April 29, 2003

Shi'a Intrigues Remember the assassination

Shi'a Intrigues

Remember the assassination of Shi'a cleric Abdul Majid Khoei on April 10th? Dave Ignatius, while probably blowing it a bit out of proportion, has a pretty good round-up here.

Some key grafs:

"According to the Iraqi sources, Khoei planned to ask Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, to issue a religious fatwa urging Iraqi Shiites not to cooperate with an Iranian-backed mullah named Bakr Hakim. The United States hoped that Khoei could forge an alliance with the movement headed by a militant Iraqi Shiite leader in Najaf named Muqtada Sadr, whose father, a founder of an Iraqi wing of the Islamist Dawa Party, had been murdered by Saddam Hussein in 1999.

Things went disastrously awry soon after Khoei's arrival in Najaf. On April 10, he went to the Imam Ali mosque with a caretaker appointed by Hussein. Khoei apparently hoped to gain control of the mosque, but the two men were attacked by an outraged mob, and both were murdered.

Initial U.S. accounts of Khoei's death suggested that he had been killed accidentally, caught in the crossfire by a mob that was really after Hussein's hated caretaker. But Iraqi sources say the killing of Khoei was intentional. He fired a pistol in the air after the mob began its attack and was then stabbed repeatedly. According to one account, his assailants included Sadr's followers -- the very people the United States had hoped would be Khoei's allies.

The disaster in Najaf reinforced Shiite suspicions and boosted the power of pro-Iranian clerics, according to Iraqi sources. That's now one of the biggest problems facing U.S. forces in their attempt to create a stable, pro-Western government in postwar Iraq."

But the situation is likely not so gloomy re: Iranian trouble-making in Iraq:

"A religious decree issued from Qum early this month by an Iraqi cleric, Kadhem al Husseini al-Haeri, is widely believed to be a result of his loyalty to the hard-line establishment. He called on Shiite Iraqis to return home and promote people's awareness against the Great Satan, a term used by hard-line Iranians for the United States.

Yet, Iraqi clerics who are returning to Iraq say they are tired of seeing their faith dominated by Iran.

"Iraq is a holy country and we do not need Iran," Mr. Hassani said. "It is independent and has its own differences with Iran. We do not need to look at Iran as our model."

Posted by Gregory at April 29, 2003 01:42 PM
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