I have always said that Sistani was smart and was the man to watch in the South, but Arthur Chrenkoff thinks he is really smart: "One thing no one can deny the Grand Ayatollah Sistani - he’s a smart man. Sistani returns from his surgery in Great Britain just at a time when al Sadr’s Mahdi army is facing annihilation in his home town of Najaf, steps in to broker a peace deal between al Sadr and Iraqi government, and in a space of a few hours he demonstrates to everyone who’s really in charge in the south. You might recall that Sistani left for London the day after al Sadr restarted his Shia uprising.
A mere coincidence or a clever plan? The upstart al Sadr’s radical and largely uncontrollable forces have been significantly degraded over three weeks of fighting, with the dirty work being all done by the ’infidel’ Americans; al Sadr himself has been humbled and put in place; the provisional Iraqi government is grateful for this respectable way out; and the Shias are ecstatic that peace has finally returned to Najaf.
Surely the Shia establishment in Iraq could not be that Machiavellian?"
Plan or no plan, virtu implies the ability to recognize opportunities. I remind Mr. Chrenkoff that it was the Allawi government (and the Americans) who allowed, and took, Sistani out of Iraq. It would seem that his medical condition--he had a stent placed in an artery--did not require immediate attention; he could have waited, or he could have gone earlier.
In any case, it would seem--for the moment--that al Sadr is afflicted by bad fortune. And that is the other side of the effectual truth of the thing.