Who Are The Insurgents?
Jamail reviews "Meeting
Iraq invaded America. And an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing through
an American street, waving his gun at the people, threatening them,
raiding and trashing houses. Would you accept that? This is why no Iraqi
can accept occupation, and don’t be surprised by their reactions,"
says "The Imam," a young man from a mixed Sunni-Shia family,
as he explains the genesis of the insurgency in Iraq and its exponential
He is one
of the protagonists that Meeting Resistance presents as unmistakable
evidence that the root cause of the conflict in Iraq is the occupation
itself. The film has resistance fighters themselves tell their story.
Molly Bingham and Steve Connors were compelled to film this documentary
during their early reporting of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. They used
the al-Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad to explore and depict an insurgency
that has been caricatured by the Bush Administration.
who has reported previously from Rwanda, the Gaza Strip, and Iran, was
the official photographer to the Office of the Vice President of the
United States from 1998 to 2001. She believes that it is imperative
to understand the people within the resistance if the United States
is to find a solution to the Iraq quagmire.
up with Connors, a photographer who has covered ten conflicts and is
a former British soldier who served in Northern Ireland in the early
1980s. Between the two of them they share thirty-three years of experience
in covering conflicts around the globe.
of 2003, they began working on the film. The project kept them in Baghdad
for ten months, as Connors filmed and Bingham wrote the script.
groundbreaking film focuses on ten members of the Iraqi resistance.
Interspersed with stunning footage of the aftermath of car bomb attacks,
of frightened soldiers aiming their weapons at crowds of Iraqis, and
of burning remains of destroyed military vehicles, the meat of the film
is the words of the fighters themselves.
a fire in my heart," one of them recounts. "When they occupied
Iraq, they subjugated me, subjugated my sister, subjugated my mother,
subjugated my honor, my homeland. Every time I saw them I felt pain.
They pissed me off, so I started working [in the resistance]."
nature of their lives speaks to the intricacies of the Iraqi resistance.
Teacher," for instance, is married with three children, and always
loathed the Ba'ath Party. "The Wife" is a Shiite woman who
works as a courier, carrying messages and weapons between groups when
she is not watching her two children. Other members, Sunni and Shia
alike, work as consultants, weapon producers, and strategists.
In the spring
of 2004, a twenty six-year-old photographer in Baghdad told me in an
interview that "this is not a rebellion, this is a resistance against
the occupation. The media concentrates on the Americans, and does not
care about Iraqis." He had been opposed to the regime of Saddam
Hussein, and had even welcomed the U.S. invasion, but had quickly grown
weary of watching his fellow countrymen humiliated and killed by the
occupiers. Like the people in Meeting Resistance, he had subsequently
taken up arms.
this frustration toward Western media coverage of the occupation. "A
major weapon in the arsenal of a modern military is the use of information
operations," he says. "These operations, which often take
the form of misinformation or disinformation, are directed as much at
the enemy population as it is at our own
population, without whose support the military cannot continue to execute
He aims to
counteract this propaganda.
place an opponent like the Iraqi resistance in the human space of ordinary
people defending their right to self-determination is to challenge our
view of ourselves as liberators," says Connors.
bare the motivations of the resistance, the film also does a forceful
job of dispelling other myths.
One of the
interviewed, referred to as "The Republican Guard" since he
was a career officer in Saddam Hussein's military, is a Sunni married
to a Shia woman. "The Sunni and Shia are bound together by blood
and family ties," he explains. "I am married to a Shia, my
sister is married to a Shia. I can’t kill my own children's uncles
or kill my wife, the mother of my children."
includes a butcher hacking away at a side of beef. "Iraq is our
homeland, it's our Iraq," he says. "If you don't defend your
land, you will not defend your honor."
recognizes that the resistance has the tacit support of a large percentage
of the population, even though the Bush Administration doesn't acknowledge
Administration chooses to portray people who oppose their will in Iraq
as terrorists or extremists who live on the fringes of Iraqi society,
isolated from their own countrymen," says Bingham. "Without
doubt some individuals involved in attacking U.S. troops are 'extreme'
in their beliefs, and they are relentless fighters in the pursuit of
their goals, but they are very human and very much part of the social
structure of Iraqi society, and move within it. If we removed the context
of occupation—in all its forms—from Iraq, most of them would
stand down and return to their lives."
screenings at international film festivals and numerous private and
public shows, Connors and Bingham screened the film at West Point, the
U.S. Marine Corps staff college at Quantico, and Baghdad.
that the film represented a radically different perspective to the military
personnel who viewed it.
bulk of the people were taking on new information that was a dramatic
paradigm shift for them," she says. "To see their enemy as
largely fighting for their homeland because of nationalism and religion,
rather than being terrorists, is a big deal."
Dahr Jamail is the author of the recently released
"Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist
in Occupied Iraq." Jamail spent eight months reporting
from Iraq, and has been covering the Middle East for over four years
for the Inter Press Service, The Sunday Herald, Foreign Policy in Focus,
and The Independent, among others.
Share Your Insights
it! And spread the word!
Here is a unique chance to help this article to be read by thousands
of people more. You just Digg it, and it will appear in the home page
of Digg.com and thousands more will read it. Digg is nothing but an
vote, the article with most votes will go to the top of the page. So,
as you read just give a digg and help thousands more to read this article.