Jaafari of al-Da`wa Calls for Shiite Unity Plan
The London daily al-Hayat says today that after being roiled by divisions after the fall of Saddam, the Shiites are now seeking a way to unify. Ibrahim Jaafari, a physician who leads the al-Da`wa Party and serves on the Interim Governing Council, has been in the forefront of calling for unity. He is abroad at the moment but appears to have planned a unity campaign for his return. Other spokesmen also affirmed that Shiite unity was a primary goal of al-Da`wa now.
The article quotes Hamid Musawi, a member of the Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), as saying that talks are being held by Shiite leaders in a quest for a unified stance. Clearly, this movement is taking place with an eye to national elections later this year. Musawi admitted that there is bad blood between SCIRI and the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, which goes back to the 1990s and the time of his father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (d. 1999), and that the dispute continues to this day. Some say Muqtada al-Sadr himself called for a rapprochement among the Shiites in one of his Friday prayers sermons in Kufa.
The article quoted Salah al-Miyami, a member of a neighborhood council in Shiite Sadr City (East Baghdad), as saying that if the Shiites cannot close ranks, they will be “the biggest losers in the coming phase.” He also expressed severe reservations about whether Sunnis and Shiites will be able to get along, given what he termed their long history of enmity.
The making of noises about Shiite unity clearly is being driven by the prospect of elections later this year. But it seems to me highly unlikely that the religious Shiite parties will be able to put up a united front. More likely, they will run against one another, diluting their power somewhat, and then will have to forge compromises in parliament.