Thursday, June 5, 2008

US SOFA: Is Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani's resolve wobbling?

Press TV just published the following on its website:

Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has set four conditions for any security pact between the US and Iraq, top Iraqi politician says.

"The cleric stressed that any long-term pact in Iraq should maintain four key terms including safeguarding Iraqis' interests, national sovereignty, national consensus and being presented to the Iraqi parliament for approval." leader of the largest bloc in Iraq's parliament, Seyyed Abdul Aziz al-Hakim said quoting Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's remarks came in a press conference after he met Ayatollah al-Sistani in Najaf.

Al-Hakim said that the current terms and articles of the security pact violates Iraq's sovereignty and dose not take away Iraq from Section VII of the United Nations' Charter, nor does it keep Iraq's natural wealth and interests.

"Ayatollah Sistani stresses that Iraqis should preserve the national unity and union among them and confront any challenges." Al-Hakim said.

"He brought about general guidance for the nation and did not go through the details," Al-Hakim said, adding that the overall vision between us and Ayatollah al- Sistani is the same and we work as the top cleric says and leave the details for the government.

The news of the security pact caused growing opposition among Iraqis from all walks of life.

Senior Iraqi clerics including Ayatollah al- Sistani, Ayatollah al-Shirazi and Ayatollah al-Hairi denounced any attempt by the government to sign the security pact with the United States.

Conspicuously absent from this is any references to a national referendum. Worse, the above also explicitly gives the Iraqi Parliament the final say in the matter. Of course, this could be al-Hakim's version of al-Sistani's words, but if this is correct, then we are witnessing the first sign of successful imperial pressure on al-Sistani and that, in turn will inevitably lead to a split in the Shia community. If such a split occurs, and in particular on such a crucial matter, it would be at the worst time possible for the Shia.

I sure hope that Khamenei and Nasrallah step in as rapidly and as forcibly as possible to prevent this from happening.