*Khu’i appears to have been killed in Najaf by a mob of radical followers of the 22-year-old Muqtada al-Sadr. His father had been a supporter of Khomeini in Iran, and the links to pro-Iran radicalism I speculated about yesterday are being confirmed by al-Jazeera and Reuters. This factionalism in Najaf, and the loss of the moderate Khu’i, are both big setbacks for the US. He was apparently trying to protect Haydar Rafi`i Kalidar, the shrine keeper, from a mob following Muqtada, and chanting his name. They also chanted against Khu’i, who they thought was asserting religious leadership. al-Jazeera is saying that the radical followers of al-Sadr are threating the two grand Ayatollahs, Ali Sistani and Sa`id al-Hakim, in Najaf, and insisting that they leave the city within 48 hours.
There appears to have been no fatwa by Grand Ayatollah Sistani on not opposing the US. It is possible he made such a statement orally to persons in contact with Khu’i, but his office denies a formal ruling. It was Khu’i who said that there had been such a fatwa. That may be another reason he was killed.
The breakdown of order and widespread looting in Iraqi cities continues. The US government knew there would be this problem, and just did not prepare for it sufficiently. If they had been more patient and gotten the Europeans on their side, some of them have mobile gendarmeries that could have been inserted to keep order. The US military lacks such a capacity. Would it really have mattered if the war had started in September? Rumsfeld’s umbrage at criticism on this issue is misplaced. Under the 4th Geneva Convention, the US as occupying power is responsible for ensuring order and the security of life and property. It is failing in that responsibility so far.