Mark Kukis at Time reports on Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani’s insistence with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that Iraq recover its sovereignty on all levels.
The report is bolstered by this one on Iran’s al-Alam channel:
The USG Open Source Center translates transcripts of Arabic language satellite stations reporting on the controversies over recent statements of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. (Via BBC Monitoring). Note that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s adviser on cultural affairs went on Iranian television and slammed the US positions in the negotiations for a Status of Forces Agreement. .
‘May 25, 2008 Sunday
AL-SISTANI NOT TO ALLOW US-IRAQ AGREEMENT “AS LONG AS HE IS ALIVE” – AL-ALAM TV
LENGTH: 271 words
Text of report by state-run Iranian Arabic-language television news channel Al-Alam on 25 May
[Presenter] There have been further reactions to the security agreement, which the US occupation and the Iraqi government intend to sign. A source close to the [Shi’i] religious figure Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani has said that Al-Sistani told Prime Minister Al-Maliki, during their meeting in the holy city of Al-Najaf, that he totally rejects the agreement.
He [Al-Sistani] said he would not allow the signing of the agreement as long as he is alive. However, at the same time, he voiced support to the Iraqi government and to efforts by Iraqi officials and people to establish security and stability in the country.
Mr Husayn Barakah al-Shami, advisor to the Iraqi prime minister for cultural affairs, said that through this agreement, the US wants Iraq to be a launch pad to control the region. He added that Iraqis and their political leaders and religious figures have a lot of reservations about the agreement and its implications.
[Al-Shami] Iraq is very serious about getting out of Chapter 7 [of the UN Charter]. The Americans have their special project and their strategy in the region and in Iraq. They want Iraq to be their launch pad to control the region and to strengthen their influence there. The Iraqi people, political leaders and religious clerics voiced their reservations about this agreement. But they must enter this agreement [after seeking] clarifications on the issues of military bases, arrests, prisons and the use of Iraq’s air space.
Source: Al-Alam TV, Tehran, in Arabic 1700 gmt 25 May 08 ‘
Sawt al-Iraq writes in Arabic that a close associate of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Karbala, who declined to be identified, denied that he had prepared a fatwa of jihad against foreign troops in Iraq. He said that Sistani urged resistance to the occupation, but wanted Iraqis to deploy non-violent means to end the foreign troop presence.
[While this statement is true, it does not actually address the legal issue. Sistani was said by AP to have replied privately to Shiite militiamen who asked him about the legitimacy of attacking multi-national troops in Iraq. He was said to have confirmed, in private and in person, that in Shiite law, attacking a foreign occupier is legitimate. There is no contradiction between him holding those views as a matter of considered opinion on the law, and his actual policy of encouraging peaceful resistance.]
The Kuwait News Agency carried the following with regard to reports that Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was issuing private statements to Shiite militiamen that it is legitimate to attack foreign troops:
‘ BAGHDAD, May 23 (KUNA) — An Iraqi MP Friday brushed aside reports suggesting Sayyed Ali Sistani had issued a religious fatwa permitting armed resistance against foreign forces, and affirmed that the Shiite cleric had called, since collapse of baathist regime, for peaceful resistance.
Sheikh Jalaluddin Al-Saghir, head of the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) bloc at the parliament, told KUNA these press reports about the alleged fatwa “are totally baseless.” He said the policy of Sistani was based “on resisting the occupiers via peaceful means and he is still supporting the political process therefore there these claims are false.” A source close to Sistani in Najaf said the senior cleric did not issue the fatwa, and was still committed to his previous position which emphasized that Iraq was not a scene for “jihad or armed confrontation.” The source, speaking to KUNA on condition of anonymity, said Sistani’s position was clear since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime. “He had called repeatedly for peaceful resistance to get the foreign forces out of Iraq,” he added.
Iraqi and Western media working in Iraq said Sistani has issued a number of fatwas permitting armed resistance against foreign forces.’
Sistani’s fatwa against selling food to the Americans would be consistent with what these officials are saying. One wag in the blogosphere called it, a “No soup for you!” policy.
Najaf, where Sistani lives has told the US that it does not want the “Awakening Council” model but will accept US development aid.
The Iraqi parliament has still not passed an elections law, a prerequisite for holding provincial elections– which are therefore likely to be delayed. Al-Arabiya t.v. had a program on this issue, and I came away from it pessimistic that the law would soon be passed or that provincial elections would actually be held in 2008.
– Around 10am, a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol at Al-Maghrib Street in Adhamiyah neighborhood (north Baghdad) near the Turkish embassy .Five people were injured including two policemen.
– Around 1pm,a car bomb targeted the Babil governor’s convoy near Yarmouk hospital at Yarmouk neighborhood (west Baghdad). 11 people were injured (7 guards who were with the convoy and 4 other civilians).
– Around 1:15pm,a roadside bomb targeted an American patrol at al-Ghadeer neighborhood of new Baghdad(east Baghdad). No casualties reported.
– Around 4pm,a roadside bomb exploded at Suleikh neighborhood(north Baghdad).One civilian was killed and four others were wounded.
– Around 4:15pm, a mortar shell hit Wihda section in Karrada neighborhood(downtown Baghdad). Two people were injured in that incident.
– Police found 4 dead bodies in the following neighborhoods in Baghdad: 2 were found in Karkh bank(west Baghdad); 1 in Hurriyah and 1 in Mansour while 2 were found in Risafa bank (east Baghdad); 1 in Jisr Diyala and 1 Suleikh .
– Before noon, a roadside bomb targeted a police patrol at Al-Tiseen neighborhood in downtown Kirkuk .Four policemen were injured.
– Around 10am, a roadside bomb targeted the Sheikh Mishhin Mohammad Abbas’ convoy in Gharma (east of Falluja).Three of his guards were injured in that incident. Sheikh Mishhin is the head of Jamila tribes and the Sahwa leader in the area. A curfew was announced for further notice on vehicles and pedestrians.
– Around 8am, gunmen attacked an Iraqi army check point at Imam Weis village (37 miles north of Baquba).A tanker driver was killed . Then, a roadside bomb targeted an army patrol in the same area killing one officer and injuring four soldiers.
– Around 7am, gunmen opened fire on police patrol at Al-Mafraq (west Baquba).One civilian was killed.
– Around 10am,a random shooting by gunmen at Azzat village (west of Baquba) led to kill a member of the Sahwa in the area.’
Jimmy Carter, still talking sense in his 80s— on an Iraq withdrawal timetable, on lifting the siege of Gaza, on talking to Iran.