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The Neo-Mukhtar Revolution in Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There hasn’t been any case in history like the one that we are seeing today in Iraq where the Justice and Accountability Commission is pursuing all those who are not in line with al Hakim’s council, al Sadr’s current and al Maliki’s coalition, unless of course we count the case of Al Mukhtar Ibn Abi Ubayd al Thaqafi.

This strange and controversial man declared a rebellion against the Caliphate in 66 Hijri and made Kufa his base, raising the slogan of revenge for the Family of the Prophet to legitimize his acts. He carried out a massacre in retaliation against all those accused of taking part in the Battle of Karbala and all those accused of opposing the Family of the Prophet. The massacre was one of the most notorious retaliation campaigns in Islamic history. What Al Mukhtar al Thaqafi did came as a ferocious response to the massacres committed by the Umayyads against their Hashemite opponents. Back then there was an atmosphere of sheer gory revenge in which history, religion and violence were all used.

The Justice and Accountability Commission in Iraq replaced the Debaathication Commission in 2007, which was headed by Ahmed Chalabi. It was transformed into an instrument for eliminating the enemies of the Iranian current in Iraq or the adversaries of those in power, some of whom have no relation whatsoever to the religious address of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and the Islamic Dawa Party. The only concern of a man like Ahmed Chalabi is to remain in the limelight and to maintain influence. Chalabi is one of the staunchest supporters of uprooting [the Baath] and one of the godfathers of the Justice and Accountability Commission. The head of this commission is one of his supporters. The Justice and Accountability Commission has closed the political door on almost everybody except the supporters of Shia fundamentalist parties. It even released an absurd list of around 600 names of people banned from taking part in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The justification that is presented by this retaliatory authority is the hunting down of Baathists and supporters of the former regime. Of course this is an ambiguous justification that could apply to anybody who does not appeal to those currently in power in Baghdad. That is exactly what happened to Sunni politician Saleh al Mutlak and Defense Minister Abdul Qadir al Obeidi, who held this post for years whilst fighting Al Qaeda and terrorists with remarkable competence. They have both been banned from taking part in the upcoming parliamentary elections along with a number of secular and pro-Arab Iraqi politicians, both Sunni and Shia.

This is a retaliatory campaign to eliminate all rivals and opponents. This is reminiscent of what Mukhtar al Thaqafi himself did. The man was not loyal to the concept of the Family of Prophet unless it served his ambitions for power, according to some researchers and historians.

Perhaps the statement made by one of the most prominent historians, Muhammad Ibn Jarir al Tabari, about the truth behind Mukhtar’s ideas and plans is relevant here. “They said he was an “Uthmani” that he testified among others against Hajar Ibn Adi and that he did not convey the message Hani Ibn Urwa had sent with him, not to mention that earlier on Ali Ibn Abi Talib had expelled him from the judiciary.” (An “Uthmani” here is someone who sides with Uthman Ibn Affan. As for Hajar Ibn Adi, he was a supporter of Ali Ibn Abi Talib and was executed by Muawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyan. Hani Ibn Urwa is the man who hosted and hid Muslim Ibn Uqail, Al Hussein Ibn Ali’s envoy to the people of Kufa). This was cited by writer Magdi Ibrahim Khalil in his article about the motives behind Mukhtar’s revolution, published in Al Hewar Al Motamaden magazine.

Magdi Khalil quoted Ibn Jarir on the real motives behind Mukhtar’s revolution towards the end of his life. Ibn Jarir said that Mukhtar candidly confessed to a friend of his that he had seen Ibn Al Zubayr take control of the Hijaz, Najda Ibn Amir take control of Yamama and Marwan Ibn Al-Hakam take control of the Levant so why not have a share in power as he was one of the Arabs who seized this land exploiting the [idea of] taking revenge for the killings of the Family of the Prophet?

The same applies to Ahmed Chalabi. He is a man of a secular nature and his claims of supporting and sharing the theories of the Islamic Dawa Party and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council have no credibility. These theories are based on the Shia culture of mobilization through the concepts of sacrifice, violence, revenge, injustice, and religious idealism. However, Chalabi pretended to believe in these theories after he lost his bargaining chips in the Iraqi political market. He tried to make a comeback under the guise of jurisprudence and religious parties. He sees himself as being just like Ayad Allawi, who became Prime Minister of Iraq, and sees himself as an equal to his fellow politicians. Perhaps his faith in his capabilities and ambitions has made him resentful towards less competent people who have managed to take up positions and enjoy authority that he does not have.

I can imagine him saying to himself, “Just because they rose the Shia slogan and the concept of historical justice for the Shia and just because they fought the Baath party and all the Baathists (which was said of almost every Arab Sunni or secularist in Iraq), they came to power.” “Fine,” Chalabi continues to say to himself, “Then I will lead this Shia movement, plan its strategies and lay out its major policies.” And that was exactly what happened.

The man who came out of the elections with insignificant gains has returned via the Justice and Accountability Commission in the capacity of a judge who permits or prohibits participation in the elections or even removes entire blocs from the political scene under the usual pretext of fighting Baathists and defending those who were wronged. This is similar to what the man of ambition, Al Mukhtar Ibn Abi Ubayd Al Thaqafi, did in the first century of the Hijri calendar; the century of beginnings, formations and the Fitna al Kubra [Great Sedition]…and in Iraq as well!

Fortunately, the Mukhtar-Chalabi trick came to end and was uncovered quite early on. With regards to the new Mukhtar, this trick had a reverse effect in mobilising and strengthening the opposing Iraqi alliance, and it has given the Iraqi bloc under Ayad Allawi more momentum right before the start of the elections. However, the situation needed intervention from the US and Vice President Joe Biden stated that it was unacceptable to hold elections in Iraq whilst eliminating active Iraqi parties, noting that this goes against the course of Iraqi national reconciliation.

After remaining silent for so long, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki finally spoke out and said that the rulings of the Justice and Accountability Commission should not be politicized. It is evident that there is an apparent withdrawal from the regulations of the Commission.

All of the above does not mean that the murderers of the Iraqi people over the past period should escape justice. The well-entrenched fear against the Baath party is justified as a result of its long and gruesome rule. But, again, this does not mean that the injustices of the Baath era should be met with other injustices in the post-Baath era as injustice is injustice after all. If we remain captive to the obsession of revenge and counter-revenge, we will never escape this vicious circle. No sound judgment can be passed without first burying the hatchet. Only then will we be able to move on to a completely new phase that is so different in every way. This is something that has been accomplished by great men like Nelson Mandela.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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