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The Subtle Power of Sistani

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The Subtle Power of Sistani Empty The Subtle Power of Sistani

Post by claud39 on Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:29 am

The Subtle Power of Sistani

16th November 2019


The Subtle Power of Sistani ScreenHunter-4911-623x346


By Harith Hasan, for Carnegie Middle East Center. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
On November 11, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani received Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the representative in Iraq of the United Nations secretary general.

Sistani welcomed a reform plan proposed by Plasschaert in response to weeks-long protests in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, and expressed his concern that “respective parties might not be serious about implementing real reforms.”

If those parties “were incapable or unwilling to make the required reforms,” Sistani continued, then “an alternative path should be considered.”

This was the strongest position conveyed by the cleric since the protests began. It led many Iraqis to wonder what the “alternative path” to which Sistani referred might be.


(Source: Carnegie Middle East Center)

https://carnegie-mec.org/diwan/80346



http://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2019/11/16/the-subtle-power-of-sistani/
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The Subtle Power of Sistani Empty The Subtle Power of Sistani

Post by claud39 on Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:33 am

[size=39]The Subtle Power of Sistani[/size]


November 14, 2019


The Subtle Power of Sistani ScreenHunter-4911-623x346


On November 11, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani received Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the representative in Iraq of the United Nations secretary general. Sistani welcomed a reform plan proposed by Plasschaert in response to weeks-long protests in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, and expressed his concern that “respective parties might not be serious about implementing real reforms.”
If those parties “were incapable or unwilling to make the required reforms,” Sistani continued, then “an alternative path should be considered.” This was the strongest position conveyed by the cleric since the protests began. It led many Iraqis to wonder what the “alternative path” to which Sistani referred might be.
Sistani has occupied a central place in Iraqi Shi‘a politics, revered by all parties as a higher moral guide and sometimes as the ultimate informal authority. His fatwas and statements have played important roles in supporting or legitimizing certain courses of action—whether it was his call for early elections in 2003 after the U.S. occupation, his advice to the Da‘wa party in 2014 to select a new prime minister, or his fatwa calling on Iraqis to join the war against the Islamic State.
It became common in the post-2003 period to turn to Sistani in times of crisis, under the assumption that his words would be obeyed by most Iraqi Shi‘a. Knowing this, Sistani has always been careful not to exhaust his capital with petty politics and has saved his words for the most momentous situations. That is why his latest words on the protests revealed how seriously he perceived the current situation in Iraq. This pushed him to emerge from his seclusion and present his message in person, following several speeches delivered in Friday sermons by his representatives in Karbala.
However, an examination of Sistani’s record reveals that he has never taken a position that is not already accepted by a broad range of Iraqis, nor has he offered detailed suggestions for how to change things. His words are chosen carefully in order to avoid dragging the religious authorities into partisan conflicts. Sistani has regularly warned that the status quo is not sustainable given the rampant corruption and failure of Iraq’s ruling parties, but his proposal has so far been a call for those parties to embrace reform. By vaguely backing the UN representative’s proposal, he admitted that a third party had to get involved in formulating a serious reform plan. His preference for a UN-led role echoes his stance after 2003, in which he considered the organization as the only neutral and legitimate body that could shape Iraq’s constitutional and political processes.
The protest movement, which has so far been concentrated in predominantly Shi‘a areas, represents the most critical threat to the system dominated by Shi‘a Islamist groups. The religious authority in Najaf has benefited from this system by gaining more autonomy and recognition, formalized in a set of new regulations and norms asserting its dominant position within the religious field. But Sistani has also sought to distinguish himself from the politicians and act as a mediator between the state and society—a role enhanced by the weakness of civil society due to long years of authoritarianism, internal conflict, and the dominance of the state sector.
Sistani has maintained his social capital by engaging minimally in politics. However, other actors have managed to build their leverage by cultivating their factions within the political process and state institutions. Today, there are three main players in Shi‘a politics: Sistani, Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in parliament as well as a strong grassroots movement, and the pro-Iranian axis, which includes a number of parties and paramilitary groups that often respond to the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Suleimani. To a large extent, the nomination of ‘Adil ‘Abdul Mahdi as prime minister in 2018 was the outcome of an informal compromise among those players, which was formalized in an agreement between the Sadr-led Sairoun electoral bloc and Fatah, the political wing of the pro-Tehran axis, blessed by the largest non-Shi‘a group, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Realizing this, ‘Abdul Mahdi, who has no party, sought to please those multiple forces. He did so by claiming that he would follow Sistani’s call for reform, while at the same time adopting inconsistent policies and making appointments that aimed to please Sadr, Suleimani, and the KDP. This ended up paralyzing his government and impeding its ability to implement serious reform.
However, the protest movement has brought a new player into the game, the Iraqi street. Its demands for an end to the ethnosectarian and partisan apportionment of state institutions and resources, like its desire to topple the government, threaten the very balance of power that produced ‘Abdul Mahdi’s government. With each major player calculating its response and pushing in a direction that served its interests, ‘Abdul Mahdi increasingly appeared powerless.
The pro-Iranian groups initially adopted a security approach and allegedly played a significant role in attempting to crack down on protestors. Sadr sought to ride the protest wave early on, or at least appear as its protector. At some point, especially after the attacks against the headquarters of Iranian-allied militias on October 25, there was the risk of an escalation that could lead to an intra-Shi‘a civil war, primarily between Iranian-allied militias and the Sadrists.
Fearing such a war and the collapse of a system in which they had deeply invested, the Iranians reportedly brokered a deal that sustained support for ‘Abdul Mahdi as the lesser evil for the political class. Sadr, who is spending more time in Qom, Iran, of late, backed down and his current strategy seems to be winning over the Iranians in order to preserve and increase his leverage.
That is where Sistani came into play. Initially, there were reports claiming that his influential son Mohammed Reza was part of the Iranian-brokered deal. Sistani’s office not only denied those reports, but followed this up with the meeting with the UN representative and the statement cited earlier.
Sistani realizes that the system’s legitimacy has been significantly damaged. Only serious reform can weaken the grip on power and resources of the dominant political forces, helping to bridge the gap between the Iraqi state and the street. He also realizes that letting Iran broker deals among Iraqi factions, thereby driving the country’s political trajectory, would further deprive Najaf of its power. By more clearly siding with the protestors, Sistani made one of his boldest moves yet, the outcome of which may determine the balance of power within the Shi‘a community and Iraqi politics for years to come.


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The Subtle Power of Sistani Empty A turn in Sistani's speech in favor of the street gives the protests in Iraq a new impetus

Post by claud39 on Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:58 am

[size=57]A turn in Sistani's speech in favor of the street gives the protests in Iraq a new impetus[/size]


16/11/2019










The protests in Iraq have gained new momentum as a result of the support they received from the country's top Shiite authority. After Friday's sermon, demonstrations saw more participation in southern cities and Baghdad, in which four people were shot dead by police.




Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al - Sistani , said in a Friday sermon read by his representative, Ahmed al-Safi, in Karbala that "if they have the authority they think they can evade the real benefits of procrastination and procrastination, they are delusional." "These protests will not be the same as before, let them be aware of that," he said.


Sistani, who does not appear to the public, that "citizens did not go out to the demonstrations calling for reform in this unprecedented form and did not continue on it throughout this period with all the heavy price and huge sacrifices required, but because they found no other way to get rid of corruption."

This speech was considered the most obvious reference to the reference since the start of the wave of protests, which began demand on October 1 last. This is the first time that the Marjaiya says that it supports the protests and not only its demands, in what is a complete turn in the speech in favor of the street.

This is a blatant criticism of the ruling authority, which last week secured an Iranian-sponsored deal that would keep it in power while ending protests by all available means. After the Friday sermon, marches saw more participation in southern cities and Baghdad, where four people were killed by live bullets and a tear gas bomb, according to medical sources.


Medical sources said two protesters were shot dead on Friday afternoon by live ammunition in Baghdad's Khalani Square, while a third was killed by tear gas. On Friday night, at least one person was killed and 16 wounded when a bomb exploded near Tahrir Square in central Baghdad, Iraqi security authorities said.

In Basra, demonstrators blocked the road to the port of Umm Qasr. Security forces last week dispersed a sit-in in the same place, but about 20 people again blocked the road. Protesters based in Baghdad's Tahrir Square confirmed they were staying. "No one is going back even Sistani is with us," one protester said when security forces fired tear gas.


"Balance of Power"



It seems that the balance of power before the Friday sermon, will not be as after. The political analyst at the Carnegie Institute Harith Hassan that Sistani "was always careful not to exhaust the balance of narrow policies, and save his words for the most dangerous situations." "His latest words about the protests have revealed how seriously he understands the current situation in Iraq. By siding more openly with the protesters, Sistani has made his most bold move to date, which could determine the outcome of the balance of power within the Shiite house and Iraqi politics for years to come."

The Supreme Marja reiterated on Friday that "the battle of reform being waged by the Iraqi people is a national battle alone and should not be allowed to interfere with any external party." Much of the Iraqi street blames Iran as the backbone of the existing regime, especially with the Qods Force's Qasem Soleimani's frequent visits to the country.

The Shiite authority "rejected Iran's messages" to support the government

A senior political source close to Marjeh's circles told Agence France-Presse that Tehran had recently tried to deliver letters to Marjeyeh asking it to support the current government in its sermon and call on the demonstrators to withdraw from the street, and give the opportunity to make reforms within a specific time limit.

The source pointed out that the Marjaiya "refused to respond to these messages or even received. Therefore, it did not also agree to receive (Shiite cleric Moqtada) Sadr immediately after his return from Tehran, so that the street does not think that he carries a message from Tehran." The source pointed out that "Soleimani himself, heard harsh words from the reference on the Iranian role in the Iraqi crisis," without further details.

Therefore, it seemed that the street began to regain its momentum, especially after the authorities found themselves embarrassed in suppressing the demonstrations, after denying the reference to be a party to any agreement to dry the street, and is now under the pressure of the street and political and diplomatic movements.

Sistani met earlier this week with the head of the United Nations Mission in Iraq, Jenin Hennes-Blachart, who presented him with a phased roadmap, which calls for an immediate end to the violence, electoral reforms and anti-corruption measures within two weeks. Constitutional amendments and structural legislation will follow within three months.

"The will of the people will be the result of the secret ballot if it is conducted fairly and fairly," she said in her speech Friday, calling for "the speedy passage of a fair election law that gives a real chance to change the forces that have governed the country over the past years." She added that "the adoption of a law that does not give such an opportunity for voters will not be acceptable and useless."







France 24 / AFP

https://www.france24.com/ar/20191116-%D8%A7%D9%86%D8%B9%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%81%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%AE%D8%B7%D8%A7%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D9%8A%D8%B3%D8%AA%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%B9-%D8%AA%D8%B9%D8%B7%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%AD%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%82-%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%B9%D8%A7-%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF%D8%A7
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