"[I]The coalition of Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi interim Prime Minister appointed by the Americans, is heading for election defeat at the hands of a list backed by the country's senior Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, partial results released yesterday indicate.
The results from Baghdad - where Mr Allawi was expected to do well - show the one-time CIA protégé with only 140,364 votes compared to 350,069 for the alliance, which is headed by a Shia cleric who lived in Iran for many years.
Among the mostly five Shia provinces tallied so far, the alliance's lead is even wider. It has 1.1 million of the 1.6 million votes counted at 10 per cent of polling centres in the capital and the Shia south. Mr Allawi's list was second with 360,500.
"Large numbers of Shia voted along sectarian lines," said Sharif Ali bin Hussein, head of the Constitutional Monarchy Party. "Americans are in for a shock. A lot of people in the country are going to wake up in shock." [/I]
Well now isn't this something. The US overthrew the only secular government in the Middle East, imposed elections, whereupon it looks like the Iraqi people will vote in the very sort of theocracy the US has denounced in other Arab nations. And, it gets even better. If Sistani wins (and survives the event), his first official act will be to tell the US to get the heck out of Iraq. Good! I think Sistani is quite a reasonable person though. His sort of theocracy could potentially be more reasonable than the sort of sectarian political coalition the US would hope for. And certainly a *progressive* independant theocracy would have a more positive effect on the theocracies of the region than a puppet US government. George Bush wouldn't be happy.