Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The holy, the bad and the crazy.

A lot of arguments were made about Al-Sistani’s last statement regarding the agreement between the CPA and the GC regarding the handing of authority into the hands of a temporary government.
I’ll attempt to clear things if possible, but let me say what I think, and you may like it or not.
:: First of all, THAT STATEMENT WAS NOT A FATWA. It was an answer for a question asked by an American journalist. If this issue is so important(from the religious point of view) and needed a fatwa, then why wait till it was raised by a journalist?
Sistani, obviously not wanting to respond with a fatwa, made a brief statement as just (an Iraqi citizen) although (he’s in fact an Iranian).
There was absolutely no orders or commands in his statement, he made a few suggestions, but the emotional crowds, led by some fanatics took this statement and showed it as a fatwa, led also by political ambitions and fear from a new government that will not represent the Sheia as they want.
Many elements contributed to such manipulation of the words made by Sistani, one of these is the fear that inhabited the minds of most Sheia from a central government that will not represent them and will therefore oppress them, just like all the former Iraqi governments had done, it’s a psychological response that is not totally unjustified.
::The second point is that strong Sheia local leaders see in the current situation a golden opportunity for elections, which would lead (in their opinion) to their success.
Another point is the influence of neighboring countries (namely Iran) and Arab media and some western media also who love to see a large division among Iraqis and between Iraqis and Americans showing these simple words as an objection and defiance of the majority of Iraqis to the GC and the CPA.
To be fair, Sistani has always tried his best to stay away from politics before and after the war even after many persistent questions from all parts trying to get some words from his mouth to dress them in a holy figure and present them to the Iraqi people as a fatwa that should be followed.
::Let me say a few words about Sistani:
My opinion was and still that most of the clerics are hypocrites and corrupted, but as every rule has its exceptions, there are very few clerics and Mullahs who are simply, good people with convictions that we don’t share (this is my current opinion, but future events may prove I was wrong).
One of the rare statements he made was to the Washington post through his secretary and in that, he urged the clerics to stay away from politics and dedicate their lives to study their religion and that politics and economy have their own men who know better than the clerics about these matters!
Isn’t that a call for a secular pattern of political regime?
And there’s another point about Al-Sistani. It’s that he never talks in public (in person) as he uses different deputies to receive questions or to announce his statements to the people, and those deputies often add their touch to his statements according to the way each one of those understands the statement and of course according to their personal interests.
However, the reactions to the last statement was unpleasant and was not realistic at all. Real elections are almost impossible to carry out in the current circumstances and even if it was done it will be unfair and will lead to a very unfavorable outcome.
Besides, the temporary government was never and cannot be a legitimate representative of Iraqis and that was the case in all revolutions or radical changes affecting countries whether from in or outside.
Al-Sistani stated that if the UN investigations proved that the circumstances in Iraq now do not allow the elections to be done, then he’ll give up the call for elections. This seems to me an attempt to extricate himself from the unpleasant position in which his supporters had put him! Yes, it's one of the strange things about the Sheia leaders is that they are led by their supporters rather than lead them (strange in the world of religious fanaticism and when compared to other Muslim clerics).
A temporary government is just a temporary authority needed to run things and coordinate of different sectors of public facilities and ministries, but its main job would be preparing for a constitutional conference that would be responsible for writing down a constitution that will be put into a plebiscite for the Iraqis who will have the final word.
And after that, and according to the future constitution, general and fair elections can be made easily as the temporary government cooperates with the coalition to eliminate the Ba’athists and the fascists (which is happening, although not as fast As we wish) providing a safe and healthy environment for all Iraqis who should by this period re-organize themselves and focus more on their carriers and their vision for the future.
This fact will definitely lower the chances of the radical groups in gaining the desired majority, and it will also lower the GC chances, all in the favor of other small moderate liberal and democratic parties, which already have began to unite their efforts against the strong religious and ethnic groups.
The last fact was what made the GC parties push for a close dead line to form a temporary government while their stocks are still high, and it made other radical and religious groups demand the same with only the exception that they want it to be done through general elections, not forgetting the pressure the American administration is subjected to from in and outside the US, as well as in Iraq.
What I desire, what we should do, and what will probably result needs at least another post.

By Ali.

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