(MENAFN - Arab News) Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of Iraq's most important religious and political Shiite men, has surprised us with a statement that added to our information about Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who is also a Shiite.
Al-Sadr told us something we did not know before about Al-Maliki. He said the prime minister wanted to make Iraq a Shiite country, although there is another religious sect in Iraq that, although small, is not less than 40 percent.
I admit that what Al-Sadr said was weird. If the matter was reversed and it was Al-Maliki who accused Al-Sadr of planning to make the entire country Shiite, we would not have been shocked and we would have readily believed it. Al-Sadr is a religious man, while Al-Maliki is a politician. Al-Sadr is a prominent Shiite leader, while Al-Maliki is just a normal politician with a humble background. Al-Sadr today is a figure to be reckoned with in the political arena in Iraq. He has a number of followers. Al-Maliki was obliged to join hands with him so as to become prime minister. Al-Maliki is an important political personality today only because of the position he is holding. He was served by luck when the big Iraqi politicians differed among themselves and he was chosen an interim prime minister. Since that day, Al-Maliki has been in that position.
I do not totally agree with Al-Sadr in his accusation of Al-Maliki to be sectarian in nature despite the latter's actions, which delude and sadden us. It is obvious that Al-Maliki would go to extremes to remain in his position. He is accused of manipulating the election committee, which should be an independent body, and of arresting his opponents on serious charges. He relieved his top ministers and took hold of all the high sovereign positions for himself and his party, although he had agreed with the other political parties on a fair distribution of portfolios. He needed their support, because he did not win the majority that would have enabled him to form the government.
Al-Maliki went too far in his conflicts - to a degree of threatening the country's unity. He wanted to coerce the Kurdish leadership and make them succumb to his authority. He also allied with the Iranians so as to obtain the support of the supreme Iranian religious leader in the elections. He also provided finances to the regime of Bashar Al-Assad against the popular uprising in Syria. Al-Maliki has backed the militias of Hezbollah and is now threatening Turkey.
Despite all these shocking practices, the idea to make Iraq an entirely Shiite country is totally insane. The hegemony of one religious sect over the other is impossible. This is not true only to Iraq but to all countries of the world. So what Al-Maliki could do is to disintegrate Iraq, creating serious divisions and rekindling wars among its sects and races. Any attempt toward this end would backfire on him.
The modern state today looks for common denominators to augment its unity, not to subject it to disintegration. This is not just a patriotic duty but also a deed that would help build the nation. Al-Maliki could belittle Iraq by splitting it or by secluding the followers of the other sects. If he dares to do so, he will weaken his country and drive it toward civil wars that may continue for long years.
Al-Maliki will never be more powerful than Saddam Hussein, who was carried away by dictatorship and narcissism to believe that he was Iraq.
It is needless to say that any dictator who builds his project of a fascist government on sectarianism and nationalism will ultimately fail. This equation has flatly failed in all countries of the world, and any dictator who tried to mount on it has fallen.
The battles Al-Maliki is launching here and there now are enough proof that he is haunted by the idea to remain in power at all costs. He can do this when he wins over all the Iraqis, not just some of them, and when he does not ride the wave of religious sectarianism or liquidation of opponents.