Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Iraq Democracy Watch: "We really know how to pick 'em
The Financial Times reports that Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest ranking Shia cleric in Iraq, and the most apolitical, has called for an Iraqi elected body to draft a constitution. The idea would be that "all Iraqi communities should nominate representatives to attend a national conference in Baghdad that would elect an Iraqi government and convene a constitutional council."
This is NOT what Paul Bremer, the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), wants at all, of course. He wants a U.S.-appointed advisory council, instead. And some sort of conference on writing up a constitution with the help of American advisors who would draft the first version.
Given that Ayatollah Sistani is seen as being the most supportive of the Shi'ite clerics of the American presence, and the least likely to get involved with politics, AND that he is by far the most influential Shi'ite religious figure, his pronouncement no doubt highlights the fact that if there is anything that the various Iraqi leaders agree on, it is that they all want Iraq to be moving far faster towards a democracy than the Americans are willing to permit.
Meanwhile, the Middle East On-Line says today that:
US troops patrolling the holy Shiite Muslim city of Najaf heap praise on Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for having used his community standing to foster a smooth coexistence between the people and coalition forces.
"The most important aspect why this city is so stable is that we have someone like Ayatollah Sistani," said Marine Major Rick Hall...
Too bad we had to arrest the mayor we installed in that very city after we cancelled the elections (see previous post ). The NYT reports that, "Accusations against the governor include kidnapping, holding hostages and pressuring government employees to commit financial crimes."
After admitting that we made a bad mistake because "actually trying to judge who was who in Iraq, what people's character was based on past performance, was always going to be difficult..." we have decided nonetheless to choose a new governor from a local council, the members of which were all also appointed by the Americans.
I can see why Ayatollah Sistani is a bit skeptical of Mr. Bremer's approach on the national level. "
Spinning the War -- Still: "Seems like support for the war in Iraq is starting to slip. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that public support for the war is now at 56 percent, down from 73 percent in April. That means current support for the war is just about where it was in early January (53 percent) when the White House was making its case for the campaign."
In Back to Iraq 2.0
Troops Hit With Bombs & Blame: "American soldiers came under fire again in Iraq, both from insurgent fighters and civilian critics. Grenades hit U.S. vehicles in two attacks, and five Iraqis died in a mosque blast that some blamed on U.S. bombing."
In CBS News: Iraq Crisis