Iraq’s top Shi’ite clerics warned Iraqis that a war involving the Kurds is not in the best interest of the country and therefore prohibited by them. Separately, only three Iraqis were reported killed and 11 more were wounded in unrelated violence across Iraq.
The Marja in Najaf issued a fatwa declaring fighting against the Kurds religiously prohibited. They further warned that no soldiers would be considered martyrs if they died under those circumstances. The Shi’ite clerics also criticized Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for not consulting them before implementing maneuvers that could only increase tensions between the central and Kurdish governments. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani himself asked everyone "to be patient and stay away from a war that could only harm the Iraqis.”
The Marja are the highest religious authority in charge of Iraq’s Shi’ite community. Several days ago, Kurdish lawmaker Ali Hussein Faili urged the council of ayatollahs to make such an edict in the hopes of preventing a civil war between Iraqi army troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
The current standoff began in September when Baghdad established the Dijla (Tigris) Operations Command in a disputed region and brought in loyal personnel. Tensions further escalated after clashes broke out at a politician’s home in Tuz Khormato last month. A breakthrough was seemingly reached yesterday, when both sides agreed to hand over security to local units.
This has not been the only source of conflict between the Kurds and Baghdad this year. Harboring, by the Kurds, of fugitive Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and a quarrel over oil revenues had also threatened to ignite violence between the two governments.
Meanwhile, at least three Iraqis were killed and 1 more were wounded in unrelated violence across Iraq.
One policeman was killed and two others were wounded when a gunman attacked them in Qayara.
At a Falluja residence, one person was killed and another was wounded in an attack involving grenades and machine-gun fire.
On a road near Jalawla, a bomb killed one soldier and wounded another.
Mortars wounded seven family members at their home in Mussayab.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
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