Oh, This Can’t Be Good…

May 22nd, 2008at 09:24pm Posted by Eli

Sounds like Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Sistani has reached his limit:

Iraq’s most influential Shiite cleric has been quietly issuing religious edicts declaring that armed resistance against U.S.-led foreign troops is permissible – a potentially significant shift by a key supporter of the Washington-backed government in Baghdad.

The edicts, or fatwas, by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani suggest he seeks to sharpen his long-held opposition to American troops and counter the populist appeal of his main rivals, firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.

But – unlike al-Sadr’s anti-American broadsides – the Iranian-born al-Sistani has displayed extreme caution with anything that could imperil the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

(…)

So far, al-Sistani’s fatwas have been limited to a handful of people. They also were issued verbally and in private – rather than a blanket proclamation to the general Shiite population – according to three prominent Shiite officials in regular contact with al-Sistani as well as two followers who received the edicts in Najaf.

(…)

It is impossible to determine whether those who received the edicts acted on them. Most attacks – except some by al-Qaida in Iraq – are carried out without claims of responsibility.

It is also unknown whether al-Sistani intended the fatwas to inspire violence or simply as theological opinions on foreign occupiers….

(…)

In the past, al-Sistani has avoided answering even abstract questions on whether fighting the U.S. presence in Iraq is allowed by Islam….

The subtle shift could point to his growing impatience with the continued American presence more than five years after the U.S.-led invasion.

It also underlines possible opposition to any agreement by Baghdad to allow a long-term U.S. military foothold in Iraq – part a deal that is currently under negotiation and could be signed as early as July.

Al-Sistani’s distaste for the U.S. presence is no secret. In his public fatwas on his Web site, he blames Washington for many of Iraq’s woes.

But a more aggressive tone from the cleric could have worrisome ripples through Iraq’s Shiite majority – 65 percent of the country’s estimated 27 million population – in which many followers are swayed by his every word.

A longtime official at al-Sistani’s office in Najaf would not deny or confirm the edicts issued in private, but hinted that a publicized call for jihad may come later.

“(Al-Sistani) rejects the American presence,” he told the AP, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment to media. “He believes they (the Americans) will at the end pay a heavy price for the damage they inflicted on Iraq.”

Juan Cole, a U.S. expert on Shiites in the Middle East, speculated that “al-Sistani clearly will give a fatwa against the occupation by a year or two.” But he said it would be “premature” for the cleric to do so now.

Great, wonderful.  So even if he doesn’t openly call for violence against American forces, he’s sure as hell giving it the green light.  And if both al-Sistani and al-Sadr call for jihad at the same time, the Iraqupation is over.  And not in a good way.

(h/t gorilla’s guides by way of Siun)

Entry Filed under: Iraq,War


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