Top Iraqi Shiite cleric urges end to crisis

AP News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2012 6:52 AM
Top Iraqi Shiite cleric urges end to crisis

An aide to Iraq's most prominent Shiite cleric is urging politicians on both sides of the country's sectarian divide to end a government crisis, as fears of civil war rise a month after the U.S. military withdrawal.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's aide Ahmed al-Safi said during a Friday sermon in the holy city of Karbala that the war-ravaged country "cannot bear further tensions among politicians."

Sistani, revered among Iraqi Shiites, normally exerts his influence through sermons and statements made by his aides.

The crisis erupted last month after the Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant against the Sunni vice president on terrorism charges. In protest, the Sunni-backed bloc has been boycotting parliament and Cabinet sessions.