The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Shiâ€TMite leaders put together diverse slate for upcoming elections

by Lisa Ashkenaz Croke

Dec. 8, 2004 – US-backed exile parties, including Islamic Dawa and SCIRI, dominate a slate of Shi’ite politicians being drawn up by a commission appointed by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, according The Guardian of London and Arabic newspapers. The list reportedly includes interim Vice President Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, former Iraq Governing Council member Abdul Aziz as well as one-time Pentagon favorite, Ahmed Chalabi, who fell from US graces earlier this year.

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In what seems to be an attempt to render such an unpopular, US-preferred slate more palatable to the Iraqi electorate grown wary of American interference, The Guardian reports that leaders have also invited individuals closer to Al-Sistani. Rebel cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, the man US commanders had vowed to "capture or kill" in August, has accepted an invitation to place some members of his movement on the list, according to reports that emerged in the Iraqi media early this week.

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has been asked to join, a Dawa party official told The Guardian, but Allawi has yet to respond.

Given that Shi’ite Muslims make up the majority of the Iraqi populace, and voter registration efforts have reportedly been relatively successful in Shi’ite areas, a unified slate of politicians for which Shi’ites can cast their ballots would be very difficult for any party to beat.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke is a contributing journalist.

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