January 25, 2009 No.

Clerics Issue Fatwas Against U.S.-Iraq Pact

As the signing of the U.S.-Iraq long-term security pact draws near, senior clerics from both inside and outside Iraq - most of them Shi'ite - have been opposing the pact in attempt to influence the Iraqis to reject it. To this end, they have issued fatwas depicting it as against shari'a, and have explicitly called on the Iraqi leadership to vote against it.

In addition, Iran itself has launched a campaign against the pact. The Saudi daily Al-Watan recently reported, citing senior Iranian sources, that Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani plans to visit Iraq and Lebanon in the next few days, and that he will be carrying letters regarding the pact from the jurisprudents of Qom to influential Iraqi jurisprudent 'Ali Al-Sistani and to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. [1]

Following are excerpts from recent fatwas regarding the pact.

Shi'ite Lebanese Jurisprudent Fadhlallah: No Legitimacy for Iraqi Regime that Supports Occupation

Shi'ite Lebanese jurisprudent Ayatollah Hussein Fadhlallah said in response to queries from Iraqi MPs regarding the pact: "On the strength of my status as a [senior] jurisprudent, and [in light of] the great historic responsibility we are facing, let me say that any pact, document, contract or memorandum signed by the Iraqi government - or by any [other] representative of the Iraqi state - with the American occupying forces must include the following: [explicit] mention of the withdrawal of the occupying forces from Iraq, with no restrictions or conditions; no linkage [whatsoever] between the full withdrawal of the occupying forces and the stability of the security situation in Iraq...; a definite and short timeframe for the full American withdrawal from Iraq...; acknowledgement of national and Islamic principles that are not subject to negotiation or discussion, especially those regarding Iraq's sovereignty, independence and future and the protection of its abilities and resources...; [a stipulation that] no Iraqi authority, institution or body, whether official or unofficial, can legitimately impose occupation upon the [Iraqi] people, [nor] work to legitimize or prolong the presence [of the occupying forces] on Iraqi soil, enable [the occupiers to benefit] from [Iraq's] capabilities, resources, and decisions, or grant them legal license to contravene Iraqi law...

"There will be no stability in Iraq without a full withdrawal by the occupier." [2]

Iranian Shi'ite Jurisprudent: The Pact Is Humiliating and Forbidden by Shari'a

Shi'ite Iraqi jurisprudent Ayatollah Kadhim Al-Hairi, who has resided in Iran since the 1970s, reiterated his prohibition against signing the pact. In a communiqué issued by his office in Najaf, Al-Hairi stated that the pact would cause Iraq "to lose its national sovereignty [and gain nothing but] humiliation [in return]." He added that the pact "must not be signed," even though "the occupying forces were pressuring the Iraqi government to accept it."

Addressing "all Iraqis involved in this matter," Al-Hairi warned that "[if] anyone aids the occupiers, his crime will never be forgiven by Allah, by the oppressed [Iraqi] nation, by the blessed Shi'ite religious institutions or by any conscientious Muslim who believes in the Day of Judgment." [3]

Sunni Council of Muslim Clerics in Iraq: The Pact Contravenes Shari'a

The Council of Muslim Clerics in Iraq, a Sunni body, likewise issued a fatwa against the pact, on the grounds that it contravened both shari'a and international law. The fatwa said: "The security pact between Iraq and the occupying American administration is null and void, [because] shari'a prohibits it and no person is allowed to accept it on behalf of the nation, not even Emir Al-Mu'minin (the leader of the Muslim nation).

"[The pact] contravenes shari'a because it requires Muslims to fight under the command of non-Muslims. The [Iraqi] government may not sign this pact, for it is the weak party that cannot resist the will of the strong party, namely the occupier. Consequently, this is a pact between a weak [side] and a strong one, or an imposed agreement, as defined by international law." [4]

The council also portrayed the pact as a threat to Iraq's neighbors. Council member Muhammad Bashar Al-Faidhi said on October 22, 2008: "The pact is a threat not only to Iraq but [also] to the neighboring countries, and I do not think that any of them will agree to the presence of American forces near its borders... If the pact is approved, it will be by force - and this contravenes international law... The national forces in Iraq will work to prevent [the signing] of this pact." [5]

Senior Iraqi Cleric Al-Sistani: History Will Judge the Iraqi Parliament For Its Decision On This Pact

Senior Shi'ite Iraqi cleric Ayatollah 'Ali Al-Sistani called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to resist U.S. pressures and to refrain from signing the pact as currently stands. However, he stated that he would leave the final decision to "the Iraqi parliament, people and political parties." [6]

Two days later, however, he took a firmer position. His representative Ahmad Al-Safi reminded the Iraqi parliament of the fhistoric responsibility it was facing, and added: "The Iraqi people will reject any concessions on [Iraq's] sovereignty and independence. This generation, and those to come, will not forgive those who were negligent in [fulfilling] this important historic duty."

Al-Safi also stressed that although Al-Sistani had authorized the parliament to decide on the pact, he nevertheless had his own opinion of it. A source close to Al-Sistani reported that following a meeting with Al-Maliki, the ayatollah had taken the prime minister's hand and said: "I do not want this hand to sign the pact." [7]

Muqtada Al-Sadr to Iraqi MPs: "You Must All Vote Against It"

Sadrist leader Muqtada Al-Sadr [8] warned the Iraqi parliament against approving the pact. In a speech read on his behalf at the Sadrists' annual anti-occupation rally in Baghdad, he addressed the Iraqi parliament, saying: "[The decision on] the pact is in your hands, and therefore the fate and the reputation of Iraq is in your hands. So beware of voting for [the pact]; in fact, you must all vote against it...

"If you have been told that it will put an end to the occupier's presence in our land, [know that] the occupier will leave his bases [here]. And if someone has told you that [the pact] will grant you sovereignty, [know that this person] is a liar...

"The government has evaded the responsibility [of deciding on the pact], and has passed it on [to you]... Years from now, the signing of this pact will be a mark of shame upon the foreheads of Iraq and its government... I have submitted a query in this matter to the clerics and jurisprudents, and I hope they will respond." [9]

Jordanian Islamists: The Pact Is Merely Occupation In A New Guise

Jordanian Islamists have also condemned the pact, calling on the Iraqi people to oppose it. Rahil Al-Gharaibeh, spokesman for the Islamic Labor Front, a bloc of several Islamist parties in the Jordanian parliament, said at a press conference that the pact was merely "the new guise of the occupation," and that it was dictated by the occupying forces.

He added: "[This pact] does not reflect the free will of the Iraqi [people]... No military, security, or political pact signed under occupation is legitimate... The Arab and Muslim masses reject any pact that grants immunity to the soldiers of the American occupation and harms the rights of the Iraqi citizens." [10]


[1] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), October 22, 2008.

[2], October 21, 2008.

[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 22, 2008.

[4] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 15, 2008.

[5] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 23, 2008.

[6] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 15, 2008.

[7], October 17, 2008.

[8] In recent months, Al-Sadr has been absent from the political arena. The daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi has reported, citing the Iranian website Tabnak, that Al-Sadr has been studying in the city of Qom, Iran, for certification as a jurisprudent, so that he can reinforce his political authority with religious credentials. According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, he will be granted the rank of faqih, or religious leader authorized to issue fatwas, in 2010. Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, October 15, 2008.

[9] Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), October 19, 2008.

[10] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 23, 2008.