Turning the Screws

A senior representative of SCIRI and confidant of Ayatollah Sistani calls for Jaafari to step down

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Click to enlarge.

As the political deadlock to form the Iraqi government continues, support for Jaafari within the United Iraqi Alliance continues to wane. Another influential member of the UIA has stepped forward and called for Jaafari’s resignation following United Iraqi Alliance senior member Kasim Daoud’s denouncement of Jaafari’s candidacy. Jalal al-Deen al-Saghir, who according to Reuters “sits on SCIRI’s main leadership council and is said by Shi’ite politicians to be close to top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani,” has has publicly opposed Jaafari.

“I call on Jaafari to step down as nominee for prime minister because … the candidate ought to secure a national consensus from other lists and also international acceptance…” [al-Saghir] said he was speaking not for SCIRI but for himself. But he made clear the party’s position was now against Jaafari: “This is just the beginning and the other calls will follow… It has been 50 days and the Alliance has not succeeded in defusing the objections his nomination faced… This has threatened to foster new blocs that would hamper the Alliance’s leadership of the political process.”

al-Saghir’s relationship to Sistani is a strong message, as Sistani is the most respected and revered Shiite cleric in Iraq and the ‘glue’ holding the disparate blocks of the UIA together. While the various Shiite parties are often at odds and have different political agendas, the need to remain united and maintain a Shiite majority in the parliament is the overriding principle for the existence of the UIA. The memories of Saddam loom large in the eyes of the Shiite political parties.

It is clear Sistani has jettisoned support for Jaafari, which all but spells the end of Jaafari’s bid to lead the new government and Sadr’s influence with Jaafari. Sadr has overreached with his threats against SCIRI’s Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim and members of the UIA, as well as the actions of his Mahdi Army militia, and will pay a harsh political price for his actions.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • hamidreza says:

    There is no doubt in my mind that Sadr, Zarqawi, Iranian hardliners and Amniyatees (Iranian security death squads), Mahdi Army, Hizbollah, radical Shiite Islamists, al-Qaeda all plan to blow Sistani up. If successful, this will be a massive blow to all international efforts for the past 3 years to bring political stability and pluralism to Iraq.

  • serurier says:

    Seems like coalition ready attack Iran

  • mark says:

    is there any reason to believe that Sadr and Zarqawi have worked together at all?

  • Lisa says:

    Who do you think would be the best Prime Minister for Iraq? What are the odds of them breaking the deadlock to even put a government together?

  • ECH says:

    Sadr and other Shia clerics like Yassir Al-Habib are getting ready for another uprising according to ITM. Of course they see the current situation with Jaafari being booted as a threat to their vision of an Islamic State and if they don’t get what they want they will use violence.

  • Lisa says:

    Somehow this just doesn’t make me feel good inside… something just doesn’t feel right…it appears that they need a strong ruler to control so many different people who have so many views.
    When we pull out, how long do you think it will take for the strong arm of dictatorship to rule once again over the poor Iraqis?
    They came out and voted! They voted…and now the view for democracy is becoming dimmer day by day.
    Is this one of those things where we won the battle but lost the war? πŸ™

  • ECH says:

    They came out and voted! They voted…and now the view for democracy is becoming dimmer day by day.
    They came out and voted who their clerics told them to vote for. And, the clerics have no idea how to govern a country.

  • serurier says:

    I hear we lose 9 soldiers in Iraq .

  • Jamison1 says:

    There was a truck that turned over in a flash flood.

  • Comments have been deleted. See comments policy. Your service doesn’t exempt you from civility.

  • TM Lutas says:

    ECH – If Sadr rises in rebellion, it’ll be the Iraqi Army v. the Mahdi army. I don’t think Sadr comes out of that one looking too well and there’s a very good chance he doesn’t survive his 3rd uprising.

  • Lisa says:

    What in the world is Leonard Clark talking about?

  • Rosemary says:

    It is good to finally read some good news about the politics in Iraq. I want that little turd squished (Sadr). If he leaves the political process, as he has threatened, maybe then we can arrest him! Hey, I can dream, right?!

  • Salt Lick says:

    Lisa — First, I think OIF is worth every bit of blood and treasure we are putting into it. If it works, it will change the entire course of history in the Middle East.
    That said, my main reservation about the invasion, which I supported and do support today, was whether Arabs were capable of fulfulling the responsibilities inherent in democracy. My service in the Peace Corps and subsequent travels around the world made me dubious about the sustainability of democracy in the Third World, notwithstanding successful transitions to it in Japan, Germany, Korea, etc.
    As a people, Arabs remind me a lot of my own Southern brethren (and I grew up in the South in the 50’s and 60’s) — they are emotional, irrational, paranoid, and religiously twisted. We outgrew it in the South; maybe they can too, but I think they’ve got some high hurdles. It’s going to be fascinating as to whether they pass this test, or continue down the road to poverty and destruction.

  • JAF says:

    Here is an appropriate article, “Who pays when the last helicopter leaves?”
    Key Quote: “ The new strategy adopted by the Middle Eastern powers that be is to wait out the presidency of George W. Bush in the expectation that his successor will follow the examples of his predecessors, i.e., pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan just the way the US did from Vietnam, Iran, Lebanon and Somalia. The real question is who will lose the most when that last helicopter leaves? If the history is our guide, it would not be the US but those countries left behind.

  • Lisa says:

    I too am from the south and I have witnessed growth…I was born in 67 and have been able to watch various things and attitudes change for the better…there are still churches on every corner though…not that that is a bad thing.
    I am of the same mindset that it appears that maybe the Iraqis lack the desire or ability to stray from their comfort zone. They appear to be killing each other in the name of religion all the while not realizing they are killing any chance for them to be free. The proposed leaders need to put old grudges behind them so that they may move forward; however they appear to not realize that you can denounce violence without denouncing your religion.
    I was watching The Godfather (yes, I actually watched it!) the other day and they were in Sicily and in one scene it was asked “Where are all the men?” and the reply was “They are all dead from vendettas.”
    So true…However we can lay the groundwork but we cannot change peoples ways. In other words as old saying goes “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it!” We can’t make them drink.

  • hamidreza says:

    Lisa, 10 million Iraqis went to the polls to vote for a central and constitutional government. The Islamist militias tried to stop them, or tried to rig the elections.
    Iraqis value self-determination and freedom, as much as you and me value it. The war is between Islam and freedom wanting Iraqis.
    Just because a few fanatics have taken upon themselves to rule on the vast majority the easy way, by religious ideology, and in that process have amassed guns and bazookas, does not mean that Iraqis wish that.
    If the killer Islamists are closing down the press (see today’s report on //iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/) and wish to steer their followers away from the exercise of “public reason”, then how can we declare that the vast majority of Iraqis do not value freedoms, democracy, and a civil society? Remember, in a traditional society, one gun wins you 10 followers through intimidation. One bazooka wins you 1000 follower through intimidation.

  • Lisa says:

    Dear Hamidreza,
    What needs to be done then? It would be wonderful to see that good finally won over bad in Iraq! It is quiet disconcerting to see all the violence and disarray in Iraq. It leaves a person with a feeling hopelessness and I know that is what the Iraqi people feel now…that and fear. Do you see a strong outstanding leadership in the future? What I mean is there a person or persons that can lead Iraq in the right direction? Because right now it is looking bleak to me. However, I know that is a feeling or perception but still…

  • Lisa says:

    How come the fact about the newspapers being shut down have not made the American Media???
    This is another sign that they are slipping backward. Isn’t there anything that can be done before they become closed off from the world?

  • Lisa says:

    Step up to the plate MEDIA! It’s your turn to tell the untold stories!!!

  • Hamidreza,
    “Newspapers shut down”
    Moqtada had a protest, all of 2,500 people showed up. AP carried the story. For someone who is threatening to “Turn the streets to fire”. That’s news that just can’t get out.

  • dj elliott says:

    The newspaper distribution being shutdown, if true, worries me. One of the primary targets of a Coup is the media. Either control or denied to your opponents. By intimidating some to stop reporting, the Coup plotters reduce the target list to something more managable.
    Power is about perceptions. If you control the mass media you have power and have won half the fight. Foreign press was already negated.
    This is not something that can be done indefinately. If whoever is doing this is going to move, it will have to be within a short time.
    “Planning and preparation” are the operative words here. Whoever is doing this may back down or be pre-empted (quietly or loudly).

  • hamidreza says:

    I think those in favor of a pluralistic central government want Allawi in charge of the Ministry of Defense, so that law and order can be restored over time.
    He needs to immediately create a proper intelligence service with teeth, and a military intelligence unit, and go after these people who threaten the press with violence, or receive their financing and orders from across the border. Pick them up and incarcerate them harshly.
    As long as the US has a large military presence in Iraq, I would not worry too much about Allawi going awry. Once law and order is established, economic and social development will have a chance, and that will change or buy a lot of hearts and minds. Add to that essentially unlimited oil revenues to finance economic expansion and social services.
    Of course the Islamists will not sit still and will try to agitate the population with lies, crass appeal to Muhammedan sensitivities, propaganda, and ad hominem. That is why a dictatorship will not work in Iraq, because it will only feed the Islamist reaction. But an open press, as long as it is protected by the intelligence services and ultimately by US forces, will be able to take on the Islamists.

  • Lisa says:

    Jaafari refuses to step down.
    Here is an interesting article from Time about the Militias://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1179362,00.html


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