*Three of the most senior clerics in Najaf–Ali Sistani, Muhammad Sa`id al-Hakim and Bahr al-`Ulum met for the past two days. They agreed that security needed to be returned to the entire country and that salaries needed to be paid if Iraqis were to repair the steep decline in living standards that has befallen them because of the war. They also agreed on the need to form a provisional Iraqi government (something the team of Paul Bremer has now decided to put off).
The son of Bahr al-`Ulum, Hasan, said that the security situation in Najaf is relatively stable, but that he worries about the big gun trade in the city’s markets. Most families have guns, he said. But the worse problem has been the deterioration in the standard of living of Iraqis during and since the war. He said that some food shipments have arrived, though, and a shipment of medicine for the hospital also came in. – al-Zaman
Najaf is ruled by a local city council that includes tribal sheikhs and men of religion; the American-appointed mayor/police chief is a former Sunni Baath officer who turned against Saddam.