Iiat Allah Ali Sisitani
Amir Tahiri wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat 3rd Dec 2003 an article in Arabic about Iiat Allah Ali Sisitani. I think his article based on real understanding to the Shiite doctrine and its schools. I am going to translate it according to my ability and in my way. I wish I could translate it as a whole but I don’t have the mean for that. It will save my time if I could do so.
Let me first tell you that there are two schools of thoughts in the implementation of the Shiite doctrine. The first school which is the oldest and most prominent in Iraq in Najaf based on separation of doctrine and religion from politics. It also prevent its clergies from interfering with politics unless asked to give advises. Mr Sisitani belongs to this school. The other school of the Shiite doctrine believe that politics is part of religion and the Mullahs may enter into politics. This is somewhat a new school and it is more prominent in Iran.
Let me now go to the article of Amir Tahiri entitled (This is Sisitani whom, America hasn't seen him yet..!). Amir said after the liberation of Iraq Ali Sisitani faced too many blames as a scapegoat for the failure of the others. He gave some examples for these scapegoating like the decision of Mr Sisitani to stop the consultations about the new regulation, the failure of the GC to reach into an agreement with the CPA about a transitional rule, the failure of the Coalition to put a timetable for a new constitutional council, and now some consider Mr Sisitani as a hurdle in the way of the transition of the power.
Scapegoating Mr Sisitani as Mr Tahiri report is due to two reasons. First Mr Sisitani has no political party and he doesn't like to appear in the media in any way. Second to raise doubts about Shiite who are the majority in Iraq. I add to what Mr Tahari said that although Mr Sisitani has no political party but his role is like the role the of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the UK for the Shiite inside Iraq and like the role of the Pope for the Shiite outside Iraq. He got the largest Shiite follower among the Shiite clergies in Iraq and other countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, UAE and follower from Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, India and even in the west like the UK and USA.
Mr Sisitani is not after the power in Iraq and his school of thought is not like the one in Iran. He is with any secular government but have to respect the religious values of all the people in Iraq. He is not after Islamic state like Iran because he knows that Iraq is not Iran at all. The school that Mr Sisitani belongs to separate religion from politics. Mr Sisitani during the 1970s opposed always Mohammad Baker Al Sader and Khomeni who both calls for clergies to be involved in politics. We have to say that in a free and democratic country any one could and may be able to put himself for any election.
After the collapse of Saddam regime Mr Sisitani himself asked the clergy men to be away from interference in politics and even if there is a vacuum in power, they should not put themselves as a rulers but they could give advises if asked to do so. They have to do their spiritual rule only.
When Mr Sisitani asked about his idea about the transition of power he said it is better to do election. I like this idea. An elected interim government is much better than appointed one. At least it reflects legality on it and more give it more support from the people and the other countries.
Mr Tahari added that some in the USA think that Mr Sisitani want the election so as the Shiite control the power. Though this fact is not contradicting the reality, but it is not so simple as that. It is like in the USA not all the Catholics vote the same way and in India not all the Hindu support the same party every time. Indeed Mr Sisitani call for election because he want a government not based on ethnic or religious basis. If election happened in Iraq now we will see the Shiite divided into 3 groups; the Socialist, the moderate Islamist and the Tribial. Same think will apply on the Sunni and Kurds. They all will not represent one party but different political faction. Mr Sisitani by calling for an election pull the carpet from under the feet of those who use the ethnic card. The Shiite community like the Kurds have been exposed to ethnic cleansing, mass killings and extreme suppression by the previous regime. Therefore the election is the best way to avoid a rebound ethnic selection because by an election you look to the programme submitted by the party and not to its ethnic status. Also by election you will get a mixture from those who returned from exile and those who are inside. There are people who speak about statistics and security situation but you may have a good election which will be better for every one. Mr Sisitani by his attitude shares too many aspects for Iraq with the Coalition and with the GC.
I and many Iraqis think that Mr Sisitani suggestion should be studied very carefully and we support any elected government but not every one will support an appointed one which may be considered as a poppet.