Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sistani and Iraq's Politicians

Ali Mamouri reports on Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani's positioning in advance of Iraq's parliamentary elections next month:
Al-Monitor has learned from sources close to Sistani’s office that the office has ordered Sistani’s agents to maintain equal distance from all parliamentary blocs, while calling on the people to not vote for anyone involved in corruption or anyone who has failed in the previous stage, without mentioning any names. Sistani also indirectly advised the leaders of electoral blocs to nominate new and competent figures to regain the people’s trust...
It seems that the religious parties are trying to withdraw their support of Sistani after they used him to attain power. Also, it seems that there are new political alliances, whereby the Islamic Dawa Party, the main member in the ruling State of Law Coalition, has learned that it would be very difficult to get the support of the major Shiite forces like it did before. So there is a trend toward small blocs and blocs that broke away from larger blocs that adhere to Shiite "chauvinist" ideologies such as the Virtue Party, the party behind the Jaafari personal status law; Ahlul Haq, the radical group that broke away from the Sadrists; and the Badr Organization, which is directly backed by Iran.
It thus appears that Sistani feels that he made ​​a mistake by supporting Islamist parties and is now trying to preserve the independence of the religious establishment by staying clear of "dirty politics," and by correcting the political course in the country without getting involved in supporting a specific group that may repeat its predecessors’ mistakes.
The statement against voting for people who have failed previously is an unsubtle protest against the government of current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and continues the trend of Sistani hinting that he is disappointed in Maliki for not doing enough to promote national unity and improve the quality of governance in terms of economic and infrastructure development.



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