Stalemate Between Sistani And Governor

Stalemate between Sistani and Governor Sfouk in Karbala

Aamer Madhani reports on the stalemate in Karbala between the American-appointed provincial governing council and Grand Ayatollah Sistani. The CPA administrator there, John Berry, had consulted with tribal leaders and called for volunteers in January, when he expanded the membership to 40 from 17. Deborah Amos of NPR had done the best reporting in English on the crisis up to this point. The failure of the Americans to consult with the clerics in a holy city like Karbala seems frankly strange, and it must have been meant as a snub. Sistani and his deputy, Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala’i, took it as such. Sistani called on the council members to resign, and a fair number obeyed him. There is still no resolution. Sistani is insisting that there be elections, and rejects the legitimacy of Coalition Provisional Authority appointees.

The dispute (and the ability of Sistani to get council members to resign) is emblematic of the failures of the American administration of Iraq, which did not begin with cultivating constituencies but rather imagined itself having the ability to appoint leaders by fiat.