Sunday, August 19, 2007

# Posted 5:06 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BA'ATHISTS VS. SHI'ITES: THE EARLY YEARS. Hasan al-Bakr led the Ba'athists to power in Iraq in 1968, via the usual military coup. Within months, al Bakr found himself in a conflict with Iran over the Shatt-al-'Arab waterway that both countries bordered.

In April 1969, Hasan al-Bakr tried to persuade the senior [Shi'ite] mujtahid, Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, publicly to condemn the Iranian government in its dispute with Iraq over the Shatt al-'Arab. Al-Hakim refused.

In response, Hasan al-Bakr took a series of measures aimed as much at the Shi'i hierarchy in Iraq as at Iran: Iranian religious students were arrested and expelled; the independent Kufa University at Najaf was closed down and its endowments confiscated; roughly 20,000 people of alleged Iranian descent were summarily expelled across the border with Iran.

The mounting campaign of harassment of the Shi'a, under the guise of uprooting the 'Iranian threat', brought sharp protests from the Shi'i hierarchy. In June 1969, Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim led a protest procession from Najaf to Baghdad, where thousands of Shi'a flocked to pay him their respects. The scale of this demonstration of loyalty so alarmed the authorities that the security services seized his son, Sayyid Mahdi al-Hakim, on trumped up charges of spying for Israel. The charge was then used to prevent people from visiting the ayatollah.

However, this did not stop the protests, which took the form of sermons and of petitions demanding an end to arbitrary arrest and torture, an end to the expulsions of 'Iranians' and end to the continued confiscation of property of those whom the regime udged to be their opponents.

The government responded by arresting 'ulama [clerics] who had dared to by protest and by executing a Sunni 'alim [cleric], Shaikh 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Badri, who had preached in support of al-Hakim at one of the main Baghdad mosques. These measures were followed by the confiscation of religious endowments in Najaf, the banning of religious processions and the closing of Islamic schools in many of the predominantly Shi'i towns.

Alarmed by the apparent formation of a common Islamic front between Sunni and Shi'a, the government abandoned its early pretence of respect for Islamic values by prohibiting readings of the Qur'an on the state broadcasting networks and ending Islamic instruction in state schools.

Inevitably, these measures sparked off protests. Days of rioting and demonstration followed in the cities of the largely Shi'i south, most notably in Najaf, Karbala and Basra. These were violently suppressed by the government's security forces. For his part, Ayatollah al-Hakim issued a fatwa prohibiting membership of the Ba'th, and his son, now released from custody, prudently fled into exile.

(Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq, pp.202-203)

I continue to find it how fascinating how, until relatively recently, Iraq's Sunni and Shi'ite communities shared a common Islamic identity, defined in opposition to the secularism of the Ba'athist state.

FYI, "Shi'ite" is an Anglicization of the Arabic noun and adjective "Shi'i". An individual is a Shi'i. Many Shi'i are Shi'a.

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David, as I read your last three posts I get felling that you trying to say that Iraq had have originally conflict or major differences between them…

Please let me say to you as an Iraqi born in Hilla (Just 10Km from Historical Babylon) who lived in Iraq served in two catastrophic wars Iraq-Iran war, and Kuwait invasion war.

Firstly if you think there is a conflict between BA'ATHISTS VS. SHI'ITES I think you are not in right side here as there were 53% BA'ATHISTS SHI'ITES who were registered BA'ATHISTS, so if there are any conflict between them then how will be the figures so high, you may be think is the fear from the regime I don’t discount that but there are many SHI'ITES are not Ba'athists and they were living under Saddam regime, say they can not got high rank job in the huarache of regime but they are their officials academics and doctors engineers. Yes Saddam high jacked the Party and he is sick guy looked for the power he killed and threaten any one oppose him he lead Iraq and Iraqi all by Iron fist

Secondly you and other think when word "SHI'ITES" mean Iran loyal group!! Which is not really right there are many Iraqi "SHI'ITES" they hold their believe but they are far from Iranians and to give you simple example Iraq fights Iran with 80% of his troops are "SHI'ITES" so if the regime have that conflict how then that fighting last?

Shiites start in Iraq not Iran in fact Iran was Sunni before until one of her kings have his marriage brook and he asked if under Islamic law he can get his wife back and its was the SHI'ITES so suggested to him that Shiites in Iraq can solve his problem so he invited SHI'ITES religious Imam Al-Hilly who met the king and gave him a complete view what he believe and what Islamic law interpreted by SHI'ITES in regards to solve his problem, after that that Iranian kings enforce his nation to be SHI'ITES by force, and from that hidden war started between two seculars in Qum and Najaff , which SHI'ITES
Religious leaders promoted and influence playing between these two holly cities.

As for Iranians they work hard to conquer and the control of SHI'ITES especially Iraq as they feel they are the origin of this branch and the Iranians trying hard to high jack that from them and it reach to statues some of Iraqi (Arab) religious highly respectable figures killed mysteriously but the fingers towards Iran.

Back to BA'ATHISTS VS. SHI'ITES conflicts, Within months, al Bakr found himself in a conflict with Iran over the Shatt-al-'Arab waterway that both countries bordered. there were nothing to do between Ba'athes and "Iraqi" Shiites at early stage of Ba'ath got to the power in fact the main leaders within Ba'ath part mostly Shiites, and Saddam early stage start paving his way to the power by creating his system of assassinations of those heavy weight Ba'athest who are high ranks than Saddam himself and he create a secret group of intelligence and assassins who lead them and start kill those one by one some Shiites and other aren't not.

Iraq and Iran political conflict was as usual stuff of British Empire left behind problems like Pakistan and India and other place where the Britt's were in before in Africa and other places.


David read this by Rauf Naqishbendi, is a contributing columnist for Kurdishmedia.com and the American Chronicle and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles

In civilized nations, a constitution is the legal vehicle for the protection of individual rights and property, and serves to outline the power of the executive and legislative branches of government. However, though a constitution can be an expression of a decent conscience written by the greatest minds alive, it still is powerless to appeal to justice and liberty unless these ideals are part of the collective will of a country’s citizens and are evident in their interactions with each other.

This is the dilemma in Iraq. The Shiites ignore the rest of the Iraqi fabric in order to advance their own agendas and please their Iranian Ayatollah counterparts. Regardless of how diligently they frame the Iraqi constitution, it will not be worth the paper it’s drafted on if the Shiites decide to act in accordance with their own hearts rather than in accordance with their constitution. For proof, just look at Iran. As they draft the constitution, they sway every article in their interest in order to disenfranchise the Kurds, which in turn provides the impetus for the Kurds to strive for their own statehood.

The above by me Truth again
It's great to have insights here from an Iraqi reader.

Let me just clarify a few points, since I don't think we are that far apart.

First, I think the quotation I posted makes clear that Hasan al-Bakr exaggerated the connection between Iranian and Iraqi Shi'ites in order to advance his own personal interests. I am not suggesting that Iraqi Shi'ites are intrinsically loyal to Iran.

Second, you make a good point about the oversimplification embedded in my headline, "Ba'athists vs. Shi'ites". Clearly, there were many Shi'ite Ba'athists, even if it was a Sunni-dominated regime.

A better headline may have expressed the idea that there was persistent conflict between the regime and the Shi'ite religious hierarchy, which is certainly not the sole representative of all Shi'ites.

Finally, I find it interesting that you see my posts as an indication that I want to find historical precedents for sectarian conflicts in Iraq. I am guessing that most American readers would see my posts as an attempted corrective to the notion that sectarian conflict within Iraq has always been so vicious and pervasive.
I am guessing that most American readers would see my posts as an attempted corrective to the notion that sectarian conflict within Iraq has always been so vicious and pervasive.

Yes that's the concern here as Iraqi, the reality Saddam regime did harm the harmony to the Iraqi society specially after Iran war, Iraqis living together peacefully in loving way of humans, we Iraqi use to say our society like Mosaic in other wards Iraqi living marry between them there are no limitation in that you can see Kurd man or woman married to Basrawy (From Basra) man, or Nasyriah, or Sunni to Shiites, or other way, so we all live together. BTW, the Iraqi society has 38%-40% crossmarriages between Sunni and Shiites!!

Whatever the old regime did, the sectarian conflict not reached to Iraqi people level as these days (I discuses this may be later) Iraqi they knew what the sick regime up to and what had in his mind.

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