*According to Islam Online, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has issued a religious ruling or fatwa calling upon Iraqis to wage “civil” (i.e. nonviolent) “jihad” on the US occupation, by simply continually asking rather pointedly when the Americans are planning to leave. Sistani’s secretary and spokesman compared this period of psychological preparation for resistance to the year the Hizbullah in Lebanon took to prepare the Lebanese for resistance against Israeli occupation beginning in 1984. That analogy is not a good sign, especially coming from someone in the circle of Sistani, who has been a relative quietist. I’d say that if the US is still in Iraq in force next year this time, they may start to see trouble from the Shiites, not just the Sunnis as at present.
*Local US military officials had prepared to hold municipal elections in Najaf, but the polls were canceled by Paul Bremer, according to the NYT as reprinted in the International Herald Tribune. When disgruntled Iraqi politicians said in their newspapers that they supported the attacks on the Americans, they were arrested and jailed for four days for “incitement.” They complained that no such thing would happen in American to Americans (I am not so sure, actually. Incitement to violence is a crime here, and the only question is whether it presents a clear and present danger; one could argue that it might, in contemporary Iraq). Bremer’s team says that early elections in Bosnia allowed nationalists to get in, who proved obstructionist for years. Local US officials say they think Najaf was ready for elections and that the theocrats would have done poorly. A lot of Iraqis want early elections. In an 11 June interview with al-Manar Television, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq said, “We believe that general elections can be held in Iraq. The Iraqi people are prepared for them and nothing prevents holding elections. Elections were held in some parts of Iraq without any problems. The Security Council resolution stresses the need to expedite the formation of an elected government.”
*Shiite songs mourning the martyrdom of their holy figures, the equivalent of US Gospel music about Christ dying on the cross, have experienced a sudden revival in Iraq. CDs by Hussein al-Karbala’i are flying out of the stalls selling cd’s and audio cassettes. according to Lamia Radi in Baghdad.
*The interesting Weblog Letters from London by an Iranian physician named Mojtaba links today to Iranian sites written by Iranian young women.