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Al Sadr and the Militia Freeze Part Two - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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At last, Baghdad finally realised the severity of the crime that took place in Karbala. It occurred to me that the sedition did not simply exist on a sectarian level and that the Mehdi Army posed a considerable threat to its armed Sunni opponent. In fact, the Mehdi Army had become a force to be reckoned with amongst the deadly Shia groups. Here politicians try to unify the sectarian ranks by interpreting the phenomenon as a conspiracy and that the Mehdi rifles are used to wreak havoc on the Shia ranks, refusing to acknowledge the recurring historical truth throughout the world and not in Iraq alone, namely, the internal conflict between all armed bloody groups.

We are supporting the Prime Minister’s call to place all Iraqi forces under the control of the state without excluding its allies or those commissioned to undertake tasks for it. Al Maliki should be as transparent as he realistically can be. Therefore, trying to blame others is the first incorrect step in dealing with the crisis. He must accept the facts as they are and not as they are hoped to be by some of his followers. From the outset, the Mehdi Army’s militia was illegitimate and stood against the new Iraqi project. It seeks power and will fight the Sunnis and Shia for the sake of control. Previously, its positions fluctuated as it allied with the extremist Sunni groups, then the extremist governmental groups, and finally with the Iranians. Therefore, it should be confronted and subjected to the authority of the state. Furthermore, all other Shia and Sunni armed forces must be quelled, including the tribes that are being armed to fight against Al Qaeda in the Sunni areas.

In short, the government should support the creation of a country with a single centralized force and a political system that represents all Iraqis rather than one group over another. This political project is in the interest of all Iraqis; the Shia as they represent the majority of Iraqi Arabs, the Sunnis so as not to be marginalized in Iraq over the next fifty years, and the rest of the Iraqi people in order to belong to a large and stable state with a system that protects them as minorities rather than militia.

Perhaps the shock of Karbala, in which scores of people were killed, may force the Iraqi leadership, which has found itself between the Americans and the Iranians, to wake up and realise that it will be broken into pieces unless it becomes active and speeds up the central Iraqi project, which represents all Iraqis.

The battle of Karbala is just the beginning in a series of grave security crises that will ignite all over Iraq and not only in the local Sunni districts. Iran has a project that is unrelated to Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki’s project or that of his predecessors. In fact, they are against a stable Iraq despite what the Iranians pledged in Tehran. In fact, it is not in the interest of Baghdad to be part of a regional or foreign war, undoubtedly because it will be embroiled in a permanent security crisis fueled by other countries. Thus, it is easy to sabotage Iraq due to the aggravated situation.

We must acknowledge that al Maliki has made significant progress by reforming the governmental situation and making concessions for his political opponents, the latest of which was the sudden agreement on the return of the expelled Baathists to government and the military and convincing the militia to disarm and to take part in the peace process.

In parallel with such flexibility, firmness is also necessary against the armed Sunni and Shia groups that belong to Al Qaeda, the Baathists, the Sadrists, Badrists and others. In addition, the parties involved in the government should dismantle their militia before making the same request to their opponents if they want to send a sincere message regarding building a new Iraq. It is not logical that the Prime Minister is the head of both security and army whilst, at the same time, belongs to an armed party that spirals out of the control of the state. Additionally, it is inconceivable that the Sadrist party has 30 members in parliament and, at the same time, an army of ten thousand fighters. This is unreasonable and justifies the opposition’s suspicion of the regime and its refusal to disarm.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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