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Bush Administration ignores fatwa once again

Bush Administration ignores fatwa once again


May 15, 2006 – A fatwa is a legal pronouncement, edict, opinion, or ruling in Islam.  Islamic scholars and / or Muslim jurists issue Fatwas.  A scholar capable of issuing a fatwa is known as a Mufti.  In the western press, particularly in the United States, the Mufti is most often referred to as a Muslim or Islamic cleric.  Cleric is a word that most Americans became familiar with soon after the United States invaded Iraq. 


Over the last 3 years plus of war in Iraq, the Bush Administration has described the resistance to the U.S. lead occupation in a number of different ways.  The initial resistance was described as the Iraqi Army and Saddam’s Republic Guard.  After Baghdad fell, the resistance was presumed to be remnants of Saddam loyalists.  Within a few short months, al-Qaeda was said to have moved into Iraq.  The U.S. called it the insurgency, and justified the fight against it in Iraq by proclaiming, “we’re better off fighting terrorism over there, than here”.  The fact that Saddam Hussein held in check during his reign, the radical Islamic sect that is now injuring, maiming, and killing U.S. troops stationed in Iraq somehow got lost in the U.S. media’s translation of Iraq happenings.  Last year, Americans began to hear of Shiites fighting Sunnis, Arabs fighting Kurds – secretarian violence is what the Bush Administration is calling it today, although they have yet to call it correctly – civil war. 


How could the Bush Administration and its now befuddled and embattled supporters been so completely wrong about everything related to invading Iraq?  Arrogance coupled with ignorance explains most of the Bush Administration’s missteps in Iraq.  The Bush Administration completely and utterly failed to achieve any meaningful understanding of the culture of the Iraqi people, or the Muslim faith.  They also were completely delusional in their belief that America’s brand of governance could somehow heal the ethnic and religious wounds that have divided the people of Iraq and the greater Middle East for over one thousand years.  To have expected an outcome other than what is the present condition in occupied Iraq today is all the evidence required to rightfully conclude that the people entrusted to lead the United States of America are absolutely unfit. 


There is a great example of Bush blindness in regard to all things Islamic, which played out within months of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.  In his November 26, 2003 article, How Cleric Trumped U.S. Plan for Iraq – Ayatollah’s Call for Vote Forced Occupation Leader to Rewrite Transition Strategy, Washington Post reporter, Rajiv Chandrasekaran explained that “the unraveling of the Bush administration’s script for political transition in Iraq began with a fatwa”[1] that the U.S. war planners completely ignored or stubbornly believed they could override with brute force. 


After the fall of Baghdad and the infamous May 1, 2003 “Mission Accomplished” moment on board the USS Abraham Lincoln, the Bush Administration set forth on its Iraq transition plan crafted by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer.  The U.S. transition plan would have kept Iraq under occupation until a constitution was written.  The U.S. government would have weighed in heavily on the content of the constitution, even though the Bush Administration was downplaying its role in the drafting of a constitution for Iraq.  The White House preferred for the U.S. media to describe the U.S. influence in the drafting process as one of a guiding force rather than dictating to the Iraqi people what it was that their constitution would proclaim. 


On June 1, 2003, Iraq’s most influential Shiite Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa calling for general elections to select the drafters of Iraq’s constitution.  By issuing this fatwa, Sistani refused the U.S. transition plan, calling it “fundamentally unacceptable.”  Initially, the U.S. government failed to even acknowledge the fatwa, dismissing it as nothing more than some religious leader’s rants.  The Bush Administration simply didn’t understand the power of the edict.  They assumed that secularist Iraqis coming out of exile after the fall of Saddam would be all the ethnic support the U.S. would need to put an Iraqi face on the U.S. agenda and therefore push the U.S. transition plan upon the Iraqi people with minimum resistance. 


The Bush Administration quickly discovered that their ignorance, arrogance, or a combination of both, regarding the power of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, cost the U.S. government four months of combat operations, expenses, casualties, and the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military and civilian personnel.  Bremer, paralyzed by the Shiite uprising and violence spurred by the U.S. indication that it intended to disregard the fatwa because the Bush Administration would not be told what to do by some Shiite cleric, proved a costly and deadly mistake.  It is without question that many U.S. casualties during this period of the Iraq War were caused by U.S. government’s childish stubbornness and disrespect of the religious customs and doctrines of the Muslim Iraqi people.  What could have been easily accepted, even welcomed by the Bush Administration, turned into a unnecessary power struggle for the closed-minded Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld. 


Controlled by the White House mandate and Rumsfeld’s “my way or the highway” doctrine, Bremer sought ways to work around the fatwa rather than honor it, which is peculiar, because what the Shiite cleric had called for in his fatwa was a democratically elected delegation of Iraqi people that would then draft the constitution for Iraq, something that most Americans thought was to happen in the first place.  Why the Bush Administration couldn’t or wouldn’t see the added value of having elected Iraqis draft their country’s constitution is mind-boggling. 


While this diplomatic drama was playing out behind the scenes, Americans watched as the news of kidnappings, beheadings, and roadside bombs exploded on the evening news night after night.  Pundits began using words like quagmire and Vietnam.  However, nobody was willing to put their finger on the problem and explain it to the American people in a meaningful way.  What the evening news reported was that radical Muslim clerics were firing up the masses in Iraq, but the mainstream media never actually placed any emphasis on explaining the “why” of it. 


Behind the scenes, Bush and Bremer began to realize as the body count of U.S. troops mounted, that they had no other choice but to yield to the Sistani fatwa and allow a general election process for the selection of the Iraqi people who would then be charged with drafting the Iraq constitution.  Americans recall that general election as a victory for Iraq and the United States.  We remember the purple, ink stained fingers of Iraqi voters being held high in the air.  Bush even flew an ink-stained finger over from Iraq to sit next to First Lady Laura Bush during his State of the Union Address.  The Iraqi woman voter waived her finger in the air once again, receiving a standing ovation by the U.S. Congress during Bush’s speech.   And the only reason these historical events unfolded at that place and time was because of the power of a fatwa and the persistence of Ayatollah Ali Sistani – a Muslim cleric that the Bush Administration was not going to let push them around.  True to form, the Bush Administration seized the moment as if they were responsible for it, when in all actuality, if it had been up to Bush and Bremer, the moment would not have occurred. 


Enter Iran.  By all outward appearances, Israel is being hysterically dramatic over whether or not Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon – which is typical of Israel.  Unfortunately for Americans, Israel has unprecedented influence in Washington DC, if not control of the U.S. Congress.  Israel has made it clear with its own threats – the U.S. must solve the Iran “crisis” or Israel will.  It is a phenomenal fact that the U.S. Congress will commit U.S. troops to battle in a distorted effort to keep Israel out of military conflict.  The thinking goes that because Israel is so vehemently despised by much of the Middle East, the only possible way of ever achieving peace in the Middle East is to keep Israel out of wars with its neighbors.  Yet the sum of Israel’s foreign policy is to shape the Middle East to Israel’s liking.  To accomplish this publicly stated goal, Israel must remain in a perpetual state of crisis to lure the United States into fighting Israel’s battles.  The battle plan is to divide and conquer, and is playing out nicely for Israel in Iraq.  An embattled and divided Iraq and Iran is what Israel wants in the Middle East. 


Absent crisis, Israel’s demand for billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars each year to sustain its economy and military would no longer be justified.  In terms of Iran, Israel will strike if the U.S. does not so therefore, the U.S. will strike under the pretext of the precedence set in Iraq – the pre-emptive strike.  As we learned in Iraq, proof of a nuclear weapons program in Iran is not actually required to launch a military assault.  Presumptions are all that is needed because the American people have proved that they’ll accept from their government, after the fact, the claim of faulty intelligence, and a mid-war shift of cause to something that would have never been sufficient to launch a military invasion in the first place. 


The U.S. media seems content with the Iran invasion ramp up rhetoric coming out of the White House.  While they play the sound bits from Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with the shrills of the Jewish State as a back drop, the American people have took the bait, believing now that Iran poses an immediate nuclear threat to the United States when there is no evidence to support this belief.  The truth is that even if Iran possessed one hundred nuclear weapons, it would pose no greater threat to the United States than North Korea, China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Great Britain, or the biggest nuclear power in the Middle East – Israel. 


When listening to the mainstream media reporting on Iran, Americans must recognize that the Iranian President is not in charge of that country.  The Supreme Leader, The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is ultimately in charge of Iran.  Clues to this truth were revealed in the U.S. media just a few weeks ago with the announcement that the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided in early April 2006 to allow Iranian women to attend soccer games.  Ahmadinejad ruled that women attending soccer games would sit in separate sections of the stands – apart from male spectators.  Within one month of this Presidential decision, it was reported that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who under the Iranian constitution has final say on everything – overruled the President.  The final conclusion; women remain forbidden from attending soccer games in Iran. 


Understanding the power structure in Iran is paramount to understanding Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  President Ahmadinejad is no doubt a mouthpiece for the proud Persian people, but his extremist rhetoric is not playing well with the Supreme Leader, Iran’s neighbors, or the United States.  In fact, Ahmadinejad is actually playing right into Israel’s and the United States’ hands, a fact that makes this dark horse who surprised even the Iranian people with his stunning presidential election victory on June 24, 2005, suspect. 


Sources indicate that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was not pleased with the Iran President’s unauthorized letter delivered two weeks ago to President Bush.  The Ayatollah also is troubled by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory comments on the worldwide media stage.  It is arguable that if the U.S. did nothing about Iran’s nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will meet an internal demise.  It is only if the U.S. or Israel invades Iran that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be empowered by the Iranian people.  Ahmadinejad simply was not the people’s choice, with election fraud suggested as the reason he got elected.  


The Bush Administration should not ignore the political dynamics between President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, unless, of course, Bush has already made up his mind that he’s invading Iran before leaving office.  If, on the other hand, the Bush Administration learned anything in Iraq and the fatwa issued by Shiite Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, than it must consider the fatwa issued on August 9, 2005 by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions and program.


The fatwa issued by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is titled Iran, holder of peaceful nuclear fuel cycle technology: Iran-Nuclear-Statement.  In this fatwa the Supreme Leader, the person in charge of Iran, the person who was easily able to overrule the Iranian President on an issue as simple as who is allowed to attend soccer games, issued this ruling on Iran and nuclear technology[2]:


Iran is a nuclear fuel cycle technology holder, a capability that is exclusively for peaceful purposes, a statement issued by the Islamic republic at the emergency meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy (IAEA);


The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued this Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that Iran shall never acquire these weapons…


To dismiss this fatwa as a lie, trick, or cover, in an attempt to hide a nuclear weapons program in Iran, is to completely fail to understand the culture of Muslims and the mandates of Islam.  To discount Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as a mere religious man without clout is to ignore the facts and miss the possibility of peaceful relations with Iran, thus moving the U.S. closer to another invasion of a Muslim nation with little or no meaningful purpose or justification. 



[1] Washington Post, How Cleric Trumped U.S. Plan for Iraq, November 26, 2003, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A14718-2003Nov25, [Accessed May 10, 2006]

[2] Iran-Nuclear-Statement, Iran, holder of peaceful nuclear fuel cycle technology, August 9, 2005, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-17/0508104135124631.htm, [Accessed May 14, 2006] 

Freelance writer / author, Ed Haas, is the editor and columnist for the Muckraker Report.  Get smart.  Read the Muckraker Report.  [http://teamliberty.net]  To learn more about Ed’s current and previous work, visit Crafting Prose.  [http://craftingprose.com]   

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