Al-Sistani Ups the Ante

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As Paul Bremmer and Kofi Annan meet in New York today to discuss the political future of Iraq and the U.N.’s eventual role there, headlines out of that country bear more grim news.

A suicide bombing at U.S. headquarters in Iraq Sunday, claimed more than 20 lives, injured 100 more, and underscored the ongoing difficulties of the U.S.-led occupation.

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq reached the 500 mark this past weekend. Yet, the transition of power remains extremely complicated. The powerful Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is calling for direct elections rather than America’s plan for regional caucuses, which are causing some to warn of civil war.


Hamid Dabashi, chair of Middle East and Asian Languages and Culture at Columbia University

Robert Orr, executive director for research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government.