Muqtada vs. the Grand Ayatollahs
Ed Wong of the NYT has a canny read on the stand-off between Muqtada al-Sadr and the Grand Ayatollahs of Najaf.
‘ by choosing to make his stand in Najaf, one of the holiest cities in Shiite Islam, Sadr has cast the war in the south as a struggle between infidels and all Shiites. Perhaps most boldly, he has challenged the authority and methods of more senior religious leaders, especially Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most respected cleric in Iraq . . “Moktada can’t have recognition from the religious establishment as a cleric, but he can gain general power as a politician and sectarian leader, making the grand ayatollahs back off their trenchant and open critiques of him,” said Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and an expert on Shiite Islam. ‘.