The United States and Iraq's Shi'Ite Clergy: Partners or Adversaries?

The United States and Iraq's Shi'Ite Clergy: Partners or Adversaries?

The United States and Iraq's Shi'Ite Clergy: Partners or Adversaries?

The United States and Iraq's Shi'Ite Clergy: Partners or Adversaries?

Excerpt

The U.S. military presence in Iraq is currently in a transitional phase. Either the anti-U.S. insurgency will be brought under control and security will be provided to those forces involved in nation- building; or the insurgency will expand, and U.S. goals in Iraq will be undermined by increasing civil unrest. It is imperative that the former objective be accomplished while the later fate be avoided. To ensure this outcome, U.S. policymakers must understand the internal dynamics of Iraq, including the role of Iraq's Shi'ite clerics.

This monograph by Dr. W. Andrew Terrill helps to address the critical need to gain the cooperation or at least the passive tolerance of the Shi'ite clerics and community. Such an effort could become more challenging as time goes on, and one of the recurring themes of this monograph is the declining patience of the Shi'ite clergy with the U.S. presence. By describing the attitudes, actions, and beliefs of major Shi'ite clerics, Dr. Terrill underscores a set of worldviews that differ in important ways from those reflected in U.S. policy. Key Shi'ite clerics' deep suspicion of the United States is exemplified by conspiracy theories. These suggest that Saddam's ouster was merely a convenient excuse, allowing the United States to implement its own agenda. Other clerical leaders are more open-minded but not particularly grateful for the U.S. presence, despite their utter hatred for Saddam and his regime.

The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer this monograph as a contribution to the national security debate on this important subject as our nation grapples with a variety of problems associated with the U.S. presence in Iraq. This analysis should be especially useful to U.S. military strategic leaders as they seek to better understand Iraq's largest sectarian community.

DOUGLAS C. LOVELACE, JR.
Director
Strategic Studies Institute . . .

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