Sadr: Sistani told me to keep the Mahdi Army; SCIRI: No, he didn’t

posted at 12:25 pm on April 10, 2008 by Allahpundit

And so this idiotic saga of “did he or didn’t he,” launched by Sadr’s announcement that he’d disband the JAM if Shiite clerics told him to, reaches its absurd conclusion. Because Sistani won’t talk to the press himself, we’re left to divine his intentions from intermediaries. Surprise: Sadr’s people say he gave them the thumbs up and Sadr’s chief rivals for Shiite supremacy say he gave them the thumbs down. Sort of. The thumbs up version:

The influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr said his clerical advisers, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, rejected calls to disband the Mahdi Army.

Salah al-Obaidi, the spokesman for Sadr, said the cleric issued his decision in a statement following a meeting with Sistani and Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri in Qom, Iran.

The statement reiterated Sadr’s call for an end to the apparent politically motivated violence in Iraq by urging all parties to solve their issues through comprehensive dialogue, Voices of Iraq said.

And the thumbs down, via Bill Roggio:

Leading figure in Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council [i.e. SCIRI], Jalal el-Din al-Saghier, said on Tuesday that dissolving the al-Mahdi army is Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s responsibility, asserting that top Shiite Cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has nothing to do with this militia as al-Sadr did not consult the SIIC when he established it.

“Al-Sistani has a clear opinion in this regard; the law is the only authority in the country,” al-Saghier told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq (VOI)…

“Al-Sistani asked al-Mahdi army to give in weapons to the government,” the Shiite official said.

Whom to believe? They’re not absolutely contradictory; it’s possible that the clerics want him to disarm but will leave the disbanding up to him, although that read seems a bit overly nuanced given the politics at stake here. In which case … whom to believe? It’s worth noting that I can’t find the thumbs up version on the VOI website, although UPI’s a credible enough agency that I’ll take their word that it’s there. Even so there are still two problems. First, the source is Salah al-Obeidi, whose story seems to change by the hour: Initially he said Iraq’s Shiite clerics refused to order Sadr to disband, then he said Sadr had never asked them in the first place, now he’s claiming that Sadr did ask them and, whaddaya know, they’re on his side. Second, note that the meeting between him, Sistani, and Haeri allegedly took place in Iran. My understanding is that Sistani rarely leaves Najaf, and almost certainly wouldn’t be at the beck and call of a low-level punk like Sadr, whatever political power he may wield. He might have been in Qom on other business since it is, after all, a Shiite holy city, but I can’t find any reports on the wires about him traveling. In fact, two days ago Reuters reported that Sadr was forming a delegation to visit Sistani — in Najaf. Maybe they met and convinced him to come back with them to Iran for talk? Or maybe it’s just a big pile of Muq-brand bullshinola. Either way, sounds like he’s keeping his army.

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So kingpin thug remains kingpin thug.

Vizzini on April 10, 2008 at 12:30 PM

The depth of insanity and sheer moronic behavior that people like Mookie are allowed to get away with in the current times is a sign of how the bar just keeps getting dropped lower in order for the West to dialog with the likes of Islam.

Hening on April 10, 2008 at 12:34 PM

Key here is what Al-Maliki does with this information.

“Al-Sistani asked al-Mahdi army to give in weapons to the government,” – if it is a true statement, then Al-Maliki has the religious (and thus political) cover to continue ops against the “Gangsters” in the area.

Al-Sistani may not be talking to the Press, but Al-Mal is both the Government, and a fellow Shiite, and so should be able to get a straight answer out of him.

“IF” Sistani did make the statement? Its a win for the Iraqi government whether they disband or not.

Romeo13 on April 10, 2008 at 12:35 PM

“Mookie” has stood up to the U.S. military for five years, and is first in line to take over Iraq when we finally leave that land of pork and corruption.

Why don’t we save thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of American taxpayer money and just back al Sadr to run Iraq?

Too easy?

Don’t want the pork party to end?

Who knows…

alphie on April 10, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Maybe the Messiah should talk to Mookie, they seem to have much in common, both are pathological liars!

dmann on April 10, 2008 at 12:40 PM

If Malaki can show the iraqi people al-sistani’s allegiance to the new iraqi government, it will be curtains for Sadr sooner rather than later.

THE CHOSEN ONE on April 10, 2008 at 12:40 PM

I cannot figure Sadr out. I think maybe he painted himself into a corner and is scrambling around trying to figure out how to resolve it without one side or another chopping his head off. just my opinion…

HawaiiLwyr on April 10, 2008 at 12:41 PM

logis on April 10, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Oh, maybe because he is an Iranian puppet?

Romeo13 on April 10, 2008 at 12:43 PM

Without his militia, what use does Iran have for Sadr? That’s his only poker chip and is the leverage he’s been using to maintain what political power he has. I would guess Iran might grease him for good and try to use his death to rekindle the sectarian wars, if he tries to disband.

a capella on April 10, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Sadr has about as much organizational skill as the DNC.

innominatus on April 10, 2008 at 12:47 PM

alphie on April 10, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Grrr… sorry… mispasted….

Meant that last comment for alphis…

Anyway, you do understand that Mook is in a madrasa in IRAN right now? and has been for quite some time? That he has used Iranian funding, weapons, and training to build the Mahdi army? That Iran looks at them as the Iraqi Hezbollah?

Yes, and Iran IS working on Nukes, and chants “Death to America” constantly?

Romeo13 on April 10, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Are there any reports of new fighting in Sadr City today?

Zorro on April 10, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Why is this guy still alive anyway? He should have been dead five years ago.

sdd on April 10, 2008 at 1:00 PM

It doesn’t matter who to believe. If the reporting is correct then this is good news. There is a rift between Sadr and the Council

jdun on April 10, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Romeo13 on April 10, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Alphie loves to toss bombs. Be advised.

Hening on April 10, 2008 at 1:09 PM

Sistani isn’t going to publicly “order” Sadr to disband his militia. Doing so would send the message that Sadr is directly subordinate to Sistani and therefore Sistani is to some extent responsible for the actions of the JAM. Sistani is not going to place himself in that position.

What he has done is to place the maximum possible distance between himself and Sadr and said that the government is the only legitimate armed force in the country. The rest really is up to Sadr but Sistani is not going to get directly involved one way or the other. He isn’t going to be seen as a pawn of the government or seen as the ultimate commander of the JAM.

crosspatch on April 10, 2008 at 1:16 PM

When Mookie came out with his, “if they tell me to I will,” schtick, my thoughts were, wouldn’t it be funny if Sistani hung him out to dry and said, hey, you decide whatever I’m not the boss of you. Looks like that is what happened, Mookie is no longer relevant to the world, his days are numbered.

midwesternperspective on April 10, 2008 at 1:24 PM

So, um, Sadr was for disbanding before he was against it.

Is that something like voting for the war before voting against it? Hum, is Kerry on Sadr’s staff?

BobK on April 10, 2008 at 1:43 PM

Mookie al-Rottentooth needs to be vaporized ASAP!

MNDavenotPC on April 10, 2008 at 2:37 PM

Since the trust isn’t in either of them, who the hell cares what they say? Screw em.

Travis1 on April 10, 2008 at 4:21 PM

With AQI pretty much finished, looks like Sadr`s boys are the last big military challange left.

Or maybe not, this Iraq situation always baffles me.

ThePrez on April 10, 2008 at 4:45 PM

With AQI pretty much finished, looks like Sadr`s boys are the last big military challange left.

Or maybe not, this Iraq situation always baffles me.

No, you are correct – as I said before, the fight against AQI is going to be tough, but they are not the future. Dealing with JAM is the fight to see what direction Iraq goes – Lebanon with Iran playing Syria, or if the Iraqis solve it, they will be independent. From where I stand (close enough to Basrah, thanks) it sure looks like the Iraqis are dead serious on this one – they don’t want to be a satrapy of Iran. Neighbors and trading partners, sure. But not thralls of Tehran.

major john on April 11, 2008 at 1:57 AM