[Sistani and Khamenei played a decisive role in the liberation of Mosul]
Because what happened in Iraq and Mosul affects not only the future of Iraq and the Iraqi people, but deeply and strongly concerns the future of (all) the peoples and countries of the region, and the future of the (Islamic) Community as a whole. There is no doubt that the victory proclaimed yesterday (July 10th, 2017) in the city of Mosul by the head of the Iraqi Government and Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Dr. Haydar al-Ibadi, surrounded by military and security officials, is a very large and very important victory, there’s no doubt. Now, although some want to diminish its importance, its scope, its major character, there is no doubt that this is a very large and very important victory, which comes in a context of progression and combination: a number of victories were accumulated and led to this particular victory in the city of Mosul, with the particularity and importance of Mosul.
It comes in a context of progress and accumulated victories of Iraqis against Daesh and terrorism at Diyala, Salah al-Din, Anbar and other Iraqi provinces, which brings us back to the early days, of which we’ll talk about a little in order to draw lessons, the first days of very heavy and bitter fighting that occurred between the Iraqi people and Iraqi forces on one side and Daesh (on the other), and the very wide and fast progression of Daesh who seized several Iraqi provinces until reaching the outskirts of the capital Baghdad. It was 3 years ago, we all remember this broad surge, very fast and very violent.
There is no doubt that the affliction was very big for the Iraqis, who found themselves facing a sedition wherein the grown up are made feeble and the young grow old and the true believer acts under strain till he meets God (Sermon of Imam Ali). There was a generalized state of confusion and dizziness, and a feeling of helplessness, paralysis and widespread despair. The magnitude of what happened was truly colossal, far too big for one to recover easily.
The fatwa of (Shia) religious authorities was published quickly in the Holy City of Najaf (where the tomb of Imam Ali is located), the fatwa of His Eminence Grand Ayatollah religious Marja’ Sayed Ali Sistani (first religious authority in the Shiite world, where a Marja’ is an example to follow and representative of the Prophet), may God protect him, making defense and jihad mandatory (general mobilization until victory) for any individual who can bear arms and fight and making it mandatory to face Daesh with all the force (required). And he stated that this responsibility extended to all, and that the one who was killed in this battle and in this confrontation would be a martyr in the path of God Almighty and Exalted.
This is the place to start our discussion, because the fatwa of (Shiite) religious authorities and their historical call at this time to all Iraqis is the cornerstone and the decisive point of departure of this beautiful conclusion and this great victory. This turning point, this entrance, this door, this source (are the decisive factor).
Well, why… Some might say that we are (unduly) trying to give this fatwa and this stance of religious authority (Marja’iya) this enormous and capital significance. This fatwa and this historical stance, what have they brought?
First, they have released the Iraqis and everyone from confusion, dizziness, paralysis. (Before this fatwa, they did not know) what to do, how to react. Fight, do not fight? What was the right attitude, the right stance (from the religious point of view)? Because in the end, it comes to combat, effusion of blood, to kill and be killed (so one cannot act lightly). In some ways, the fatwa has settled this question decisively and put an end to the confusion and paralysis regarding the (right) stance, saying it is a duty and obligation for all to fight, to defend, to cope. It settled (the question) decisively. See, so (it was only) a few short sentences, and how great was their historical impact?!
Second, it has clearly identified the enemy decisively: the enemy is Daesh, which was originally called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) about which some have been duped and believed that it was an Islamic movement or an Islamic revolution. Some media have welcomed Daesh warmly and regarded it as a part of the Arab Spring and the popular revolutions, and they cheered, applauded, supported and assisted. (But) the fatwa of religious authority (Marja’iya) came to declare that Daesh was the enemy to be fought, and that jihad against it was a jihad on the path of God, and the one who was killed in this fight would be a martyr in the path of God the Almighty and the Exalted. (This fatwa) has therefore determined the identity of the enemy and the threat that had to be confronted.
And third, it made the responsibility to fight it everyone’s responsibility. The fatwa or historical appeal of religious authority (Marja’iya) was not addressed only to Shiites. It turned to all the sons of the Iraqi people, to all the Iraqi people, in all its diversity: religious, doctrinal, sectarian, racial, because the fatwa, although its nature is religious and jurisprudential, expresses deep truth taking a humanitarian, moral and patriotic stance which applies to absolutely every citizen of the Iraqi people. And so the responsibility rested on all and the call was made to all.
And fourth, the fatwa has raised the ceiling of confronting this threat and it decided the aspect of this confrontation, far from any paralysis, any exchange or negotiation, any calculation, any discussion of time and any search for solutions here and there. And this blessed and major fatwa managed to awaken the people of Iraq with lightning speed, and it pulled him out of his state of confusion, paralysis, distress and despair.
And the popular and official response (to this fatwa) was massive. This fatwa has given a strong impetus and a huge spirit of enthusiasm to the officers and members of the Iraqi security forces, in all its components and denominations. And this fatwa and this call have driven hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, young and old, to join the front lines and engage voluntarily, which led to the founding of the blessed Iraqi People’s Militia (Hashd Cha’bi) that formed early on as the true strength of Iraq and still is, alongside the Iraqi forces of which they have become a part.
This is why when we speak today of the victory of Mosul, and of the victories before this victory, we must start from there, from the fatwa of religious authority (Marja’iya) and its historical call, as do all Iraqi leaders in their statements and speeches, and as must any honest person in the world if it considers the situation in Iraq and is trying to understand, analyze or present it to people.
Well, after the issuance of the fatwa, as we have said, there has been a massive response.
First, from the Iraqi government at the time, which was led by Mr. Nouri al-Maliki, and this reaction has continued strongly with the government which was subsequently formed under the leadership of Dr. Haydar al-Ibadi. And all governing bodies have responded in this way: religious, political, parties, movements and orientations in their diversity. And this fatwa has received broad support from other religious authorities in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere. And in Iraq also, it received broad support from Sunni scholars as well as Shiite scholars. This is a very important point on which I will return during my speech. The popular reaction was very strong, massive and truly blessed.
Similarly, the decisive stance – we must strive to be factual and realistic, we do not want to exaggerate anything, but we must be fair and impartial – the decisive stance came from the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his head His Eminence and Guide Imam Sayed Khamenei, may God protect him, alongside (other) religious authorities, and with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people, and the speed of action of the top leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards by their presence in Baghdad, and permanent and absolute readiness to provide any assistance or support from the Islamic Republic.
All this happened, but the most important is the popular reaction, the presence of (Iraqi) people, honorable families, clans from all regions, of all affiliations, those who defended (their country) by the apple of their eyes (their beloved ones on the front line), wives, children, brothers, young, beloved (fighters). This is where the real power, the real value are. When there are people who respond to this call, this fatwa, this stance, who take up arms and rush to the front lines, this is the true and fundamental force that caused this change (the Daesh retreat and defeats) and allowed that stance to be embodied at the levels of the human, moral, ethics, the homeland and history, and therefore to shape these victories.
All this occurred in a regional and international context about which we can say at least that there was a regional and international neglect and abandonment of Iraq, its government and its people, at a minimum, and at a higher level, more median, we must speak of the conspiracy and the complicity of certain world powers and certain regional powers that have acted as facilitators, founders of Daesh, who supported, financed and gave it all the facilities so that it could grab land between Syria and Iraq, and they accompanied it in its battle against the Iraqis during the last years. Such was the regional and international situation.
[Iraqi people was heroic, the USA had a merely cosmetic role]
Well, so what did the Iraqis do? This is really what I want to describe, I don’t bring anything new but I want to describe it. For the Iraqis themselves so that they cling more to it, and for the rest of the peoples of the region so that we draw the lessons, to add this experience to the rest of the experiences that were conducted in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Yemen and elsewhere in these battles.
First, the Iraqis have made their choice by themselves, and they made the decision to fight, to shape their destiny and their future by the struggle and by their own hands. It was the first thing. Second… And sorry, therefore, they did not wait the Union of Arab countries, nor the meeting of the Arab Foreign Ministers, nor the Kings and Presidents of Arab countries, nor the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation which is now called the Islamic assistance organization, nor the international community, Europe or America, nor anyone else. That’s it, they counted on (themselves)… They placed their trust in God, and they counted on their will, on their men and women, on their blood, on their Jihad and sacrifice. Of course, it is a fundamental lesson about what has happened in Iraq for 3 years so far, and what is currently happening.
Second, they united behind this patriotic choice: the Presidency, Ministers, the Assembly, the Government, movements, parties, political forces, in the diversity of their racial and religious affiliations. And as I have already said on several occasions, it must here be emphasized that many great scholars among our Sunni brothers in Iraq, and Sunni political leaders, had a very special and exceptional position.
Why? Because some have worked, from the first moments of the Daesh attack against the Iraqi people, to present the battle as between Sunnis and Shiites, which is really too bad – and here the same Governments, the same States, the same TV channels, the same personalities, just like they tried to do in Syria, in Lebanon, and just like they presented the Yemen war, as their speaker at the Sacred Mosque (Mecca) said, how it’s (supposedly) a war between Sunnis and Shiites. What has thwarted this sedition, turned it off and has obstructed its way is the sincere, truthful and courageous position of scholars and Sunni politicians in Iraq, who gave this battle its true dimension, saying, well, it wasn’t a Sunni-Shiite battle but the battle of Iraqis against the murderers, criminals and takfiris who attacked everyone, threatened everyone, and shed the blood of all (without distinction).
Thus, the unity, in the second point, around this choice, and third, the (massive) entry of all on the battlefield. And that’s why the Iraqi armed forces, in the diversity of their names and their labels, include all Iraqis, all the sons of the Iraqi people who is noble, great and fighting, as well as for (the forces of) popular mobilization, to which belong naturally more Shiites because of the demographic component of Iraq, but it is a patriotic and popular mobilization regrouping many different denominations. This massive presence of all of the components of the Iraqi people on the ground, the clans who fought alongside the Iraqi national forces, etc., etc., it is not simply taking a political stand, words or speeches, but a (very) strong field presence. (So) the (massive) participation of all (Iraqis) on the ground (is the third point).
Fourthly, the ground (itself). The perseverance on the field, the courage, the acts of heroism, especially in the first moments, because the logistics situation was difficult with drastic lack, and the surprise (from the attack of Daesh) was very large. Despite major problems, despite the very tough weather conditions, despite the location and geography of Iraq, despite the fact that the enemy was ready and that the friends were not, there were acts of heroism and great sacrifices. The endurance, the sacrifices, the tens of thousands of (fighters) always ready (to defend Iraq) on the ground, who have not abandoned the battlefields, thousands of martyrs, thousands of injuries, their families, their patience, their sincerity, their honesty. The fact that the Iraqi people supported and endured this very wide and total confrontation at all levels, psychological, moral, economic, security… Because the fight took place not only on the battlefield, but also in all the cities, all Iraqi villages that were targeted by suicide bombers and car bombs. The fact that the entire people has embraced and joined the armed forces, the battles, the Jihad, the combat, the permanent extension of the front lines. This endurance and patience during the 3 years of bloody fighting and gaping wounds, were also (very) important (for the victory).
And the final factor (there are others but I am as concise as I can) is the fact that Iraqis didn’t listen to the foreign powers (Western countries and their allies). This is a very important point, from which all the peoples of the region who face threats and dangers must benefit (and draw lessons). The fact that they did not listen to the foreign powers. This foreigner whose role, since the beginning, and until now, is to cool down Iraqi courage and zeal, to say to the Iraqis that they will not defeat Daesh, because Daesh is such, such and such (invincible, monstrous, etc.), in order to generate conflicts, seditions, sensitivities, disputes between Iraqis at the time where they had more need than ever of unity, of keeping the ranks in the fight against this terrorist enemy, these foreign powers who called them to surrender, which (was striving to) paralyze their will and determination.
The Iraqis have not listened and followed them, they didn’t listen to Governments, States or TV satellite channels, these TV channels which continue to this date to support Daesh, indirectly. And, similarly, not to rely on foreign powers, not listening to them and not relying on them. They did not count on the abroad. They waited for no one. They began (the fight) by themselves, they persevered and defeated (Daesh), and they continue.
Here, I want to remind of a very important and very sensitive issue which deserves that we stop and ponder carefully about it. Initially, the United States, along with NATO, only watched the Iraqi people, the Iraqi army, the (forces of) popular mobilization and Iraqis (in general), they (merely) watched them while they fought, sometimes with bare hands (with very inadequate equipment) and provided no help whatsoever. (Then at some point) the Americans eventually started to say they wanted to help, act, and of course they waited very long before making any step, and they also said that the elimination of Daesh would require… Some said… Of course, we are talking about Presidents, Ministers of defense, heads of the CIA. They said that (to defeat Daesh) would take 30 years, this battle against Daesh in Iraq and Syria would take 30 years. Then they made some cuts and announced 25 years, some got down to 20 (years), and finally (they said) 15. But the most optimistic U.S. officials said 10 years.
Knowing that in truth, those who knew Daesh, its capabilities and the number of its fighters knew that with the presence of international and regional will, and a national will in Iraq, Syria and in the region, it should not take years to (defeat) Daesh, if all efforts were combined and sincere. But when the American have spoken of 10 years at least, and 30 years at most, this means that there is a vision, a project, a thought to invest in Daesh, to enjoy and use it to implement projects and specific objectives which, in all certainty, are not in the interests of the Iraqi people, Syrian people, Palestinian people or of the peoples of the region, but in the interest of the American hegemony and in the interest of Israel.
That’s why one could say, because as I said this issue deserves to be pondered and thought about, one could say that in the end, in the last battles, lately, the United States came and brought some assistance (to the fight against Daesh). But what is there behind this aid? When did it start? What is its extent? We must stop (and think), because some can tell us “but why are you not honest? Why don’t you speak of the assistance provided by the United States?”
There are currently Arab TV channels who want to present what happened in Mosul as a U.S. success, an American victory. And it is of course a lie, a fraud, a confiscation (of the victory achieved by the) efforts and sacrifices of the Iraqis themselves. In truth, this is here we say that we should focus on the issue. That is, for example, when we go back to the speech of [Donald] Trump I mentioned on more than one occasion, in which he accused, with true accusations – and there is also a confession of other American officials –, the Obama administration and Madam [Hillary] Clinton when she was Secretary of State to be those who have created and founded Daesh, supported Daesh, have allowed regional allies to finance Daesh, have opened the borders to Daesh, have bought Daesh oil at more than one border: the Turkish border, the Jordanian border and others.
So considering what’s happened (the damage caused by Daesh), the United States are key responsible for all this. Well, then, why did the United States came to help? They discovered that this choice had failed. That as they say in Lebanese, it had put their back against the wall. Etc., etc., etc. They went over to the other side and abandoned their creation, their ally and their instrument, because the base for the Americans isn’t the values, morals or principles but the big interests, because they wanted to be associated with the victory about which warning signs began to appear among Iraqi soldiers, in their blood, their sacrifices, their stamina and perseverance. This of course requires that we stop over it calmly and think.
[An opportunity to eradicate Daesh permanently]
What has happened so far, and up to (the victory in) Mosul, here are its true and essential factors to which the Iraqis must hold: their national decision (to defend the country), their unity, their (massive) presence on the field, their respect, their love and continual eagerness to answer the calls of religious authority (Marja’iya) and their unyielding willingness to make sacrifices, their level of consciousness and awareness, their rapid and effective action without procrastination or delay, here are the decisive factors in achieving the current victories.
Based on what I have just presented, we extend our congratulations first to His Eminence Grand Ayatollah and Religious Marja’ (authority) Sayed Ali al-Hosseini al-Sistani, may God preserve him, to all the Marja’iya (religious authorities) of the holy city of Najaf and all Marja’ (worldwide) who supported and welcomed this position and this fatwa (from Sistani ordering mass uprising against Daesh).
We congratulate as well Iraqi officials from all positions, the presidencies, the Government, the Council, all the officials and cadres, especially the leader of the Iraqi government and armed forces Commander-in-chief, Dr. Haydar al-Ibadi, all religious and political leaders, parties and movements in Iraq, all officials from the military and security forces and the popular mobilization (Hashd Cha’bi), all officers, soldiers, fighters in this blessed and epic struggle, and all of our dear and oppressed Iraqi people, a tough fighter, whose blood has triumphed over the sword (reference to the martyrdom of Imam Hussein triumphant against Yazid b. Mu’awiya). We congratulate in particular the families of the martyrs, the wounded and those who sacrificed themselves (for the cause), because the blood of their martyrs and their beloved produced victory, dignity, honor, future and history and a triumph in this world and in the other, and here lies the great victory.
We congratulate them all for this historic, divine and blessed victory, as we congratulate all those who have supported and assisted Iraq in this decisive battle for the future, above all Iran and His Eminence the Supreme Leader and Imam Sayed Khamenei, may God preserve him.
O my brothers and sisters, all must feel, in Iraq and outside of Iraq, that this victory is their victory. This victory belongs to all Iraqis, and it is also a victory for all the peoples of the region a victory for all those who fight terrorism and face it, and a victory for all those threatened by terrorism morning and evening, in all of our Arab and Muslim world, and even all around the world.
The liberation of Mosul is a major breakthrough, extremely important and decisive on the path towards the (complete) eradication of Daesh. Because Mosul was the largest city controlled by Daesh and was truly, for them, the center and the capital of their caliphate usurping (the name of Islam) and it is from there that was announced a new stage in the establishment of the takfiri project that was being prepared (to be imposed) to all the people of this (Muslim) community. And that is why the liberation of Mosul is a success in this path and its consequences will be enormous for Iraq, for Syria and for States, governments and peoples of the region and even the whole world.
In short, if we go back a little, 3 years ago, and formulate a hypothesis: if the Iraqis themselves had not raised (massively), if they had weakened and got desperate, had retreated and had not assumed this responsibility, and Daesh had took possession of Iraq, what would have been the future of the Iraqi people as a whole? Muslims and Christians, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Chebeks, Yazidis, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Sabeans, etc., everyone! What would have been the future of Iraq, its civilization, of all peoples and States in the region?
Even the Gulf States who supported Daesh, have assisted and applauded it. These states whose hearts got filled with fear when Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the caliphate from Mosul. For it then became a threat to themselves.
So today, with the victory of Iraqis, as I have always said, the victory of their (fight) and defensive jihad is the victory of all, in defense of all the Arab peoples, of all Islamic peoples and all States and governments in the region, and of the security around the world that Daesh threatened and continues to threaten. This is a very large and very important victory, which is why we hope, to conclude this part (in my speech), what we hope from our Iraqis brothers, from Iraqi leaders, from the Iraqi government, from Iraqi parties and movements and from the Iraqi people, as was the case for 3 years to date, that they do not be content with the victory of Mosul, and it is certain they will not be content, but their priority must be the purification of the rest of the holy Iraqi territory [Imam Ali and Imam Hussein lived and are buried there] from this terrorist, takfiri and bestial presence, this cancerous presence that can take over and spread again.
This presence will not accept defeat and will not allow Iraqis to celebrate their victory. (It will launch) terrorist operations, car bombs, suicide bombers. This is why the security of Iraq, the safety of Iraqi cities and neighborhoods will be obtained only by the final eradication of this terrorist takfiri organization. Check points, patrols and security measures are very important, but more important is the eradication of this criminal and murderous terrorist presence, and this is what must remain the priority. Some will try to occupy and monopolize the Iraqis with other things instead of this priority that may be important to a lesser degree, but what preserves and strengthens the victory in Mosul and all the victories that preceded and make the victory of Mosul a very solid basis for decisive and final victory is that it remains the priority.
Meanwhile, in Syria, fighting (continues) on more than one front, led by the Syrian Army and many forces fighting takfiri terrorism in Syria simultaneously (concertedly) between what happens on the Iraqi and Syrian lands and this is something I mentioned earlier, I said that if we fought together, each on his position, his territory and his land, but simultaneously (concertedly) and in this unified front, we will achieve the final victory.
So, today, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the peoples of the region and regional states frightened and terrorized by Daesh, are in the presence of a historic opportunity allowed by the sacrifices of Iraqis, Syrians, and all those who stood by their side. We must seize this opportunity and not spoil it, as we say in everyday language, we must strike while the iron is still hot. We must not allow this iron to cool down and not allow Daesh to prepare again, to start again or to provide an opportunity for its supporters to attend again (to its needs). (Enemies) must discover that the popular, massive, national and local will is able to finalize these victories, God willing.
Congratulations on this victory to all the poor and oppressed, and all those who are threatened by this barbaric organization (Daesh). Remember what happened in Mosul (and elsewhere): one is accustomed to the enemy (Israel, US) going after our people and our families and threatening to kill our women. But that an armed organization goes after its own people, the very one it claims to defend, it’s a new thing that has perpetrated Daesh. Daesh killed this people when they wanted to leave (Mosul), they shot them in the back, it’s something new and unprecedented. Daesh is a really terrible model.
Thus, this threat that soiled the image of Islam, shed blood, was attacking civilization (itself) and served the interests of the enemy to an extent that nobody ever reached through all the past decades, we are today, with the victory of Mosul, faced with a historic opportunity to eradicate it. We must seize this historic opportunity.