Iraq Kurdish Leader Muthanna Amin in a Feature Interview with Ikhwanweb

Iraq Kurdish Leader Muthanna Amin in a Feature Interview with Ikhwanweb

-Resistance is a project of victory not suicide, and what”s going on in Iraq now is no more than chaos.

-The discourse of some Islamic movements is generally emotional lacking in objectivity and practicality.

-The federal relation between the Kurd region and the central government in Iraq is the best.

-Resistance must be led by a national figure unanimously agreed upon and a strategic plan with clear milestones.

-Saddam”s regime had been the harshest and most discriminative against the Kurds throughout history.

-Our first priority now, before driving out American occupation, is to rebuild and restore stability to Iraq.



Could you briefly introduce to us the Kurdish Islamic Union in Iraq?


The Kurdish Islamic Union is considered a natural extension of the Islamic movement in Iraq since the 1950s with extensive experience in educational and organizational work.  Its emergence in Kurdistan, however, starting with involvement in charitable, educational, cultural and propagative work, followed Iraq”s independence from Saddam”s rule in 1992 accompanied by the issuance of the party law in the Kurdistan region upon which the union declared itself a political party in 6/2/1994 corresponding to its 14th anniversary.


What are the reasons behind your absence from the arena, and what were the circumstances that led to the dissolution of the Islamic movement in Iraq during this period?


The Islamic movement was an integral part of Iraq until 1973 when Dr. Abdul-Karim Zeidan, the movement”s leader at the time, issued a decision for its dissolution under the pressure of the Ba”th party.  Organizational suspension continued until the early 1980s during which the movement began to restructure itself into groups outside and inside Iraq.  After the Iraqi-Iranian war in which Kurdistan was a target of extermination, the movement was forced to immigrate to Iran where the leadership, including the Secretary General of the Kurdish Islamic Union Salah El-Din Mohamed Bahaa” El-Din settled creating organizational and educational bases there.


How was Iran able to host a Sunni Islamic ideology such as the Islamic Union despite the clear differences between the two ideologies?


Iran hosted Salah El-Din not as the leader of the Islamic movement, but as a refugee who was escaping oppression in Iraq.  Then, when they later discovered his role in the organization he was detained for more than eight months and prevented from resuming his work.  But the peaceful and clear nature of his work which was free of animosity or incitement forced Iran to accept this situation.  Iran today, however, has not offered a true opportunity for the Islamic movement to develop within it, and since Salah el-Din is Iraqi and his target audience are the Iraqis, the tension between the Union and Iran didn”t escalate.


Saddam”s First Absence


When did the Islamic movement resume its propagative work following the organizational suspension that you mentioned?


It followed the absence of Saddam Hussein.  Actually he had two absences:  One in which he was absent from the Kurdish areas after Kuwait”s independence in 1992.  When he was driven out of Kuwait he was besieged by the countries for suppressing the revolutionists and opponents in the South killing and torturing thousands of them.  Then, before reaching the North with his army, more than three million Kurds immigrated to Turkey and Iran in a million-mass immigration that stirred uproar throughout the world.  When these countries were not able to accommodate these large numbers of immigrants, the UN called for their repatriation in Iraq.  But Iraqi refugees refused to return as long as the Saddam regime remained.  So arrangements were made necessitating the proposal of a project that was called “the peaceful asylum” by the Security Council, and under American-British protection these areas in the north became the “peaceful asylum” for repatriating Kurd refugees.  By virtue of this project, borders were drawn to include only around 80% of the Kurdish lands excluding the petroleum city of Kirkuk and the Iraqi regime was forced to withdraw its army, security, and intelligence from the region.  When this was completed, Kurdish parties returned to the battle of political life but the region was left with a complete administrative vacuum.


What were the impacts of this vacuum and how did you deal with it?


When the Iraqi regime withdrew its army and security it withdrew all state services and institutions with it including public utilities such as water, electricity, and petroleum.  Hence the region was fully boycotted and left with an administrative vacuum.  In order to fill in this vacuum Kurdish parties in 1992 formed a regional government that would manage the region”s affairs which continues until today.


During this period, were there elections to fill up this vacuum?


Yes, there were elections and somewhat a democracy afflicted by third world deformities.  But it was democratic to an extent and still is, from my point of view, at least better than the experiences of other countries in the region.  Anyway, that was the first absence of Saddam.



Saddam”s Second Absence


What about his second absence?


After the first absence in 1992, the region began to see stability and economic and cultural revival in all spheres compared to the period during the Iraqi Ba”th regime.  The Islamic movement also began restructuring its bases within a new framework.  The second absence, then, was in 2003 when the regime fell and Iraq was occupied by other countries.  Therefore, the Kurdish situation is different than others in Iraq because it had already gained its independence from the Iraqi regime since 1992.


How do you observe the region”s gains in general and the gains of the Kurdish Islamic Union in particular?


The Kurds have always struggled under the shackles of oppression and extermination recorded in history with the blood of thousands of martyrs and massacres carried out by the Iraqi regime which was one of the harshest against Kurds throughout history.  The Kurds in 1992 however gained security from being targeted in addition to the opportunity to govern their own affairs upon which the Kurdish government was formed.  This is a really big achievement for the Kurds, on the political level, after the long period of subjugation and suppression they have suffered.  However, this achievement was limited to only 80% of the region”s land rather than 100%.  At the cultural level, the language of education was transformed into the national Kurdish local language along with Arabic studies.  At the economic level, more development opportunities for the region endorsed by international organizations that found more freedom for constructing their projects were offered.  One of the greatest achievements was also the liberties gained following Saddam”s absence from the region especially the increased freedom for the Islamic Movement probably not available in any other country in the region.


Were there any new developments in the organizational frameworks of the Islamic Movement during this period, especially after the splits it suffered during the Saddam era?


As we mentioned earlier, in the early 1980s the movement had started to restructure its organizational hierarchy and ever since an organizational nucleus for the movement had formed attracting different circles to it until the beginning of 1992.  When the leaders then returned from Iran and immigration and settled in Kurdistan, matters improved as in less than one year all the dispersed organizational units were reunited under the name of the Kurdish Islamic Union.  No group had strayed from this general agreement except for one which called itself the “Islamic Renaissance Movement” and which later joined another movement eventually forming an independent organization.


In fact, our approaches were one and differences were only on how to manage the organization and who should lead it. Unfortunately, though, these differences led to others which were unnecessary.  Anyhow, this is how any organizational split occurs; through secondary differences and justifications, and history is full of such stories that eventually led to the foundation of new schools of thought later on.


Kurdistan and the Central Government


What is the relation between Kurdistan and the Central Government in Iraq?


It is a federalist relation, although the features of this federalism haven”t become clear until now due to the lack of cumulative experience in the field of federal and union relations.  This type of relation allows the people of a region to manage their internal affairs, based on accordance, in the different institutions such as education and development, and formulate the laws that govern their region.  At the same time the region is connected with the Central Government through more than one central authority such as the Ministry of Finance, Currency, and Education as a symbol of sovereignty in addition to a Central Army that protects the borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in diplomatic representation.


I would like to point out that while the Kurdish area was completely independent from the Central Government during the Saddam era, it is now federally connected with it. In this is unity for Iraq rather than its deterioration as some claim.


Was this federal relation based on mutual agreement or was it compelled, especially as there were visions and scenarios proposing Iraq”s division into three states:  Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite?


This federal relation is the most ideal solution requested by the Islamic Union for several reasons.  First, because it”s necessary that people”s privacy within one state be respected and for their requests of self-governance and developing their local culture be met in view of the fact that color and language differences are among the signs of Allah which should be respected. Therefore, respecting this diversity is respecting this sign.  It is also a way of achieving justice in the distribution of wealth and power.  Therefore, federalism is what unites Iraq, and the Islamic Union sees that the federal union is the most suitable approach for resolving the conflicts in Iraq.


As for how this federalism should be like in the future, this is another issue, but past experiences have proven the success of the federal system.  For example, America consists of 50 federal states but is standing firm and one of the strongest countries in the world, not to mention other union experiences.


But who is pushing for this proposal and these scenarios?  


Let people say or wish what they want.  What”s actually happening is another matter.  Before a year or a year and a half at the most, this proposal had not been circulating within the Iraqi circles.  Those who are pushing for it are the Shiite in the South who want the South to be under their control and later negotiate the rest.  We as an Islamic Union have no reservations against federalism in the South if the true majority of people agree because we as an Islamic Union must make our choices on firmly established grounds of legitimacy and majority rule.  We do not take stands based on obsessions or fears.


For instance, when Kosovo wanted to gain its independence, there were those who were in support of this and those who opposed.  It”s not about who wants or who doesn”t as much as it is what the people want for themselves and who they want to represent them?  We must respect peoples” choices and let them reap the results or consequences of their choices.  This is the logic of Islam, legitimacy, human rights, and democracy.


The Federal Choice


Did the Kurds prefer federalism over full self-independence of the region?


The Kurds chose federalism as a suitable situation rather than separating from Iraq not because they don”t want independence.  Honestly, independence is the dream of every Kurd.  Imagine 40 million Kurds with no symbol, flag, map, or foreign representation.  Wouldn”t they dream of having their own state?!  But is a Kurdish state an appropriate step in this phase?  Is it in Kurds” or the region”s interest?  Kurd politicians in Iraq believed that it was not in Kurds” interests now, nor Iraq”s, nor the region”s, to establish an independent Kurdish state and therefore the Kurds opted for federalism.  Also because the opportunity for separation was not very promising in the midst of some regimes who show no respect for democracy, legitimacy, or people”s choices, and hence wouldn”t have cooperated constructively with this infant state surrounded by enemies.  Therefore, the choice was that Iraq be a strong independent state able to protect the Kurdish people rather than a separated infant and weak state.


Does anyone in Iraq refuse this federalism in the North, or see it as posing a threat to Iraqi security and stability?


Currently, there are no true powers in Iraq opposing this federalism in the North because it has united Iraq rather than dividing it.


The Iraqi Scene Today


How do you observe the Iraq scene today in view of all the given conditions?


We had a vision and point of view on what would happen before, during and after the current Iraqi scene.  This vision, however, was not widely accepted within the Islamic movement which was charged against the U.S. and its policies in the region through several hot issues in addition to the distorted image they had of the Iraqi regime and the events taking place in Iraq.


Our vision before the regime”s fall was that America was going to topple the regime for self-concerns.  After the regime”s fall, Americans would invade Iraq whether for or against our will and that the Security Council would not be able to prevent them.  So were faced with two alternatives:  Either to pursue Iraqi interests in the midst of these dangers surrounding us by endorsing the good, reducing risks, and fully confronting the Americans.  But we believed that Iraqis would not resist and I had written an article four months before Saddam”s fall (during which I was in Cairo) and distributed it to several intellectuals, professors, and Islamic propagators when I was asked why we participated as an Islamic Union in the conferences held in America and London even though we knew that they were conspiring against Iraq and other such accusations.


So I replied through this article explaining that the war will end before two weeks with the fall of Saddam and the Iraqi people will not resist Americans nor Satan so long as Saddam is present and because the people are psychologically frustrated and living in a situation of division and splits, and because the army has collapsed to its lowest levels.


I remember after the regime”s fall after 19 days, which is more than the time I had mentioned in the article by four days, Dr. Abdul-Hamid El-Ghazaly met with me in Cairo and told me:  “What you said became true which we didn”t believe.”  I replied:  “I said what I did because I”m an Iraqi, and I know the Iraqi reality well, nothing else.”


Strategic analysts predicted that Iraq would be America”s grave and another Vietnam.  But we were sure that Iraqis would not fight with Saddam and that the regime was inevitably going to be toppled.


We believed that the sectarian, racial, and national divisiveness would not have made a unified national project in Iraq that all Iraqi spectrums would agree on possible and that, hence, we would be confronting Americans divisively and eventually find ourselves in a civil war in Iraq.  Hence, instead of entering into a full-scale military confrontation with Americans we thought it would be better to focus on rebuilding and re-establishing Iraq internally with strong determination disregarding the American military blow to the regime in order to bring Iraq back firmly on its feet in a state that justly represents all Iraqis.


Finding A Way Out


What is the integrative national project for saving Iraq from the conditions it is currently suffering?


First, we would like to tell those raising the flags of resistance which lack a unified strategy, instead of focusing on driving out American occupation your primary concern now should be building Iraq.


But there is a point of view that contends that upright building isn”t possible under occupation?


This is a problematic argument most people can”t get out of but it is only one-sided point of view.  Yes, there is occupation but neither you nor your desire will drive it out.  So then what”s the solution?!


Should we live another twenty years divided up without a state and in the middle of chaos and bloodshed?  That”s not logical thinking.  Can you determine now who is fighting who?


Right now, there are those who are killing for killing”s sake threatening stability in Iraq and killing tens of innocent people every day with the excuse of driving out American occupation.  But this is naïve reasoning as this approach goes against Iraq”s interests, and can”t be the path to rebuilding Iraq.


Aside from emotions and slogans, the political project must be based on practical and logical considerations.  For instance, look at the case of Afghanis with the occupying Soviet Union.  They freed Afghanistan with bravery and a million martyrs, and drove out the Russians, but later winded up killing each other because they lacked a national project that would unify them.  Later, they brought Taliban over, who in turn brought them the American occupation which is now worse than the Russian.


I see that the situation under occupation is better than internal chaos that only leads to more chaos as long as Muslims wealth and blood are preserved and the ultimate aims of Islamic legislation are realized.


Regaining Iraq”s health and stability and stopping the bloodshed in the name of resistance and the end to chaos and loose security is much more important than driving out Americans, because rebuilding Iraq will itself drive out Americans as national leadership that is able to take decisions and maintain Iraq”s security and peace is established.


A question that arises, though, is:  Who holds the power to declare war on America?  Do every five or six people who join together and choose their leader have the authority to declare war on America?  This is how it is being done right now.  Tens of flags are raised and tens of allegiances and tens of projects.  Where is the one flag that all Iraqi people can gather under in one national project for regaining Iraqi independence?!


So what is the proposed alternative for this split resistance and these multiple flags?


The right step to be taken now is rebuilding Iraq.  This would be the first phase of liberation.  There must be constitutional institutions that truly represent the Iraqi people and unified decisions agreed upon by the Iraqi majority.  But what”s going on right now is chaos.  We don”t know who is killing who?!


Jihad (struggle against transgressors) requires a leader, a strategic project, and a unified national leadership since it is a project of victory, not suicide.  This is the reservation that we have on the direction resistance has taken currently.


How do you observe Iraqi resistance now, and what would you like to say to those fighting in Iraq?


Resistance requires a national figure who is widely accepted and supported, who has a national plan for ending occupation and a vision for the future resisting at times, and making peace and negotiations at others to achieve the higher interest, and so on.


Do the different groups that claim they are resisting Americans and pursuing the liberation of Iraq adopt this type of thought?  We are not accusing anybody”s intentions, but I doubt or could even say for sure that these groups neither have a vision or a national plan, and their actions in Iraq today have created chaos and tension.


Sunnis resisted Americans and prevented themselves from political participation opting for the martial alternative and now the Iraqi army has become dominated by one sect which in turn affected Iraqi security and will affect the future of Iraq probably for as long as ten years ahead.  Who is responsible for that?


We used to believe that this state that is being built, in spite of it being built under occupation, should be built jointly considering that we have no other better option.   Either we cooperate in building Iraq or not cooperate, hence hindering the liberation of Iraq and losing everything, and instead be replaced by others who will change the situation to fit their personal interests and plans leaving people divided, with no security, services, or stability, but in chaos and continuous bloodshed who knows when it will end.  Which alternative would you choose?!


The Reality of the Islamic Movement


How do you assess the discourse of the Islamic Movement now?


Unfortunately, and very honestly, the discourse of the majority of Islamic movements is still emotional and full of slogans and driven by the emotions of the masses rather than the objective interests of the nation.  Although this is not the case in all matters, it is the general condition.  This is why many decisions and stands issued by most of the Islamic movements are harming the Islamic project and hampering its progress.


Islamic movements must move on from the general to the particular because politics isn”t like Islamic propagation, and it is not managed through emotions.  The children of Islamic movements have been raised on the art of Islamic propagation and mastered it which is why they can”t part it in their speech in political matters.  But many times it”s just not appropriate.


Here is where Ibn Khaldun”s statement “Scholars are the people most far from politics” can be true pointing to the Islamic propagators who focus on the general and are chained by Islamic legislation rather than fatwa (Islamic rulings in particular situations).  And there is a big difference between the two. Islamic legislation is general and fatwa is applied to special situations.  So what may be prohibited for you may be and obligation or necessity for me.  There are many examples to illustrate this point which I will not be able to address due to limited time.


We understand well that Americans don”t want what is good for our nation, and that they are the first supporters of the Zionist military instrument and have a joint plan.  But their presence in Iraq has been given more importance than the unnecessary chaos and bloodshed that have spread in Iraq.


The more and quicker Iraq”s health is restored; the easier the way to stability, security, and rebuilding Iraq.




About Dr. Muthanna Amin Nadir


      He was born in Haljaba in 1970

      He studied science of Islamic legislation in Islamic secondary schools

      He graduated from the Faculty of Sharia (legislation) and completed his Master”s and Doctorate degrees in Aqeedah (Creed) and Islamic Philosophy

      He earned an Advanced Diploma and Master”s Degree in Political Science

      In the field of Islamic propagation, education, and training, he specialized in women”s issues for around seven years, three of them acting as a consultant for the World Committee for Women and Children in Cairo for three years.

      He is currently heading a unit for women”s studies and issues in the World Moderateness Center.

      He became a regular affiliate of the Islamic Movement since the mid 1980s

      He is a member of the Leadership Council of the Kurdish Islamic Union in Iraq.