Al-Haeri Weighs in
Al-Jazeerah’s crawl is saying that Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, based in Qom, has issued a fatwa or ruling that no Iraqi Muslim may fight another Muslim on behalf of the current regime in Iraq and its American backers. Al-Haeri is sometimes called the “fifth” grand ayatollah of Najaf, the other four being more politically quietist. Their leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, just had successful angioplasty in London and is removed from the scene. In his absence, al-Haeri is clearly attempting to project his authority. He could do that more effectively, of course, if he returned to Iraq, but he says he will not until the Occupation ends.
But even the more mainstream clerics, such as Ayatollah Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, have turned against the Americans over their hamfisted assault on the holy city of Najaf.
Bahr al-Ulum, who should know, says that the Allawi government and its American backers have lost political control of everything south of Najaf:
‘ “The government has lost the support of the Middle Euphrates region and the south, even if it manages to calm down these areas temporarily using brute force,” he said, referring to clashes in central and southern Iraq. ‘
It is not impossible that, given this level of disaffection, al-Haeri will pick up support from Sistani. (Shiite religious authority is in some ways a continual popularity contest, and the laity can switch their allegiance over time.) Al-Haeri is close ideologically to the Khomeinists in Iran and highly anti-American.