Sunday, November 06, 2005

Al-Sistani Said to Weigh Pullout Demand


Iraq's top Shiite cleric is considering demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and foreign troops after a democratically elected government takes office next year, according to associates of the Iranian-born cleric.

If the Americans and their coalition partners do not comply, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani would use peaceful means such as mass street protests to step up pressure for a pullout schedule, according to two associates of the cleric.
via John Quiggin Via Juan Cole.

This is huge news, actually at the moment a huge rumor or trial balloon. I think even Bush might grasp that it is unfeasible to try to remain in Iraq against Sistani's will. I, however, am interested in another question. Forgetting about Sistani's power, does his rumored opinion tell us anything about what would be best for Iraq ? That is, should we trust his judgement ?

It might seem odd to follow the teachings of a reclusive 76 year old who has devoted his life to studying things like just how much oral sex is ok with Allah (some OK but no exchange of bodily fluids). Still, thinking back to his many disagreements with the Bush administrations and its viceroys, when was the last time that Sistani was wrong ? I mean wrong about how to achieve the shared aim of a peaceful Iraq.

I'd follow his advice and not just because he's the only guy who can control Moqtada al Sadr.

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