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The Iraqi that Rode the Bull - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Haider al Abbadi, a member of Iraqi parliament and leading figure in the Iraqi Islamic Dawa Party, launched a strong attack in response to one of my recent articles entitled, ‘We Must Protect Iraq’s Christians.’ He distorted what I had said and put words into my mouth and even went as far as saying that the newspaper “is known for its fundamentalist-Takfiri orientations.”

Al Abbadi stated that I exonerated Al Qaeda of its crimes against Christians in Iraq and cast accusations against the Shia alliance. He added that the reason that Article 50 of the Election Law concerning minorities was not passed was due to disagreement [within the Shia coalition] and not because of the coalition itself. This reminded me of an old popular saying that goes, “Did you fall off the camel or did the camel make you fall? He said, ‘I have fallen’ [so what difference does it make?]

The parliamentarian’s claim that I acquitted Al Qaeda of its crimes, and cast accusations against the Shia alliance regarding what the Christians of Iraq are being subjected to, is simply untrue. What I said, literally, was that “While Al Qaeda continued to torture Christians, the Shia alliance MPs rejected a draft law that would protect the Christian minority.”

I wrote my article following a statement by Archbishop of the Chaldean Church in Kirkuk Louis Saka who said, “The persecution, oppression and violence that we have been subjected to have their own political aims…those who target us are looking to make gains and the goal is either to force the Christians to leave or force us to ally with parties whose projects we do not agree with.”

I used to wonder whether it is logical that Al Qaeda wants to form an alliance with the Christians as Al Qaeda is too stupid to understand the political game, and the archbishop spoke about regional and domestic plans and al Abbadi knows who is playing the biggest part in keeping Iraq in dark times.

Is al Abbadi denying that the Shia alliance rejected the passing of Article 50 or that a consensus was not reached in parliament on the resolution? What would his response be to the comments of Mohsen al Saadoun, a member of parliament from the Kurdish Coalition List, who said that “the [Shia] alliance obstructed the vote to pass Article 50 of the Election Law because the article demanded giving a seat of the Ninawa provincial council to the Shabak [minority group]”?

Al Abbadi said “even the United Nations is confused about whether to implement Article 50 and is yet to reach a final decision on it, and this led to it being omitted.” But this contradicts United Nations Representative in Iraq Staffan De Mistura who said that he was “surprised and disappointed,” that Article 50 had been omitted and called for it to be reinstated as soon as possible.

Al Abbadi’s comments on democracy and what he describes as the “fundamentalist Takfiri” orientation of the newspaper pushes one to tell the following story. On February 14 2007, Haider al Abbadi visited our offices in London. We talked and I said that it is difficult to view Iraq as a state ruled by an Islamic system (like Iran).

The MP protested and defended [the idea of] a government committed to Islam in Iraq. My question however was according to which religious standpoint, Sunni or Shiism? What about followers of other religions? Al Abbadi insisted that Iraq must be an Islamic-governed state so I asked, “How can an American ally say such a thing? Did Washington topple Saddam Hussein only to pave the way for an Islamic government?”

Al Abbadi answered me amid the bewilderment of other attendees of the meeting: “After 9/11, America was a raging bull and we rode its back to bring down Saddam.” Since al Abbadi is a man of faith, and to give advice is an act of faith, we should remind him that it is inevitable that anybody who mounts a raging bull will fall off one day.

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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