Dead Man Walking
I think we've been all been expecting, and dreading, this. I've written about it repeatedly recently:
The Grand Ayatollahs have been desperately concerned about the situation in Iraq. They've been growing increasingly frustrated with the abject inability of the green zone government either to get a grip on the situation or to stand up to the Americans. In addition to that they've been desperately concerned that their authority amongst their followers - particularly the young, is slipping. Since the Samarra Bombing there have been repeated attacks on Shi'ite religious ceremonies, shrines, and pilgrims to say nothing of attacks such the al-Ula market bombing, the Jameelah market bombing and other market bombings or the American attack on Sadr City . All of these attacks have undermined the Grand Ayatollah's authority.
The funeral of the Indian and Pakistani pilgrims in Karbala. Note the size of the crowd. Juan Cole's posting today makes several very important points about today's news including on the significance of being buried at Karbala to the Shia devotees. As I was writing this posting news came in that Sheikh Hassan Mohammed Mahdi al-Jawadi al-Sistani's representative in Amara had been murdered by gunmen today. - mfi
Yesterday's meeting with the isolated and ineffective al-Maliki, and the attacks on Indian and Pakistani pilgrims in which eleven Pakistani and three Indian Shia pilgrims were murdered have been widely reported throughout the world particularly in Pakistani and Indian newspapers seem to have been the last straw. Grand Ayatollah Sistani has issued a statement in which he roundly rebukes the green zone government [Arabic language]:
What al-Sistani is saying here is theologically impeccable - if the government fails in it's duty to protect the community then others will step into to do that task, implicit in this is that the government has lost its legitimacy.
But al-Sistani is saying other things as well and one of them is that he no longer believes his followers will obey further calls from him to hold back. This report in today's edition of the UK Sunday Telegraph makes grim reading. I suggest you save a copy of it for future reference.
As I went through the Arabic language press today there was report [Asharq Al Awsat] after report [Aswataliraq] after report [Dar Al Hayat] after report [Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed ] of Maliki putting a brave face on things. I doubt if he believes it his own statements however. I don't expect him to last much longer, I doubt if he does either.