Monday, February 06, 2006

Bremer & Sistani

Bremer spent his 14 months in Baghdad in a tug-of-war with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani [...]. The Shia leader demanded a provisional government and an elected constituent assembly to draft a new constitution for Iraq. Bremer wanted a Governing Council under the CPA, and wanted to select, not elect, those who would write the national charter.

[...] Sistani’s motives had to do with holding the ring and consolidating the position of the majority Shia, long under the boot of the Sunnis. But Sistani was right, insofar as only the legitimacy of an elected constituent assembly could build bridges from the exiles to local leadership and head off civil war. Bremer was, in effect, serially vetoed by Sistani, but the constituent process was held up so long that the insurgency wormed its way into the vacuum.

I had assumed Bremer did not understand Sistani’s position. Wrong. He did. He just knew better.
'Diplomatic baggage',  David Gardner reviewing Paul Bremer's book in the FT Magazine (subscribers only )


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