Sistani: An ex-moderate?
We used to hear all the time that Sistani was a moderate. But it should be clear to everyone now that he wants Sharia in Iraq, and, in accordance with Sharia principles, will not side with infidels against a fellow Muslim. From The Guardian:
Iraq’s most powerful Shia spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, warned the United States against entering the holy city of Najaf in pursuit of his militant rival, Moqtada al-Sadr, it was reported yesterday.
A senior Shia source told Reuters that Ayatollah Sistani had declared Najaf a “red line”.
The warning came as 2,500 US troops gathered around the central Iraqi city in pursuit of Mr Sadr and his Mahdi militia. It is significant because that US incursions into the holy city would unite Shia factions, and possibly spark a broader uprising among Iraq’s majority population.
The sensitivity of the situation appeared to have been taken on board by the US military and General Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said talks were under way to try to avoid a bloodbath in Najaf.
General Myers, on a visit to Baghdad, said the US admin istrator Paul Bremer was using “multiple channels” in the negotiations to resolve the situation both there and in Falluja, where more than 700 Iraqis have died.
The stand-off around Najaf came during a day of violence in Iraq, alleviated only by the release of three Japanese hostages who had been threatened with being burned alive by their captors.
Only hours earlier, Italian security guard Fabrizio Quattrocchi was shown to have been executed by hostage takers. Film of the execution was sent to the Qatar-based television station al-Jazeera.
In Baghdad, an Iranian diplomat was assassinated only a day after Tehran revealed the US had asked for its help in defusing violence in Shia areas. Khalil Naimi, first deputy at the embassy in Baghdad, was shot dead near the Iranian embassy in the Salhiya neighbourhood.
In the face of a rapidly deteriorating situation, the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that over 20,000 US troops would have to stay in Iraq three months longer than expected, breaking an earlier pledge that combat tours would not last over a year. The decision kept the US troop level in Iraq at 135,000. It had been due to drop to 115,000.