*US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Monday, of the future of Iraq that he did not expect to see a theocracy there like that of Iran. “‘There should be a country that is organized and arranged in a way that the various ethnic groups and religious groups are able to have a voice in their government in some form . . . And we hope (for) a system that will be democratic and have free speech and free press and freedom of religion.” The problem is that a democratic Iraq would be one in which the Iraqi people, not Donald Rumsfeld, got to say how they run things. I personally think Iraq needs a relatively secular system to avoid falling apart, since Sunnis and Shiites would fight if the Shiites try to impose a theocracy. The two systems of law are not the same, and Sunnis would find rule by ayatollahs unbearable. But it is a crying shame that Rumsfeld had no real plan for Iraq after Saddam, and can only mouth these platitudes that seem awfully far away from the 40-day commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn in Karbala.
*Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the al-`Arabi Satellite TV channel, “I believe the government led by Americans in Iraq will not be acceptable (to Iran).” He added, “This is a matter that will not be accepted by the Iraqis.” I noted that Jay Garner, head of the office of reconstruction in Iraq, today denied being the head of the country. He said the head would be an Iraqi, and that he hopes to wrap up his work in 3 months. It baffles me as to how the US is going to install a provisional government in only 3 months, that has a chance of presiding over free and fair elections two years later. The Bonn and Loya Jirga processes in Afghanistan were deeply flawed, and that country is still in chaos.
*It is a little bizarre that there has been no more news about the alleged arrest of Shaikh Muhammad al-Fartusi by Americans. One American officer said it sounded to him like a mix-up. There has been no independent confirmation of such an arrest. One news service reported that al-Fartusi was briefly held, then released. Others don’t seem to know about this. Some 5,000 angry Shiites demonstrated about it in downtown Baghdad, so you would think the Americans would clear the situation up ASAP. But they haven’t.
*Religious authorities in Karbala have come upon the files of the former Secret Police, and have decided to suppress them. They fear that if the identities of those spying on their coreligionists for Saddam became known, there would be an outbreak of reprisal killings. This is a very difficult issue. The Germans faced similar dilemmas when they came into possession of the Stasi records. The main difference between a free and democratic society and a repressed one is that in the latter the citizens are spied upon by the state. Everyone in power in the US should constantly remember this, and be reminded of it.