Click image to see comments by Almodarresi on the BBC's
"QUOTE OF THE DAY"
Iraq crisis may spark a
15, 2004 16:05 PM ET
The World Service of the
BBC conducted four separate interviews with Sayed Mahdi Almodarresi about
the current political crisis in Iraq between the Coalition Forces and the
supporters of Sayed Moqtada Al Sadr. Two of the interviews were broadcast
live while the others were recorded and played at a later time in “News
Hour” as well other local and worldwide programs.
Below is a summary of the
first interview which was broadcast live via a satellite telephone link:
What is your analysis
of the current situation in Iraq?
- We have to take a
realistic look at the sociopolitical landscape of Iraq. Iraq is composed
of a mosaic of different religious, political, and ethnic groups. These
include the Shi'ites who comprise the overwhelming majority, as well as
the Sunnis, the Kurds, and the Turkemans. Now,
just as you cannot have an Arab representing the
Kurds, you cannot have a Kurd representing the
Arabs, or a Sunni representing the Shi'ites.
the current crisis we are not talking about the small town of
Falluhah which is
situated in the Sunni triangle. We are dealing with the entire country
where the majority Shi'ites are getting increasingly angry and frustrated
with what they see as a deliberate attempt by the Coalition Forces to
sideline and neglect them. The problem
has the potential to spread very quickly to
other parts of the nation and create an uncontrollable number of difficult
fronts for the Coalition Forces.
- We must,
also, not forget one thing; a clear distinction must be made
between the insurgencies in the Sunni Triangle where bodies of American
contractors were recently burnt and mutilated, and the rebellion that is
currently taking place in many parts of the nation. The Shi'ites have been
oppressed for over 80 years, and this is exactly why the ousting of Saddam
was widely welcomed by them. The reason for the swift advance of the
Coalition Forces into Iraq - and with minimal losses - is that the
Shi’ites avoided clashes with the US lead Coalition.
Now, on the other hand, these
very same people are feeling increasingly betrayed and deceived, because
one year on after the fall of Saddam's notorious regime, people say the
promises of stability, peace, and proper representation in the political
process have not been fulfilled.
- You don't need a PhD in
politics to notice the major inadequacies in the Governing Council, for
example, and you don't need a PhD in Law to see the flaws in the Interim
Constitution which gives the minorities the ability to Veto anything that
the majority enacts as the permanent charter. This means that as little as
%5 of the population can decide the future of the remaining %95, all in
the name of democracy!
How would you suggest
can the problem be fixed at this stage?
- It was clear from the
very beginning that this road had the potential to spark a civil unrest
just like the one we see unfolding in Iraq as we speak.
- This crisis could have
been avoided by exercising a reasonable degree of wisdom by the Coalition
Forces. It is important for us to understand that because it also means
that we can diffuse the bomb and rectify the impending problem if the
Coalition Forces are willing to do so. As a short terms solution the
Coalition Provisional Authority must stop the campaign of violence against
the civilians, depart civilian areas especially holy Shi’ite cities such
as Najaf and Karbala, and issue a public apology there may be a light at
the end of the tunnel. As a medium to long term solution the Coalition
policies must be reviewed and the Shi’ites given the proportionate level
of representation that they deserve, otherwise this vicious circle will
Why is it that the
moderate clerics such as your uncle, Ayatollah Almodarresi and Ayatollah
Sistani are not speaking up and are not doing much to calm the people down?
- They are speaking but
the CPA is simply not listening! To put it bluntly, moderate voices must
be given greater weight and respect. Such
supreme clerics such as Grand Ayatollah Almodarresi and Grand Ayatollah
Sistani are speaking out and calling for calm, but how can we expect them
to be more vocal when they are not properly represented in the political
process? Grand Ayatollah Almodarresi can play a crucial role, especially
since he enjoys the respect of all the different factions, including the
supporters of Al Sadr. He made a statement which was widely circulated
within the western media after the ratification of the interim
constitution when warned the Coalition Forces that the constitution was a
"time bomb that can ignite a civil war". That warning should have been
taken more seriously.
- I believe in is in the
best interest of all parties involved that weapons be laid down. You
cannot wash blood with blood, and violence only breads violence. Apache
gunship helicopters are not the answer to this problem, and only peaceful
negotiations can breach the impasse that we are confronted with.
- The Shi'ites expect more
adequate representation in the political process and that begins by
acknowledging the fact that they are a majority. General elections must be
held and a system of "one person, one vote" implemented, along with a
swift modification of the Interim Constitution to reflect the will of the
nation at large, not just a small minority.
- Not everyone gets what he wants in a democracy, but we should not do
away with lesson No. 1 in democracy: The majority rules.