Following are excerpts from an interview with former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on April 27, 2012.
Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "It was Saddam who protected the Hawza [Shi'ite Seminary Center] of Najaf [in Iraq] from the infiltration of [Iran's] Rule of the Jurisprudent. With the fall of Saddam, the Hawza of Najaf became defenseless in the face of the onslaught of the Rule of the Jurisprudent and its followers. Saddam, who was violent and ignorant, did not harm the Shi'ite religious leaders in Najaf, but he left them without students. They were like generals without soldiers. The so-called 'soldiers' are in Qom.
The Shiite students studied in Qom, and were influenced to a certain degree – whether 100%, 50%, or 70% - by the doctrine of the Rule of the Jurisprudent. The Islamic scholars at Najaf remained on their own, with no 'soldiers.' When Saddam was toppled, the most senior Shi'ite authority, Al-Sistani, remained without 'soldiers.' All his 'soldiers' are in Qom, and when they came [to Iraq], they brought with them large Shi'ite political parties.
"Thus, Al-Sistani became besieged from all sides by the people of Iran. The Persians are smart enough not to undermine Al-Sistani's dignity or authority. He continues to be the highest Shi'ite authority, and they are biding their time until his natural death. When that happens, everything is in place for them to take over. It's a done deal. The Hawza of Najaf has become a 'photocopy' of the Hawza of Qom. Khomeini and Khamenei will not rest as long as Najaf is free, and Najaf will never be free again."
Interviewer: "Could you sum up the differences between the Iraqi and Iranian notions of Shi'ite religious authority?"
Ayad Jamal Al-Din: "The Najaf notion is a purely religious one, and it has nothing to do with politics. The Iranian notion mixes religion and politics, on the basis of the theory of the Rule of the Jurisprudent.
"If I wanted to shock the viewers, I would say that the difference between the Najaf Hawza and the followers of the Rule of the Jurisprudent is that the latter lie. They legitimize lying, and consider lying to be one of the mainstays of Islam. They consider lying to be the most important principle of Islam. Why? Because their notion is Machiavellian. They believe that everything is allowed in order to support the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is Shiite Machiavellianism. In Najaf, on the other hand, the scholars believe in right and wrong. That is the difference." […]