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Erbil-Najaf Forum Discusses Shiite-Kurdish Relations

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Director of al-Qiam dialogue and coexistence forum, Salih al-Hakim, said that “political movements that ruled Iraq after the dictatorship era failed to achieve the state of citizenship,” adding that scholars in Najaf welcome dialogue between Kurds and Shiites.

Hakim was speaking Sunday at the Najaf-Erbil forum for Iraqi dialogue, which brought together leading Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish figures, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

The forum, organized by Rudaw Media Network in the Kurdistan Region, saw three panels that discussed the impact of ongoing protests on relations between Kurds and Shiites in Iraq, and the future of relations between the two groups.

Hakim said the obstacles hindering a Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish rapprochement in Iraq is the presence of Islamic Shiite political parties that do not represent Shiites in general, as most of their ideologies are “imported” and “alien” to the Iraqi society.

Also, Hakim said that Kurds should look at the real Shiites and start to rebuilt trust and strengthen relations with them.

Aref Nasrullah, the Public Relations Manager of Grand Ayatollah Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi in Karbala city, said that “the Shiite Marja’ [authority] always supported the positions of the Kurdish brothers,” adding that the Kurdish and Shiite causes were one.

“We should build the Kurdish-Shiite relationship, particularly at this sensitive time when the Iraqi people are at a critical juncture,” he said.

Also at the forum, Iraqi academic and political analyst Ghalib Shabindar emphasized the power of unity across ethnic and religious lines as a barrier against external influence.

He said the threat of external influence in Iraq should be addressed.

The head of the Center for Political Thought, Ihsan al-Shammari said the forum was a rare opportunity for intellectuals to discuss lukewarm relations between Shiites and Kurds.

“There are several Kurdish nationals that belong to the Shiite sect, therefore, strengthening relations between the two parties would greatly affect any political development in Iraq,” he said.

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