If anyone is to blame for the Islamist decision of the IGC to adopt sharia, it is the U.S., which stacked the 25-member body with Islamists. There are some on the council who are committed to secular democracy, and three of the members are women. But as evidenced by the closely divided vote in favor of sharia, the Islamists have considerable, if not controlling, clout within the IGC.
Other actions of Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) have also indicated a preference toward Islamists. Bremer seems to have a soft spot for IGC member Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, former spokesman in the 1990's for the Dawa Party, which is responsible for the 1983 bombing of the embassy in Kuwait that killed six and injured dozens.
Al-Rubaie?s profile was raised even higher when he was one of two IGC members tapped to meet individually with Secretary of State Colin Powell in September. But unlike leaders such as Ayatollah Sistani, al-Rubaie has no natural constituency among the Iraqi people.
Even on a smaller level, the U.S. is sending all the wrong signals. At some secular public schools, for example, the CPA is allowing security to be handled by Islamic religious guards?and the money to pay for it comes from the Ministry of Education.
To the extent the CPA has been talking about defending the rights of minorities, it is to discuss the need for affirmative action for Sunnis. Regardless of the regime, Shi?ites have always suffered at the hands of Sunnis. So any perceived embrace of Sunnis will only serve to alienate the U.S. from the Shi?ite majority.
With the State of the Union address finished, Bush needs to ensure Iraq truly becomes the success story it deserves to be.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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