Sunday, May 25, 2008
Sistani Becomes Militant
It beggars belief that some people actually think Sistani has issued fatwas that condone attacks on the US forces in Iraq. The man who tacitly approved the US invasion in the first place and who conveniently decided to go to London for medical reasons at a time when the US and Iraqi armies overwhelmed the Mehdi Army in Najaf has now suddenly become "militant". Or so we are told.
As Sistani was coming out of the plane in London, an aide rushed towards him nervously and said "Your moving too fast" to make it seem that he is in desperate need of medical attention and to reassure his followers that he did not come to London because of the pre-planned attack on Najaf, where Sistani lives. Of course when word spread about this phenomenal "coincidence" Sistani overcompensated by returning to Najaf while it was still being attacked by the US and Iraqi forces, much to the annoyance of the US and Iyad Allawi who, after unsuccessful attempts at pleading with Sistani's son Mohammed Ridha to give him more time to cleanse Najaf, slammed the phone so hard he broke his hand.
Sistani constantly dodges in and out of politics (somewhat reluctantly) because he feels forced to act in the best interest of Iraq (e.g calls for elections). Sistani absolutely loathes politics, in London, when he asked me what I plan on studying I said "Politics", he shock his head in dismay and said "Politics is no good, politics killed your father and it is going to kill you".
When push comes to shove he feels obliged to enter the political fray, but to issue a fatwa saying killing members of the foreign occupiers is legitimate just isn't Sistani and it is therefore not surprising that these dubious "fatwas" have come from anonymous sources who claim Sistani spoke of his approval at attacking foreign troops in private. Sistani is extremely vague when it comes to these sensitive issues and we only hear from officials who have met him who tell us what happened behind the closed doors. Sistani, his son and his office never say anything, so don't hold your breathe for a comment from them.
Juan Cole is certain that a 'expulsion fatwa' from Sistani will "restore the respect for the grand ayatollah in the Shiite south, which has slipped as a resentful population has turned to the Sadr Movement" as if his respect in the south has been compromised by a 35 year old Moqtada who has far less religious credentials than his son. The type of people who follow Sistani are not the same as those who follow Sadr, and that is something Dr Cole's friend Patrick Cockburn seems to understand. Juan Cole goes on to say "Sistani's two likely successors, the Afghan Ishaq Fayyad and the Pakistani Bashir Najafi, may have different views than Sistani on this matter" not realising that the most likely successor is actually Mohammed Saeed Al-Hakim.
If "The" Fatwa does come from Sistani, it would have a massive impact on the future of Iraq, that much is pretty straightforward and acknowledged by all, but when will such a fatwa be issued? Bearing in mind the blood that will be shed and the chaos it will cause, I think never.