AN EXCHANGE BETWEEN SUNNI MUSLIMS AND A SCIRI LEADER
an interesting document since it is rare to find the record of
such a frank and direct exchange. It gives a view (rare in the Western
of the discourse addressed by the SCIRI, the most prominent Iraqi
organization closely linked to Iran, to Muslim audiences, including its
Iraqi constituency. It is, of course, quite different from the
by those SCIRI members who are appointed to the task of dealing with
I have excerpted and translated what follows.Gilbert Achcar
is said that the [
There is no disagreement on the stance toward American soldiers. All Iraqi forces, Shiite, Sunni and Kurds, want a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. There is no disagreement on this issue, but there are major reservations on the military operations of the so-called armed resistance since they are not only targeting the Americans, but have undertaken operations of mass murder and ugly crimes against women and children under criminal sectarian slogans, while declaring the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people to be miscreants [takfeer].
is why we cannot accept this insane criminal resistance to participate
in the talks. We want these criminal forces to be definitively isolated
unity of Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis, and Kurds, and all other
building a democratic
Ali al-Adad, do you have a timetable for the withdrawal of
occupation forces from
A: The political forces that will participate in the forthcoming [December 15 parliamentary] election, and in particular the [United Iraqi] Alliance’s slate that includes 17 movements and parties, the majority of whom are Shiites, agreed that the first demand on their political program is getting foreign troops out of Iraq, by setting a timetable for the evacuation of these troops. The second demand on their political program is the rapid and strong building of interior security forces so that they assume the defense of the country and take hold of all the territory including the borders, so that there remains no justification for the presence of foreign troops.
[The reply to the second part of the above question reiterates what was said already.]
Q: As-Salam aleikum, the head of the previous regime was a “Sunni,” and the Sunnis, and I am one of them, used to like the Shiites, and I have never felt that there was a discrimination against them or acceptance of an injustice that hurts them whether from the head of the regime or from his ministers.
Today the head of the ruling regime is very much Shiite, a Jaafari [the last name of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is also the name of the majority doctrine of Shiism]. Now that a little part has been uncovered of the hidden savage repressive practices denounced for long by the Sunni representatives and freely practiced by the Ministry of Interior, which is headed by a member of your [Supreme] Council, and by the apparatuses of the [SCIRI’s] Badr militia against the Sunnis:
1-Do you believe that an entente is possible without a clear position and sanction on this?
2-Will the actions undertaken by the resistance against the apparatuses and members of the Ministry [of Interior] continue to be characterized as terrorist—as all Iraqi Shiites like to call them today, and they even call the resistance against the occupation terrorism—especially that the little uncovered of what is hidden has been uncovered by your American ally itself? Please reply without beating around the bush.A: This is a [false] allegation made by the dear brother. The previous regime—actually the Iraqi state since its foundation in 1923 has been built on a basis of sectarian discrimination—did only let in the military academy 3% of Shiites, whereas 97% of the officers are Sunnis.
On the other hand, there was no law or legislation in the previous governments giving their rights to the absolute majority of Iraqis, [the Shiites] who are 65% of the population; there were not even official holidays on their religious celebration days.
and intelligence [mukhabarat] services in
the Shiites and Kurds, despite their tragic situation, did
not protest against the sectarian practices of the regime. They
against oppression and mass extermination affecting all Iraqis,
Sunnis. On one single day in 1998, the [previous] regime executed 83
scholars in the Western region of
present regime in
On the other hand, we must also point to the fact that the Kurds who head other power ministries, like Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Plan, are Sunni Kurds, and not Shiite Kurds.
The recent incident in al-Jaderiya [the intervention by US troops in a location under Ministry of Interior control, where tortured prisoners were held] is a pretext used to question the legitimacy of the noblest and most honorable regime freely and democratically chosen by the Iraqis. The truth on what is said about al-Jaderiyya will be revealed after the investigation.
What is important is that all should know that there are daily operations of extermination and mass murder using bomb cars perpetrated by criminal Ba’athists and Takfeeris [Sunni Islamic fanatics] in Iraq, and we have not heard a condemnation of these acts from some Arab brothers abroad who know quite well what Saddam’s regime used to do and what criminals belonging to Saddam’s bunch are doing today.Q: As-Salam aleikum, what if the uncovering of the cave controlled by the Ministry of Interior was the beginning of an American about-face against the Shiites in Iraq—will armed action become resistance [in your view] and one of your options?
But when the American and British governments announced their intention of starting a political dialogue about the new Iraq on the basis of a timetable for the political process, to be followed by a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, all under the auspices of UN Security Council resolutions, it became our duty [to act] in light of the Sharia rule that says oblige them by what they committed themselves to do, and we started peaceful resistance. Dialogue started and we began to create national institutions until we got our right to establish an elected national government, whose sovereignty has been recognized by the UN and Security Council resolutions. We will pursue that in the next government after the forthcoming elections by fixing a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops making sure that our armed forces have achieved full ability to defend our country and keep it secure.