Following are excerpts from an interview with Secretary-General of the Sunni Clerics Association in Iraq, Sheik Hareth Al-Dhari, which aired on Syrian TV on June 24, 2006.
Sheik Hareth Al-Dhari: The Iraqis are not hostile to the Americans or the American people. They were not hostile even to the American army before it entered Iraq.
The Americans could become our friends, if they leave Iraq peacefully, according to a timetable. Then they could become like other friends of Iraq. Britain colonized Iraq, and later became its friend, benefited from Iraq, and so on.
The occupation, the destruction, the killing, and so on only increase the hatred of the Iraqis towards America, the Americans, and the American army. The Iraqis will continue to put up resistance to the American army as long as blood flows in their veins, even if it stays there for decades.
Therefore, I advise the Americans - the reasonable Americans, if there are any - to pressure their administration to consider leaving this country, leaving its people, which could then run it and maintain security.
As for the resistance - it is as clear as day. Only those who have lost their minds would deny its existence. The Iraqi resistance exists in the Iraqi scene. It began three weeks after the occupation, and then continued, developed, and grew stronger with time. It continues to operate. It will not come to an end or decline with the death of any of its commanders or heroes.
The resistance has lost many of its heroes - dozens of commanders, officers who commanded martyrdom and Jihad operations against the occupation, but other people have taken their place, Allah be praised.
If a knight dismounts from his horse, another knight mounts it. Therefore, I say that America should give serious thought to the fact that the resistance in Iraq will never be extinguished, but will continue to the end until the liberation of Iraq, Allah willing.
The Iraqi resistance differs from the [Lebanese and Palestinian] resistance, because it is being carried out against the great master, America. Many people fear America, and many flatter it. Those who fear it, as well as those who flatter it, are not the supporters of the resistance. They are against it.
I say with all honesty: the Iraqi resistance is under siege by all Iraq's neighbors, even if this siege takes different forms. They besiege it, harm it, and try to demoralize it, even though all of Iraq's neighbors are indebted to the resistance.
Thanks to the Iraqi resistance, American's influence and covetous designs in the region were limited. Thanks to the Iraqi resistance, the evil that threatened some of the countries in the region was removed.
Thanks to the Iraqi resistance, many of the region's countries that used to be subject to pressure - now they try to seek their friendship, to please them, and to consult them, whereas three years ago, they were not consulted in anything, and were given orders that could not be refused, whether they liked it or not. Today, America needs all the countries in the region, for consultation, mediation, and so on.
Therefore, I say that the countries of the region, or of the entire world, are indebted to the resistance, because America was patronizing towards the entire world. Thanks to the Iraqi resistance, it became clear who America is, what its power is, and what the limitations of its hegemony are.