Muqtada al-Sadr and Nouri al-Maliki:
More Shiite or Iraqi?
there have been reports that thanks to the support of Shiite cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr - and the tacit consent of Iran and even the U.S. - Nouri Al-Maliki is close
to being named for a second term as Iraq's prime minister. According to this
article by columnist Tariq Hamid of the Iraqi News Agency, this
electoral outcome, which insults Iraqi voters who elected Ayad Alawi, calls
into question whether Muqtada al-Sadr and Nouri al-Maliki consider Iraq more
important than their Shiite brothers in Iran.
It’s no surprise to hear the
Sadrists, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, complain of Iranian pressure to agree to a
second term for Nouri Al-Maliki as prime minister. But the complaint is a surprise, given
a Sadrist statement made after they withdrew past reservations about the al-Maliki
nomination, which said that political pressure in politics is necessary since, “everyone
who walks through fire on their own” pursues their own interests, and
that “politics means give and take”! That's undoubtedly true, since politics
is the art of the possible, but a most important message remains: Is Muqtada al-Sadr
Shiite or an Iraqi? What is more important to him: Iraq or following Iran? If al-Sadr
is suffering pressure from Iran, why not leave it, return to Iraq and confront al-Maliki
himself, even if al-Maliki’s followers will curse him for this a thousand times?
Another question is this: why didn’t the Sadrists follow the principle of
submission to pressure during the days of Saddam? The Sadrists, with their well-known
historic position, didn’t collude with the former regime against Iraqis, and never
conceded to its terror and blackmail, even though Saddam’s regime was ruthless,
and its cruelty was no less severe that that of the Iranian regime!
The issue here is huge - and
dangerous. If loyalty to one’s country doesn’t come first, it means that all of
our nations are at the mercy of the wind, which leads to another question: Are
Arab countries failing to establish a stable citizenship, which is the only
true guarantor of a nation's security, stability, growth, and prosperity? The
Indians, whether Muslim or Hindu, and the Asiatics, whatever their nationality
and religion, when they live in the West whether it be in America or Europe,
respect the constitutions of those countries, serve in their armies, contribute
to their growth and well-being, all without diminishing their roots or relations
to their creator. While this is the proper way to deal with their beliefs, in Arab
countries the situation is puzzling and frightening.
I'll never forget the moment that
an Indian-Muslim official told me defiantly and with pride: “Tell me, have you
ever heard of an Indian-Muslim accused of treason due to cooperation with
Pakistan during all the years of enmity between us?” The question here is: do
Shiites in Lebanon, for example, consider themselves Lebanese or Shiite? The
same question should be applied in Iraq and other places. Surely, a Turk
considers himself a citizen of Turkey before a Sunni, and a Saudi sees himself
as Saudi before he considers himself Sunni. The same thing applies to Egyptians,
whether they are Muslim or not. Accordingly, if politics in Iraq is made by religious
authorities, then what's the point of elections at all? What's the difference
between Saddam Hussein and Nouri al-Maliki, other than Saddam used force and
violence to remain in power, whereas al-Maliki uses Iran to keep his throne?!
Thus, it appears that there
is a big difference between Ayad
Alawi and Nouri al-Maliki: Alawi is a Shiite that considers his Iraqi
identity to be stronger than narrow sectarianism, which guarantees the
preservation of the country, and which is why he won the vote of the people,
even if with a difference of just a single vote. This is democracy, where
there's no difference between one vote or thousands. Whereas al-Maliki sees
sectarianism as the guarantor of power to remain in office. The difference
between the two men is great.
Hence the burning question
remains: Is al-Sadr Iraqi, or Shiite? By answering this question, we can know
where Iraq is headed.