Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Inside Najafi Politics...

Ma’ad Fayadh reports in today’s Asharq Al-Awsat that Ridhwan Al-Kilidar, the first candidate on Ayad Allawi’s list in the Najaf Province, is still in the running—dismissing gossip that he had withdrawn his nomination. However, Al-Kilidar claims to have received death threats from the United Iraqi Alliance list demanding that he should step down.

The Kilidars (also known as the Rufai’i family) have been keepers of the Imam Ali shrine for centuries. The last in the line under Saddam’s regime was Haydar Al-Kilidar, who was killed along with Majeed Al-Khoei shortly after liberation.

His cousin, Ridhwan, arrived back in Iraq from London to bear the family’s burden. But during the Allawi cabinet, the then Prime Minister wanted to do something nice and endearing for Muhammad Ridha Sistani, so Allawi officially signed the papers handing him over the custodianship of the shrine.

Imam Ali Shrine: Kachink!

Ridhwan, who was stripped of his birthright, is now running as the ally of the guy who did the stripping. Go figure. It’s these small details that are necessary in understanding Iraqi politics.

The shrine, by the way, is a major money maker. It’s also been understood that should any pilgrims’ donations go missing, then it probably ended-up with the custodians. And if Imam Ali allowed it to happen, then he must want it to happen. Right?

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