Khamenei Calls For Sunni Shiite Unity

Khamenei Calls for Sunni-Shiite Unity in Iraq: SCIRI: no Separation of Religion and State

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq met with Iranian Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei, and Khamenei offered him his support. He also warned against Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq (apparently he fears that a religiously divided Iraq will be too weak to throw out the Americans). This report from Iran underlines what I was saying yesterday, which is that you can’t just call the al-Hakims partisans of Khatami and his reformers. They retain strong ties to the Iranian hardliners.

Meanwhile SCIRI spokesman Adel Abd al-Mahdi gave an interview to al-Zaman in which he denied that there can be any separation of religion and state, saying that those who attribute such ideas to Grand Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim (d. 1970) have misunderstood his import. (Actually, the Najaf tradition does reject clerical involvement in politics, unlike Khomeinism, which says the clerics should rule. SCIRI accepts Khomeini’s theories in this regard.)

He also explained that SCIRI’s conflict with the al-Da`wa party has to do with the latter’s focus on the party as a vehicle of authority. In contrast, he said, SCIRI insists on the authority of the marja` or Object of Emulation in addition to any other institutions. He said this mix was in accord with the ideas of Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, the theorist of a hoped-for Islamic Republic in Iraq. (Which raises the question of what Object of Emulation SCIRI now follows, since Abdul Aziz al-Hakim is too junior for that role and his elder brother Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir was assassinated).

Abd al-Mahdi admitted that SCIRI’s alliance with the Kurdish parties was purely “strategic.”

He denied that the al-Hakim family was in competition with the al-Sadr family, and said that despite their differences Shiites should pull together and avoid confrontation for the good of the people.

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