5 US Troops Die
Sistani Blesses Jaafari
Ibrahim Jaafari, the candidate for prime minister of the religious Shiite coalition, met Friday with Grand Ayatollah Sistani,who “blessed” (i.e. endorsed) his candidacy. This blessing will help Jaafari with the some 30 members of his United Iraqi Alliance coalition who are said to be wavering in their support of him. It may even boost him in the eyes of some of the Shiites in the rival Iraqiya list of Iyad Allawi (some of whom have spoken of leaving that list and joining the UIA), and helps make it more likely that he will emerge as prime minister.
Sistani stressed the need for Jaafari to bring the Sunni Arabs into the new government, given that they largely stayed home on election day and are poorly represented in parliament (6 of 275 seats, even though they are 20 percent of the population).
Jaafari does, however, need the Kurds to form a government. His strategy for dealing with them was telegraphed in his remarks on Friday. He said the issue of the disposition of the city of Kirkuk, which is ethnically mixed, should be postponed until after the approval of a new constitution and the election of a regular parliament (the current body is transitional). The Kurds have said that they will not accept less than redistricting to ensure their states’ rights and possession of Kirkuk, so they may reject Jaafari’s gambit out of hand.
Meanwhile, the US military had announced that guerrillas have killed 4 US troops and wounded 9. Another US soldier died of non-combat related injuries.
Al-Hayat says that 9 Iraqis were killed in various incidents.
It also reported that the clerics of Ramadi issued a fatwa forbidding the killing of Muslims. This is a reference to the guerrilla attacks on Iraqi policemen.
The clerics in Lebanon used to try to forbid violence during the civil war there, too. I remember that one admitted that it was ineffective, because it wasn’t the clerics who were killing people.
Amnesty International reports that the women of Iraq have suffered substantial setbacks in their rights since the US invasion, and live in a condition of dire insecurity.
The suggestion by some that the guarantee of 1/3 of seats in the Iraqi parliament to women might make up for the situation described by Amnesty is of course absurd. Iraq is not the first country to have such a quota. It was put into effect in Pakistan by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The move was meant to weaken Muslim fundamentalists, on the theory that women members of parliament would object to extreme patriarchy on the Khomeini or Taliban model. In fact, the Jama’at-i Islami, the main fundamentalist party in Pakistan, was perfectly capable of finding women to represent it in parliament. (US readers should remember Phyllis Schlafly!) Moreover, the 1/3 of MPs who are women can fairly easily be outvoted by the men.
If the Republican Party in the US is so proud of putting in such a quota for Iraq, they should think seriously about applying it in the United States Congress.
‘ . . . there are larger disparities between the Congress and the general citizenry in term of sex and race. In the House, there are currently 372 men and 63 women. In the Senate, there are 14 women and 86 men. ‘
Might not the US be a better country if there were 33 women senators and more like 120 congresswomen? If your answer is that it wouldn’t matter, then you cannot very well insist that it does matter in Iraq. If you think it would be important, then if you support it in Iraq you should support it in the United States.