Thursday, April 10, 2008

Grand Ayatollah Sistani Weighs In On Sadr's Mahdi Militia

In a major development, Iraq's highest Shia religious figure, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a public statement backing PM Maliki's call for Sadr's Mahdi Army to turn its weapons over to the government.


This is incredibly good news for Iraq today. If Sadr is isolated and disbands his militia, the only security concerns remaining in Iraq will be the remenants of al Qaeda, Iran and criminal gangs, with neither of the latter two able to operate under the cloak of religious sanction. This could well mark a titanic shift in Iraq's security situation. Iran's deadly meddling will fall into stark relief, it will be much easier to combat, and it will be a possibly fatal setback for Iran's dream to "Lebanonize Iraq," as Ambassador Crocker referred to it, by creating a Hezbollah, beholden to Iran, out of the Mahdi Army.

In the wake of the Basra Offensive and the Sadrist uprising, PM Maliki stated several days ago that the Sadr militia needed to be disbanded or that he would enforce an apparently already existing law that would prevent any political movement associated with an existing militia from taking part in upcoming elections. Sadr, who steadfastly refused calls in the past weeks for his militia to turn their weapons over to the government, said in response to Maliki that he would consult the senior Shia clerical establishment. Yesterday, a spokesman for Sadr issued a statement implying that he had in fact consulted Iraq's senior cleric, Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and that Sistani had approved the continued existence of his militia. Grand Ayatollah Sistani has responded publicly.

This today from Bill Rogio:

With the Iraqi government applying pressure to the Sadrist movement and Muqtada al Sadr to disband the Mahdi Army, Iraq’s senior Shia cleric has weighed in on the issue. 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.

. . . Sistani did not sanction the Mahdi Army and called for it to disarm.

"Sistani has a clear opinion in this regard; the law is the only authority in the country," Saghier told Voices of Iraq, indicating Sistani supports Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and the government in the effort to sideline the Mahdi Army. "Sistani asked the Mahdi army to give in weapons to the government." . . .

Sistani’s statements are the latest in a series of moves to politically isolate the Sadrist movement and delegitimize the Mahdi Army. On March 25, the Iraqi security forces started an operation in Basrah designed to clear the city of the Mahdi Army. After meeting early resistance in Basrah and fighting broke out in Baghdad and the South, the Iraqi military rushed reinforcements to the southern city. Six days after the operation began, Sadr ordered his fighters off the street. The Mahdi Army took significant casualties while the Iraqi Army secured the southern cities of Hillah, Kut, Karbala, Najaf, Diwaniyah, Nasiriyah, and Amarah in days. Clashes are still ongoing in Sadr City.

On April 6, Iraq’s Political Council for National Security moved to bar the Sadrist movement from participating in upcoming provincial elections in October if it did not disband the Mahdi Army. The plan had the full backing of Sunni, Kurdish, and Shia political parties.

The move caused panic inside the Sadrist movement as their political isolation became apparent. "We, the Sadrists, are in a predicament," Hassan al Rubaie, a Sadrist member of parliament said the day the Political Council for National Security announced the plan. "Our political isolation was very clear and real during the meeting." he said, referring to the meeting of the Political Council for National Security, where the legislation was announced. "Even the blocs that had in the past supported us are now against us and we cannot stop them from taking action against us in parliament."

Read the entire post. And I would note that none of our MSM is carrying this story. It is a travesty. If you want the important news from Iraq, the starting point is Bill Rogio and his Long War Journal.

1 comment:

Dinah Lord said...

I saw this yesterday and thought - wow, this it good news. Why isn't the MSM covering this? Then I remembered that they really kind of want us to lose...


(Sistani looks like such a happy fellow, doesn't he?)