Sistani Fatwa on Security
Al-Hayat: Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani gave a fatwa Friday saying that cooperation with the forces charged with safeguarding security in Iraq is “obligatory” on all Iraqis, “as long as the principles of Islamic law are observed.”
Sistani was replying to a letter sent him, which asked if it was required to cooperate with security forces aiming at keeping the country safe, at a time when it was threatened by former regime elements and those who came from abroad to throw the country into turmoil. The new fatwa does not change anything, since Sistani was known to have this position. But it does reinforce the legitimacy of the new Iraqi military and police forces, being trained by the US.
At the same time, 64 Sunni clerics gave a fatwa that for Iraqis to join the military and police is permitted. Indeed, they called for Iraqis to join these forces, saying that they are national in character and not a militia pertaining to a particular sect. The signatories included prominent members of the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Islamic Party, including Shaikh Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarra’i, the prayer leader at the Umm al-Qura Mosque in Baghdad, Shaikh Ahmad Hasan al-Taha, leader of the Abu Hanifa mosque and a member of AMS, and Shaikh Ziyad Mahmud al-Ani, rector of the Islamic College in Baghdad and a member if the IIP.
Unlike Sistani’s this ruling does potentially change things. The Sunni clerics seem to have figured out that boycotting the new government is just a form of self-marginalization, and if Sunnis aren’t in the army and police, then those forces will be largely Shiite and Kurdish.
US and coalition military casualties were down substantially in March. While this is wonderful news, it is not clear why exactly this change occurred, and therefore it is difficult to assess. The US has not be doing much in the way of large-scale assaults, a la Fallujah or Najaf, since the Iraqi election. The new elected government has made it clear that it does not want any more Fallujah type operations. When US troops aren’t out fighting, they are less vulnerable. The US military is a hard target, whereas the guerrillas consider Iraqi police and army units to be soft targets. There are still 60 attacks a day in Iraq, many of them quite bloody, so the guerrilla war has hardly wound down.
Al-Hayat adds that the bid by Sunni parliamentarian Mishaan al-Juburi to become speaker of the house was criticized by Sadr al-Din al-Qubanji, a member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (a Shiite group). Al-Qubanji said that al-Juburi had been a close friend of Uday and Qusay, the sons of Saddam Hussein. The religious Shiites seem convinced that all Sunnis in the parliament with the exception of the 3 in the United Iraqi Alliance are ex-Baathists, and they want to make them ineligible to be speaker. That would throw the office to Fawaz al-Jarba, a Shamar notable who ran on the UIA ticket.
In contrast, ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the young Shiite preacher Muqtada al-Sadr is calling for demonstrations on April 9, the day Saddam fell from power in 2003. He says the rallies should protest the delay in trying Saddam and should demand that US troops leave the country immediately.
The Bush administration has been holding a US citizen, who was naturalized and lived here 20 years, prisoner as an “enemy combatant” without legal counsel for several months in Iraq. The prisoner is said to have provided logistical aid to the network of Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. If true, this imprisonment without legal counsel directly contravenes a US Supreme Court ruling that the Bush administration cannot hold some US citizens outside the law and the judiciary.
The minaret of one of the oldest surviving mosques in the world, an architectural treasure, was damaged by heavy weaponry. The US military blamed “terrorists.”
I have loved that building for decades, and am sick to my stomach about it being damaged. It influenced Islamic architecture in Cairo and Andalusia.
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat reports that many women trying to run beauty parlors in Iraq are harassed by religious militias.
In what is potentially very bad news for US contractors in Iraq, the US Justice Department argued that they can be sued in US courts for fraud.