Earlier today I posted denials from the Iraqi press, via Gateway Pundit, that Ayatollah Sistani was issuing anti-American fatwas. I did not, however, look closely at what the denials actually said. The ever-perceptive Diana West did, however, and she kindly sent in the following comments on the Iraqi announcement:
This is from a source close to the Office of the religious authority, Mr. Ali al-Sistani in Najaf today, Friday, blasted some news sites and denied that op-Sistani "is preparing to issue a fatwa calling for armed resistance against occupation".
West: "The AP reported he was issuing fatwas privately, not preparing to make a general announcement."
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, in an interview with "Newsmatik", "There is no truth to this irresponsible rumors in whole or even in part."
Source added that from the beginning of religious authority from the outset is that "Iraq is not ready for jihad or a military confrontation for the time being, after the devastation left by the great wars of the former regime."
West: "Iraq is not ready for jihad ... for the time being???"
The source said that Sistani "supports the resistance to the occupation, but not by military means, for the time being."
West: "'Occupation'? Not by 'military' means? Great. 'For the time being'? This is not exactly an overwhelming endorsement of US efforts!"
Indeed not. Sistani is, as his infamous list of unclean things shows, an orthodox Shi'ite, and these statements make it clear that he is also an orthodox believer in jihad, and as such supports Sharia and opposes the American presence in Iraq. In other words, he is about as far as anyone can get from the moderate supporter of democracy that American analysts have made him out to be.
More evidence of this comes from Juan Cole (thanks again to Diana West). Now, the only thing that Juan Cole and I have in common is that we are both carbon-based life forms, and I have never known him to be particularly fair or accurate in dealing with the realities of the jihad ideology, but I have no reason to believe he is fabricating this material. If anyone has any such information, please send it to me and I will post it. But this is in character with Sistani as we have always seen him and reported about him here at Jihad Watch:
Fars News reproduces in Persian on May 24, 2008, another anti-American fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf. It says that its correspondent in Najaf reports that an Iraqi Shiite submitted the following to Sistani:'I sell foodstuffs. Sometimes the Occupying Powers or their associates come to my establishment. May I sell them foodstuffs?'
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani replied:' Selling foodstuffs to the Occupying Powers is not permitted.'
Last I knew, the US military in Iraq does not buy its food from Iraqis but rather imports it, for fear that Iraqi nationalists might poison it. But I'm told US soldiers do buy food and snacks from Shiite shops in Baghdad when out on patrol. So the fatwa would affect the latter but not the former. But if Sistani is laying the grounds for a Gandhi-style non-cooperation movement, he certainly could put a crimp in the American military's style in Iraq. I can't imagine US troops could function in the Shiite south or much of Baghdad without Shiite cooperation. Sistani still has a great deal of moral authority, and would be backed by less cautious clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr and Ayatollah Jawad al-Khalisi.
This fatwa is significant in light of the reports that Sistani has been orally permitting attacks on US troops by Shiite militiamen loyal to the Shiite religious authorities in Najaf.
Then an Iranian news service reported yesterday that Sistani is also coming out against the proposed mutual security agreement between the United States and Iraq that is intended to serve as a Status of Forces Agreement after the United Nations Security Council authorization for US troops to be in Iraq expires in December.
See also Diana's post at her blog about Sistani's reaction to the Qur'an-shooting.