IRAQ: Al-Sadr’s new role against Sistani’s authority
The following commentary is reprinted with permission from Roads to Iraq, intel blog.
Al-Sadr’s new role against Sistani’s authority
© Roads to Iraq
January 10, 2011
While Senior Shiites Supreme-clerics still live in the old city near the shrine of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, the media ignored the significance of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s move of changing his father’s office from Al-Hannana neighborhood in the old-city to one of the modern, luxurious neighborhoods in Najaf, which reveals his new role in the Iraqi politics.
In his return to Iraq, Al-Sadr knows that any announcement of a religious degree he managed to obtain in Qom-Iran can be a great embarrassment to the traditional religious Supreme-Authority, led by Sistani.
The traditional religious establishment in Najaf fears that Al-Sadr as a political leader of a movement, such as the Sadrists, which he inherited from the legacy of his father Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr, is quite different from Al-Sadr with a degree in jurisprudence, which makes him a competitor to the Supreme-Authorities, especially if he manages to obtain a Fatwa-license. In this case it will be a coup against the concepts of the religious authority which is characterized by stability, sustainability and silent-activities shrouded in extreme secrecy.
Information came from Najaf saying that Sistani’s supporters initiate extreme security around Sistani’s office for the fear of an assassination attempt, as part of the new equation in Iraq.
There is also information saying that an Arab country advised Sistani to leave Iraq for a period of time because of his security [I guess it is Jordan].
While western media concentrated on the reasons behind Al-Sadr’s return to Iraq, Iraqi and Arab analysts tried to predict the answer to the question: What is Muqtada Al-Sadr’s next move? And will he stay in Najaf in his new position or not?
The answer depends on the coming scenarios in the Iraqi conflict system:
· The Iraqi — Iraqi conflict: The most prominent example is the activities of the Iraqi death squads, most Iraqis still consider the Mahdi Army led by Al-Sadr is responsible.
· Shiite — Shiite conflict: An example is the government forces of Al-Maliki attacked the Mahdi Army in the Basra.
· Shiite — religious conflicts: The clerical rule or as known in Arabic (Wilayat Al-Faqih) will be the main reason behind this conflict.
· The Iraqi — U.S. conflict: The American forces targeted Al-Sadr in Najaf a few years ago.
· Regional conflicts between Tehran and Riyadh to the point of placing their influences in the Iraqi arena.
Highlights from Al-Sadr speech on Saturday, asks his followers to give the current government a chance and watch its actions, show that this is the calm before the real storm.