OSC: Qabbanji and Saghir: Kirkuk Crisis Endangers Shiite-Kurdish Alliance

The USG Open Source Center translates Iraqi sermons from Friday

Roundup of Iraqi Friday Sermons 29 Aug
Iraq — OSC Summary
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Document Type: OSC Summary

… On the “crisis of Kirkuk and Khanaqin,” [Sheikh Sadr al-Din] Al-Qabbanji says: “There is a crisis in Iraq now called the Kirkuk crisis. There are Arabs, Kurds, and Turkomans who say that Kirkuk belongs to us. We also have the Khanaqin crisis. The armed forces affiliated with the central government entered Khanaqin and the brothers in the Kurdish Peshmerga said that this entry is unwarranted and consequently we have our position on this entry. This is a crisis in the country. It is the Kirkuk and the Khanaqin crisis. In this regard, we stress that the Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish alliance is the side that protected Iraq. This alliance should not be relinquished under any circumstances. This is a red line for us. We will not relinquish or violate the strategic and holy alliance between us and the Sunnis. You have seen how we dealt with the sectarian sedition until it was buried. The alliance between the Shiites and Kurds is also a strategic one and we will not relinquish it. We will not relinquish this alliance because of some minor issues. For us, this is a great principle; namely, the Shiite-Sunni-Kurdish alliance. This is a firm position which we will not relinquish. In this regard, we should resort to reason, logic, and the spirit of amity. It is true that these are rights, but it is also true that rights without amity are bitter.”

Al-Qabbanji adds: “It is not in the interest of anyone to foment sedition regarding the Kirkuk issue.The only group that has interest in this are the Ba’thists. These Ba’thists area group of wolves. We expelled them from the village and they are now thinking of attacking the village once again. They cannot attack and cause internal problems among the people of the village.”

He says: “Based on this, we call on the Kurdish brothers just as we call on the Arab and Turkoman brothers in Kirkuk to be aware of the challenges. We have great challenges ahead of us. We have an enemy that wants to kill all of us. We do not want anyone to relinquish his rights. However, it is wrong not to think of priorities. What are these priorities? The priority is the safety of Iraq.”

On the election issue,Sayyid Hasan al-Zamili says: “The mother of all problems in this regard is the Kirkuk issue. We believe that delaying the elections until 1 December,taking into consideration that some sides are trying to delay the elections until 1 December, will create a real problem in the country. This will create a legal and political vacuum.”

He adds: “We call on the Council of Representatives to have as its first priority to vote on the Election Law. We strongly and firmly demand that the elections should take place on the set date. Delaying the elections harms the country and the political situation and causes us various vacuums and problems. The one who benefits from these problems is only the one who is lying in wait for us, the bankrupt, and the one who opposes the political process.”

He calls for avoiding “party, parochial, ethnic, and sectarian interests,” saying that”all entities and groups should adopt a real national position.” . . .

Buratha News Agency in Arabic — Shiite news agency with strong anti-Sunni sentiment and focus on news of the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, is observed to carry the following report on a Friday sermon by Shaykh Jalal-al-Din al-Saghir, imam and preacher of the Buratha Mosque:

In his Friday sermon,Al-Saghir says: “There is a defect that has nothing to do with this or that minister. In fact, there is a problem in the administrative and economic system in this country. If this defect is not solved, problems will not be solved.If we solve a problem here today, we will have another problem there tomorrow.This defect is the centralism of the state and its control on everything.”

Al-Saghir then highlights the “private sector’s” role in solving the problem of electricity and other problems in Iraq. He urges the government to “give a free rein”to the private sector to solve these problems. He says that the private sector can solve the problem of electricity “in one year.”

On the elections and the Kirkuk issue, Al-Saghir says: “From the beginning I said that some sides want to use the Kirkuk issue as a bridge to cross to an agenda that is much bigger than the Kirkuk issue. One option is an ethnic war in Kirkuk. What does an ethnic war mean? It means that the situation will no longer be controlled by the Iraqis, but by all the neighboring states. This is because the neighboring states do not consider the Kirkuk issue as an issue that is particularly based on voting, but it is an issue that has to do with the ethnic issue that is connected with at least three major states; namely, Syria, Turkey, and Iran.This is in addition to the other states that are present in Iraq. If the situation proceeds toward an ethnic war, they will win. The side that has been tampering with the political process all this time will win. After they failed to ignite a sectarian war, incite the Shiites against the Sunnis and the Sunnis against the Shiites, and create a Shiite infighting and a Sunni infighting,they have come to try the other card; namely, to foment sedition between the Arabs and Kurds, between the Turkomans and Kurds, and then between the Turkomans and Arabs. So, the main goal is to create sedition and predicaments.”

He says that the Kirkuk problem can only be solved by “political accords.” He adds:”Now, I warn against what I have read and heard to the effect that Shaykh Jalal or the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council (IISC) have sold Kirkuk to the Kurds. I say that this is shameful. Kirkuk does not belong to the Kurds, to the Arabs, or to the Turkomans. It does not belong to any other side. Kirkuk belongs to Iraq and to all Iraqis. It cannot be sold through voting or talks here and there. It cannot be dealt with this way. Where did this fabrication come from?”

Al-Saghir adds: “The Ba’thists and the orphans of the Ba’thists have never been truthful to any Iraqi. So, how can they be truthful regarding this issue? Kirkuk and other areas would not have been lost had it not been to the crimes of these people.Kirkuk was a city of brotherhood.”

He says: “I stress that we will solve the Kirkuk problem only based on the Constitution. Any side that claims it has a right should obtain this right through constitutional mechanisms. The one who believes that he can be present through gangs,terrorism, and illegal acts should look at Baghdad. Terrorism, which used towreak havoc in Baghdad every day, has been eliminated, and it will eventually be eliminated in all areas. I say that the wise men should hold the reins of the initiative and they should not allow those who have been playing this game all this time to continue with their bad game. These sides tried to depict things as if the so-and-so Ba’thist leader was the hero of the liberation of Kirkuk. This is a disgrace. The Ba’thists have displaced and killed people. If they think that their hopes are pinned on these criminals, then this will be a great victory for the Ba’thists.”

He says: “Some sides are trying to create a problem for Iraq with Kuwait or a problem for Kuwait with Iraq. There are various trends in Kuwait and in Iraq which want to strain relations between the two states.” He adds that “we do not expect the Wahhabi trend at the Kuwaiti Parliament to say a good word to improve relations between the Iraqi and Kuwaiti peoples.” He says that “we know that some sides have interest in disrupting the new diplomatic atmospheres that began to open on Iraq,” adding that the “I call for a wise policy and say that the politicians should not allow the media to create atmospheres to strain relations between us and Kuwait.” He says:”Yes, we have problems. We have problems with Syria and Jordan and we have problems with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iran. However, these problems can be solved through normal political and diplomatic means. We have relations that are more important than these problems.”

Al-Saghir says: “I do not forget here to remind the state of the tragedy of Iraqis in the Saudi prisons. There are more than 600 Iraqi detainees in Saudi Arabia, some of whom are tortured and some others are killed away from the eyes of the Iraqi Government. For this or that reason a person crosses the border with Saudi Arabia and this happens between the neighboring states. However, we view this issue with concern because these 600 detainees or more than 600 are all affiliated with one sect. So, this is a different story that has other faces. Therefore, I call on the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry an tell them just as Saudi Arabia asks you about the (Saudi) detainees in Iraq, you should form a committee to go there to check on the Iraqis who are detained there. Frankly speaking, I spoke with some of these detainees from inside the prisons through a mediator. He gave me startling facts about what takes place inside these prisons in Rafhah, Hafar al-Batin, and in several cities where these detaineesare.”

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