The United States and Iraq's Shi'ite Clergy: Partners or Adversaries?

  • February 01, 2004
  • Dr W Andrew Terrill

The author addressed the critical need to gain the cooperation or at least the passive tolerance of the Shi'ite clerics and community. Such an effort could become more challenging as time goes on, and one of the recurring themes of this monograph is the declining patience of the Shi'ite clergy with the U.S. presence. By describing the attitudes, actions, and beliefs of major Shi'ite clerics, the author underscores a set of worldviews that are profoundly different from those of the U.S. authorities currently in Iraq and Washington. Some key Shi'ite clerics are deeply suspicious of the United States, exemplified by conspiracy theories. These suggest that Saddam's ouster was merely a convenient excuse, allowing the United States to implement its own agenda. Other clerical leaders are more open-minded but not particularly grateful for the U.S. presence, despite their utter hatred for Saddam and his regime.