq and the region.
2. Those advocating division under so-called federalism and regions and the other various appellations are collaborators in this hideous massacre and are looking out for occasions like this to renew their hopeless demands to divide our homeland of Iraq by sect, race, and ethnicity to implement the agendas of their overlords. This is what our army (JRTN) and the sons of our dignified Iraqi people reject, also because the unity of Iraq in land and people is among our principles and precepts, so there is no compromise over it at all, ever.
3. We affirm what our army (JRTN) thinks:
a) The sectarian, racist Unnational Alliance that the American enemy brought to Iraq feigns interest in democracy and adherence to the U.S.; and it is in reality bound by doctrine, madhhab, and spirit to Iran; and it is implementing Iran's expansionist interests in the region and the world in exporting the Iranian Revolution (of evil renown).
b) The continuation of American support for this sectarian, racist and corrupt Unnational Alliance has destroyed the U.S.'s respect and credibility with the international community in its embrace of the spreading of freedom and democracy and the protection of human rights.
c) The forced displacement of Iraqis, the emptying of Iraq of its foundational components, and the changing of the demographic and political map of Iraq and the region is on of the crimes of the racist sectarian government and its bloody terrorist militias. The aim of this is to sow fitna [strife] and separation as well as confuse documentation to distort and destroy the destiny of our Iraqi people's revolution.
d) Holy sites like mosques, places of worship and shrines of the prophets (on our Prophet and them prayers and peace) and shrines of the awliya' and just ones (may God have mercy on them) constitute holy religious and doctrinal sites that must be respected, dignified and not be infringed on.
e) Infringing on holy religious and doctrinal sites and killing unarmed believing worshippers in them and spilling their blood is an enormous crime and gross violation of their rights, and it is contrary to the principles of monotheistic Islam and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and freedom of religion.
4. We hold the U.S. and international community responsible for what is happening in Iraq for the continuation of their support for this cheap, miserable, illegal political operation, and its racist sectarian government with its carrying out of these hideous massacres against our Iraqi people who keep the peace, and its committing organized state terrorism, killing over identity, violation of the sanctities of holy sites, killing worshippers in them, forced displacement of Iraqis, demographic change including displacement of Christians, Yezidis and other minorities, kindling the fire of sectarian and racist violence, and violating the right of citizenship and peaceful co-existence among the components and sects of Iraq's people.
5. We affirm as we have previously affirmed that our army (JRTN) has not had any connection to any side considered suspect or connected with this racist sectarian government and bloody terrorist militias in any way.
We pledge to God, His messenger and our Iraqi people to move forward on the path of liberating the land from all forms of sectarianism, racism, and the realization of justice, equality, peace, respect for human and citizenship rights, and life with dignity for all the sons of our people without distinction and the protection of the interests of the peoples and states that stand by the Iraqi people in their blessed revolution and obtaining their rights completely without reduction, and there is no victory except with God, the Almighty, the All-Wise.
Dr. Salah ad-Din al-Ayyubi,
Official JRTN spokesman.
28 Shuwwal 1435 AH.
24 August 2014.
"massacre of the mosque"- referring to the killing of dozens of worshippers in a Diyala province mosque, apparently by Shi'a militiamen connected with the government. This mass killing has provoked widespread rhetorical heat in Sunni insurgent circles: note for example this Islamic Army of Iraq Shari'a Committee statement on 22 August openly speaking of "Rafidites" (a derogatory term for Shi'a) regarding the massacre: a marked shift in the group's discourse towards open anti-Shi'ism, as opposed to the prior exclusive focus on the word 'Safavid'.
"criminal SWAT militias"- The special SWAT forces have long been held by Sunni Arab circles to be a sectarian death squad force. The accusation is not entirely divorced from reality as the SWAT forces have increasingly seen their ranks filled by Iranian proxy militiamen or at minimum there is close collaboration, as illustrated by photos (see bottom of this post for examples) of these militiamen in SWAT gear.
"U.S.'s respect and credibility..."- A typical JRTN form of messaging to appeal to concepts familiar to the international community, whether the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or American ideals of 'spreading freedom and democracy.' This does not mean that the JRTN shares any of these ideals.
"'awliya and just ones"- Sufi concepts pointing to JRTN's advocacy of Naqshbandi Sufism, though this is very much secondary to its Ba'athism.