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Iraqs Last Chance For Peace

Jordan's King Abdullah II is expected to join the delegates in calling for "an end to bloodshed and religious tension in Iraq. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Claude Salhani
UPI International Editor
Washington (UPI) Apr 07, 2006
As Iraq teeters on the brink of civil war and remains unable to form a government of national unity more than four months after the elections, Jordan said it would host a conference aimed at defusing the volatile situation across its eastern border.

The Iraqi Islamic Reconciliation Summit will be held in the Jordanian capital, Amman, on April 22. The intent of the 'summit' is to gather a large number of Iraq's top religious and tribal leaders representing Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds, in an effort to seek an agreement based on common religious principles. The first hurdles the conference will tackle will be to find a way to end the violence that is claiming dozens of lives every day and to achieve a political solution that will put an end to Iraq's current strife.

The Iraqi Islamic Reconciliation Summit will be held under the p! atronage of King Abdullah II, and is expected to draw a large number of senior Iraqi religious and tribal leaders from all sects and walks of life. The conference organizers, Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought and the Arab League, say they hope the meeting "will provide a forum for Iraqi leaders to take a crucial step towards stemming the violence in Iraq."

Jordan's King Abdullah, said to be a forty-third generation direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, and thus a member of the Aal al-Bayt (the Household of the Prophet) is expected to join the delegates in calling for "an end to bloodshed and religious tension in Iraq." The summit is expected to culminate in a signed declaration stating that fighting between Shiites and Sunnis has no legitimate religious basis.

Moreover, given its position, due to unique social, tribal, economic and historical ties with Iraq, and especially since the beginning of the U.S. invasion, Jordan h! as given shelter and safe passage to millions of Iraqis. There are today over half million Iraqis living in the Hashemite Kingdom.

However, commenting on the Jordanian monarch's good intentions aimed at peace-making, one well-informed Middle East observer suggested that as a first step the king might want to "stop facilitating insurgents from crossing back and forth into Iraq from Jordan." Asking not to be named, the observer added: "The king could start off by putting a stop to the funding that finds its way from Jordan to the insurgency in Iraq."

Organizers of the reconciliation summit say this meeting is a "necessary initiative to help bring the violence in Iraq to an end, establish a stable and fully representative Iraqi government and permit a peaceful and orderly withdrawal of coalition troops."

In a communiqué released Wednesday, the organizers of a summit that may well be Iraq's last chance for peace before it ! irreversibly falls into all-out civil war which could lead to partition, say that "peace in Iraq cannot be achieved without a political solution, and a political solution cannot, in turn, be achieved without a religious solution because fighting in Iraq has generally occurred along religious sectarian lines, especially among Iraq's Arab Muslim communities."

If we hadn't been repeatedly told that the fighting in Iraq was not a civil war, one could be led to believe that what was just described sounds awfully close to the description of a civil war.

The Iraqi Reconciliation Summit is therefore seeking to involve religious leaders to help stress the point that the killing in Iraq -- despite claims to the contrary by al-Qaida's local franchise directed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- goes against the teachings of the Muslim faith. They hope to emphasize the fundamental principles that are shared by all Muslims. This, the organizers say is a "cri! tical step in diffusing civil tension and helping to clear the way for a final and permanent political solution in Iraq."

Jordan's King Abdullah is sparing no effort to make this conference a success. He has invited a number of major religious figures from the Islamic world including the top religious figures from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, the Gulf and Iran. Egypt's Sheikh al-Azhar, Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi, considered to be one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam, and the Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa are expected to join the king in denouncing extremist misinterpretations of Islam.

Misinterpretation of Islam "feeds the sectarian violence in Iraq," states the communiqué. Together, Abdullah and his guests will reaffirm the underlying values and principles shared by all branches of Islam.

The conference expects to build upon the International Islamic Conference on "True Islam and its Role in Mo! dern Society" hosted by King Abdullah in July 2005. In the final conference declaration, more than 180 scholars representing 45 countries signed a "final declaration condemning the practice known as takfir (calling others "apostates") that is used by Islamist extremists to justify violence.

The signatories of the conference were supported by fatwas, or religious edicts, from 20 of the world's most senior Islamic scholars; those included the Sheikh Al-Azhar, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Iraq, the muftis of Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Oman and Sheikh Yusif Al-Qardawi.

The Amman Declaration recognized the legitimacy of all eight of the traditional schools of Islamic religious law (madhhabs): the Sunni, Shiite and Ibadi branches of Islam, as well as traditional Asharite theology, Islamic mysticism (Sufism) and moderate Salafi thought.

The declaration exposed the illegitimacy of the so-called fatwas justifying ter! rorism as being outside of orthodox Islamic religious law and in clear violation of Islam's core principles. This consensus was adopted by the entire Islamic world at the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit held in Mecca in December 2005.

The forthcoming conference will utilize the Mecca agreement on religious principles as the doctrinal basis for the Iraqi Islamic Reconciliation Summit's final declaration.

Source: United Press International

Related Links

A Civil War By Any Other Name
Washington (UPI) Apr 04, 2006
Despite President Bush's repeated denials, the figures are clear: 900 sectarian killings in a single month in Iraq means a civil war is well under way. Iraq is a nation of 25 million people. In the United States, that level of killing would proportionately equal almost 11,000 people killed in riots, reprisal killings and sectarian clashes in a single month.

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