Keep those bullets away from Sistani!

By Gary Kamiya

Published May 18, 2004 10:51PM (EDT)

The ever-valuable Juan Cole notes that an extremely dangerous situation in Najaf and elsewhere has been created by the U.S.'s aggressive moves against Muktada al-Sadr and his followers. If either Sadr or, worse, Ayatollah Sistani were to be killed in a fight with U.S. troops, a total meltdown in Shiite Iraq could ensue. In a scary development, the house of Sistani -- who is steering a middle course between Sadr and the U.S. by calling for both sides to pull out of the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala -- was allegedly sprayed with machine-gun fire. About the only thing that has gone right in Iraq so far is that Sistani has not been killed by a clever extremist.

Cole also has an intriguing speculation about the political maneuvering that could lie behind Secretary of State Colin Powell's unprecedented statement, in his Meet the Press interview with Tim Russert, that he was intentionally misled about WMD. "So, will the other shoe now drop?" Cole asks. "Is Powell laying the groundwork for an impeachment of Douglas Feith or Paul Wolfowitz?" Ah, the squeaking sound of rats turning on each other as the ship sinks...

Gary Kamiya

Gary Kamiya is a Salon contributing writer.

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