Odsidian Wings led me to this story saying that things in Iraq could get even uglier......
Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric has been quietly issuing religious edicts declaring that armed resistance against U.S.-led foreign troops is permissible — a potentially significant shift by a key supporter of the Washington-backed government in Baghdad.
The edicts, or fatwas, by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani suggest he seeks to sharpen his long-held opposition to American troops and counter the populist appeal of his main rivals, firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia.
Al-Sistani's new edicts — which did not specifically mention Americans but refer to foreign occupiers — were in response to the question of whether it's permitted to "wage armed resistance," according to the two Shiites who received them.
Al-Sistani's affirmative response also carried a stern warning that "public interest" should not be harmed and every effort must be made to ensure that no harm comes to Iraqis or their property during "acts of resistance," they said.
I agree with Eric Martin at Obsidian Wings that a similar public announcement would make our occupation almost completely untenable. Al-Sistani's restraint is what keeps what passes for an Iraqi government and military together and cooperating with us. Al-Maliki would have to disown us in order to save his skin. We would then be there against the wishes of the elected government and the most prominent Shiite religious leaders. All we'd have are the Sunnis we've been able to buy off, and considering the edicts' specific prohibition of harming Iraqis I don't see why the Sunnis would help us. We'd be forced to either leave under duress or violently suppress most of the population, which (1) would completely destroy our international standing and (2) we lack the means to do anyway.
This story is the type of reminder we need - Iraqis don't trust our intentions and don't want us there, and the clock is ticking. I just hope the next administration takes notice.