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Analysis
Lebanese Cleric on Iraq
Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah Comments on American Iraq Policy
By AMER MOHSEN 01/28/2007 8:28 PM ET
Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah
The Lebanese Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Husain Fadlallah gave a sermon on Friday, the 26th of January that dealt in part with Iraq. Fadlallah is among the young generation of Shi`a Marja` (high clerics capable of practicing religious interpretation), that succeeded the generation of older clerics such as al-Khu’i, Tabtaba’i and Sistani. Fadlallah was close to the Iranian revolution in the early 1980s, and was the spiritual leader of Hizbullah in Lebanon. Which prompted –what was believed to be- an American assassination attempt against him in 1985, the bombing killed 80 civilians without harming the cleric, and Fadlallah accused the CIA of executing the operation with Saudi financing. The assassination attempt and its tragic aftermath were pictured with some adaptation in the Hollywood film ‘Spy Game.’

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Fadlallah moved away from the Iranian establishment, in a conflict over the interpretation and significance of the concept of Wilayat al-Faqeeh, one of the main and most controversial innovations of the Iranian revolution. The discord also distanced him from Hizbullah, and the cleric became less involved in politics and more focused on religious research and his charity network.

Fadlallah is considered by many to be a progressive and inventive cleric, with many liberal, and sometimes controversial, fatwas that often spur debate such as his edict that Friday prayer should be re-established in Shi`a Islam, after several centuries of rupture. Despite the fact that most pro-Hizbullah Shi`a Lebanese no longer follow Fadlallah, he still has a loyal following -especially in the Haret Hreik area in the southern suburb of Beirut, where his mosque is located.

Like most of the high clerics of his generation, Fadlallah studied in Najaf, in Iraq, and he is still connected to the political events in the country, where he also have some followers.

Fadlallah on the American plan in Iraq:

“In his speech to the Congress, the president Bush asked the members of the Democratic and Republican parties to approve his security plan in Iraq, and to send over 20,000 additional American troops to achieve his military and political success there. That comes after the failure he faced there, and the defeat that befell his soldiers, he has also asked (the members of the Congress) to support his war against the so-called international terrorism, the argument being that such actions would provide America with security and protect it from dangers.

We, on the other hand, see that his Iraq plan will not achieve any success no matter how much he increases his forces, because his military and security administration (of Iraq) has been the cause of Iraq’s continuing tragedies. Also, his political administration of events there was incapable of solving the problems of Iraqis, who have become – due to his occupation- less secure and poorer and more miserable than before. He (Bush) has also not granted the government of that country the financial and military capabilities that would allow it to face the security challenges, and to be able to counter the suicide bombings against civilians or to provide the public services required by the citizens for their daily needs. In addition to that, the Iraqi people, which has –in part- bought into the political ruse that justified the occupation, has discovered that American did not invade Iraq to liberate it from the regime of the tyrant for the sake of Iraq’s well-being. It has entered the country in the context of its strategic plan to protect its interests in the region, so that Iraq may become a bridge that America will cross towards other neighboring countries and a tool it can use to pressurize Europe and Japan and China and other countries, through its control over the region’s oil resources. For these reasons, the patriotic Iraqi resistance against the occupation has started to emerge away from the excommunicatory, hateful forces, and it will keep spreading as long as negative conditions prevail.”

Iran wants to open up to the countries of the region:

“On the other hand, the American official has said –in a statement- that Iran, which seeks to impose itself in the Middle East region, needs to understand that America has interests in the region, as do Arab and European states, and that Iran has no right to control the Middle East and the waters of the Gulf, which is why the US sent two aircraft carriers to prevent Iran from controlling the region.

We tell this American official that Iran does not want, nor is it able, to control the region and the waters of the Gulf. But that it wants to open up to the countries of the region, and especially the Gulf States. And that it wants to find a basis for mutual security. It also does not want the American occupation of Iraq to produce negative effects on its security and politics and economy, and it does not want its peaceful nuclear program to be confiscated under the habitual American lie that accuses Iran of building a nuclear weapon project.

We are not trying to defend Iran, but we wonder: does America have the right to preserve its interests while the region does not have the right to do the same? Who gave America the legitimacy to control the world, and especially the Middle East, to impose itself on this country, or decree sanctions on that country? (America) is pure evil and pure destruction and pure chaos, and all the peoples need to understand this, especially the Palestinian people, whom we wish to enter into political conciliation; and the Iraqi people that is facing all those brutal massacres, especially the massacre of al-Harj market, which hit the poorest of Iraqis, after the massacre of the college students and professors in Mustansiriya. (We want) Iraq to unify in its patriotism and its Islam aside from sectarian and religious fanaticism, and excommunicative mentalities, so that the Iraq of the future can be built on a stable basis.”

In his Friday sermon of the previous week, Fadlallah also discussed similar issues:

“The American President, Bush, is still launching one failing experiment after the other, threatening the eight regional countries that they will face additional security threats if they do not take part in sustaining the American strategy in Iraq, as well as in Iran, Syria, and ultimately the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. He has warned of the grave consequences of the failure of the American plan that is been propagated and led by the neo-cons and Cheney who had incited in some of his secret visits the Sunnis against the Shiites in an attempt to redistribute the positions of political power in Iraq, accusing Iran of being responsible for the complicated state of affairs in the country. President Bush has sent his Secretary of State to the region to make several Arab countries declare their support to the American strategy and created a military and political atmosphere of muscle flexing that deployed aircraft carriers and patriot Missiles, to serve its won interests. Then it will dictate its decisions to the Arab states concerned claiming that they aim at protecting the security and stability of these countries.

It is as if it is suggesting that it aims at protecting the Arabs and Islam, benefiting from the political naivety of those who still believe that America is the protector of Arab and Muslim security, at a time everyone knows that it is the United States that is threatening the region's security, by its direct and indirect occupation, and by creating constructive chaos that incites sectarian strife and preventing realistic solutions of difficult crisis as in Lebanon that it wants to use a tool to pressurize Syria and Iran, and planning for protecting and strengthening Israeli security as well as besieging the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine.

It creates dangers, as in its occupation of Iraq, and then it threatens the neighbouring countries inciting forgotten sensitivities by enticing them to acquire a bigger share of power.

This is probably what it seeks by inflating the Iranian threat. It is as if Iran is the one that has a dangerous project and not the American Administration, to the extent that some of these regimes consider America the saver of Arab nationalism.

We have even noticed in the media mobilization in the region that incites Sunni sensitivities, vis-à-vis the Shiite question that the American interference, through its occupation and devastating policies, is trying to show that it is not the problem but rather the Iranian interference.

We have also to stop at the barbaric atrocities the takfiris are committing in Iraq especially in the Muslims Mustansiriyya University where about one hundred mostly students were martyred. They are also targeting the brilliant scientists in the Iraqi universities. We do not know how these people think and what their goal is, since their crimes are not unprecedented in the history of Iraq or any other country. Even the beasts do not go on killing people in this way for no reason whatsoever.

We still consider the American occupation responsible for what is going on in Iraq, because it is the cause of all this horrible situation the Iraqis are suffering from as a result of the American polices against the Iraqis and Iraq.”

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