*The Sadr Foundation issued a statement saying that the Shiite community cannot be entirely satisfied with the new governing council, since the US fears the establishment of a Shiite state and works against it. The spokesman expressed hope that the Governing Council would appoint ministers that would benefit the country rather than for their own selfish purposes. He admitted that the Council had no choice, in establishing security, but to work with the US (AFP via Asharq al-Awsat). According to the Christian Science Monitor for July 14, Muqtada al-Sadr said after Friday prayers in Kufa last Friday, “The Americans will not establish a just government.”
*A donnybrook broke out Sunday between the followers of Muqtada al-Sadr and those of Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. The latter had a covering built over the courtyard of the shrine of Imam `Ali in Najaf, and then the Sadrists tore it right back down. A power struggle also appears to have broken out between Muqtada and his supposed mentor, Sayyid Kazim al-Haeri. Al-Haeri has urged the closing of offices commemorating Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr except in Najaf itself. Rather, he says, affairs should now be conducted by the Guardian (wali) of the Muslims, i.e., himself (al-Haeri). Al-Haeri appears to be setting himself up to the the Supreme Jurisprudent of Iraq, rivaling Ali Khamenei (the Supreme Jurisprudent of Iran), and he has to sideline Muqtada and the memory of Muqtada’s father to do so.
*Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a fatwa forbidding Iraqis to do business with Kuwaitis, causing a number of important Kuwaiti business deals in the South to fall through. The Kuwaitis say he wants to throw the business to Iran instead. It is plausible that he might want to reduce Sunni economic dominance over Iraq.
*India has announced that it will not send peace-keeping troops to Iraq except under a United Nations banner. The unilateralists in Washington maneuvered us into a situation where we are paying $4 bn. a month for our presence in Iraq, with no hope of substantial help from other countries. You know what? If Bush had put off the war 45 days, he could have gotten a majority of the Security Council to approve the war. And, if he had put it off until September, he might well have gotten the French and Germans and Russians aboard. Either way, he’d have more hopes now of off-loading some of the burden of rebuilding Iraq onto the international community. I think they thought Iraqi petroleum would pay for it, but that won’t happen for a while. The Indian papers are pointing out that this decision now puts pressure on Pakistan to reconsider its pledge of two brigades. Gen. Pervez Musharraf hopes to find an umbrella under the Organization of the Islamic Conference (foreign ministers of the Muslim countries) or some such internaitonal organization under which the troops could be sent to iraq. The idea of sending troops is highly unpopular in Pakistan, the people of which largely opposed the war.
*AFP points out that Cold Warrior Paul Bremer is turning out to be a progressive in Iraq. He talks about giving ordinary Iraqis dividends from the oil wealth, appointed a communist and several de facto socialists to the Governing Council, and has abolished the death penalty in Iraq. The latter is ironic, since Bush and the Republicans are so attached to the death penalty in the US (even though the evidence is mounting that it kills a lot of innocent and falsely accused inmates). Given that Saddam bulldozed so many into mass graves, it is entirely appropriate that the death penalty be abolished in Iraq. I can only hope the idea spreads back to the US.