AMS on its Role in Forcing Elections
Thanks to Gilbert Ashcar for kindly sharing and permitting the reprinting of his translation of this recent article from al-Hayat, which is revealing of attitudes in the Sunni fundamentalist group, the Association of Muslim Scholars.
Al-Kubaisi to “Al-Hayat”: The Resistance Forced the Americans to Form the Governing Council and Organize the Elections
Al-Hayat, 9 February 2005
[Speaking of Abdul-Salam al-Kubaisi, the most prominent member of the Council of Muslim Ulamas, believed to be the most popular institution among Iraqi Arab Sunnis and a key advocate of boycott in the January 30 elections]
He said it was very unlikely that the members of the Shia-majority “Coalition” [i.e. the “Unified Iraqi Coalition,” the most popular Shia slate in the elections and the likely winner of a majority of seats] exert power in a sectarian manner “if they secure an overwhelming majority in the elected National Assembly.” He also said: “At least, the Al-Dawa party rejects any exercice of power on a sectarian basis and is committed to the patriotic basics.”
He added: “If the Shias secure a majority of seats in the Parliament, they must consider the sacrifices of Arab Sunnis against the Americans,” pointing to the fact that “the resistance was behind the pressure on the Americans to create a Governing Council, then an Iraqi Government, and finally to organize the elections.” Kubaisi asserted that if it were not for the Sunni resistance, US position would have been different in dealing with all issues and forces.
He said that Council of Muslim Ulamas was engaged in intensive contacts and meetings with Shia forces opposed to the occupation, first among them Muqtada al-Sadr’s current, Jawad al-Khalisi’s group, and the current of Ahmad al-Baghdadi and Mahmud al-Huseini in Najaf. He said that the aim of those meetings is “to constitute a political camp in favor of a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq in the coming period,” adding: “If the final result of the last elections confirms the victory of the ‘Coalition,’ the Council shares some common views with parts of this slate.”
[About the project of organizing a “conference for reconciliation” in Iraq:]
He made the point that the Council “puts as conditions setting a timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces, recognizing the resistance against the occupier, making a distinction between the resistance and terrorism, ceasing all pursuits against opponents and releasing all detainees arrested on suspicion.” Al-Kubaisi considered that “to convene a conference for national reconciliation without a promise of withdrawal of the multinational forces would serve the American project,” and he said that the continuous meetings with al-Sadr’s current “to define the needs of the present period did not yet lead to precise mechanisms to translate the orientations of both parties.”
On his part, sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji, the spokesperson for al-Sadr’s current, told “Al-Hayat” that “the Current welcomes reconciliation, even though it would have preferred that it took place before the elections,” adding that “the call for a reconciliation conference should be in the hands of the political and religious forces that opposed the political process and boycotted the elections, in order to open the doors for the participation of all opposition forces.”
He said that “the Current linked the call for a reconciliation conference with the setting of a timetable for the withdrawal.” He mentioned that the Current refused to take part in the elections but did not oblige its supporters to boycott them, abiding by the call of the supreme religious authorities in Najaf, and out of its belief that the elections were the peaceful means available to kick out the occupier. He added that the insistence of some Iraqi officials in recent statements that the call for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq, in this period, is very dangerous due to the weakness of security apparatuses, does not serve Iraq. He asserted that “al-Sadr’s current is ready, if asked, to protect all governmental institutions and deter terrorism coming from abroad.”
Sadr reaches out to Iraqi Sunni clerics for coordination: “BAGHDAD, Feb. 7 (Xinhuanet) — Iraq’s firebrand Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who had called for a nationwide rebellion against US-led forces last year, reached out to Sunni clerics for coordination, spokesman for a Sunni association said on Monday . . .”