Posted by Curt on 22 May, 2008 at 9:12 pm. 11 comments already!

Smells fishy to me:

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…

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…

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.”

This smells to me as people close to him posturing politically as they see Maliki gaining prestige.

Take a look at this line in the report:

All spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Hmmmm, where have we heard that line before from the AP? Then you look at the previous work of the two writers, Hamza Hendawi & Qassim Abdul-Zahra, and you definitely get a feel for some anti-American sentiment in their writing. Is this a case of some reporters hearing the political posturing and hoping it to be true?

Myself, I believe it’s baloney. Just remember, it was only a few weeks ago when the AP was writing about the coming doom for Maliki’s government when they faced Sadr. As usual, the AP was wrong then and maybe once again.

This should put the nail in the coffin. From todays AP report:

In perhaps another sign of al-Sistani’s hardened position, he has opposed disarming the Mahdi Army as demanded by al-Maliki, according to Shiite officials close to the cleric.

Oh really?


The Sadrists have been marginalized. Even the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been reluctant to make political interventions in recent years, pointedly condemned Sadr for refusing to disarm.

And:

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most revered Shia cleric in Iraq, backed the government’s position that the Mahdi Army should surrender its weapons and said he never consulted with Sadr on disbanding the Mahdi Army. Instead, the decision to disband the Mahdi Army is Sadr’s to make.

And just look here to see how the many aides to Sistani gave different answers to different people to the same question.

We shall see how this plays out but this looks to me like a few anti-American writers received some tips that they believe just have to be true and went with it. Kinda like that whole burning six episode aye?

UPDATE

This comment by Dale at Hot Air hits the nail on the head:

First of all, Juan Cole is an expert on NOTHING! He’s an Anti-Semitic, Anti-American, Pro-Jihadi Leftist Nutbag, a convert to the Cult Religion of the Baha’i, who has sucked up to the Ayatollahs and Mullahs of Iran and Shiite Iraq for years!

Second, on the Bullshit Scale, this is a pure 10 out of 10; Sistani doesn’t not at all believe in playing “politics”; he has issued fatwas in the past saying that his followers must not go against the “government”.

Second of all I’ve never heard of “individual fatwas” of jihad; it makes no sense to declare “jihad” against “occupiers” if you tell one or two people!

Just remember, Sistani may be Iranian by blood, but he definitely belongs to the Iraqi “Najafi” school of Ithna Asheri Usuli Shiites, the so-called “Quietists”, who are really influenced by the old apolitical “Akhbari” school if Shiites.

As Sadr, conversly, is Iraqi by blood, but he is definitely, theologically of the Iranian “Qomi” flavor of Ithna Asheri Usuli Shiites; instead of a “Quiteist”, he’s of the “Khomenist/Activist” stripe, a trouble maker and a pure Jihadist, who believes, unlike Sistani, in an active Political role for the Shiite Religious authorities.

Regardless, this is mostly BS, and political posturing by people close to Sistani, who are most probably worried by Maliki suddenly coming out on top in his battle with As Sadr, and they figure this might be a way to subtlely reign in Maliki, so he doesn’t get too powerful.

Ditto to that!

More here

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