Sistani urges Iraqis to put aside Narrow Interests
Al-Hayat, Ja`far al-Ahmar: The battle of Fallujah uncovered some of the fissures, contradictions, and crticisms that had not been admitted by any local, Arab or regional party. The reaction to the American assault on Fallujah has been muted among Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and other major Shiite clerics, leading to angry editorials in the Arabic press decrying “silence” and “collaboration with the Americans in implementing their crimes in Fallujah.”
A source close to Sistani says that “Those who criticize Sistani and others among the grand ayatollahs, for what they allege is silence concerning the events in Fallujah, are only attempting to accomplish ulterior motives by their allegations, which bear no relation to what is happening in Fallujah.”
Later he defended Sistani himself, saying that such comments smelled of partisanship (i.e. were driven by the hate of Sunnis toward Shiites).
Hamza Hendawi gives us an excellent overview of Sistani’s attempts to create a single Shiite list to contest elections, which includes all the major Shiite parties. Hendawi’s report makes it seem as though Sistani may well succeed, though he may have to accept fewer slots for independents than he had envisaged, and Muqtada al-Sadr is demanding a larger share of the pie for his party.
He notes that Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqi National Accord, a mixed Sunni-Shiite group of ex-Baathists, is insisting on running alone rather than as part of the Sistani list. (This strategy will probably ensure that Allawi either isn’t elected to parliament or is isolated there, since his little party will do poorly compared to Sistani’s multi-party list).