From a European peace worker in Iraq, a week or so ago:
“I have heard that Sistani has promoted among his followers the Gandhian method of disobedience against the occupation power, if the situation seems to go out of hand [i.e. if the US rejects direct elections].”
If this report is correct, it would make sense of Sistani’s intransigence on the need for open elections, and his resort for the first time recently to calling mass urban demonstrations.
My wife, Shahin Cole, says that figures such as Sistani who decide to seek to influence society, are like stage magicians. They do not pull out all the stops and perform their most complex and dazzling trick first. They start small, showing only the tip of their wand. Then they wave around the whole wand. Then they reach deeper into their bag of tricks for ever bigger props and effects. Sistani’s fatwa or ruling of June 28 on the need for delegates to a constitutional convention to be popularly elected was the first, small demonstration of his powers. The 100,000 in the streets of Baghdad on January 19 was a further such demonstration. But if he does mount a campaign of civil disobedience to force free and fair elections, that will be the time for him to make the elephant disappear.