IRAQI "MODERATE" LIKES IRAN'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM
Juan Cole writes:
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called Thursday for Iraqis to vote "yes" on the new Iraqi constitution in the referendum on October 15, according to Reuters....
Good news for the White House, right?
Yeah, sure. But read on:
An envoy of Sistani recently met with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of Iran's clerical Expediency Council and a candidate in last June's presidential election. Rafsanjani praised the new Iraqi constitution.
Assuming that IRNA [Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency] got it right, the following quote is breathtaking: ' Concerning the western countries trouble making for Iran in its peaceful nuclear energy program, Ayatollah Sistani's envoy said, " the arrogant powers do not want a powerful and free Iran to emerge as a pattern for the whole Islamic world." '
Cole's gloss on this:
The Americans have for some time claimed Sistani as a "moderate" and even though he would not meet with them, have assumed that his vision of the future of Iraq is broadly complementary to their own. If Sistani is openly supporting Iran's nuclear program and denouncing the US as 'arrogant", this is a new development that will be most unwelcome to Washington.
On the other side:
About 150 clerics and tribal leaders from Iraq's Sunni Arab minority called for the rejection of the country's draft constitution in an upcoming referendum, saying on Thursday that it would lead to the fragmentation of Iraq....
That may not work -- but meanwhile, Sunnis in certain Baghdad neighborhoods seem to be engaging in what two Knight Ridder reporters call ethnic cleansing:
The ethnic cleansing of Baghdad neighborhoods is proceeding at an alarming and potentially destabilizing pace....
A 22-year-old Baghdad University student said that in June, a Sunni militia group threatened to kill her family if they didn't move out of their home in Ghazilyah, a mostly Sunni neighborhood.
The student, who didn't want to be identified because she feared for her life, said she and her family left two hours later. They haven't been back since; they are spread out in several Shiite neighborhoods.
Of the 70 homes on her former street, Shiite families used to live in 27 of them. Now, only two Shiite families remain, she said....
In Amiriyah, one 28-year-old Shiite shop owner who feared giving his name said two of his Shiite customers were killed three weeks ago as they walked out of his shop....
The man said he's closed his shop and is looking to reopen in Kadhimiya, a mostly Shiite neighborhood....
Oh, and in the south, it goes the other way:
Many Sunni families also have fled the predominantly Shiite southern city of Basra, which has become dominated by rival Shiite militia groups.
What a mess.
(Last link via Rational Enquirer.)