SADR AND SISTANI….A couple of days ago Muqtada al-Sadr said he would consult Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other senior Shiite clerics and abide by their ruling if they told him to disband his Mahdi Army. So how’d that go?
Iraq’s top Shiite religious leaders have told anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr not to disband his Mehdi Army, an al-Sadr spokesman said Monday amid fresh fighting in the militia’s Baghdad strongholds.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded Sunday that the cleric disband his militia, which waged two uprisings against U.S. troops in 2004, or see his supporters barred from public office.
But al-Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi said al-Sadr has consulted with Iraq’s Shiite clerical leadership “and they refused that.” He did not provide details of the talks.
Juan Cole provides some acid commentary on Sadr’s original offer and the giddy American response to it:
The US press went wild for this supposed report that Muqtada al-Sadr said he would dissolve his militia if Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani ordered it. Folks, he always says that when there is a controversy. (He said the same thing in spring, 2004). He says it because he knows it makes him look reasonable to the Shiite public. He says it because he knows that the grand ayatollahs are not going to touch the matter with a ten foot pole. They are not so foolish as to take responsibility for dissolving a militia that they had nothing to do with creating. And that is probably the real meaning of this CNN report that they ‘refused’ when asked. I doubt the grand ayatollahs in Najaf actively commanded Muqtada to keep his militia. They just declined to get drawn in.
There’s further acid commentary at the link.