Al-Dhari on Year 4 of American Iraq
The US government Open Source Center translates an interview with Sunni fundamentalist leader Harith al-Dhari, a leader of the Association of Muslim Scholars, printed by al-Safir newspaper in Lebanon.
|‘ Head of Iraqi Muslim Scholars Interviewed on 4th Anniversary of ‘Invasion’: Interview with Shaykh Harith al-Dari, head of the [Sunni] Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, by Khalil Harb;
Date and place not given: “Harith al-Dari tells Al-Safir the solution lies in the departure of the occupation, the formation of a national army, and the abolishing of the political process; Al-Dari praises firmness of Syrian stand, hopes for a Saudi role to rescue Iraq and for rapprochement with Iran; the resistance will remain and attacks on civilians is not jihad; Al-Maliki is worse than Al-Ja’fari and our relationship with Al-Sadr is deteriorating.” ‘
(Harb) Four years have passed since the occupation of Iraq. What does this mean to you?
(Al-Dari) It means the worst four years of my life and the life of every sincere Iraqi citizen that is loyal to his homeland and nation.
(Harb) In your opinion, what are the most dangerous consequences of the war?
(Al-Dari) If the war continues and the occupation does not leave soon, the most dangerous consequences of the war would be the disintegration of the Iraqi social fabric, the partition of Iraq, God forbid, and the transformation of its demographic structure. Another serious consequence would be deepening the social rifts among the sons of Iraq. On the level of the neighboring countries and the region, many problems and incidents would erupt and only God knows their magnitude. Many signs pertaining to these problems and incidents have already begun to loom.
(Harb) In light of the position of the Association of Muslim Scholars regarding what has been happening in Iraq during the years of the occupation, do you think that you have been wrong in any of your positions? Have the events demonstrated that the positions you have taken on the major issues been sound positions? Would you cite some examples?
(Al-Dari) I do not think that we in the Association of Muslim Scholars made a mistake in any position we have taken so far both on the political level as well as on the level of Shari’ah. The events have demonstrated the soundness of our positions. For instance, take our position on the so-called political process. From the very beginning, we said that it is a failed process that would not lead to the liberation of Iraq and to rescuing it from the situation in which the occupation has put it. Furthermore, this process does not provide us with the security and social living conditions that are needed. The events have shown the soundness of what we had expected. This political process was designed to be a cover to the US project and was established on sectarian and ethnic foundations. There is also our position on the constitution that was imposed by the occupation and the forces that have imposed their hegemony on Iraq. These forces inserted articles and paragraphs in the constitution that might lead to dividing the land of Iraq and the people of Iraq and might destroy Iraq’s Arab and Islamic identity. Another example, which is the most important, is our position on the occupation. From the start, we demanded the departure of the occupation – and at least the scheduling of this departure – and we said that it is the basis of the whole problem. As the days passed, we saw the savagery, butchery, and bad intentions of the occupation that led to the strengthening of the resistance against it. Those that opposed our position in the past are now asking for scheduling. Another example is our position on the federation that is intended to divide Iraq and that many known internal and external quarters are endorsing. We took an opposing stand to this federation and we rejected it because it represents the wishes of the enemies of Iraq, especially Israel. Last but not least, there is our unionist, moderate, and patriotic Islamic approach that we took and to which we adhered from the first days of the occupation. We stuck to this approach despite the psychological and security pressures that were used against us in order to drag us to adopt sectarian and factional discourses.
(Harb) In your opinion, what is the ideal way out from what Iraq is going through?
(Al-Dari) (The ideal way out) is canceling the political process that has brought all these evils and calamities to Iraq and that has brought it to the brink of the abyss that was expected. This political process should be replaced with a strong government that is reinforced with the nucleus of a strong national army that is loyal to Iraq and to all its sons rather than to the sectarian and factional parties and militias. This should be accompanied with a serious scheduling of the total withdrawal of the occupation forces from Iraq without delay. As we have repeatedly pointed out and warned, the events and the positions have shown that it is the occupation that holds all the threads of this dirty game.
(Harb) Do you consider Al-Maliki’s government is generally better than its predecessors and why?
(Al-Dari) Al-Maliki’s government is worst than the governments that preceded it. It is worse even from the government of his colleague Ibrahim al-Ja’fari. Al-Maliki’s government is considered an extension of Al-Ja’fari’s government in objectives, trends, and conduct. It is openly biased on the sectarian level. Al-Maliki’s government protects the criminal and killing gangs and it defends the actions of the militias.
(Harb) Your stand opposing the occupation had been clear from the start. Did the Americans try to contact you in the past few years to win you over to their policy in Iraq? When and how?
(Al-Dari) The Americans did not contact us directly except once at the beginning of 2005 and prior to the first elections. They asked the French ambassador to act as mediator because we knew him from his frequent visits to the association – especially after the abduction of the French journalists – and he sympathized with us and was dissatisfied with the practices of the occupation in Iraq. We accepted his intercession. A delegation came to us made up of the US Charge D’Affaires – in lieu of the ambassador called Negroponte – and a number of US Army generals and officers. We and a number of members of the Association of Muslim Scholars met with them in Egypt and the association met with them in Baghdad. The purpose of the visit was to confirm the support of the association for the elections. They said that the elections would contribute to bringing security and stability in Iraq. We told them: What would contribute to bringing security and stability in Iraq is giving hope to the Iraqi people that they will leave Iraq and not the elections that will bring a weak government that will ask you to remain in Iraq. He said: We do not agree. I told him: Yes, we do not agree and the meeting was over. After this meeting, we have not met with any of them to this date, praise be to God.
(Harb) Many have wagered that the resistance against the occupation would come to an end, but the days have shown that this did not take place. What is your comment?
(Al-Dari) Yes, many have wagered and many have conspired that the resistance would end or would be stopped but it continued. It disappointed them and dashed all their expectations. In fact, it gained strength and became more effective against the enemies and their agents. The resistance foiled and continues to foil their schemes in Iraq because it was not driven merely by emotions or incorrect calculations of the material power of the enemies as some have wrongly thought. Therefore, the resistance will continue as long as the occupation is on the land of Iraq. Anyone that thinks otherwise would be wrong.
(Harb) Some are arguing against the resistance operations. How do you distinguish between the resistance against the occupation forces and the attacks against civilians by any faction or sect?
(Al-Dari) The difference between the resistance and other forces is very clear except to those that hate the resistance against the occupation forces or think badly of it either because they are agents or are envious of the resistance. We – and others like us that recognize the legitimacy of resistance and the right of nations to resist against their enemies and occupiers – believe that the resistance should be against the occupying enemies and their obvious agents that cooperate with, support, and fight with the occupiers. Those that target innocent and peaceful Iraqis from all sects, denominations, and faiths are condemned criminals that transgress against Shari’ah and are outside the law and the national values. They are like the enemies and occupiers of the homeland regardless to which sect or faction or faith they belong.
(Harb) How true are the reports that are spread every now and then that the resistance is a Sunni resistance only, that the death squads are Shiite, and that the suicide bombers are Sunni terrorists? In your opinion, what is the purpose of using such classifications?
(Al-Dari) The resistance in Iraq is an Islamic and national resistance in which most of the components of the Iraqi people participate and the majority are Sunnis. As for the death squads, most of them belong to the militias of the Shiite parties and the Kurdish political parties that are participating in the government. These do not represent the masses of our Shiite and Kurdish brothers. They represent the agendas of the parties to which they belong only. Most of the Shias and the Kurds are against them and they dissociate themselves from their criminal deeds. As for the suicide bombers, the majority of them are Sunni Iraqis and others that represent the policy of one known faction of the resistance. At first, their operations were directed against the occupation forces only and later expanded to include the government forces these forces helped the occupation forces to repulse the resistance and to attack some cities that reject the occupation, such as Al-Fallujah, Samarra, Al-Najaf, and other cities. It is noted that this kind is almost ending with simpler alternatives although the media outlets sometimes mention this in official inaccurate announcements that are often hasty. From the start, the association opposed this style because it is not necessary and due to the dangers inherent in its tragic consequences in most cases.
(Harb) For quite a time, your relationship with the Al-Sadrist current was good, but in recent months, it appears that this relationship has deteriorated. Why?
(Al-Dari) Yes, our relationship with the Al-Sadrist current and its leader Al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr was good due to his patriotic position in the beginning that rejected the occupation, the political process, and the federation. But he retreated, handed over the arms of his army to the government, and participated in the military operation. The militias of his army – the Al-Mahdi Army – became involved in the ethnic cleansing operations. They turned into tools manipulated by the occupation, the Iranian intelligence service, and the Badr organization that breached his ranks and steered him toward the despicable designs of sectarian cleansing that led to the fall of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. However, Al-Sayyid Muqtada did not condemn or denounce these criminal acts clearly and called for them. Thus, it was natural for the relationship between us to lose trust and to deteriorate.
(Harb) One of the consequences of the invasion and occupation are the attempts to foment a sectarian conflict in Iraq. How are you dealing with this?
(Al-Dari) One of the goals – not the consequences – of the invasion and the occupation was to foment sectarian and ethnic strife in Iraq. This was obvious in several matters: For instance, weapons were left to be looted by anyone without any objection by the occupation forces. The Governing Council was formed on sectarian bases. The drafting of the constitution that consecrated hegemony was left in the hands of the Shiite and Kurdish political leaders that support the US project. Other components of the people were marginalized, including the majority of the Shias and the Kurds that reject the occupation. The elections that were overseen by the occupation were rigged in favor of the interests of its known allies. Despite all these exposed to foment sedition, the occupation did not succeed. This is due to God Almighty first and to the steadfastness and fraternal and patriotic cohesion of the Iraqis throughout history. When they failed to ignite civil war, they resorted to the satanic act of detonating the mausoleums of the two imams Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al-Askari, may peace be upon them. This act was carried out by the security organs of the Interior Ministry with the supervision of the intelligence service of a neighboring country and the knowledge of the Americans. This led to the organized criminals deeds that were masterminded by the security forces of the Iraqi government that was led by Dr Ibrahim al-Ja’fari. These criminal deeds were reinforced with fatwas several religious authorities issued that and that were based on the statement issued by the highest Shiite religious authority that accused a specific side minutes after the news was announced without verifying the quarter that actually carried out that heinous criminal deed. The religious authority accused the Saddamists, the takfiris (Muslims that hold other Muslims as infidels), and the Al-Nawasib (pejorative term used by Shias to describe Sunnis). He and his followers know who is meant by Al-Nawasib. He accused them of committing the atrocious criminal deeds that were actually perpetrated by mobs and militias that are part of certain Shiite political components that are well known, such as Badr, the Al-Mahdi Army, and others. Despite all this, the situation did not deteriorate into a civil war due to the self-restraint and discipline that the Sunnis demonstrated. The Association (of Muslim Scholars) urged this self-restraint in order to contain the sedition that was planned by those we just mentioned. In our efforts, we were helped by brothers Shaykh Jawad al-Khalisi, Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali al-Baghdadi, Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Mahmud al-Husni al-Sarkhi, and other figures and well known patriotic authorities.
(Harb) In your opinion, who is the primary beneficiary from the sectarian sedition and the slaughtering on the basis of one’s identity card? Why do some organizations of the resistance sometimes claim responsibility for attacks against civilians? Is this not wrong?
(Al-Dari) The immediate beneficiary from the sectarian sedition and the slaughtering on the basis of one’s identity card are the enemies of Iraq and the enemies of Iraq’s unity and power led by the occupation. It has been proven with irrefutable evidence that the occupation stands behind many of the evil and criminal quarters that target the sons of our people. After the occupation, those that stand to gain are its allies, the advocates of sectarian and separatist schemes, and the agents of the countries that hate Iraq and that do not wish the welfare of Iraq. As for the targeting of civilians, this is due to many factors. Some of these factors are purely sectarian in character, other factors are ideological, and others are destructive and intended to foment sedition and shuffle the cards in order to reach a certain specific goal or objective that may include pure vengeance and revenge. This serves the interests of those that promote sectarian sedition and slaughtering on the basis of one’s identity card. Some organizations of the resistance sometimes endorse such actions for reasons of their own. But this is a wrong endorsement and is prohibited by Shari’ah. It is not an act of acceptable jihad and does not help its proponents to reach their legitimate goals, if they have legitimate goals. We in the Association (of Muslim Scholars) have denounced such un-Islamic and inhuman acts and methods. We pray to God to distance us from such perpetrators regardless to which faction or sect they may belong.
(Harb) How do you think can the Arab countries help in rescuing Iraq from its current situation? Which are the countries that are most influential in this regard?
(Al-Dari) The Arab countries can rescue Iraq from its current conditions by using their geographic, material, and political potentials and resources. They can also rescue Iraq by using what the Iraqi resistance made available to them when it obstructed and foiled the US schemes and made the United States consult these countries or seek their help to resolve its predicament in Iraq. As to how the Arab countries can rescue Iraq, there are many ways to do so and these ways are obvious to these countries. God Almighty will guide those that are willing to bear the responsibility for such an honor. The countries that can play such a role are first, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in view of its known weight in many vital aspects. Saudi Arabia is followed by Egypt and then the rest of the Arab countries that are ready to play such a role.
(Harb) Is it possible to see a better relationship between you and Iran in the near future since you are saying that Iran is determined to evict the occupation from Iraq, which is your primary goal as well? Is it possible to have a rapprochement between you since this would create a positive climate in the Iraqi street and the region?
(Al-Dari) Since we became afflicted with the occupation, we have been concerned to have a good relationship with all the neighbors although some of them, particularly Iran, cooperated with the occupation against us. Despite this, we wish to have a stronger relationship with Iran than with others in view of its good neighborliness and the good effect this has on conditions in Iraq for many reasons. Unfortunately, however, our hopes were dashed when we saw Iran entering Iraq, meddling in its affairs, and favoring one faction of the sons of Iraq over others and overlooking their wishes and conduct even if they are at the expense of Iraq’s unity and the interests of Iraq’s other sons. Iran is accepting and blessing the political process although it is illegitimate. It is keeping silent over all the practices and actions carried out by its allies and parties and currents that support it despite our advice to Iran through some of its officials that have visited Iraq. We remained silent and did not comment on Iran’s intervention and bias for about the first three years of the occupation. When we lost hope that they would reconsider their stand, we expressed our opinion and we were among the last to express our opinion on their blatant intervention in Iraq and their designs on Iraq. Nevertheless, we hope they would reconsider their stand on Iraq for their sake in the future and for the sake of Iraq and the region. We hope that they would shut the doors of evil that are open against us and against them. We hope they would realize that good neighborliness is in the interest of all and will lead to the security and stability that we need and that the whole region needs. As for your question on a possible rapprochement between us, we say that this can happen if Iran can show us that it is dealing with all the Iraqis without being biased in favor of one faction and if it gives up its designs and ambitions in Iraq.
(Harb) How do you describe your relationship with Syria? What is your position on the accusations leveled against Syria that it supports the terrorists in Iraq?
(Al-Dari) Our relationship with Syria is good. It is based on respect and appreciation for its firm fraternal stands toward Iraq and the Iraqis that are represented by its opposition to the occupation of Iraq. Syria does not bargain on Iraq or on its interests despite the strong pressures and threats against it. It describes the occupation as occupation and the resistance that targets the occupation as resistance rather than terrorism as others call it. Syria warmly hosts more than one million Iraqis that have been displaced by the abnormal conditions in Iraq. For these stands and other stands, we appreciate Syria. We owe Syria a debt of loyalty for its Arab and humanitarian stands toward its brethren in Iraq that are going through hard times. In view of Syria’s opposition to the occupation and in view of the fact that it was not dragged behind its schemes, we are not surprised that Syria is being subjected to all sorts of chargers, including the charge of supporting the terrorists. If what is intended by the term terrorists are those that are resisting against the occupation, I do not know of an Arab country – regardless of whether it is Syria or another Arab country – that is supporting them materially. However, if what is intended (by the word terrorists) are those that are targeting the innocent sons of Iraq from all the factions to carry out their hostile schemes and agendas against Iraq and its sons, these are supported only by the enemies of Iraq and the enemies of Iraq’s unity. Syria supports Iraq and its independence and unity. It does not support its enemies.
(Harb) Do you contemplate returning to Iraq soon? The Iraqi government has ordered your arrest. Are you worried that it might ask the Interpol to apprehend you?
(Al-Dari) Yes, I think of returning soon and when the reasons are available. As for the Interpol, I am not worried about that. The Interpol is not a policeman of the Iraqi government that carries out its orders or its arbitrary and illegal demands.