Sistani and Allawi: is there a show down coming
Needlenose had an interesting post yesterday.
He cited a NYT article that reported that Mowaffak al-Rubaie, the national security adviser, had been relieved of his duties and replaced with a close ally of Dr. Allawi, Qassim Daoud.
The reason for the dismissal was that Dr Rubaie preferred a more moderate approach to the insurgency, including trying to bring al Sadr into the political process. Allawi wants Sadr to surrender.
Needlenose goes on to say: al-Rubaie was probably Sistani's closest ally in the interim government -- of which Allawi is only prime minister because he politically manuevered his way around the ayatollah's personal choice, Hussein Shahristani.
How many more hints does Ayatollah Sistani need to realize that the only thing Allawi, like the Americans before him, is both willing and capable of succeeding at is denying power to religiously oriented Shiites? And what will he do when he comes to that conclusion? (When I asked this question about ordinary Iraqis yesterday, it was really Sistani who I was thinking of, since he's the most capable of turning his opinions into actions.)
Today, Juan Cole reports that Sistani has again called for elections.
He [Sistani] asked for compensation to be given to those harmed, especially in the city of Najaf. He also called on the government to "treat problems with calm and wisdom instead of resorting to violence." (All this according to Deutsche Press Agentur). Al-Hayat says Sistani called on Allawi to "stop the bloodbath." He further insisted on more popular participation and on "filling in the gaps in the laws governing elections and parties" that were enacted by US civil administrator Paul Bremer and his appointed Interim Governing Council.
There are rumors that PM Iyad Allawi had wanted to storm the shrine of Ali in late August, and had been displeased with Sistani's intervention to promote a non-violent end of the crisis.
Sistani's quite resonable demand for elections is nevertheless among the greatest dangers facing the Allawi government and the Americans. It will be extremely difficult actually to hold the elections on time. But Sistani believes only such elections can produce a legitimate government, and he already accepted a six-month delay. If the elections are not held, and if Sistani begins to fear they won't be held soon, he may well call the masses into the streets. That could lead to an overthrow of Allawi and an expulsion of the Americans. Keep your eye on February and March of 2005.
I think that an important point that has been overlooked, is that there have been no major political initiatives in Iraq. The whole of US policy and now that of the puppet Allawi as well as the experienced Negroponte is militray in nature. They have refused to negotiate with Sadr for example. In fact the way that the US handled Sadr made it seem like they were actively provoking him. Of course it could have been just stupidity. To me the lack of political initiatives both with the opposition in Iraq as well as other states in the Mid East reveal the true nature of the goals of Bush and his cadre of neocons, i.e. military domination of the area.