The Institute for Islamic World Futures Studies (IIWFS) is a non-profit institute whose aim is to strengthen the effective trends and drivers on making a better future for the Islamic World within the framework of undisputed power bloc of the world, through increasing convergence and unity among Islamic countries. The institute was founded in 2009 as a leading institute in the I.R. Iran in the field of cultural-artistic, political, economic and international Islamic World studies. Meanwhile initiating and promoting the field of Islamic World studies in higher education level and organizing scientific research courses and groups, the institute also tries to develop a realist-pragmatist perspective in convergence and unity of the Islamic world. Read More ...

Current Status and existing coalitions and the future of elections in Iraq

Interview with

Seyed Reza Ghazvini (Al-Gharabi)

Expert on the issues of Iraq

 

Parliamentary elections will be held in Iraq on 12 May 2018. Given the recent political-security developments in Iraq, the defeat of ISIS, the defeat of KRG’s referendum and various political alliances, the current political situation in Iraq has become very complicated. It also has great significance for domestic actors in Iraq and for Iraq's neighbors. The following interview explores this issue.

IIWFS: What is the difference between the upcoming Iraqi elections and the previous ones?

All of the Iraqi parliamentary elections have been held in critical periods and they have been of great importance. This course is no exception. But there are significant differences. The most prominent feature of this elections is the unprecedented split between alliances and even parties. This situation is seen both among Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish alliances, and has occurred within some parties such as the Supreme Council, the Islamic and the Dawa Party. This disparity in this period has been extremely impressive. In addition, the formation of many coalitions is not clear, and there are different and contradictory views of multiple candidates within each coalition. The Sauron Alliance between the Sadrists and the Communists and the coalition of Al-Nasr in which Kashkuli is controversial from some perspectives, are examples of these heterogeneous combinations. Genesis of the Popular Mobilization Forces, part of which will be called Fatah in the current election, the unprecedented problems of Sunni refugees in the areas that were under ISIS's occupation, the challenge of these citizens with the Sunni politicians who relied on the seat of power over the past 14 years and the improvement of the relations between Riyadh and Baghdad in recent months and the efforts of the Saudis to play a serious role in the political and social spheres of Iraq are features of this election.

IIWFS: Explain the process of coalitions in Shia. How do you assess the future of these Shia coalitions in the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections?

Shiite coalitions have been experiencing a sharp divergence during this election period. The Supreme Council is present in a coalition apart from Hakim Alliance after a transformation in which the flow of wisdom has been born out of it. Sadrists, who had left the current Shiite coalition for a long time, have formed a historic and interesting coalition with the Communists with the name Sauron. The members of the Dawa party will be present in two separate Nasr coalitions and the Government of Law with a split, which seems to be temporary, and Fatah, representing part of PMF, will also be present at one of the Shiite alliances.

These five alliances form the most important Shiite coalition in the election. The division of forces within these parties and coalitions is such that none of them seem to be able to be overwhelmingly tangible and significant, so the formation of a coalition between some of these coalitions after the announcement of results is certain. However, whether the Shiite National Coalition, which in fact was the umbrella of the Shiite parties in the past, also took shape during this period, can be considered.

IIWFS: The Iraqi election is the scene of the controversy and the political rivalry of the coalition, some of which have been formed close to the election. What is the role of the current elections in distributing power among the Shiite parties and movements in Iraq?

Perhaps one of the unique features of this election is that it determines the social contribution of each of the Shiite and even non-Shiite political parties and movements more precisely. In the Dawa party, Al-Maliki and al-Ebadi are present separately in the elections; Hakim is separated from the Supreme Council and is present independently in the elections; Fatah, in other words, Shiite resistance groups are testing themselves for the first time, and the Sadrists are competing with reformist and civilian slogans. Therefore, we will see the determination of the weight of the parties and even the intra-party flows in this period, and this is true among the Sunni parties. But the issue of choosing the future head of state is naturally an issue outside the framework of elections and votes and is subject to agreements between party leaders as well as effective regional and international actors.

IIWFS: What is the degree of intellectual coherence among Shiite groups?

This intellectual and political cohesion in this period has reached its minimum. I also mentioned earlier that the split in some Shiite parties, the expansion and contraction of some alliances, such as Al-Nasr, Sadri's coalition with the Communist Party, which depicted a caricature scene of a decades-long struggle between Islamists and Communists in Iraqi society, The efforts made to bring these parties closer to each other and many other things, including those indicating that political and intellectual coherence is at a low level.

IIWFS: What are the coalitions among the Kurds, especially after the referendum on the separation of Kurdistan?

The Kurds after serious conflicts, which is part of the result of the referendum and the issue of Kirkuk and the disputed territories, experienced serious tensions. Kurdish parties will each be present in KRG separately. However, after it was announced that there would be two main coalition in the conflict areas, namely, the Al-salam List (Peace), which includes the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union and the Kurdistan Communist Party, and the Nishteman List, which includes the Gorran (change), Jamaat-e-Islami and The Coalition for Democracy, which is opposition, an agreement has recently been reached for the coalition of all these parties (Al-salam and Nishteman) in Kirkuk and in the contested areas. During this period, we witnessed the emergence of a new party called the Al-Jeyl al-Jadid (New Generation), which was the opposition to the referendum. In any case, it is clear that the works of the referendum will have an impact on the outcome of these elections in Kurdistan and may have seen a decrease in the seats of the Kurds in parliament.

IIWFS: Which of the Sunni alliances will play a more significant role in the political future of Iraq? What is the cause of this?

In this regard, the outcome cannot be accurate. The Sunnis are present in the two main directories, al-Qarar (decision) and al-Wataniya, and a large number of local or smaller parties, such as the Baghdad coalition. In both lists, prominent figures are present, and each of them has the support of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia respectively. But there are some close-to-government candidates who are critics of the traditional Sunni parties that will be present separately, or in the form of other alliances, and can be expected to win some of the votes. The Sunnis will play a critical role in the victory of their desirable parties this time. Especially since the thousands of Sunni refugees, which were the result of ISIS presence in those areas, and the dissatisfaction of these citizens with the interaction of Sunni politicians with this issue can impose their shadow on the results.

IIWFS: What is your analysis of the future of The Popular Mobilization Forces’ (PMF) activities in the political arena of Iraq?

The presence of PMF in the election has advantages and disadvantages. The entry of PMF into politics gradually raises the risk of its entry into the common political queues in Iraq. PMF is a national and military institution and should not be a party to the conflict; it is made up of several groups, and its entry into politics and disagreement on political issues can lead to a split within it. In addition, their entry into politics and responsibility will increase the expectations of the people, and if these expectations are not met, we will gradually see its decline. In fact, the dissatisfaction of the people with the actions of politicians and parties over the past 14 years should not result in their dissatisfaction with the PMF and distrust of it. In addition, the body of the PMF is not intellectually and politically entirely homogeneous, and the probability of disagreement between them in the future is not unexpected.

In addition, the entry of the PMF into the policy and the realm of the decision as a progress that is close to Iran, has faced with US concern. Washington sees the presence of the PMF in parliament and the cabinet as an increase in the influence of Iran and its policies in Iraq. Just as the presence of the PMF in parliament and political centers would mean the emergence of an opponent outlook on US interests and intentions in Iraq. Therefore, it can be expected that in the presence of the PMF and its appointees in the political arena, there will be some challenges in Baghdad. The PMF and its weapons are expected to become a serious issue in Iraq and even Baghdad's relations with international and regional players.

IIWFS: What role will the current election play in the future power of the state?

I do not have much hope in the results that these elections will make. The diversity of parties and, possibly, the low voting gap between parties and alliances, will create a coalition or coalitions of different groups in thought and politics; and the current practice of the government and the governments that preceded it will continue to form a diverse cabinet. This is not the right thing to do to form a powerful government.

 

 

** This article is originally published in Persian and translated by A.R. Mirjomehri.

 

 

The future of Hekmatyar and Hizb-i Islami in Afghanistan

Conversation with Mohammad Hossein Jafarian

Former advisor and expert on Afghanistan

 

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, after making peace with the Afghan government, has had a special approach to the country's policy over the past year. To review the position of Hekmatyar and Hizb-i-Islami in Afghanistan and to further examine the matter, we had a conversation with Mr. Mohammad Hossein Jafarian:

IIWFS: Given the divisions of the Orghandiwal’s Hizb-i Islami in recent decade, the current political-military potential of Hekmatyar within the party, apart from the division of figures such as Hilal and others, to what extent Hekmatyar’s influence on the internal body of the party still exists?

Today, Hekmatyar’s influence is really minimized, because most of the main figures around him either became independent figures or they do not accept his leadership any more. In Hizb-i Islami, in the original sense of the word, (which has now become stronger due to the Saudis' dollars and riyals, and has been able to reconcile some of its former commanders in different parts of Afghanistan by money, not by the trust of the parties and the belief in the leadership of the party.) even if the money is taken from Mr. Hekmatyar, his spiritual influence does not have such a credibility in Afghanistan, which can lead to or prevent something to happen in Afghanistan.

IIWFS: In a recent speech by Mr. Hekmatyar, in the Pashtun group of the party’s body from the Paktia Province, they indirectly referred to the Paktiya army of one million warriors; to what extent Hekmatyar and Hizb-i Islami in the Pashtun area of the southern part of Afghanistan (especially the border regions with Pakistan) can own a military? In other words, how is Mr. Hekmatyar's military and mobilization capability in the southern Afghan region?

 

If he had such a privilege, before joining the peace process, he conveyed his several threats to the government in a number of suicide attacks (which later Hizb-i Islami claimed the responsibility of the attacks). If he could, he could have used it at that time. In the Pashtun areas, even if there are warriors and armed forces, most of them are inclined to the Taliban. The Taliban have serious contradictions with Hekmatyar, and a small fraction of them may join Daesh. If this small Pashtun section is annexed to Daesh, then there is a possibility that they will join Hekmatyar. Because their spiritual leader and their intruder to rule the affairs of the government can be Hekmatyar, but many of these forces are more in line with the Taliban, and this is a wish of Hekmatyar, who directly express it.

In fact, such a matter is not true. I also emphasize that, on one hand, the Kabul government declares that he has come to Kabul to carry out the peace process, but we see the worst offenses against Ahmad Shah Massoud, the national hero of the country (the national hero, the title which is given by the government itself to Ahmad Shah Massoud), and calling them ISI’s Pakistan spy. Hekmatyar himself stayed in Pakistan until 2 years ago, and his party's budget was officially funded by the ISI. But he accuses Ahmad Shah Massoud for spying, who did not accept any government’s funding to let them penetrate the country. So it turns out that he has not come to make peace. But for purposes like these, naturally, someone who has come for such purposes make a lot of claims, but how much of these claims are practical needs time to be realized.

IIWFS: Given the reaction of the mainstream Taliban to Hekmatyar's Hizb-i Islami during the past year and after the arrival of Hekmatyar in Kabul, how is Hikmatyar's attitude toward the Taliban, especially the mainstream Taliban, in the current situation?

The Taliban had a problem with Mr. Hekmatyar even before joining the government. Because Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is very diverse in mind and it is very hard to predict how he will behave, whether in the same way that he goes or not. Of course, Wahhabi and the radical Salafist tendencies in his party have long been evident, but they followed this trend from various ways through the Pakistan’s ISI, committing to Saudi Arabia, or joining al-Qaeda, and Hekmatyar’s commute in different groups which are subdivided into the same ideas and thoughts, has caused Taliban's distrust in the Hizb-i Islami and Hekmatyar. At a time when he approached the Taliban and announced his support of Mullah Omar and declared that they would be part of the Taliban, it soon became clear that this was not the case, and the Taliban officially declared their disagreement and contradiction with the Hizb-i Islami, and even wars occurred between them. Later when Gulbuddin Hekmatyar joined the government, the contradictions between the Taliban and the Hizb-i Islami increased. One year before joining the government, the diversity in Hekmatyar's thoughts and views was clear in his lectures and attitudes; for example, one year earlier, he believed that the foreigners and the United States should leave the country, but some time later, he joins the government whose house in Kabul is being provided by the United States. This is a sign that has nothing to do with the Taliban today. Although the Taliban is called a terrorist group and there is a protest against its kind of struggle, they are resistant in their vote and they do not lie. But, Hekmatyar has shown that he can simply change what he has already done and has determined as his goal, and actually do the opposite.

IIWFS: Over the past few years, important figures from the Hizb-i Islami or some of former friends of Mr. Hekmatyar, such as Orghandiwal, have shown that they are reacting to Hekmatyar. What is the current status of Mr. Hekmatyar's influence on the figures previously belonging to Hizb-i Islami? Especially that he had said that the future president would certainly be from Hizb-i Islami. To what extent is his speech a kind of magnification of his personality and the Hizb-i Islami which has the most votes in the Afghan society?

It must be admitted that Hizb-i Islami is rooted in Afghanistan and has been very influential, many of the prominent figures of Afghanistan, whether they are in power or those who are outside of Afghanistan, have been once in the party. Many of the current Senate senators, some former ministers and some vice presidents have been active in the party. Mr. Mohammad Khan (first deputy of Dr. Abdullah) was once in charge of the Hizb-i Islami’s intelligence and security department.

Many also believe that the current governors of Afghanistan also had a period in the Hizb-i Islami, but many later became enemies of the Hizb-i Islami. Because Mr. Hekmatyar is so self-centered that there is no other party along with Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i Islami. But there are dozens of other parties beside the Hizb-i Islami. Burhanuddin Rabbani, Dr. Abdullah, Ahmad Shah Massoud, General Fahim, Atta Mohammad Noor, Ismail Khan are among many other well-known figures, but in the Hizb-i Islami there is only one name and that is Hekmatyar

The problem of the Hizb-i Islami is the lack of branches and expansion throughout Afghanistan. The reason is that Hekmatyar did not allow other figures to be seen; when one came to a high level of popularity within the party, they would repress, threaten or reject him. The claim that the Hizb-i Islami has had much influence inside Afghanistan, is somehow correct, as many parties, now, have split from the Hizb-i Islami. But Hekmatyar, as in the past, has not an influence over the Hizb-i Islami, and he is much lonelier than in the past.

 

 

 

**The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of IIWFS.

-    Hello Ms. Levallois and welcome to our conference. It is a great pleasure for us to have you here in our conference. As you know our conference is about geopolitical crises in the Middle east and in Islamic World. I want to ask you that in your opinion do ethnic and racial diversities in Islamic World considered as a threat or it is considered as an opportunity?
-    I think it is an opportunity and not the threat. I think that minorities and diversity is a good thing for each society because diversity is a very good thing to have negotiation, to think and have open minds and I think it is very useful for all societies to have some confrontation with different people. You can speak, you can exchange Ideas, so It is maybe a good thing. You should have such a diversity, if you always be with the same people, you cannot think a lot because you are always in the same universe.
-    How we use this diversity to make integrity in our region?
-    I know it is very difficult but I think you should try to achieve this goal. It is a very important goal to reach. I know it is very difficult but I think that in the globalization, it is very important to be able to listen to the others and it is the capacity of here about having different people. You have to speak a lot; you have to exchange a lot. Everyone has to understand the other one. And in this way I think it would be a real opportunity, if not everyone is going to respect other's opinion and use them.
-    You know that about one hundred years has passed from Sykes Picot agreement and border issues are one of the most important geopolitical issues. Do you think that according to the presence of the Takfiri groups in this region and other major geopolitical issues here, is there the possibility that the countries be divided into more parts in the Middle East?
-    It is a real problem and issue. I do not think that Sykes Picot agreement is responsible of all problems in this region, there is another kind of problem in this region now. I think it is the problem of the evolution of the region and each society is looking at itself but there is some parties that want to change the borders.
I am very surprised that people in this region are very nationalist, they want to keep their borders and the Middle East to consist of little countries.
-    Do you think that it is possible for the countries of the region to put their borders away and think of a unified Islamic world?
-    Of course, the Islamic World must talk together to solve old problems and be powerful.
Of course they have to manage their unity in Islamic World and in the whole world. I think it is very important to have a real project of unity but that's the case and the problem but I think the most important issue for the arab world and Islamic World is to challenge all that is happening in the world and it is the matter of globalization.
-    Do you think that Islamic world can become as a bloc of power in the world?
-    If there is the unity, maybe. Of course, but by thus unity they can have a same project, a unified project toward the world. So it would be of course the most important issue of the Islamic World.
-    Thank you very much.