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الخميس، 30 مايو 2013

Interview with Sheikh Mohammed Bashar Al-Faidhi, spokesperson of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq and responsible of Al Rafadain TV.

"It is better now for countries to offer Iraq something; they can seize the opportunity and support the Iraqi Revolution, in the very least give media support, but also political support, because the situation at present isn’t like the past" Interview in Amman, February 2013.

Sheikh Bashar Al-Faidhi, at the International Seminar on Iraqi Academics, Ghent, March 2011
What is your personal impression of the interesting momentum that Iraq is going through?
In the beginning, Bissmillah Al Rahman Al Raheem.  
We had a previous meeting during which we discussed our expectations of the revolution starting for a second time.  
It is possible that this revolution continues and it is also possible that it will not.  
But in any case in a future instant/moment, the revolution will continue.  
Based on our experience of the Iraqi People and on the first time on 25th February, the revolution was a trial run and when it was suppressed, the revolution was cut off at the time, but we knew that the idea of the revolution had remained in the psyche and conscious of the Iraqi People and that it is the sole means left for it to rid itself of this oppression.  
This second stage came, according to observers, and we too had people who followed the revolution’s activities in the interior, assurances that the people are living in a revolution of rage and that their insistence on continuing this time is greater than the previous time.  
In any case, we are watching the scene and we will make our own statements and comments about it as far as we are capable and as I said, it may well continue and it may not, but in any case it is a station (stage) not only important for us but it is also an advanced stage as far as the final target that we all wish for.
How much surprised were you with the suddenly change in January?
As far as I am concerned there is nothing there that causes surprise, because our reading of the scene and our public statements in the media has always been that this instant is coming and we have said more than once that the revolution that was put a stop previously was not ended and even  if you remember the expression I used  during my previous meeting with you, that it was “like the embers under the ash”, and this is an Arab trait that expresses the existence of rage and fury that is hidden (protected)- it exists but it is protected.
It is like a volcano that exists in America!   So, as far as we were concerned it was not a cause for amazement or surprise; on the contrary it is expected and we expect even more.   Yesterday, I also had a meeting with foreign press and I said to them that I predict a “tsunami” for Iraq, with all that this word entails.
How has AMSI worked on this suddenly change on the situation?
We are a part of the whole.   There are many Iraqi forces that are working on this very important work.  
Perhaps on the previous occasion we spoke about some of our activities in this field and which have not stopped, but on the contrary they are continuous.  
We work in numerous directions; we work with the tribal chiefs and we continue to keep in touch with them, whether with those who are in the North, or in the Middle or even in the South of Iraq; very lately we had a very large and important occasion when we asked them to join the revolution; there are promises from them that this would take place soon, Inshallah; we also work on keeping in touch with the Facebook Youth (the Facebook Shebab) who play a large and important part in directing the mood of the masses in expressing their rage; we kept in touch in the past as well as keeping in touch at present;   we also have other activities in other fields which it is inappropriate to speak about now.
This tsunami you are talking about, it is already taking place?
It has not started but this is its introduction.
Do you agree that the Iraqi revolution it is not depending any more on how the Syrian conflict is developing?
That’s correct.   The Iraqi Revolution has no relationship with the Syrian revolution, because each revolution has its own particular causes and environment and the Iraqi Revolution started very early indeed, as you know;   but we did say that should the Syrian Revolution end it may possibly hasten the victory of our revolution; but at an interview with you, I told you that there is no material tie-up between the two and it is possible that were the Syrian Revolution take long then it is probable that the Iraqi Revolution would beat it to the post; it is very probable; and without any doubt if the Iraqi revolution were to achieve its aims, it would make it easier for the Syrian People to attain its aims.
But, it will have help that the Syrian revolution will be over…
For sure.
So, what are the difficulties you find now because your Revolution it has been upgraded and Syria is still going on?
If the people are determined to continue and sit it out and insists on attaining its aims, on the contrary the difficulties will be less, because Iran is now busy with the Syrian Revolution and at the same time an Iraqi Revolution is taking place then certainly Iran will be muddled and it would be difficult to back and support the 2 governments or rather the 2 regimes in Syria and Iraq.  
While, for example, had the Syrian Revolution ended early, and the Iraqi Revolution then took place, Iran would concentrate all its force and power to put an end and fail the Iraqi Revolution; so the difficulties are less should the Iraqi Revolution now continue; and I believe that it is going to be faster in its steps if it were to start after the success of the Syrian Revolution.
Taking in consideration the new context. Is there any country helping or that can help in the near future?
I say it with bitterness, but Nothing New to Date.   The Arabs have not changed their position, still holding a neutral stance; there are indications, that the Arabs have started becoming interested in the Iraqi Revolution in their media, only; and this interest does not come up to our expectations; this is the only change and it happens to be a simple change; other than this there is nothing new towards the Iraqi Revolution.
The situation in some parts of Iraq has changed, like Anbar, but how much do you think this can spread?
Let’s pay attention to the fact that Maliki is in an unenviable situation; he is now facing 2 choices, and none other: either to initiate striking the revolution as he did the first time, and it is very clear that he is fearful of doing this – he fears that is he were to target the revolution that it would be transformed to what is similar to the Syrian Revolution and it will be transformed from the peaceful state that it is in at the moment to a military state; therefore it is obvious that Maliki is very hesitant to take this step;  the second choice that faces Maliki is to leave the Revolution continue freely; he is frightened of this, as well, because if most of the people felt secure and safe everyone will push forward to the “freedom squares” and we will see squares that are similar to those of Egypt and even in greater numbers than in Egypt and then it will be difficult for Maliki to contain them.  
This is why those who say Tahrir Square in Anbar is liberated, are correct, because Maliki has not yet proceeded to surround or target it; and it doesn’t appear that at this stage that he intends to do this.   Therefore, in effect, it is liberated.  
Yes, it is possible for this to be transported to the rest of the hot provinces; it is possible to find the same situation in Mosul, the same situation in Tikreet, Sallahudeen; and it is possible that if the revolution rose in the South the same situation will be repeated in Basra, in Nassiriya, in Kut, because succinctly, Maliki is no longer acceptable amongst Iraqis; neither amongst the Sunna nor amongst the Shia’a, nor amongst the Kurds.  
What does he do now? As you clarified, he targets peaceful areas that do not have any demonstrations and arrests their sons in a defeated attempt in order to send messages to the demonstrators that "I will target you if you do not stop demonstrating; he did it in Al Tarmiya, and he did it in other areas in Iraq; in Tikreet, but I believe that this no longer frightens Iraqis.   Iraqis have reached ….  
Bachar al Assad is resisting already 2 years because of the external aid and support from Iran and Russia; Maliki will get the same help. How are you going to fight that?
In all events, comparing the situation in Syria with that in Iraq is incorrect; the regime in Syria completely differs from the regime in Iraq; the regime in Syria is 40 years old; it has strength and an army and security institutions that are led by the head of the regime centrally with great strength and this is the secret behind its remaining until this moment in time.   The regime in Iraq is dilapidated: there is no army in the sense of an army as in Syria; the army in Iraq is a collection of militias; a collection of mercenaries, with multiple loyalties; Maliki, himself, does not have an army whose loyalty is completely his; there are those who are loyal to Maliki, those who are loyal to Ammar Al Hakeem, those loyal to Muqtada Al Sadr, and loyalty to whosoever; there is no army; and any weakness at the head of the regime, you will find that this is an army that will collapse quickly, so we cannot measure the situation in Iraq on the same standards as that in Syria.   Even if Maliki were backed and supported by Iran, for example, financially and with arms, I do not believe that he will be able to withstand, as is the state of the regime in Syria because he does not possess any strong infrastructure for his military and security institutions.
It is we who support Iran financially, but is Iran going to gamble and send him an army to fight with him and on his behalf?
In any case, Iran will support Maliki with everything it can and I said that should the Syrian Revolution end before the Iraqi Revolution then Iran would gather all its forces and back Maliki but with the 2 revolutions going on at the same time Iran’s backing would be divided on 2 fronts and this causes its backing for Iraq in a weaker state than that had the Iraqi Revolution started after the ending of Syria’s.   However, the choices facing Iran in Iraq are not easy; it either sends its intelligence units and some of its militias, and some of the Quds Army in civilian clothing, like the “shibeeha”, for example, within militia formations, and this is what it possesses on the ground in Iraq, for it has Asaib Ahl Al Haq; Ketaib Al Yawm Al Mawood; it has Hizbullah-Iraq; all guerilla warfare trained, but our information is that they are not very large- Iran has not been able to prepare a unit as large as Hizbullah Lebanon, in this short period of time, for example; so it will attempt to interfere in the revolution through these people, and  it probably has a number of the “Bassige” and the Quds Army, but they will not be coming in as Iranians but certainly they will be in civilian clothing and will be working under the command of the army and the police.   This is the first choice that is open to it.
And we believe that these people will not be able to persevere opposite the revolution.   Always, all regimes, whether military or security, become weak when facing a popular and intense revolution and the Egyptian regime is an example and quite clear as a regime of this type.
The other choice that Iran may resort to is desperate and is ruled out is unless Iran reaches a closed road, is that is that it would push its military forces into the South of Iraq and attempts to occupy it as Saddam occupied Kuwait.   But this is a choice which is ruled out at the moment and if Iran were to dare do this would in certainly be foolish because it would anger all the international community that would rise against it and its fate would be the same as that of Saddam in Kuwait.
The countries and the system are different in Syria and in Iraq, but my impression is that you are concentration in Maliki, in getting rid of him. How much are you working on getting rid of Iran?
There is a proverb that says “We kill 2 birds with one stone”; in the revolution Maliki is not targeted as a person – personally, only but the target is the complete political process and Iran is present inside this political process, so when the revolution brings down the political process then in the end it brings down Iran’s presence.   For years, we have said that Iran covers (protects) itself with 2 umbrellas: the political umbrella and the military and security umbrella; the political umbrella is the government and the political parties that are Iraqi on the face of it but their content is Iranian; also the military and security institutions – their exterior is Iraqi but their reality is Iranian because the commanders that run the military and security initiatives and actions are tied to Iran.   Iran has no other umbrellas.   If they were to be brought down by the revolution, and this is very probable, Iran will not exist on the ground on Iraq’s soil except for an irrelevant presence which will not be influential.
If I understood you well, when the Revolution will win all the political process and Maliki, Iran will be over?
I would like to draw your attention to a matter of utmost danger, and that is that the problem is not Maliki only.   The real problem is that of the complete political process; if Maliki were to go and another person came to replace him we will find another Maliki because the political process is designed in such a fashion to hurt the Iraqi People and is designed to push it to further retreat and to the abyss.   For this reason, Iran, itself, may be forced to bring down Maliki and bring in another person as a replacement; our people will make a gross mistake if they were to accept and agree to this game.   If the Iraqi People were to be satisfied only with bringing Maliki down and abandons the revolution this would be its greatest historical mistake.   The revolution has to complete and attain all its aims and targets: bring down the complete political process and Maliki is nothing but one link in a series of links which are detrimental to the Iraqi People, as a result of which I hope that our people are of a high standard of awareness to understand the truth of this topic.
The big fault lies in the existing quota system; the big fault is in the constitution; the constitution that gives the right to the PM, whether he is Maliki or any other, hard and wide powers that are quite unacceptable logically, traditionally, or by Shari’a or legally, so I repeat the real problem is not in Maliki but in- yes he is part of the problem, but the real problem is the whole of the  political process, in its design, in its constitution and all its details and the revolution should achieve its purpose in bringing down the political process, completely, otherwise it won’t get out of this vicious circle.
You will fight all the political system and there will not be anyone from nowadays political panorama that will rest?
When the revolution first started on the 25th February, 2011, its aim was not to bring down the political process; it started with a call for reforms, only.   Now, the revolution has raised its ceiling and is no longer calling for reforms but is demanding the fall down of the political process and this is an indication of the maturity of the Iraqi People, and an indication that it has started understanding the dilemma that it is living; and that there is no way of being rid of the political process, thus necessarily when these are the aims of the revolution any future government after total liberation, it will not be allowed to have anyone amongst its members anyone who was involved in the political process.   The words that I heard amongst the demonstrators, when they were told by some people that they are defending some politicians, “we are not defending anyone because they are all partners in our oppression.”   Maliki and any other, the Shi’i and the Sunni, the Kurd and the Christian, the Communist and the Liberal, all who participated in the political process are partners in the oppression of the Iraqis.   And quite naturally it will not be allowed for any of those people to hold a position in the next stage.
This will be the near future, but now the revolution it is going on… and after what you have gone through of sectarism it is hard to understand that you are all united… Is there any council?
Not yet.   This council does not exist on the ground, but it does exist in the head and thoughts; it exists in relationships and contacts; it exists in communications; and when the opportunity arises, believes me, it will not take long when you will find this council in front of you made up of all the myriad Iraqi colours.
Who is taking the decisions to make sure that everybody is represented in this Revolution?
The real perspective is what reflects this picture.   When all the myriad colours of the Iraqi People come out in revolt; when messages of support come from the North of Iraq from our Kurdish brethren, and when these messages come from the South of Iraq from our Shi’a brethren and they say to the revolutionaries: “We are with You and we will be with You Soon”; this is the reality that reflects that the revolution represents everyone.
In the Western countries we try to find a leader of all the Arab revolutions…
Now, you will not find any such person for numerous reasons; one of which is that all the world’s revolutions did not have an American Occupation on their soil; America occupied Iraq and still possesses influence on the ground in Iraq as well as a military presence and so everyone is afraid of America, so no chance will be given for the appearance of a person who is a leader representing everybody.   Let’s assume that a leader appears for everybody, where will he reside? What country would agree to host him?   So for this reason we deal with this situation in a suitable appropriate manner befitting the time and the situation, exactly as the Iraqi Resistance dealt with this situation with what was fitting and was forced to work in a ghostlike and invisible fashion and with numerous leaderships.  
Now the revolution – don’t assume that it does not have figured that move it, but ghostliness and invisibility surrounds this case, also, but to be precise, the revolution does not follow one person; it has numerous leaderships that emanate from numerous myriad colours and sections of society, who lean in different directions and possess different interests; and this is the appropriate method to deal with the present circumstances in Iraq.   But, when the opportunity arises you will find that all the leaderships will join the council that we spoke about, under its rotunda; and they will work publicly and in the open because at that time there will be no need for invisibility and cannot be justified. 
How is been control that any of these small leaders is not doing whatever they want?
Because everybody suffers from one problem, which is that of the American Occupation and Iranian influence via this government, and because we used to meet regularly with others throughout the past years to agree on the details of the patriotic project; I always state that we are different from the Arab revolutions; the Arab revolutions, for example, rose suddenly, in Tunisia, in Egypt, so you find disagreements about the country’s future; disagreements on the constitution; our situation is different; we put the period of the Occupation to good use, to have dialogue with all the myriad colours of Iraqi society and arrived at a compromise formula for everyone, so for the person who has a role to play in Mosul, today, irrespective of his interests and direction, or whatever his religion or sect, also in Ramadi and Nejef and in Kerbala,  all of these people- we had already agreed with each other about Iraq’s future, so you will not find any disagreement in the end, as is happening in other revolutions.
And if someone decides to do something independently from what it is being decide… what will happen?
This is not an assumption; this is an existing reality.   There is a group that is present at the now and is active in the Liberation Squares, and is attempting to turn the revolution towards sectarianism, towards federalism, towards forming a Sunni Region, but with God's mercy, popular public awareness is suffocating it.   It does not stop its activity, and is still working and just very recently it held a conference in the North of Iraq.   It is trying to gather its forces and redirect the revolution’s slogans and banners into another direction.   However, because the majority believes in the patriotic project, the majority believes in a United One Iraq; the majority refuses the partition of the country on an ethnic and sectarian basis; the voice of these people remained weak.   We expect that they will continue to work and they will attempt to gain positions but our confidence and trust in our people remain greater, Inshallah, than their self-confidence.
I am asking this because you are in a situation where some people will like to go quickly than others…
You have a correct feeling.   According to our information they are moving with speed and are spending limitless amounts of money; we do not know the source of these amounts of money; but what we do know is that they are spending money to recruit youth to appear with slogans written on large banners; they do everything within their ability to realize this target.
You may be able to notice their presence with the start of the revolution; at times sectarian slogans were carried; e.g. ‘Iran Berra berra wal Sunna Tibqa Hurra” (Iran Out, and The Sunna will Remain Free); this slogan was carried at the start of the revolution, but with God’s kindness, the masses aborted it.   It was changed to “Iran Berra Berra, Baghdad Tebqa Hurra” (Iran Out Out, Baghdad will Remain Free), so yes, they are present and from the beginning of the road they tried and are still trying to turn the revolution away from its lofty targets, but as I said, our people, to this instant, is stronger than they are in stability and determination.
Now that I can see that you are more optimistic…
I am always optimistic and I believe, Inshallah, we have started getting closer to the targets, quickly.
The occupation is over but not all of it and USA are still inside. Are you going to be able to get them out, when this revolution finish?
In my estimation, the Americans are going to respect them, and will withdraw because the Iraqi Revolution, in this state is difficult to control.   Everybody knows that Iran is harmful, I mean it destroyed the Iraqi People, but the Iraqi People’s conviction is that America gave this opportunity to Iran; it is they who allowed Iran to enter Iraq, and it is they who allowed Iran’s militias to be active, and it is they who allowed it to put its agenda into effect in destroying Iraq; The big responsibility is falls on America’s shoulders, and I believe that the Iraqi People will no longer allow any American presence, and if the Americans understand the Iraqi people, they should withdraw completely from Iraq, before the revolution attains its targets  so that a clash and conflict do not take place between them and between the Iraqi Revolution.
Are you prepare for a very long revolution?
We have no choice.   We hope that the revolution does not take long, however, should it take long, and then we do not have a choice. 
And your perception is that it is going to take time?
I doubt whether it will be long; it is not advantageous for the region for the revolution to take long in Iraq; and it is not advantageous for the Big Powers including America for the revolution to take long in Iraq; I believe that perhaps an instant will come when everybody will be forced to support the Iraqis to stand on their own 2 feet; and I remember that I stated in my book, Al Sarab (The Mirage), published in 2006, “maybe there will come a time in which the countries that destroyed Iraq will be forced to rebuild it, themselves, because Iraq is the point of equilibrium in the region”.  
Iraq’s occupation caused the strategic disequilibrium of the region, which made countries including America will pay a very high price for this strategic fault.   And I remember a statement made by Kissinger, a year ago; he said:  "it is we who caused the disequilibrium in the strategic scales in the region because of our invasion of Iraq.”   So it would be logical that these countries should work on returning the strategic equilibrium to the region not necessarily for the benefit of the area, but for the sake of their own benefits.   These scales will not return to their position unless Iraq returned as a unified state with a strong central government.
Do you think that after what had happen the political resistance has a voice and it is listened by other countries?
Countries respect what we say not now, but since a long time but did not offer us anything.   Yes, it is better now for countries to offer Iraq something; they can seize the opportunity and support the Iraqi Revolution, in the very least give media support, political support because the situation at present isn’t like the past: also the international community is upset about the situation in the region, upset by Iranian infiltration; also, everybody is aggrieved by this infiltration, thus the Iraqi Revolution is the chance for Iraq to be put right as it was in the past, as well as put the whole region right.   So yes, there is a better opportunity for whosoever wants to offer Iraq something.

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