Counter-Terrorism: Clerics Admit They Can't Stop the Killing

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October 29, 2006: This month, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) sponsored a meeting of Sunni and Shia religious scholars in Saudi Arabia. The OIC issued a Fatwah calling on Iraqis to stop killing each other. This was accepted by the major Shia and Sunni clerics in Iraq. But the clerics agreed that their plea would likely be rejected by the hard core killers. There are several groups of these, each with specific reasons to keep up the mayhem. The Sunni Arab killers are largely motivated by a desire to avoid prison or execution for atrocities committed while serving in Saddam's government, especially in the security forces. That, in turn, has spawned groups of Kurds and Shia Arabs who are seeking vengeance. The Shias are the most lethal, because there are more of them, and some of the Shia death squads are working for the Iranian government. The Iranians are still eager to punish those responsible for starting the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. For the Iranian government, those considered most guilty are the senior members of the Baath party. Saddam Hussein has led that party since the 1970s, but the Iranian death lists contain several thousand names. For Iran, there can be no peace until all these Baath Party officials are dead. For the Sunni Arab terrorists, there can be no peace until the revenge killing stop. Two years ago, most Iraqi Sunni Arab terrorists were motivated by the desire to put the Baath Party back in power. But now, just survival would be nice.

While the Shia and Sunni scholars agree on the need to end the violence, they don't agree on some fundamental religious and political issues. Many Iranian clerics believe that the Saud family, and their Sunni Arab allies, who currently run Saudi Arabia, are not legitimate rulers. The more extreme Iranian clerics believe that the Saudi Shias, who comprise about five percent of the Saudi population, should be in charge. The Iranian government is more circumspect on this issue, but would be under tremendous popular pressure to get involved, if there was a major Shia rebellion in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Shias are concentrated in the east, where most of the oil is.

 


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