The Peace Ambassadors for Iraq (PAFI) held a conference last May (28-29) at the George V Hotel in Paris. PAFI is a non-governmental organisation created in 2014 by Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari, who is one of the leaders of the al-Zoba tribe, a branch of the great Shammar confederation.
PAFI aims to unite all Iraqis by forming a non-religious political party, capable of driving out ISIL from the Anbar Province. An ambitious programme…
To support the initiative, various prominent international figures were invited to the conference:
Dominique de Villepin, the man who said “Non!” to the second Gulf War (see https://geostrategieblog.wordpress.com/de-villepin-diplomatic-prescience/)
Admiral William Fallon, former commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM – the body that coordinates US military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia), who resigned in 2008, as he opposed George W Bush’s plans to attack Iraq
American Republicans who regret having voted for the US military intervention in Iraq
Sayyed Muhammad Ali al-Husseini, a Lebanese Shia cleric, who recommends that Iraqi religious minority groups campaign for Iraqi Jews to have the right to return to their country
The debates were chaired by Sabah al-Mukthar, president of the Arab Lawyers Association in London.
Al-Dhari – a name synoymous with resistance
Sheikh Jamal al-Dhari, president of PAFI, can claim to be of illustrious descent. In Iraq, his family name has been synonymous with resistance ever since the 1920 revolution, when the Zoba tribe staged an uprising against British occupying forces in the Fallujah-Abu Ghraib region. Sulayman’s great grand-uncle is considered to be a national hero for having killed Colonel Gerald Leachman, a British intelligence officer who had insulted his father, the tribal chief. As a symbolic reminder of this assassination, Saddam Hussein, during the embargo period, saluted the parades of the Al Quds Volunteer Army* by firing a Lee-Enfield rifle which had been taken from the British in 1920.
Following the American invasion of 2003, Sulayman’s grand-son, Harith Sulayman al-Dhari, a prominent Sunni religious leader, continued the family and tribal tradition by creating the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) to resist the US occupation, while distancing himself from the actions and rhetoric of both Al-Qaida in Iraq and ISIL.
In March 2015, Harith al-Dhari died in Turkey. He was considered to be the spiritual leader of the Iraqi resistance movement and, in particular, the inspiration for the Iraqi 1920 Revolution Brigade. His son, who was named his successor, refused to participate in the Paris conference.
But perhaps he could participate at the next conference, as could perhaps the Ba’ath movement, which had asked for more time to prepare their presentation. It is worth noting that the PAFI and the underground Ba’ath movement support the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT), an anti-Iranian military organisation created in December of last year by Saudi Arabia.
Find a way out of Chaos
No doubt Dominique de Villepin’s speech was not appreciated by the anti-Iranian hardliners in the audience. Notably, he advised representatives of the new Iraqi political organisation to campaign for a general amnesty and to create a new Iraqi citizenship. He advised, above all, that the new group should convince the leaders of neighbouring states (in particular Saudi Arabia, Iran and UAE) that the stability of their country is closely tied to stability Iraq.
Even if the American participants were not Republican hawks, PAFI will be viewed as an operation by the West and Saudi Arabia to provide the Anbar province with an administration considered acceptable by the “international community”.
But will it be accepted by the Iraqi people? Participants seized the opportunity to ask Admiral Fallon and two former US Congress members if they could trust America “when it was the US that bombed Fallujah to support the offensive launched by government forces and the Shia militia”. They were obviously not in a position to give an answer.
Jamal al-Dhari hopes that other prominent Iraqi figures will join him. At the end of the conference he was elected president of the new political body. He was backed by Adnan Malik (the secretary general) and Samad Abdelkarim (spokesman for the group). The next conference could be held at either Washington or Erbil.
* Saddam Hussein created the Al Quds Volunteer Army in early 2001, ostensibly to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem
Translated from French
The original author was Gilles Munier
Source: France-Irak Actualité