The leader of the biggest anti-Saddam Hussein Shiite opposition group Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, left, is greeted by Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Jazayeri.
The Islamic Republic of Iraq is becoming more of a reality with every passing day of lawlessness and civil disorder in Iraq. This is not the ranting of naysayers or the defunct liberals who seek to find some fault with U.S. President George Bush's Iraq scenario. The likelihood of an Islamic Republic is voiced by a majority of Iraqis. Indeed, there are those who would prefer secularism, especially religious minorities such as the Chaldeans, Assyrians, and other Christians who number up to 800,000 in Iraq.
However, the momentum of political Islam began some 1,400 years ago and began to take on its present shape after the 1991 Gulf War. While much of this flux is being propagated by organized Shiite groups, it does envelope Sunni factions as well.
It would not be a surprise, then, to read something similar to the mock letter below in the coming days and weeks:
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for getting rid of Saddam Hussein, a man who has kept us from realizing our political power, a man who has forbidden us from many of our beloved customs. But, by God, we lived like the Imam Ali, and we died like Hussein. Today, you have destroyed Saddam's reign and ended his hold on Iraq. And today you have freed us, the Iraqi people and the Shiite people of Iraq.
Before Saddam, there was Ahmad Hassan Bakr (we doubt any of you know who this man is because you have been so ignorant of Iraqi affairs for so long) who also kept us from majority rule. Then there was Abd Al Karim Kassem, Colonel Abdul Salem Mohamed Aref, and many others as well. We were never really allowed to voice our concerns, our will, our aspirations.
But, thanks to you, America, our day has finally come. Today we celebrate the return of our beloved Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, who was forced to flee for his life to neighboring Iran, our spiritual brothers, for the past 23 years.
Did you hear his speech today in Basra? "I am a soldier of Islam, serving all the Iraqi people. We don't want extremist Islam, but an Islam of independence, justice and freedom," he told the tens of thousands of us who gathered to hear him. (Associated Press)
No, we will not be like Iran. After all, we are Iraqis, all of us Iraqis with a historic role to play in world affairs. And Islam is the only way for us to move forward as a nation. Secularism in Iraq has failed us. It is not the way of our people. It is socialism; it is communism; it is un-Islamic.
No, America, today we declare with our voices that we will be Islamic, by God.
And Islamic law will ensure that Iraqi society is a righteous one. Islamic law will root out the thieves, butchers, rapists, drug smugglers, prostitutes, and alcohol merchants.
Look how we are already rooting out those who insist on sinning. Just two days ago, in this very city of Basra, "two Christian businessmen were shot dead after ignoring repeated warnings from Islamic militants to stop selling liquor in their shops." (Los Angeles Times)
Thank you, America, for allowing us to realize our 1,400-year quest to build a just society on the land that saw the martyrdom of Ali, and his sons Hassan and Hussein. Did you not know that Iraq is holy land? Indeed, the whole world is God's, but Iraq is hallowed ground to us.
We are ready for rebuilding the country; we are already bringing the hospitals back, even though you did nothing to prevent their destruction. We have brought back social services, which you allowed brigands to destroy; we have armed men patrolling the streets because, since you came, people cannot sleep in their own houses anymore. We are making sure that Iraq stands on its feet again.
Now, please go home. You have removed Saddam. Thank you. Here are a few tons of dates; take some oil on your way out. We will even find you a few Baathist loyalists. But, really, that is it. Our beloved al-Hakim is here and he will lead us.
Go back to Kuwait - they worship the ground your dirty boots walk on.
Our time has come...
The above is a very likely scenario because U.S. foreign policy and the planning for post-war Iraq were influenced by external forces that were simply out of touch with the reality of Iraqi religious aspirations. So much planning, effort, disinformation, public relations, and diplomacy were put into the war effort that the post-war religious power that would likely emerge in Iraq was completely overlooked. Members of the Iraqi National Congress, the main Iraqi opposition group, (with much influence in the Pentagon, but regarded with disdain in the State Department for its unreliable track record) assured the Bush administration that the Shiites of Iraq would rise up against Saddam, fight side by side with U.S. forces and welcome them with flowers. Despite urgent efforts by mainstream media to portray the latter, the information relayed by Iraqis in and outside Iraq is clearly unfavorable to U.S. efforts to establish a democratic state in Iraq.
Al-Hakim's return to Iraq is compared by many Middle Eastern analysts (not Washington think tanks who are not in the Middle East and rely only on Israeli sources) to the Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran in 1979.
Firas Al-Atraqchi, B.Sc (Physics), M.A. (Journalism and Communications), is a Canadian journalist with eleven years of experience covering Middle East issues, oil and gas markets, and the telecom industry.
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