Basra, Asharq Al-Awsat- Awad al-Abadan, the secretary general of the South Iraq Liberation Front, asserts that resistance against the “Iranian occupation” through civilized dialogue with the rest of the world is more powerful than the language of arms that is no longer heeded after the trenches have become confused between terrorism and resistance. In a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat from Amman, the Jordanian capital yesterday, Al-Abadan said: “The front has not made any contact with the armed factions in Iraq. However, we do not object to coordination with these factions on condition that each side uses the means that are suitable to it. The front has not decided to use arms because we are not convinced of its usefulness”.
Al-Abadan was asked why he traveled and is staying in Jordan after the front issued its first communiqué at the beginning of April and whether he is concerned about reactions had he stayed in Basra. He replied: “My travel and stay is temporary; it is not an escape. I will return in the coming few days. This trip has enabled us to meet with national figures”. He added that he is not worried about reactions and that he told his close associates that if he is assassinated Iran would be behind it. On the future programs of his movement, Al-Abadan said: “The program has many and different programs and activities that represent self-defense. We will take some of our activities to the Iranian cities since we coordinate with the Iranian opposition movement in the Arab provinces of the Ahvaz region”. Asked if this does not amount to intervention in the affairs of others – which is the purpose of the formation of the front and its resistance to the Iranian intervention [in Iraq], Al-Abadan said: We consider the Ahvaz region as part of the occupied Arab lands. It has nationalist movements that are struggling for independence. Operating within these movements is not intervention in Persian land”. He emphasized that the front will continue with its activities “until the Iranian occupation and its agents are expelled from the southern provinces”. Asked whether his plans enjoy backing on the Iraqi arena, Al-Abadan said, “We share common visions with liberal currents”. Without naming these currents, he welcomed the restoration of cooperation with the National Dialogue Front led by Salih al-Mutlaq with which he was associated.
Al-Abadan answered a question on Iraqi-Iranian relations that are moving forward quickly. He said: “The statements by the politicians in Iran and the exchange of visits with officials in Iraq cannot be counted on. Their deeds contradict their words. We have heard a lot of words from them but Iran is not taking a single step in favor of Iraq. For example, Iran has not activated the joint committees with Iraq, including the committee on correcting the diversion of the Shatt al-Arab course that has led to the erosion of large tracts of Iraqi land in favor of the Iranian side and diverted the flow of rivers that feed Al-Ahwar [the marshlands] in the south. This has dried up large tracts of these marshes forcing the inhabitants to leave. Iran also continues to insist on reparations for the Iraqi-Iranian war but it is not returning the trust that was given to it prior to the US occupation that consists of civilian and military planes. Iran has also not released the fishermen that are still lurking behind bars in Iranian jails and has not compensated the families of the victims of Iran’s coast guard in the Arabian Gulf”.
Regarding Iran’s influence in Iraq, Awad al-Abadan said: “The most evident manifestations of the cultural occupation of the south are the libraries in the southern provinces that are full of books, leaflets, photographs, banners, and other paraphernalia that are used during the Feast of Ashura and other religious occasions of Iranian origin. These things are cheap to buy and subsidized by the Iranian government. This is in addition to scores of radio stations and satellite channels in Arabic beamed to the people of the south”. Al-Abadan replied to accusations that some are making against the front that it is a tool to implement an external agenda that clashes with the agenda of the Iranian government in Iraq. He said: “Are there no patriots in Iraq that love their country? Are there only those that implement the agendas of others? Some are used to framing anyone that opposes their trends and inclinations. This is normal, but they have to present proof and evidence so that the game can be played on top of the table rather than underneath it”. On his choice of the city of Basra as the base of the front and its limited activities in the south, Al-Abadan said: “The front began its operations in Basra because Basra was affected most by the Iranian occupation. The Iranian Consulate in Basra meddled in the daily life of Basra directly and on a daily basis without any deterrence. Then the calls for secessionist sectarianism spread to the provinces of Al-Amarah and Al-Nasiriyah. The Iranian occupation is more dangerous than the American and British occupations because the last two will inevitably leave”.
Awad al-Abadan asserted that his front “will play a bigger role and assert its presence after coordinating the activities of its members, supports, and followers that are in the hundreds of thousands from the sons of southern Iraq, especially those that have been adversely affected by the interventions of the Iranian regime and those that suffered in the dungeons of captivity for many years during the Iraqi-Iranian war. Iran has not responded to the humanitarian calls to release them in violation of international norms and charters”. Al-Abadan added that tribal figures, university professors, intellectuals, and other qualified figures have joined the front. The names of the most prominent members will be announced in the coming weeks when a conference to elect the front’s leadership will convene”. On the outcome of the campaign that he led last week to boycott Iranian goods and commodities that are flooding the Iraqi markets and to mobilize tribal elders and intellectuals to warn against Iran’s hegemony over the province’s food security, Awad al-Abadan said: “It was the first step in the plan. It will become more effective after the improvement of the living standards of the people that rush to buy cheap and poor quality commodities because their incomes are low while the state is too busy to impose taxes on these imports and open the markets to the products of the Arab countries.