The latest Naqshbandi Army (JRTN) statement comes in response to accusations against JRTN by a Kurdish official that JRTN is part of an insurgent move towards Arbil. It should be noted that Kurdish suspicion of JRTN is nothing new, with JRTN previously accused of being behindcar bombings in Kirkuk, prompting a statement of denial last year. Predictably, that denial entailed blaming it all on the "sectarian government" in Baghdad, with the usual JRTN cross-sectarian appeal. However, JRTN responsibility for prior car bombings in Kirkuk- perhaps coordinated with the Islamic State (IS)- cannot be discounted easily, for JRTN, given its vision of restoring the pre-2003 Iraqi Ba'athist state and the pan-Arabist logo, is strongly opposed to the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) vision of incorporating Kirkuk into Iraqi Kurdistan, and JRTN sympathies/links almost certainly exist within the "Arab Political Council" of Kirkuk, which has previously warned of supposed 'genocide' against Arabs in the Kirkuk area. Even so, in this case, there is nothing to suggest JRTN coordination with IS in the latest moves against the Peshmerga in areas such as Sinjar and Qaraqosh, let alone a move towards Arbil.
As ever, JRTN continues not to mention IS by name in its statements. To reinforce JRTN distancing from the consequences of IS' actions, the group's activist wing Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq has also released a statement condemning targeting of Christians and Yezidis etc. in terms pretty much identical to JRTN, further pointing to Intifada Ahrar al-Iraq as JRTN's activist wing (if the evidence were not clear enough already). Yet it is also noteworthy at this point that neither the JRTN nor the other main insurgent factions has commented on U.S. airstrikes against IS, even as Obama has announced the potential for such strikes to be part of a long-term project. It is certainly possible, as I discussed in my previous post on the Islamic Army of Iraq's 3 August statement, that the other insurgents may be hoping for the airstrikes to converge with other factors to wear out and weaken IS, allowing for them to fill a new void. All that said, if the U.S. airstrikes end up targeting the non-IS insurgents- whether by mistake or otherwise- one can almost certainly expect statements of condemnation.
Note the appeal to the wider international community in point 4. with the seemingly bizarre reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, reflecting wider non-IS pro-insurgent calls for international support for the 'revolution of the Iraqi people' (cf. Amman Conference declaration).
Official JRTN spokesman statement in response to a statement by one of the Kurdish officials in northern Iraq*
Oh steadfast Iraqi people,
Oh sons of our Arab Islamic Ummah,
Oh free men in all the world.
One of the Kurdish officials in north Iraq on one of the channels made accusations against our army (JRTN), and in response to these accusations we affirm the following:
1. Our army (JRTN) forcefully denies these accusations, and we reaffirm what we have previously stated via our adoption of our program and principles.
2. Our army (JRTN) is a national resistance army, not sectarian, racist, madhhabist or regionalist, but an army for all Iraqis that has no link with any terrorist act.
3. Our army (JRTN) considers any act targeting the sons of our Iraqi people- in all its forms and components and in every part of the land, whether through bombing, forced displacements, or explosions that have hit holy sites like mosques, places of worship or shrines of the prophets (on our prophet and them peace and prayers) or shrines of awliya' and just ones (may God have mercy on them) and civilizational and cultural landmarks- to be an act of hostility to be rejected and a disgraceful act of terrorism. And our army (JRTN) considers this work to be among the plans of the racist sectarian government whose aim is to confuse documentation and destroy the destiny of the blessed revolution of the Iraqi people.
4. Our army (JRTN) considers holy sites like mosques, places of worship or shrines of the prophets (on our prophet and them peace and prayers) or shrines of awliya' and just ones (may God have mercy on them) to be holy symbols of religion and creed that must be respected and dignified, as the Almighty said ("That is so also of whosoever dignifies the symbols of God, for it is from the piety of the hearts"- 22:32). Further, our army considers desecrating these holy symbols of religion and creed to be contrary to Scripture and the Sunna, and the greatest crime that infringes on the customs of the people, their beliefs and holy sites, and a gross violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
5. Whoever wants to know more about our stance regarding these accusations that have no truthful basis to them, let him go back to our published program on our official electronic site for our army on the Internet and the statements of July 21.**
We pledge to God, His Messenger and our Iraqi people to continue on the path of liberating the land from every problem of sectarianism, racism and partisanship, including its unity, independence, nobleness and security, with the realization of freedom, justice, equality and the happiness and comfort of our Iraqi people...
Official JRTN spokesman.
11 Shuwwal 1435 AH
7 August 2014."
*- In speaking only of "northern Iraq," JRTN reflects a lack of recognition of the KRG (something also embodied in their logo of pan-Arab unification).
**- Point 5. and the conclusion are a repeat of the 1 August statement.