Spencer Ackerman explains the relationship between Moqtada Al Sadr, the bad guy, and Ali Sistani. This brief essay is very much worth reading. As far as I can tell, Ackerman is right: Sadr is making a power play to take over the Shiites by calling for a war against the Coalition. Sistani understands this, thats why he is telling his people not to participate (and thats why this is not an upring) and will try to prevent him from doing so. Because this is Sadr’s last chance (he has tried it before), he will do everything he must; this explains the violence. Sadr and Sistani also have ideological differences, having to do with the role of Islam in politics; this is what makes Sistani a moderate. There is a reason why Sadr moved into the Imam Ali Shrine, he wants to see if he can wrest moral authority from Sistani. If he can’t do it within the next few days, during their religious holidays with perhaps as many as a million Shiite pilgrims coming into the city, then he will fail. Take a look at this long article on Grand Ayatollah Sistani from the Washington Post, in February. This is what you have to pay attention to.
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