Did Shiite Fatwa save Baghdad from ‘Islamic State’?

By Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

A battle without a future, neither a victory nor an end can be seen in the darkness of the Iraqi tunnel, a war that adds to the collection of wars in the Middle East more complications, much blood and a new de facto state that threatens the future of the region.

In Iraq, almost everyone is concerned about the future, both personal and communal. They’re afraid that the map of the new Middle East is being drawn on their dead bodies and that their blood is the ink.

“The state was about to fall that day when ISIS (the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) entered Mosul,” said Nasser, a veteran journalist who has covered all the crises that have struck this country since the American invasion in 2003. “The religious leadership (Marja) saved us by declaring jihad; if (they had not done) so, ISIS would have entered Baghdad.”

The last time the ayatollahs in Najaf issued a jihad fatwa was back in 1920, during the Iraqi revolt against the British, making this fatwa the second in almost a century. Surprise united the Iraqis, despite that support and opposition to the fatwa separated them once again. “I don’t understand the reason behind taking this step; it’ll fuel the sectarian strife,” said one member of parliament in the Mutahidoun bloc led by outgoing parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. He added, “Such a fatwa should have been issued when the United States invaded Iraq, not now. Part of this problem can be solved in politics: We are all against ISIS, which is a terrorist group, but there is a real need to draw a thin line between the people who have demands and have been oppressed for years now and between terrorists.”

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