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Dec 21,2007
Shiite blocs struggle for power in Iraq
by UPI

NAJAF, Iraq -- Shiite clerics in Iraq find their power waning following their role in establishing a government led by Shiite parties after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

The Shiite bloc's influence diminished as Iraqis grow disenchanted with the lack of political legislation aimed at improving the infrastructure and the Iraqi economy, The Washington Post reported Friday.

A council of four leading Shiite clerics, led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, presides over the majaiya, which has immense power in Iraq.

The erratic electric and water supply as well as rampant inflation and a lack of political progress undermines the influence of the Shiite council, however.

"The marjaiya sold us the promise that Iraq is going to be a prosperous country but that has not happened," said one Iraqi citizen in the newspaper.

Sectarian violence also undermines the authority of the marjaiya as armed Shiite militias and self-anointed clerics gain influence. Assassinations targeting key Shiite clerics are also in the rise as various groups vie for power in the emerging government.

Other Iraqi's see the theocratic ideologies as part of the wider problem in Iraq government, however.

"Next time, I will not participate in the elections," Abu Mustafa said in the Post. "My belief has been reduced. Why would I go? If I do vote, it will be for the secular parties."

Copyright © 2007, by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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