Sistani Aide: Loose Federalism not in Iraq’s Interests
BBC Monitoring picked up a radio interview in Cairo on Sawt al-`Arab on Wednesday with an aide to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani named Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim Bidali, conducted by Fawzi al-Jundi. Some brief excerpts:
Bidali “With respect to the issue of elections, His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani says they should be held before the date they had chosen [May 31] – within the coming days. That is Ayatollah Al-Sistani’s opinion . . . “
Al-Jundi But many members of the Governing Council oppose early elections in Iraq, at least at this stage, because the security situation is deteriorating?
Bidali They have finally been convinced that the meeting of UN envoys and Iraqi experts is an excellent idea.
Al-Jundi If the United Nations decides that elections should be held at a later stage, how will you react?
Bidali “There would be contacts and discussions on various issues. We see the situation on the ground and we will seek alternatives if they rejected this proposal. However, we cannot say at this point what we will do then. We must wait for the report of the UN envoy and then we will decide . . . “
Al-Jundi There are reports circulating about proposals to establish a federation based on ethnic or sectarian division. What sort of federal system do you support?
Bidali We have no specific opinion on the issue of an [loose] Iraqi federation, but we do not believe that it would be in the interests of Iraq . . . “