Iraqi Shiite Leader Muqtada Al Sadr 30

*Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, 30, is in Iran for talks, according to az-Zaman. In the seminary city of Qom, he met with Ayatollah Kadhim al-Ha’iri, whose representative in Iraq he is held to be. He also met with other clerics. He had complained bitterly after the fall of Saddam about the stranglehold the Iranians had on religious offices in Shiite Islam, and had agitated for an Iraqi leadership in Iraq. The Iranians may have invited him on this trip, which coincides with the anniversary of the passing of Ayatollah Khomeini, in order to seek better relations. Some think the trip will increase Iranian hardliners’ influence in Iraq. The az-Zaman headline implied that some of the discussions were about the possibility of al-Ha’iri coming back to Najaf (he is a native Iraqi). Al-Ha’iri is among the few major Iraqi clerics who accepts Khomeini’s theory of the “rulership of the jurisprudent” or the notion of theocracy, in which the Shiite clerics take on the role of government.

*The civil administration of Iraq has created a women’s leadership to participate in July’s constitutional convention. This is a good thing that Paul Bremer has done, since women have been little represented in the expatriate political parties to whom the Department of Defense earlier tried to throw power.

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