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September 23, 2005
Sistani Backs Constitution

The most influential of Shi'ite religious leaders in Iraq urged his countrymen to vote in support of the newly proposed constitution next month when the plebescite will take place. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani gathered his aides and ordered them to campaign on his behalf to get people to the polls to vote "yes" on the referendum:

Two officials in the Shiite Muslim hierarchy in Najaf said Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called senior aides together and told them to promote a "yes" vote among the faithful during the Oct. 15 national referendum on the constitution. ...

In Amman, Jordan, about 150 Iraqi Sunni clerics and tribal leaders called for the rejection of the constituion, warning the charter would lead to the fragmentation of Iraq. The local leaders from Iraq's insurgency-torn Anbar province, the country's Sunni heartland, met for a a three-day conference in the Jordanian capital for security reasons.

Having Sistani on board for the constitution will certainly help influence the Shi'ites to come to the polls. Whether his efforts will help among moderate Sunnis is a tougher question. The mobilization of the millions of Shi'ites in Baghdad, however, will help ensure that the province will not reject the constitution by the two-thirds needed for overall failure, and could make the victory a lock.

Meanwhile, if the Sunnis who had to meet in Jordan for "security" purposes really intended on keeping the country together, they would put less effort into voting "no" on a constitution that has fairly obvious political support -- and one which can later be amended to repair any basic faults -- and put more effort into breaking the Zarqawi network of terrorists. These Ba'athist remnants want their privileged position in Iraq back again, and they have no problem fomenting a civil war to get it. This group will settle for nothing less than the rule of another Sunni strongman, and as long as they remain so inclined, we should do our best to ignore them and speak directly to their constituencies.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 23, 2005 4:22 AM

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» Sistani urges "yes" vote on Iraqi constitution from Scipio the Metalcon
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is probably one of the toughest birds (in a good way) the US has had to face since our soldiers went into Iraq. He was adamant about having the elections when he deemed appropriate, and did not back down under pressure. ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 23, 2005 6:50 AM

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