Monday, November 22, 2004
I remember long time ago when Ayatollah Sistani thwarted US-backed plans to hold caucuses all over Iraq, I was furious with the guy. I am allergic to those who claim that they are God’s ambassadors on earth and I definitely didn’t like the way the old man stuck his nose into politics.
Today, I admit that Sistani is one of the very few people In really admire! I also started to admire the Shia sect for keeping the doors of Ijtihad (reasoning) open. The Shias gave birth to lunatics such as the ruling clerics in Iran and Muqtada Sadr, but there are also enlightened clerics such as Ayatollah Sistani, Sheikh Iyad Jamal Al Deen, and many oppressed moderate Ayatollahs in Iran. Unfortunately, it seems that only lunatics nowadays are monopolizing the Sunni religious structure.
Sistani’s main objective is to ensure that Shias are well represented in Iraq’s future government. He doesn’t care whether a party is religious or secular as long as he ensures the broadest base of Shia politicians. I’d like to briefly outline below Sistani’s actions within the past year and half:
Invasion: Sistani issues a statement urging people in Najaf not to interfere with the invading US forces. When an American commander tried to approach his home in order to talk to him, people thought that the American soldiers will storm the shrine. Sistani’s men asked the people to stay calm.
Elections, elections: After refusing to meet with any American official, Sistani thwarted US plans to set caucuses all over Iraq. He demanded direct elections as the way forward and with a flip of a finger pushed throngs of people to the streets.
Sadr Showdown Part 1: Muqtada’s Sadr gang occupies the holy shrine in Najaf after battling US forces. Sistani orders all armed forces to leave the city and says that Iraq’s police should take over. American forces withdraw, Sadr’s gang remain in the shrine (they even took possession of the shrine’s keys).
Sadr Showdown Part 2: Sadr rises again. Sistani, along with the 4 major clerics, leave Najaf. He goes to London for heart treatment. The Arab world appears to care about Najaf than Sistani simply because the Americans are hitting it (imagine if you cared about the Vatican more than the pope). Sistani again calls all armed forces to leave Najaf. When that didn’t happen, he discreetly allows AC-130 warplanes to do the job. He returns to Najaf when it was obvious that Sadr is begging for his mercy. The old man just taught the sucker who the real boss is.
Fallujah Part 2: Sistani is silent and he will remain silent. First, the Salafis/Wahabists/Baathists are Sistani’s enemies as well especially since some of them really want to drag the Shias into a civil war. Second, Sistani stood silent during Najaf (or at least he didn’t offer any condemnation). He knows very well that what happened in Najaf had to happen and what is happening in Fallujah had to happen a long time ago.
When Sadr rose up, I said that Sistani should be the one who puts him down and it happened. Now, today’s Sunni insurgents do not have a Sistani, who will put them down? I’ll offer my speculation in another post.