The most important political figure in Iraq today is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an elderly Shiite Muslim cleric. He has not set foot outside his home in six years, yet the white-bearded ayatollah has effectively commandeered the Bush administration’s planning for postwar democracy. His pronouncement on who may write a new constitution (only Iraqis elected by Iraqis) forced Washington to upend its timetable for granting the country its independence. Last week, the ayatollah rejected the American proposal for choosing an interim legislature through caucuses, immobilizing the transition. His backers took to the streets to support him. Full Story
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