In a December 22nd interview with the American sponsored Radio Sawa, Iraqi Sunni politician Adnan al Duleimi continued to show his true sectarian colors. Duleimi, who heads the Islamist Iraqi Accord Front, angered Shia politicians when he spoke at the Istanbul conference of Sunni Iraqi politicians held on the 13th and 14th of December. Duleimi angrily condemned the "Safavid threat" to Iraq, referring to the Persians and implying that the Shias of Iraq were in league with them. His tearful outburst not only incensed Shias but even the Islamic Party of Iraq was upset. Duleimi taught at the University of Zarqa in Jordan while he was in exile prior to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. Zarqa's most famous son is Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Although there is no evidence that Duleimi was ever linked to Jihadist Salafis such as Zarqawi who were engaged in acts of terrorism against civilians, Duleimi and his movement are close to other groups in the resistance. The Istanbul conference may have been intended merely to raise funds for the resistance but during Duleimi's speech several audience members interrupted him and stormed out.
The Radio Sawa interviewer pressed Duleimi on why he avoided criticizing al Qaeda in Iraq but regularly criticized the Shia Mahdi Army militia. "Is al Qaeda a terrorist organization or not?" demanded the interviewer. "I will not and will never answer this question," said Duleimi, "and if you ask me again I will hang up the phone." The interviewer persisted and asked the question once more. "Al salamu aleikum," Duleimi said, or 'peace be upon you,' and he hung up the phone.
In his December 13th speech in Istanbul , Duleimi thanked the hosts for inviting them and asked God to help them make decisions that would lead Iraq's Sunnis to believe that they have brothers supporting them. He told the audience they should have named the conference "the conference for supporting Sunnis in Iraq." Iraq is worth nothing without Sunnis, he said, because Sunnis are the owners of Iraq and are the people behind Iraqi unity. Iraq's Sunnis built Iraq. Again he demanded that the conference's title should have been "supporting Sunnis" and mocked their fear of being called sectarian. "Yes we are sectarian," he said, "if you do not take care and awaken then Iraq will be gone and Baghdad will be gone too. It is a sectarian war. It is a sectarian struggle aiming to exterminate all Sunnis. And if anyone does not believe that then he is wrong and must rethink it and must study all the daily events in Iraq. We are suffering in Iraq. Be careful Arabs be careful Muslims. Your brothers in Iraq and especially in Baghdad will be destroyed and will be trampled by the Shias. And Baghdad is emptied of Sunnis. This is the exclusion of Sunnis, be careful."
In the background a voice chanted: "Iran, Iran, you Jews. Iraq's army will return".
Duleimi continued: "These slogans are worth nothing. We want your support. Where is your support? Where are you, sons of Islam? Baghdad is going to be lost if you do not get up in the right time and stop the threat, exclusion and destroying of Sunnis. We live a tragedy everyday. Our last tragedy was Hurriya, before that was Shuula, before that was Thawra (1), before that was Shaab and Hai Ur. Sunnis have been swept out of all these cities and you are here saying the struggle is not sectarian. I swear it is a sectarian struggle and a very sectarian struggle. It is not a basic political struggle but it is a sectarian struggle veiled as a political struggle. Get ready to defend Iraq, to defend Sunnis and if you do not do so, they will be crushed by the Mahdi Army and the likes of the Mahdi Army. Our mosques have been burned, destroyed and they call it the mosques of the Nawasib (2) which must be burned and destroyed. You are inattentive saying this is not a sectarian struggle. I swear it is the ultimate sectarian struggle. Awake and arise oh Arabs, the danger has flooded you up to your knees (3). We are suffering, our cities have been hit by mortars. Do you know what is happening to Adhamiya? Sliekh, Fadhil, Hai Al-Adil and Hai Al-Jamia are hit daily by artillery. And we are here saying it is not a sectarian struggle! It is a sectarian struggle and it is the peak of sectarian struggle and you are calling this conference to support Iraqis! Which Iraq? The Shia's Iraq? Iraq is going to be Shia and this will expand to the lands surrounding Iraq. Then you will all regret it but your regret will be worth nothing because it will be too late. Where is Saudi Arabia? Where is Kuwait? Where is Jordan? Where is Pakistan? And where are the Muslims? Sleep and keep sleeping while Iraq is destroying. You sleep while Sunnis mosques in Iraq are being destroyed. Sleep while Sunnis mosques in Iraq are burning. Is not this sectarianism? It is the maximum sectarianism."
"My brothers ... who do you depend on? The Sunnis in Iraq will be destroyed, will be killed. What you have just saw in the film (Duleimi points to a screen inside the hall) is a small part of what is happening in Iraq. What have you offered to Iraq? What have you offered to your brothers in Iraq? Sleep and keep sleeping but the fire of Iraq will expand to you. What is happening in Iraq has been planned for over fifty years in order to convert the region into Shiism and create the Persian Empire under a Shia cover or under the cover of Islam while Islam is free of them (4)."
"There is an agony in my heart. We in Iraq live a scathing life. We are suffering to keep our composure, and you are here. What have you offered us? Conferences, decisions and advice. What are we going to do with these things you have offered? My dearest brothers, I do not want to speak more to increase your anxieties but I cannot turn off the fire in my heart. There is an agony in my heart about Iraq and about Baghdad which is going to be lost. Baghdad of Abu Hanifa (5), Baghdad of Al Mansur (6) and Baghdad of Harun al Rashid (7). Baghdad of Ahmed bin Hanbal (8) is going to be Baghdad of the Safavids (9), Baghdad of the Buwayhids (10), and Baghdad of the new Qarmatians (11). Why are you saying it is not a sectarian war? It is a sectarian war. Everyone who says it is not a sectarian war is wrong and must change his opinion."
(1) Thawra was the old name for the Shia slums known as Sadr City in Baghdad. Saddam then changed the name to Saddam City. Following the Samara Shrine attack of February 2006 and the intensification of the civil war, Sunnis began calling it by its old name, Thawra, or Revolution, City.
(2) Nawasib is a pejorative term for Sunnis
(3) This is a reference to the 19th century poet Ibrahim al Yaziji, who issued the first call to Arab nationalism. Al Yaziji's poem was one of the first expressions of proto-nationalism as a political identity in an Arab world then dominated by the Ottoman empire.
(4) Meaning that Shias are not Muslims
(5) Abu Hanifa is the Islamic scholar who founded the Hanafi school, one of the main schools of Sunni Islam. His tomb lies in Baghdad's Adhamiya district, in the Abu Hanifa mosque.
(6) Abu Jaafar al Mansur is the Abbasid caliph who built Baghdad
(7) Al Rashid is an Abbasid caliph associated with the idea of the "golden age" of the Arab-Islamic civilization
(8) Ahmad bin Hanbal is the founder of the most austere of Sunni schools, Hanbalism, Wahhabism is an offshoot of Hanbalism
(9) The Safavids are a 16th-17th century Azeri Dynasty that ruled Iran and converted its population to Shiism
(10) The Buwayhids are a Shia dynasty that submitted the Abbasid caliphate into a state of de facto protectorate and ruled large parts of modern-day Iran
(11) The Qarmatians (Qaramita in Arabic) are an Ismaili sect that built what is sometimes called the first communist society in history, extremely radical, rejected contemporary notions and institutions of Islam, attacked the Abbasid state and raided Basra several times. They were based in the Eastern Arabian peninsula (today's Saudi Arabia and Bahrain) and raided Mecca and destroyed the Kaaba.