Report: U.S. cooperating with Shiites in Iraq

Monday, August 4, 2003

The United States is apparently cooperating with Shi'ite insurgents in helping quell attacks against the military in Iraq, according to a new report.

The report in Middle East Intelligence Bulletin said the U.S. military might be cooperating with the Islamic Call Party, or Hizb Al Daawa Al Islamiya, regarded as having been one of the most formidable opponents of the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. The report said Washington might be acquiring information from Al Daawa on insurgents, particularly in the Shi'ite community.

Little is known of Al Daawa's organizational structure. But the group has been credited with numerous attacks on the Saddam regime, including seven attempts to assassinate the president and the near-fatal shooting of his son, Uday, Middle East Newsline reported. Uday and Qusay were killed in a U.S. military strike in Mosul in July.

"There are also some indications that the party may be cooperating with the United States in rooting out armed resistance," the report said. "A recent statement by an anti-American Iraqi nationalist group accused Al Daawa of treason for 'informing the occupation forces about the resistance forces.'"

The report said the Shi'ite group differs from most of the emerging movements in Iraq. Al Daawa has expressed its opposition to a hasty U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and criticized the imposition of Islamic law in Shi'ite areas.

"Hizb Al Daawa has proved itself to be an adaptable and resilient ideological movement and activist network," the report, authored by Iranian analyst Mahan Abedin, said. "Its main challenge will be transforming itself from a secretive cell-based organization into a popular political party."

Al Daawa, regarded as the oldest Shi'ite political movement in Iraq, has refused to formally cooperate with the United States and did not join the anti-Saddam coalition organized by Washington. But in January 2003 Al Daawa leader Ibrahim Al Jaafari traveled to the United States and met presidential adviser Zalmay Khalilzad.

The report said Al Daawa, which attacked U.S. interests in the 1980s, has emerged in central and southern Iraq and organized the first demonstrations against the U.S. military presence in the city of Nasseriya.

At the same time, Al Daawa was said to have rejected Iranian attempts to dominate the Shi'ite community in Iraq.

"For the United States, Al Daawa represents both peril and promise," the report said. "While the movement has refused to endorse American intervention in Iraq, it has also refused to subordinate itself to Iran.

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