Murphy: Sunnis not Registered
Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor reports from Baghdad that many Sunni Arab families in Iraq are not registered to vote. In part, this situation derives from the poor security situation in their areas, and in part from the death threats received by the individuals who would ordinarily carry out the voter registration.
Hannah Allam of Knight Ridder writes that Najaf expects to become Iraq’s second capital if the Shiite parties come to power in parliament as a result of the January 30 elections. Najafis clearly expect their grand ayatollahs to be influential in setting the political agenda, and they expect Shiite politicians to throw a great deal of patronage their way. That patronage (and gobs of money from oil exports) used to go to Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah in stead, during the Sunni Arab-based Saddam regime. It is precisely against this shift in the distribution of national resources that the Sunni Arabs are fighting so hard.
US Iran expert Bill Beeman at Brown University argues that the resurrection of Najaf as a great center of Shiite learning and politics will have a moderating influence on Iran.
But the question of more radical influences coming from Sadr City is still unanswered. Although Muqtada al-Sadr is not running for office, he has quietly approved the inclusion of about 20 of his followers in the mega-Shiite list, the United Iraqi Alliance, put together at the behest of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.
Sadr’s organization has quietly been campaigning in East Baghdad by doing things like organizing fuel distribution.