Monday, March 21, 2005

Ali al-Sistani

Thomas Friedman makes a really good point about the importance of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Iraq. Sistani has been the voice of moderation for Shiites in Iraq, telling his followers not to retaliate against Sunni attacks and forcing America to have national elections in Iraq and not allowing them to be delayed. But if Friedman were in fact serious about giving Sistani the Nobel Peace Prize, I would have to disagree. The last thing that Sistani needs is to win a major award from the West. This would help his critics by making him look like an American puppet. Iranian Shiites are desperately fighting for influence in Iraq, and their most powerful attacks are ones that call their opposition stooges of the West. So let’s all recognize how important Sistani has been, and understand that he probably deserves the Nobel Prize, but let’s also realize he is almost definitely better off without it.