Shiite Political Differences widen Gap between Najaf, Qom

This led to a fierce debate between the Najaf and Qom schools. While the former represents the traditional vision of the Shiite opposition to the participation of the clergy in power, the latter represents the pro-velayat-e faqih (doctrine that hands supreme power to a religious figure) modern vision. While the controversy gradually started to evolve with the degeneration of the unstable political situation in Iraq, it is now expanding to include detailed political topics related to the political affairs of Iraq.

Haidari enjoys the full support of the Iranian regime. The official Iranian Al-Kawthar TV, an Arabic-language channel, offered him a show that has been on for more than a decade. The show aims to criticize the ideological positions and the related political affairs opposing the official Iranian stance, and it had provided Haidari with fame and influence among the Shiite Arabs, especially in Iraq.

A source close to Haidari said on condition of anonymity that Haidari has also received financial support directly from the office of the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on a monthly basis. In addition, the Iranian regime has provided Haidari with special security protection from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while many other senior clerics in Qom were not treated with such privilege.

Consequently, Haidari allowed himself to claim the Shiite authority for his own and proclaim himself as “the religious authority, Sayyid Kamal al-Haidari,” as well as expand his circle of influence among Iraqis. Today, he gives weekly intensive lectures about Shiite theology, jurisprudence and mysticism, in addition to conveying his own political views.

Meanwhile, he has been trying to gain popularity within Najaf’s hawza since 2003, but he has been failing due to the opposition expressed by the traditional school there.

Haidari is known for not only opposing, but even attacking Najaf’s traditional school and its main pillars, such as Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei and Ali al-Sistani. The dispute between them was originally due to Haidari’s affiliation with the Iranian velayat-e faqih, clearly opposed by Najaf, and he is now one of the prime candidates for the Iranian regime’s endeavor in Najaf after the 86-year-old Sistani, the current authority there.

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