Sistani: Statesman of Iraq 

Sistani: Statesman of Iraq

Maybe this is the best the U.S. can expect from a truly popular leader in Iraq (or any Arab country?):

In responding to the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, who has been given a dominant position in at least the south of Iraq by the U.S. invasion, first "called for the Danish government to take measures against those who blaspheme Islam."

Then a fuller statement:

Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, condemned the cartoon depictions in a posting on his website Jan. 31.

"We strongly denounce and condemn this horrific action," al-Sistani said.

However, the cleric did not encourage any protests and he even placed some responsibility on militant Muslims for the negative way that Islam is depicted, AP reported.

He said some segments of the Muslim community were "misguided and oppressive" and that their actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood."

Meanwhile, are the Bushies actually trying to develop relationships with as many Sunnis as possibile, even if they were more or less Baathists not too long ago, in order to provide a counter-weight to the Frankenstein's monster of a Shiite/Kurd majority?

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador to Iraq, told Newsweek that talks had already started between the US and the Sunni insurgency at a military base in Anbar province. He said, "Now we have won over the Sunni political leadership. The next step is to win over the insurgents."

[blockquote]This peace between Washington and the Sunnis is a clear signal to the Shi'ites that they are no longer the White House favorites in Iraq. Reda Taki of the SCIRI [Supreme Council of the Iraqi Revolution] told the Christian Science Monitor, "I am prepared to go down into the streets and take up arms and fight to prevent the Ba'athist dictators and terrorists [in reference to the Sunnis] from coming back to power."[/blockquote]

[blockquote]Khalilzad came close to saying that the United States had abandoned the Shi'ites in an interview with the Washington Post, when he pointed out that any future US assistance to a Shi'ite-led government was at stake if an Iran-backed UIA [United Iraqi Alliance, which included SCIRI] leader became prime minister, bringing much joy to the Iraqi Sunni community. [/blockquote]

Just great. Absolutely first class.

Maybe Bush will invade Iran--not so much because Iran poses a threat, but to remove the Iranian prop from the Shiites in Iraq. If Bush wants one country to be a shining success before he leaves office, it is Iraq. Of course, if he invades Iran soon, this might help all Republicans in the off-year elections. And it all might be primarily about ... oil. Otherwise there are other hell-holes that would be a higher priority.

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