Iraq developments — Sept. 28, 2005
Gilbert Achcar1) The
last weeks and days have seen intensive campaigning by the
campaign also included the release of a Saudi-sponsored (and
co-written) study by the CSIS, an unofficial think-tank in
(9/28) Al-Hayat reports figures given by Iraqi officials on the
foreigners detained in
2) Muqtada al-Sadr’s consults Sistani on sectarian violenceSome days ago, followers of Muqtada al-Sadr from the Iraqi city of
Al-Sadr — who is the most popular Shiite figure among Arab Sunnis and is accused by some forces in the Shiite community, especially in SCIRI circles, of cozying up to the enemies of the Shiites — did not want to take on him a call to exclude reprisals. His reply came in three points: 1) “Refer in this regard to your noble references, who naturally, as is well-known, are Sayyed Sistani (may his shadow last) and Sayyed Ha’eri (may his shadow last), they must be referred to first, and if they do not intervene, please get back to me with a new request.” 2) Print books and other educational material against “each of the occupation and its suite, the brigands [designating anti-Shiite Wahhabi forces, like Zarqawi’s group] and the Ba’athists.” 3) Call on the Imams at Friday’s prayers to stigmatize them. In conclusion, al-Sadr asked his followers to remember that “the unity within Islam and the [Shiite] sect is the major weapon” against the “brigands and their masters,” as well as the Ba’athists.
The Sadrists of Al-Kufa wrote accordingly to al-Sistani, asking his advice. The latter replied with a long official communiqué, now posted in Arabic on his website, with the following main points: Those who try to divide the Iraqis and push them toward civil war want to prevent Iraq from “recovering its sovereignty and security.” Iraqis should not and will not fall into this trap whatever horrors occur to them. Shiites should keep restraining themselves and cooperate with the competent services to protect their areas. All Iraqis should call, in words and deeds, to repel the deviants (an indirect call on Sunni religious leaders to issue condemnations of sectarian attacks). The Iraqi government should provide security to all Iraqis and “prevent them from being hurt, to whatever ethnical group or religious sect or thought they belong.”
Commenting on the November 2004 assault on Fallujah prior to the
30 election, I had written: “The
written this because of the fact that the very brutal assault on
Fallujah had led to such a deterioration of the conditions in
scenario seems likely to be repeted. Until now, the ranks of the
Arab Sunnis were divided on the issue of the October 15 referendum. Not
any major force among them is calling to approve the draft
constitution: as is
well known, there is a large consensus among Arab Sunni representatives
rejecting the draft. (The sectarian polarization in
Today’s Al-Hayat reports that two main figures of the Arab Sunni community in Iraq, Saleh al-Mutlak, the man leading the campaign against the draft constitution, and Issam al-Rawi, a member of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, have accused US occupation forces and Iraqi governmental forces of trying — by the full-fledged offensive they launched in the Arab Sunni province of Al-Anbar, starting with the assault on Tal Afar — to prevent the participation of Arab Sunnis in the referendum, thus pushing them to call for a boycott. Al-Mutlak said that a call for boycott could be announced after consultations among the opponents of the draft.
If the referendum were to be held with a massive participation of all Iraqis, the result would be, whether the draft passes or fails, that this first all-encompassing electoral test would likely be followed by all-encompassing elections for a new National Assembly (with the possibility of getting there a majority in favor of the withdrawal of occupation forces). If the referendum were boycotted massively by Arab Sunnis, as were the January elections, then it is highly likely that the same would occur for the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place before the end of this year. The present tragic situation would be prolonged indefinitely, if not very much worsened actually.