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In Arab cultural heritage, the city of Samarra was formerly called “Surra Man Raa (“he who sees it is delighted”). If the Caliph al Mutasim, who built his capital at the height of Abbasid glory, were to see his city today, riddled with terrorism, whose Sunni and Shiaa shrines remain a symbol of the meeting of sects, he would have said, with grief, “he who sees it is tormented”.

The bombing of the sacred tombs of Imams Ali al Mahdi and al Hassan al Askari in the city of Samarra is a reprehensible crime that has tainted the mausoleums, religious beliefs and people. Not long ago, terrorists blew up the top of the city’s landmark spiral minaret, the Malwiyyah, one of the treasures of Abbasid rule.

The angry reactions we have witnessed in the wake of the bombings, such as the burning of mosques and violence, are all part of a deadly attempt to drag Iraq, with the dirtiest methods, into a civil sectarian war. If it does occur, God help us all. The consequences will be disastrous.

The targeting of religious sites is proof of a general contempt for human lives and their beliefs. Terrorists, day after day, have demonstrated that nothing is sacred in their book. They have not shied away from ambushing animals and humans and have not recoiled from targeting everything that is alive, in order to disturb people’s lives.

While one finds roadside thieves retain a semblance of morality, terrorists have rid themselves of all their humanity.

Today, it is important to say:

Caution should be exerted so as not to give revenge free reign! Reprisal will only fulfil the objectives of those who seek to spark the fire of sectarianism in Iraq. Emotional reactions will allow the criminal hands that have damaged tombs and mosques to carry out their plans. Vengeance is a disease!

The language of reason and rationality should prevail. Sensible individuals across Iraq have to come to the forefront. Leaders have to seize control of the headship today. If a fire erupts, its flames will not spare anyone, inside or outside Iraq. Leaders in Iraq have to remind themselves that Iraq is more important and precious than their disagreements. They have to act as statesmen, not just students of governance. They must stop being opportunistic; how easy it to see is who is investing in Iraq and who is exploited in it!

The strong international condemnation and denunciation has to be converted into action. A new and serious initiative is needed, spearhead by those best able to save Iraq from its dilemma. The country should be reclaimed from the politically irresponsible hands that see Iraq as a gambling card or a piece on a chessboard.

One must to acknowledge the people of Iraq ’s firm stance, since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, against all attempts to drag the country into civil war. They have proved that Iraqis give their allegiance to Iraq and not to different sects. This is why international intervention is needed to save the country from an evil the terrorists, in all their hues, are currently plotting for, including Islamist extremists, former Baath party members , and young politicians, who cannot see beyond the tip of their nose. What is glory today will be harmful tomorrow.

Save Iraq before the entire country becomes a source of torment for all.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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