Shiite Leaders Cautious Critical Of New

Shiite Leaders Cautious, Critical of New Plan for Iraqi Government

Stories in the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post have some reaction from Shiite leaders to the new plan for moving to a sovereign Iraqi government in June of 2004. Howard LaFranchi and Anthony Shadid both seem to report that Shiites are suspicious of the new plan insofar as it delays genuine, democratic elections in favor of town meetings dominated by handpicked notables. Many Iraqis want an earlier transition to sovereignty than now envisaged. It seems clear, as well, that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has the authority to undermine the new plan were he to issue a fatwa critical of it. Adel Abdul Mahdi of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq maintains that Sistani orally “blessed” the plan, and there may not be a formal fatwa or ruling. Most Shiites would follow Sistani’s lead. He stands in a quietist Najaf tradition of not intervening in day-to-day politics. He has, however, been willing to address big questions of the nature of legitimate governmental authority and its rootedness in the political will of the Iraqi public.

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