Under the guise of the Shia oppression and in their defence, the Islamic Dawa party has returned to Iraq on the back of an American tank, present itself as the oldest Shia political party and the party that has defended the Shia masses the most. It quickly formed its armed militias and mercenaries, some of whom were members who returned from Iran and Syria, but the majority of whom were marginalised Shias who saw the party’s slogans as a means to reach their simple aspirations and dreams.
The year 1957 was the year of the party’s emergence in light of the emergence of a flurry of political parities and entities in Iraq. It was strange that a sectarian religious party formed in Baghdad, which was communist, nationalist and Baathist at the time, and at the time of its emergence it had not yet met the other Islamic parities. Due to the fact that oppression usually generates extremism, the party immediately adopted the approach of armed confrontation with the authorities. Although sources examining the history of this party referred to the Iranian role in its establishment in the context of the geographic and political conflict between Iraq and Iran, the party was frozen by Iran after its establishment and it remained so for years given the improved relations with Iraq. However, Tehran’s occupation of the three Emirati islands and Iraq’s condemnation of this pushed Iran to activate the party’s role and, this time, it directly armed the party.
The party has a very bloody history. Since Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979 and announced his intention to export the revolution to the Arab world and liberate Jerusalem, the Dawa Party has killed, destroyed or bombed many. Since the Iraqi embassy in Beirut was bombed by the party in 1981, followed by the Al-Mustansiriya University bombings in Baghdad and the bombings the party carried out in the Arab Gulf, the group has had a long bloody and brutal record, and it does not seem that the leaders of the party are far from this bloody history, even though its members became the leaders of Iraq in 2003.
America chose harmless allies for Iraq. Ever since it received its pardon in Najaf and promised not to confront the battling forces and since the politicians of the Dawa party, along with other Iraqi opposition parties at the time, signed a blank cheque for America, it has refused to change the faces that came after the invasion of Iraq. It is no coincidence that the position of prime minister, since the first Iraqi government was established after 2003, has been occupied by the Dawa party, if we exclude the transitional period during which Iyad Allawi ruled, and that was only a few months.
According to the former ambassador to the US Zalmay Khalilzad’s book The Envoy, America, along with Iran, agreed that the Dawa party would spearhead the political operation in Iraq. This is despite the fact that the US had, at one point, pursued the leaders of the party on terrorism charges. During the 13 years of this party’s rule, it managed to record the worst failure in the history of the successive governments in Iraq since the establishment of the Iraqi Kingdom in 1921. It is not difficult to list the series of failures the party achieved, as the party and its leaders siphoned over $800 billion since 2003, and corruption become synonymous with Iraq, which was at the top of the list of the most corrupt countries throughout the rule of the Dawa party. The party also lost half of Iraq’s land to Daesh. I would also like to stress that it has been irrefutably proven that the Dawa party continues to practice armed opposition while in power.
The failure of the Dawa party has brought on failure to the Shia masses in Iraq, as its failure is referred to the failure of the Shia to rule Iraq, and not the failure of this party. This of course is an incorrect generalisation, as large and small Shia blocs and groups have opposed the Dawa party’s actions and organised many protests against the failure of this party. There is no need to refer to the protests and demonstrations staged by the Sunnis which were generally peaceful before they were repressed by Nouri Al-Maliki, the former Iraqi prime minister and one of the Dawa party’s heroes and icons since the 1980s.
Today we are witnessing a demonstration led by Muqtada Al-Sadr, which appears on the outside to be a movement to confront corruption and make the desired reforms, but on the inside, it is a wave against the Dawa party in particular. Al-Sadr, along with the Shia leaders, realised that the continuation of the Dawa party’s lead of the political scene in Iraq has dragged and continues to drag Shias into something they cannot handle. Therefore, they had to make a move, perhaps even outside the Shia consensus they are used to, since Iran involved itself in all of the Shia parties it established and those established after 2003.
The leaks from the Dawa party meetings, led by Nouri Al-Maliki and attended by Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi, suggest that this party is acting foolishly against the protestors. After the checkpoints opened their doors to the protestors last Friday, towards the Green Zone, Al-Abadi decided to dismiss the commander of the Baghdad operations and task the joint command with managing the capital’s security file.
The Dawa party failed miserably. It is an example of the Iranian failure in managing a country like Iraq after Iran meddled with it; with America’s complete approval. It also brought its failure on to the Shias, portraying them as incapable of governance and management. What can Muqtada Al-Sadr and his supporters change in this equation? This is what will be revealed with time.
Translated from Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 22 March 2016