by Nada Al-Rubaiee | Free Arab Voice | February 2005
[From the editorial board of the Free Arab Voice: For many leftists in the west, especially in the United States, the question of Iraq remains shrouded in ambiguity. They know that supporting an occupation isn't right, only they keep hearing these supposedly labor and women’s groups saying "we need the occupation". So when the left in the US denounces the occupation of Iraq, it can only do so half-heartedly because leftists are supposed to admit at the same time "it’s doing some good". The result is that the left is in horrible confusion and therefore deadlocked - except for a handful of activists. Partly that's Zionist influence in the left in the west, but it’s due as well to this flood of all sorts of disinformation, especially disinformation about the Iraqi Resistance. To this end, Nada Al-Rubaiee’s piece comes to fill a very important void. The Editorial Board of the FREE ARAB VOICE www.freearabvoice.org ]
Member of the Central Committee of the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance ( IPA)
During Bush’s campaign to invade Iraq, issues concerning Iraqi women were raised on several occasions. Part of this “feminist” hoopla was carried out by a few Iraqi women who promoted the invasion as a means of “liberating” Iraqi women from male and state repression. After the desired “liberation” of Iraq was accomplished, some of these same women were appointed to ‘prestigious’ positions in different occupation institutions of the “New Iraq” like the Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) and the Interim Iraqi Government of Ayad Allawy (Prime Minster). Others started operating openly inside Iraq under the banner of foreign-financed so-called NGO’s, as well as human rights and women’s organizations.
In November 2003, a delegation of Iraqi women visited the White House to personally thank Bush for “helping” Iraq and to ask him not to withdraw his troops allegedly because “Iraq still needs them”. Several months later, on the very special occasion of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March 2004, Colin Powell unleashed two initiatives: Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative, and the U.S.-Iraq Women's Network. Powell, henceforth, allocated $10 million to cover the first initiative, and $27 million dollars more to cover the second!
Many fundamental questions arise here by default: why is the US administration shedding millions to promote women’s democracy in occupied Iraq, while other basic and essential human needs, like water and electricity, are not being minimally satisfied yet? Why is the issue of women so important for the occupiers? And how can we understand spending money in the name of democracy for the sake of women, while humiliating, torturing, and killing thousands of men and women also in the name of democracy? Finally, what role do those newly-established Iraqi women’s organizations play in this scheme?
Many of these organizations –if not all of them- have started to raise very controversial issues in a country still reeling under occupation. Their slogans are not limited to calls for more “private and sexual freedom of Iraqi women”, but are strongly directed against the Iraqi resistance. It is true these organizations say the Iraqi people should be rid of the occupation. However, they only do so while calling at the same time for the rejection of “the current terrorist resistance”! Moreover, they have taken upon themselves the additional responsibility of “resisting Islamic terrorism….”.
But, aren’t these the same lines pushed by Rumsfeld and Bush? There is no doubt the rhetoric of these women’s organizations borrows heavily from the terminology of the occupation.
Thus, it is only rational to ask ourselves whether there is a link between such calls ‘to liberate Iraqi women’, on one hand, and the concomitant anti-resistance slogans, on the other hand? What is the common denominator between the occupation and these women organizations?
Many dishonest and cheap accusations were directed both by the occupation and those organizations against the heroic Iraqi resistance in cities like Fallujah for example. Both accused the resistance of committing heinous crimes, such as kidnapping and killing Iraqi women ‘for wearing jeans or walking without a scarf’, and even raping girls ‘before the occupiers rape them’?!
This latest accusation was openly made by the Organization for Women Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) against the Fallujah’s Shura Council, a religious council that served as spokesperson for the heroic resistance against the brutal aggressors during the siege of Fallujah. Thus, OWFI made the absurd charge that the Shura Council had issued a fatwa (religious decree) stipulating that “Mujahideen fighters should rape girls starting at the age of 10 before they are raped by Americans”.
Such bizarre accusations are completely baseless, but they do unveil the real face of organizations that were created merely to blackmail the resistance and lengthen the occupation. While distracting attention away from the real criminals, those organizations do not miss a chance to conjure up hatred for the resistance.
Back to Fallujah again, in a letter “in defence” of the people of a city destroyed during the latest (continued) aggression of the occupiers, OWFI addressed the following point: “The terrorist Islamists are seeking to implement their medieval laws through fear and horror”.
In fact, not only does OWFI accuse the resistance of committing horrifying acts, it is also dismissing it as a cast made up of outsiders who “have come to Iraq holding signs of swords dripping with blood”!
Naturally, we cannot ignore that there are crimes and injustices perpetrated against women in Iraq. But who is behind those crimes?
For example, in the southern provinces of Iraq, whole families have been threatened after their men and women attended pro-resistance solidarity meetings, or what the occupying forces call 'anti-occupation, anti-coalition, or anti-government meetings'. Many families are hence forced to leave their homes to avoid the jailing or killing of mothers and daughters.
But rather than accusing British occupation forces of giving cover to these threats, or accusing the collaborationist Badr Brigades of terrorizing families, ‘Iraqi women’s organizations’ accuse resistance fighters of committing atrocious acts against women! To them, the resistance is always guilty of “killing any creature moving on the ground!”
In northern Iraq, the case is slightly different. According to an Iraqi newspaper, there were around 30 girls kidnapped in one week in the city of Kirkuk alone, most of them snatched on their way to school. Beside criminal groups kidnapping girls for ransom, there’s as well the active involvement of the two Peshmerga’s militias trying to force Arab families out of Kirkuk believing it is their historical right as Kurds to govern the city.
In the meantime, Iraqi female scientists, doctors, and university professors are being systematically kidnapped, jailed, and killed. The same crucial question arises here too: who benefits from liquidating these women? And why are Iraqi female scientists still languishing in the prisons of the occupation?
Most likely, these actions are part of the strategy of occupying forces and their cronies to eliminate the basic elements needed to rebuild the former charismatic Iraqi state. That is, they are part of the effort to invent the New Iraq: a weak dependent Iraq.
Evidently, the Iraqi resistance has no interest whatsoever in attacking those women. On the contrary, those highly educated women are needed to intellectually lead and support our struggle against the Zionist-Imperialist occupation of our country, to regain our liberty and independence, and to write our constitution.
In fact, Iraqi women get arrested and tortured by the US regime. And THAT is the real way that the US is "working" for women's liberation, by torturing women and torturing men and turning them all into the Resistance. One case in point is the well-known example of Fatimah in the infamous Abu Ghraib Prison who was gang-raped repeatedly by American jailers. Another well-known case is that of a woman killed while trying, under US fire, to retrieve the body of her son, a Resistance fighter, in ar-Ramadi.
Iraqi women, furthermore, have taken an active part in the resistance on many occasions. To cite examples from the early part of January 2005 alone, women fighters were reported in Mosul in northern Iraq on 2 and 3 January 2005. One week later, a religious leader issued a fatwa urging women in the city to carry weapons and fight. And there was a funeral there of a female martyr who was killed in the fighting. Her husband and sons attended (also fighters). Women in al-Jazirah village near ar-Ramadi encouraged fighters 11 January 2005. Women in al-Mushahadah in Baghdad area threw stones at US troops in Humvees 9 January 2005. Around the same period, women in ar-Ramadi were seen on rooftops with weapons when it was anticipated that the Americans were coming. These are the REAL changes, the REAL liberation of the real local women, not wealthy ones who fly to London for manicures, or fly to Washington to meet Bush.
To clarify the matter further, we emphasize the fact that the Iraqi resistance has both Islamic and secular elements, with a mainly anti-imperialist general profile, and a top priority given to fighting the invaders and their stooges.
To these women’s organizations we have a clear message: women liberation is a noble aim, but this cannot be reached unless coupled with the (armed) struggle for national liberation and for an Iraqi constitution written by the Iraqis themselves.
 Huda Salih Ammash and Rihaab Taha have both been in US custody since May 2003, without any charges. This while keeping in mind that these two scientists were accused of playing a role in the WMD and chemical – biological program of the Iraqi former government. Now, there is no single proof that the former Iraqi government maintained such programs on the eve of the invasion of Iraq; nevertheless, these scientists and many others remain in jail.