Saturday, December 23, 2006

Al-Sistani Opposes Bush's "Coalition of Moderate Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds" Plan

So much for Reason A the administration has been giving for the troop surge in Iraq (i.e., the U.S. will be marginalizing Moqtada al-Sadr and his militiamen and forging a coalition of moderate Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds to govern Iraq and take on the proponents of sectarian violence.) The Associated Press has the story:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric withheld support Saturday for a U.S.-backed plan to build a coalition across sectarian lines, Shiite lawmakers said, jeopardizing hopes that such a show of political unity could help stem the country's deadly violence.

Members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite coalition that dominates parliament, met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf after traveling to the holy city over the past few days. Al-Sistani holds no political post and rarely emerges from his home and adjacent office, but he has strong influence over Shiite politics.

Some members of the Shiite alliance have sought a coalition that would include Kurds and Sunnis, and sideline Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric whose militia is blamed for much of Iraq's sectarian violence. Lawmakers who attended the meeting with al-Sistani said the cleric opposed any move that would divide Shiites.

''There are obstacles in the face of forming this coalition, because al-Sistani does not support it. So we will work to strengthen the (Shiite) alliance,'' said Hassan al-Sunnaid, of the Dawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.


An official close to al-Sistani, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the cleric ''will not bless nor support any new bloc or front. He only supports the unity of the Shiites.''

Such a development could frustrate U.S.-backed efforts to persuade Iraq's political leaders to set aside sectarian interests and work together for the sake of national unity. Without progress in Iraqi politics, some observers say, the security situation in the country is likely to remain tenuous.

If al-Sistani is not backing the administration's "Moderate Coalition" plan, then it ain't happening. Which means the administration is going to have to use Reason B to justify their troop surge - the Kagan/Keane counterinsurgency plan that calls for American troops to act as referees between the Sunnis and Shiites in the ongoing sectarian violence.

Yeah, that should be easy to do with an extra 20,000-30,000 troops in Baghdad.

Yes, but altering rationales at a moment's notice seems to be one of the things this administration does best. The economy's booming, so we need tax cuts. The economy's in the toilet, so we need tax cuts. Iraq has WMDs so we need to invade Iraq. Iraq has al Queda ties, so we need to invade Iraq. The mission is accomplished, the resistance is winding down, everything will be fine after the election, after we write a constitution, after we catch Sadaam's kids, after we catch Sadaam, after we accomplish the mission, after we stay the course, after we stop staying the course, and we've never actually said stay the course, we're winning the war, we're not winning but we're not losing...

Happy Holidays.

Seasons greetings from the hot end of the earth. Look forward to rejoinging the fray when life resumes.
Oh...what kind of holiday post is this?

Anyway...happy holidays R-bE!
Thanks for the holiday greetings, everybody. I hope you and yours all have a happy, healthy holiday and New Year!

Cartledge, NYC is not as hot as where you are, but yesterday I went for a jog up 10th Avenue and had to take off my running jacket it was so warm! Nearly 60, I think - which has been where the temperature has been for most of December. NYC in December is supposed to be in the high 20's to low 30's!
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