Moulvis and Marxists

Muqtada al-Sadr is the son of Mohammad Sadeq Al-Sadr, the renowned Iraqi Shia Islamic scholar.

He is the leader of the political organization called Sadrist Movement (al-Tayyar al-Sadri).  Sadrist Movement is an organization that declared Shia Islamism as its own ideology. Muqtada al-Sadr and his movement grabbed world attention by pushing people to take to the streets against America during the period of occupation.  But the reason for which he is in news now is different.  When the results of the Iraq Parliament elections that took place on May 12 came out, it is the Sairoon Alliance led by Sadr that is in the lead. The gains made by the coalition of Sadr who adopts a stance against America and Iran simultaneously, has caught huge global attention. In the elections where about a dozen alliances competed with each other, although Sadr’s alliance has only 54 seats in the 329-member Parliament, the coalition has the largest number of seats. They are likely to come to power in Iraq by joining hands with other alliances, although this would be much delayed due to the complications related to the announcement of Iraq election results.

It is not only the fact that Muqtada al-Sadr’s alliance is leading that has stunned the people. The constitution of that alliance is more amusing than that. Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) founded in 1934 which is the oldest Communist Party in the Arab world, is the prominent coalition partner in Sadr’s alliance. Representatives of the ICP have been elected in two seats. Suhad al-Khateeb, the female candidate of the party, has won a seat in Najaf, the holy city of the Shias. The Communist Party securing a representation in the Iraq Parliament has been noted all across West Asia.  Bringing autonomy in Kurd-free areas in Syria is a significant progress made by the Left Front in West Asia in the recent past.  This section known as Rojava Communists are those who experiment with rare Communist models in the world. They are in many ways not in good terms with the mainstream Left Front organisations in the world. However, they stand with the Parliamentary/mainstream Communist parties at the national level in Iraq.

In a Muslim majority nation, a classical Communist party forming an electoral alliance with a party which adopted Islamism as ideology is an amusing feature when we ponder over it in our context.   In Palestine,  Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Left Front organization and Hamas, an Islamist organization do work together, cooperating in several ways.  There was an Islamist-Communist cooperation in several sectors in Arab countries such as Yemen and Egypt as well. However, it will likely be the first time an Islamic party and a Communist party openly form an alliance, face the elections and make progress. And that is the most notable side of the Iraq elections.

The Communist party might not find it difficult to frame explanations about forming an alliance with an Islamist party; they are experts in that matter.  Thus the official organ of CPM in Kerala wrote that "forming alliance between Sadr's alliance with religious positions, and the Communists with secular positions, was something no one could think of until a few years ago.  But the elections have proved that it has emerged as an alliance acceptable to the people".   To develop meaningful interactions with different political streams is important in democracy. However, the Communist parties that uphold progressive claims of dogmatic purity find this difficult most of the times. Their alliance with the Sadr party proves that the Communists in Iraq have succeeded in getting out of the walls of such pristine claims.

Unlike in Iraq, Muslims are not a majority community in India.   They are a persecuted minority whose very survival is being questioned. In such a situation, the survival of Muslims is a big political issue.  The Communist organizations in India fail to even connect productively to the outfits and movements formed in the wake of that political crisis. The Left in India is following the same plan, used by ruling class, of portraying all Muslim political manifestations as extremist. This is also the reason for the LDF in Kerala to still keep the Indian National League (INL) formed under a Muslim initiative, at a distance despite its cooperation with the Left Front for 25 years.  Alongside Left purity doctrine, the upper-caste shuddhi (purity) mind-set also plays a role in shaping the conscience of the Left Front in India.  If the march of the Iraqi Communists paves way for new discourses, it will highly benefit democracy.

 

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