Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Ayatollah Sistani speaks re Iraq's new government

From the start of the US adventure in Iraq, the Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the single most influential Shii religious authority in Iraq, has been a stalwart advocate of Iraq's national unity,  Now the WaPo reports that he has assured Ayad Allawi, leader of the Iraqiyya party that received the most votes in the March elections, that no group will be excluded from the new government.

As things now seem to stand, that new government will be formed (though God knows when; probably not for months) by the leaders of a predominantly Shii coalition comprising the two largest Shii blocs - current prime minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law and the Iraq National Alliance.  Sistani's pronouncements have huge influence within both of those groups and among Iraq's Shii in general.  That Sistani seems to be calling (at least as reported by Allawi) for Iraqiyya, which drew much of its electoral support from Sunni voters, to be included in the new government may be an important new development.  On the other hand, inclusion may be be equivalent to exercising any degree of effective power within that government.

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