‘The Iraqis today do not have control over their political, security or social situation – control is in the hands of the occupation, those who came with it, and those who benefit from it’.

So said Dr Harith al-Dari, Secretary-General of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) in Iraq, in his speech to the fifth General Conference of Arab Parties, which was held in the Syrian capital, Damascus, last weekend.

Dr al-Dari opened his speech by thanking the Syrian Arab Republic, its people, government and leadership, for hosting and sponsoring popular conferences that contribute to the ‘awakening of the nation’.

He then briefed them on the situation in Iraq which, he stressed is ‘abnormal and is going from bad to worse’.

Dr al-Dari also accused ‘many Arabs and Muslims of abandoning Iraq and not supporting it, when it is defending all of them – after the occupier himself admitted that Iraq is only the beginning of a plan for the occupation of other Muslim countries’.

He also reminded them of ‘those graveyards that house the remains of Iraqi soldiers, who defended the Arabs and Muslims in this or that country and who spared no effort to champion and support their brothers wherever they faced injustice and occupation.

‘The Iraqis today lack this from their Arab and Muslim brothers and compatriots. This makes the sons of this wounded country blame (Arabs and Muslims).

However, he stressed, despite this, the resistance today ‘is still directing its painful, powerful strikes against the occupiers in the wake of the disappearance of the tempest of the so-called Awakening Councils, which the occupier himself set up and which ended at the hands of the valiant resistance men’.

He also announced that the ‘resistance is continuing and will not stop until the last soldier leaves the land of Iraq.

‘More than 33,000 occupier soldiers have been killed in this war, according to the records of the Veterans Association’.

The AMS Secretary General added that ‘international reports have stated that more than two million Iraqis have been martyred at the hands of the occupation and those who came with it.

‘And that more than 600,000 Iraqi prisoners are dispersed throughout more than 100 prisons – in addition to secret prisons whose number far exceeds that of the declared prisons – as well as more than one million widows and more than five million orphans.’

At the same time, he reminded conference, ‘Palestine, its people, and crucial cause run in the blood of the Iraqis, who, despite their wounds, have not forgotten their brothers in the land of Al-Aqsa Mosque’.

Dr Al-Dari also noted that ‘the Iraqi resistance is accused of so-called “terrorism” and is even pursued by the intelligence services of many of the neighbouring countries, in addition to many other accusations, which have disappeared today after the false claims were exposed to the sons of Iraq.

‘Today, the sons of Iraq are aware of the truth of what is happening on the ground.

‘They are also aware that “terrorism” is in fact perpetrated and carried out by the occupier himself through the crimes of his intelligence services and security firms, whose elements in Iraq number more than 120,000’.

Dr al-Dari concluded his speech by announcing to the ‘Arabs, Muslims, and all honourable men in the world that the date of liberation and victory in the struggle between right and falsehood on the land of Iraq is near or very near’.

Later, in a live satellite interview Dr al-Dari was asked to comment on the latest developments in Iraq.

Asked why ‘the opposition figures plan to boycott the political process, while the United States emphasises that it respects the withdrawal timetable it has set’, Al-Dari said: ‘The Americans are not serious about their promises to leave Iraq. We have already proven this on several occasions.’

He added: ‘Nothing has changed on the ground. The rules of the political game are still controlled by the Americans. Nothing has changed at the social, political, economic, or even the security level. Nothing has changed. The only change happened to the US strategies on how to manage its political conflict in Iraq.’

Asked if they have an alternative, he said: ‘The alternative has been put forward since the first year of occupation.

‘The alternative, which is still there, is to confront the occupation and resist it with all available and legitimate means. The current facts prove that this alternative is becoming more popular with the Iraqis and is gaining more ground each passing day.’

Asked if he was referring to ‘armed resistance,’ he said: ‘Precisely. I mean armed resistance and all other supportive forms that the Iraqi people have taken up.

‘We can talk about a new type of resistance now; namely, rejecting the political process. This can be best seen in the large-scale public refusal to take part in this process. This, I believe, has become a clear issue that does not require any clues.’

Asked if he was aware of any attempts by political forces to work out an alternative political scheme, he said: ‘Who are these forces? I have no idea who they are.’

Elaborating, he said: ‘I have not heard of this. However, all the anti-occupation forces, including the actual forces of resistance that are still operating on the ground and that are striking the occupation every day, still say that their main project is liberation and sticking to the four principles; namely, liberating Iraq, preserving Iraq’s unity, maintaining its Arab-Islamic identity, and preserving its riches. Nothing has changed in this respect except for the tactics.’

Asked to comment on ‘reports coming from Iraq and abroad to the effect that the resistance is receding,’ he said: ‘These reports are not accurate. It is not a matter of receding or losing ground.

‘The resistance is now adopting a new strategy. Many plots have targeted it, including the 2006 plot of the Awakening Councils, and the subsequent plots of the political process.

‘Frankly speaking, we admit that there is a large-scale plot against the resistance. But this resistance is still there.’

Asked to comment on the ‘political formations affiliated with the resistance forces such as the Political Council,’ he said:

‘This is quite natural. The Iraqi resistance has used different phases and strategies, including the formation of groups, factions and fronts.’

‘The resistance has its own political action.’

Asked if ‘political action and armed resistance can be combined,’ he said: ‘When the Iraqi resistance and the anti-occupation forces say that the jihadist action on the ground needs to be supported by political action, they mean a political action that promotes resistance and defends it and its right outside the context of the political process.’

Elaborating, he said: ‘What we call for is political action to defend the resistance, prove its effectiveness, and defend it at all levels.’