Friday, June 06, 2003

Today there was a meeting in Iraq between Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's highest-ranking Shi'ite leader, and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to discuss the political situation in post-war Iraq. Sistani has been silent about Iraqi politics until now, though he is known to believe that religious scholars should express opinions but avoid political power and favor non-violent means of achieving political change. During the war there were reports that he had issued a fatwa urging cooperation with the U.S., but these turned out to have been exaggerated. According to the New York Times, Sistani criticized humanitarian conditions inside Iraq and supported a swift transition to Iraqi rule. He was also said to have expressed the feeling the Americans are making mistakes by appointing Sunnis to govern Shi'ite areas. I hope the U.S. takes him seriously, as he seems an important, winnable voice in the new Iraq.


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