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February 08, 2003

Shiites Brace for Possible War Fallout

The winds of change. How the West may make itself felt in this report from The On-line Ledger
(...)The next conflict - if it comes - may do even more than disrupt spiritual travels between the world's main Shiite populations, some experts say.

It could start to unravel the taut Shiite weave of religion, politics and militancy that supports some heavyweight features of the Middle East: Iran's theocracy and guerrillas fighting Israel.

Iran, the Shiite heartland, sits squarely at the center of the possible fallout.

A pro-Western government in Baghdad - with key roles for Iraq's majority Shiites - could become a beacon for moderate Shiite clerics and scholars in Iran opposing the iron-fist rule of the establishment. This could expand the reformist base and draw important religious figures into the struggle, observers say.

"A new government in Iraq will bring changes to the entire Islamic world, not just Iran," said Mohammed Abdel Jabar, a former leader of al-Dawa, an Iraqi Shiite militant group opposing Saddam. "Iraqi Shiites will pay a big role in these changes." [more]