Sadrists to Boycott Elections: Daraji
Shaikh Abdul Hadi al-Daraji, a lieutenant of the young Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, said Monday that Muqtada would not contest elections while Iraq was suffering American occupation. He said he expected the Sadr Movement to boycott the elections.
Darraji said, according to AFP,
“We believe that the elections under occupation will not be a fair and free one, we believe this election will be a forged one . . . When we, the religious authorities, reject the elections then those who follow us should not take part in it and they will not . . . What we want and our number one priority is a free Iraq so when Iraq is free and occupation is out then Sadr’s movement will take part in the political life in Iraq.”
The reports of the CIA buying the election give enormous credibility to statements by rejectionists like al-Daraji. I just heard the report on al-Arabiyah, but haven’t heard commentary yet.
Al-Hayat carries an exclusive story via Ali al-Rubai`i, an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ishaq Fayyad. Fayyad is an Afghan Hazara. He expressed anxiety and concern about talk of postponing the elections scheduled for January. He said that the concern is shared by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and that they plan to issue a joint statement on the issue. Fayyad insisted that elections are feasible, and that Iraqi government forces and “the Occupation forces” (i.e. the Americans) are sufficient to ensure an atmosphere of security in which the elections can go forward.
I was struck in this report by the talk of a joint Fayyad-Sistani communique. It makes me wonder if the two other Grand Ayatollahs, Muhammad Said al-Hakim and Bashir Najafi, have doubts about the feasibility and/or desirability of early elections. It is also rare that Fayyad speaks to the press– one almost never sees any statement by him, in contrast to Bashir Najafi. I wonder if Fayyad’s Afghan context, which is admittedly pretty weak by now, since he came to Iraq when he was 10, affects his view of the desirability of elections. The Afghanistan presidential elections are now in train, and the Shiite Hizb-i Vahdat Party is preparing for parliamentary elections this coming spring in Afghanistan.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports from Kuwaiti sources that the destruction visted on Najaf by the US assault on the Sadrists in August is far more extensive than usually realized. Ali al-Mu’min, who is with a humanitarian organization, said that ordinary activities were still at a standstill in Najaf, which seemed substantially depopulated, and that vast swathes of its buildings and homes had been destroyed.
The report is supported by the following email I received from Europe:
. . The Najafi guy living at my house got a phone call from Najaf on Saturday.
Hotel Nejef and Hotel “Imam Ali” (newly built in 2002) were flattened by American
cruise missiles during these last Sadrist months. Sadrist snipers were said to be the reason . . . Rajul Street, B’s childhood “hood” is rubble. Old, culturally, historically valuable buildings and surroundings like bazaar environment areas, several hundred years old, are rubble and dust.
The Valley of Peace, this huge churchyard is littered with cluster bomb cans – unexploded. Someone should dig in to that fact.