Sky Wrote the following on 02/13/2005 4:22 PM : We never see anything in the Amercian press that Bush was adamantly opposed to elections, but wanted a hand pick delegation to draft the new Iraqi constitution (that is the way he wanted it). Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani issued a fatwah last summer demanding that elections be held as soon as possible. Since Iraqis took to the streets in support of Al-Sistani's fatwah, we caved. Bush set the date for this for 1/30/2005, even though all his military commanders and advisors warned that it was too risky, since adequate security could not be provided in so short of time, especially in the Sunni Triangle. Bush supposedly said on one occasion that if Al-Sistani wanted his election, he was going to get it. I believe that Bush was so reckless in this unalterable "timetable" for an election because he believed it would probably fail. then he'd get to do things his way. But two weeks before the election Al-Sistanti issued another fatwah, telling the Iraqis that failing to vot would be a sin against Allah. Al-Sistani called on his Islamic furndamentalist base and they responded. This isn't so much different from what the Republicans did with the "gay marriage" scam last year to mobilize the Christian right. Polls in Iraqi show that the Iraqis accepted the risk and went to the polls in such numbers because they felt that forming a government was the fastest way to get the American invaders out of their country. They will be putting a lot of pressure on the new government to tell the Americans to get out.
Now Al-Sistani has close ties with the Shi'ite Grand Ayatollas of Iran, which is problematic, since we are rattling our sabre at them very loudly right now. Al-Sistani also understands that he has a problem sitting just to his west: Syria, which is Sunni Arab and and controlled by the Baath Party, and is adamantly opposed to a Shi'ite government anywhere in the Middle East. This will put pressure on Al-Sistani to align with Iran in order to dissuade Syria after the Americans are gone. It will probably push Iraq toward an Islamist government. In any event, it won't be the Western-style democracy, Bush had hoped to get so much capital on. The US government, too, is worried about Syria. It has formed and is backing the Reform Party of Syria (bet you've never heard of it), which is anti-Baath. See [url:http://www.reformsyria.org] the RPS website here[/url]. Once again, the US is playing the same dangerous game of unilaterally screwing around with the politics and boalance of power in the Middle East. It's precisely the same behavior that got us in the mess we are in today.