*A huge march was staged yesterday in Casablanca, with tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of participants. Morocco’s Jewish community was among the marchers. But the rally, led by PM Driss Jettou, excluded members of Morocco’s largest Islamist party, Justice and Development. Apparently this was in part for fear that the Islamists would be attacked by angry crowds, as happened a few days ago at a smaller event. But it also seems likely that the mainstream Moroccan government is using the march for anti-Islamist politics.
*Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani of Najaf in Iraq plans to visit Iran, according to Asharq al-Awsat. The official reason for the visit, Sistani’s first to his native Iran in over 40 years, is to allow him to visit holy shrines in Qom and Mashhad. But Ali Nourizadeh says that the real reason is to allow Sistani to escape the behind the scenes “war” going on in Najaf among three factions: followers of Muqtada al-Sadr, followers of Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, and followers of the al-Da`wa Party. Sistani is opposed to clerics entering secular politics, though he does want Islamic law to be the law of the Land. This stand puts him at odds with Muqtada in the short and medium term, and with al-Hakim in the long term, and he is in an awkward position.
The same newspaper says the US has made a number of arrests in the case of the murder of Majid al-Khoie on April 9, and is looking into the possibility of Iranian Revolutionary Guard involvement. It reports a power struggle in London among the surviving relatives of Majid al-Khoei for control of the Khoie Foundation. His younger brother, Abd al-Sahib, appears to have emerged as the leader of the Foundation.
*Notable Shiite clergyman Bahr al-Ulum has called for the addition of seven independents to the leadership council that Jay Garner set up before he was succeeded by Paul Bremer. The current seven represent political parties or groupings, including the two major Kurdish leaders but also expatriate politicians such as Ahmad Chalabi, Iyad Allawi and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. Bahr al-Ulum says the independents could provide an important corrective in the choosing of delegates to the prospective July Iraqi congress that will select a transitional government. -az-Zaman