Iraq/Saudia Arabia: The Clerics War

It all started when the Saudi Sunni cleric Mohammad al-Ureifi attacked the Iraqi Shia Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani in the Friday prayer.

Insulting remarks by a Saudi cleric about the most revered Shia cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, have strained relations between Baghdad and Riyadh. In a Friday sermon in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, a leading Wahhabi cleric, Mohammad al-Ureifi, called Ayatollah al-Sistani an “atheist and debauched”. He also launched an attack on Iraqi Shias accusing them of conspiring with Yemen's Houthis against Saudi Arabia with Iran's support. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki strongly criticized the Saudi religious institutes after the cleric's remarks. He said Saudi religious institutes had a tendency to launch attacks on Shia clerics due to their hostile attitude towards Shia Muslims, AFP reported.
Via News Essentials

Later on, Lebanese party Hizballah condemned the Saudi cleric. On The Angry Arab Lebanese American Dr Ass'ad Abu Khalil, on his part, accused the party of being a sectarian party, and wrote a new post on his blog, which describes Al-Sistani as being “the biggest help to the American occupation.” He wrote:

Anyone who doubts that Hizbullah is a Shi'ite sectarian party, should read this lousy statement by the party in defense of Grand Ayatullah Sistani–the biggest help to the American occupation of Iraq, more than ‘Allawi and Chalabi combined. The text of the statement is so reverentially phrased: it talks about Sistani and adds: “may his shadow last.” The man does not even have a shadow: he donated it to the American occupation of the country. It states that harming Sisistani is like harming the party. There is no theory to explain this except the requirements of Shi'ite sectarian solidarity.

Iraqi blogger Iraqi Mojo had a different point of view. He said:

WOW. Sistani was the “biggest help” to the American occupation of Iraq, according to the clueless professor in California. How did this schmuck become a professor?? Did Sistani help Americans by promoting peace and repeatedly calling for an end to violence? Yes he did.
Or did Sistani help the American “occupation” by forbidding violent reprisals as Sunni Arab terrorists continue to mass murder Iraqis? Yes he did!
Sistani is the top Shia cleric who called for unity and said in 2007: “I appeal to you to leave aside your divisions with your Sunni brothers.”
But As'ad Abu ***** has never mentioned Sistani's efforts to end the violence in Iraq.
Yes Sistani did help Americans to stabilize Iraq by encouraging the Shia to not attack innocent Sunni Arabs, even as Sunni Arab terrorism continues. Was that wrong of Sistani to do? Or is As'ad Abu ***** and the Sunni Arabs still pissed that Sistani, with his great influence in Iraq, did not call on the Iraqi Shia to kill Americans? Boo hoo, As'ad Abu *****!


  • anan

    Nice post Tarek. Didn’t know about you until your comment at Mojos.

    Kudos to Hezbollah for supporting Sistani and the Najaf Marjeya.

    Tarek, what do you think about the Iraqi government?

  • Hi Anan,

    In fact I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to the Iraqi politics and government. However I wish to write a roundup someday based on the Iraqi people’s opinion about it. So it would be nice if you know posts written by Iraqis about the government, the elections, the parliament, etc.

  • anan

    Tarek, there are many scores of good Iraqi blogs I could direct you too. Wouldn’t know where to start.

    Are you looking for primarily political blogs? Iraqi opinions are all over the park. Iraq is going through a hard fought national election. The fact that the results of the election are difficult to predict strikes me as hopeful.

    One positive trend I have seen is that there is much less discussion among Iraqis about security–now that violence has fallen about 95%. Iraqis are much more focused on the economy, government services and corruption.

    Another positive trend is that even pro PM Maliki Iraqis now feel free to support other candidates in the election; because they think they are even better than PM Maliki; and because security has improved to the point they no longer need a strong leader like PM Maliki to protect them.

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