Iraqi Resistance Scholars
Muslim Scholars' Leader Rejects
"Sunni v. Shiite" Election Spin
24th Jan, 2004 07:00ET
US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte recently met with Dr.
Harith Al-Dhari, leader of the Muslim Scholars Association to
discuss Iraqi security and the elections. The association, which speaks
as a de facto intellectual and religious voice of the Iraqi
resistance, opposes the scheduled Jan 30, 2004 elections.
An account of their meeting
comes in an interview with Al-Dhari by Mohamed Al-Anwar, published
in the Cairo Jan 20-26 edition of AL-AHRAM. Al-Dhari said the meeting
had been arranged through French diplomats at Negroponte's request.
In the interview Al-Dhari confirms earlier reports that his group
offered to reverse its position on the election, once given a timetable
for an American forces withdrawal.
Their stance on the election, Al-Dhari told Negroponte --was because
of continuing violence by occupation forces which had left in excess
of 100,000 Iraqis dead, and their conviction that supporting the election
would only delay an eventual end to the occupation.
In the interview, Al-Dhari also rejected a simplistic view that differing
positions on the election by the Shiite leader Ali Al-Sistani and
the main Sunni groups could pit the two against each other. He said
the people opposing the election are not just Sunni. Al-Dhari maintains
that more that 70 political parties from all ethnic and religious
affiliations have withdrawn from the election, and that some Shia
tribes also oppose the election.
"The opposition is national, not sectarian as others have described
it," said Al-Dhari.
Since the meeting, U.S. officials publicly rejected the deal offered,
but did not disclose that Negroponte had requested or attended the
Harith al-Dhari is considered Iraq's most notable Arab Sunni scholar.
He said death threats had been made against him, some from official
In August, 2004 US occupation forces arrested
Dr Muthana Harith al-Dhari the editor of al-Basaer newspaper (Insight)
and media officer for the Association of Muslim Scholars.
Article thanks to GI Special