Please Mr. Sistani: Be Gentle 

Please Mr. Sistani: Be Gentle

As Mickey Kaus says, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani should be Time's "Man of the Year." "If we have any hope of achieving our goals in Iraq, it is thanks to him, no?"

And yet: Sistani's plans do not necessarily fit with Bush's plans, or with the promises Bush has made. Some day we will need a two-column table. Heading #1: Bush View. Heading #2: Reality.

As the San Francisco Chronicle says: "The recent traffic to the doorstep of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in this southern shrine city leaves little doubt about who is really the most powerful man in Iraq."

The ascendance of Shiite Islamists has transformed Iraqi society, especially throughout the Shiite south. The Shiite parties successfully pushed through a Constitution that gives religion a greater role in government and paves the way for the oil-rich Shiite south to become an autonomous subregion.

In the south and in places like Baghdad's Sadr City suburb, Shiite factions have substituted Shiite militias for police forces, promoted religious courts to deal with family law, demanded that women wear the veil, and in many places have banned alcohol, dancing and concerts.

The main Shiite parties thoroughly dominate Shiite districts. Posters for secular parties like that of Nouri or former prime minister and U.S. ally Ayad Allawi are regularly torn down or spattered with black ink in Najaf and in Shiite areas throughout the country.

Maybe it is Sistani who will be honoured with a statue in Baghdad. Or would that be a sin for him? Graven images?

More here and here.

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