Is it a fatwa to save Maliki?

A new Shiite fatwa was issued to Iraqis from a Shiite cleric residing in Iran, Ayatollah Kazem Al-Husseini Al-Haeri, prohibiting them from voting for any secular Iraqi candidate in any Iraqi governing facility. In other words, the fatwa means that Iraqis must vote for Shiite clergymen only — so, what about so-called Iraqi democracy? Even if some say that this fatwa has only been issued to support Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki against all the Iraqi factions seeking to withdraw their confidence from him, or to oust him so that he does not turn into the Shia Saddam Hussein, the fatwa is in fact much more than this. It has serious connotations that reveal the thought process of Khomeinist Iran, and the mentality of the Shiite clerics who operate within its orbit. With this fatwa prohibiting votes for secular Iraqi candidates, one can understand Iran’s position regarding Lebanon’s democracy, or what happened and is happening in Bahrain, or indeed what is happening in Syria, Egypt and Yemen, and all Arab countries hit by the so-called Arab Spring. It is clear that the Shiite authorities affiliated to Iran believe in democracy only when it comes through Shia clergymen. Of course, no one would accept this principle except those whose interests are tied with those of Iran, whether Shiites or Sunnis, such as the Muslim Brotherhood organizations allied with Iran like Hamas, or many of the Brotherhood members in Egypt and the Gulf of course, not to mention the Houthis in Yemen. Iran, and anyone who revolves in its Khomeinist orbit, believes that democracy is just a means to seize power; not a political approach to serve the community and the state in our region, but rather to serve the spread of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Shiite revolution. We can see this in Iraq today with Al-Haeri’s fatwa, and the same also applies to Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and is also consistent with the Brotherhood movement in Egypt. As for Libya, consider the piece of news that was ignored by the bulk of the Arab media this week, namely the grand mufti of Libya’s claim of what he considered to be suspicious Iranian movements in the country! The story is not only about preserving Al-Maliki, rather it is a story of preserving Khomeinist Shiite influence in Iraq and the region as a whole, and strengthening it with all the forces allied with Iran, intentionally or otherwise, or through financial support, sometimes even adopting the principle of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, as is the case with Iran’s relationship with Al-Qaeda! This reinforces the danger of Iran and its role in the region, and of course a fatwa that prohibits voting for any secular candidate in Iraq today requires a response from the Iraqi Shiites themselves, and likewise the Shiites of Bahrain, Lebanon and others in the region. What is required here is a clear response from the wise and rational Shiites, which is what we have called for repeatedly. How can the wise Shiites demand the rights of minorities, reform and political participation, then fall silent when it comes to a fatwa issued by Iran that confines votes to Shiite clergymen? The same applies to all of Tehran’s allies in the region, especially the Muslim Brotherhood organizations in Egypt and the Gulf who are demanding political reform and democracy. All these parties must respond so that we can be sure they are real reformists and not mere Khomeinists, since Khomeinism is no longer confined to the Shiites, but now applies to many of those who call for political reform, whether in Iraq or Bahrain, or the region as a whole. Who will respond?

The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.