Kommentar

Faren for full utblåsning i Irak ser ut til å være over, og æren for det går til presteskapet, fremst det shiamuslimske. Deres nedroing av situasjonen viser hvem som idag har autoritet i dagens Irak. Det er ikke politikerne som sitter innemurt i Den grønnen sonen, men menn med turbaner.

USA har fått en maktmotmol som ligger utenfor demokratisk kontroll, og det må være dypt foruroligende. Ikke minst med tanke på innflytelsen fra Iran.

Et tilfelle for seg er Muqtadah al-Sadr. Hans Mahdi-milits ledet først an i stormingen av sunni-moskeer og hevndrap. Da oppfordring til ro og forsoning kom, tilbød militsen seg å vokte det som timer tidligere hadde vært angrepsmål.

The sectarian crisis illustrates not only the power of the religious leadership but the weakness of 2_kommentarstream political figures on whom the U.S. must rely if it is to begin pulling troops out of Iraq this year
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The rise of clerical power has reversed a tradition of secular government in Iraq since the establishment of the modern Iraqi state after World War I. Since the fall of Saddam, the power of the mosques has increased because of the weakness of fledgling government institutions.

Many Iraqis view those institutions with suspicion as creations of the Americans and dominated by former exiles who returned to the country on the heels of the U.S.-led invasion. In these times of uncertainty, many Iraqis see the mosque as the legitimate source of authority.

That trend has benefited Shiite clerics more than the Sunnis, who have no formal clerical rank structure. Shiites, on the other hand, have a clerical hierarchy headed by the «marjaiyah,» the four top ayatollahs led by al-Sistani.

Although U.S. officials have cultivated the Shiites since the beginning of the occupation, the Americans have also sought to promote secular politicians — but with limited success. Washington’s initial choice to replace Saddam, secular Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi, failed to win a seat in the Dec. 15 parliamentary election.

The U.S. choice as interim prime minister in 2004, Ayad Allawi, has fared better, but his secular-minded party won only 25 seats of the 275 parliamentary seats in December — compared to 130 captured by the religious Shiite parties.

Analysis: Iraq Crisis Shows Clerics’ Power