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    ABC hits the History Eraser Button..., 2003-06-30 13:41:02 | Main | The Numbers that Shape Your Imperial Project..., 2003-07-02 13:34:24

    maybe something good:

    this is big news. Today Bremer backtracked on cancelling elections and has handed the decision back to the US military (after having to arrest one of his Iraqi appointees), and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a fatwa insisting on the holding of general elections (some right-wingnuts think this sort of thing is being organized by Howard Dean and the American left, as though militant Islamicists and Saddamists would give two hoots about what a bunch of disenfranchized infidels think).

    For those just dropping in here's a backgrounder that might clarify why this matters, or have a bullet list:

    1. Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq: headed by Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, has a ~10,000 strong paramilitary (the Badr Brigade) on hand. Along with Chalabi may have helped convince Sistani to issue this fatwa. SCIRI is an exile group that gets backing from Iran, worked with the US for a short time in planning "regime change", wants an Islamic republic, and is the largest organized faction inside Iraq.
    2. Sistani: highest clerical authority among those Shi'ites that support secular nationalist government, which so far appears to be the majority of Iraqi Shi'ites. Outside British-controlled Basra this group has had a difficult time organizing itself politically. Sistani is Iranian born and rejects Iranian clerical theocracy, but doesn't like to play politics to begin with.
    3. The Sadr movement: rejects Iranian born clerical authorities in Iraq but supports Iranian clerical theocracy, roughly speaking, in Iraq. The Sadr movement attempted a religious coup over both Sistani and Baqir in mid-April. Base of support comes from suppressed Shi'ites in central Iraq, who became militant under Saddamist tyranny and, now that they're out from under it, appear to be remaining so.

    All in all the discombobulation of the Baath Party and the lack of an organization representing moderate Shi'ites leaves a lot of room for political organizations that would be more prone to peaceful conflict resolution than the Sadr movement: right now the only other organized segment of society among Iraqi Arabs appears to be the unions, which the USG is bound to dislike the idea of (there have been rumors that Bremer has been writing letters to union leaders telling them to go jump in a sand dune). Which brings us to - Iraqi Unions In The News:

    In Baghdad clerics have been cooperating with the unions, and the 15,000 strong Union of the Unemployed in Iraq has issued a statement that they will be demonstrating on Thursday and are asking for Anglo-American solidarity, via Iraq's Communist Party. The IWCP is the only remaining organized, native secular movement I've heard about, which might be surprising because you never hear about it in the press. Maybe the monarchist Hashemites are actually organized locally, I don't know, they seem to think they've got an out for the occupation though. Everybody else left the country. One would think some variety of liberal democratic party might pop up in response to the rising political involvement of the clerics, at least once secular Iraqis are given a reason to organize against their involvement, but by all appearances Bremer hasn't been very quick to offer them a reason. Local elections might be a start - but considering the ideological shift from irrational pessimism to irrational exhuberence that this entire adventure is based upon I'd much prefer it if the USG just wash its hands of the entire affair and handed it over to somebody that wasn't just trying to slip in a puppet regime when our heads are turned.

    In the meantime the Coalition Provisional Authority is gagging itself, so all you'll hear out of it is what originates from Bremer's mouth.


:: posted by buermann @ 2003-07-01 17:59:50 CST | link





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