Iran Backtracks On Sistani– Moderate Ayatollah Remains Moderate

The moderate Iraqi Ayatollah remains moderate.

On Saturday, the Iranian regime’s propaganda department reported that Iraqi Ayatollah Ali Sistani would not allow a ‘security accord’ between the US and Iraq as long has he was alive.
This accord will include agreements and guidelines on US bases in Iraq.
Iranian Press TV reported:

Iraq’s most revered Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has strongly objected to a ‘security accord’ between the US and Iraq.

The Grand Ayatollah has reiterated that he would not allow Iraq to sign such a deal with “the US occupiers” as long as he was alive, a source close to Ayatollah Sistani said.

The source added the Grand Ayatollah had voiced his strong objection to the deal during a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the holy city of Najaf on Thursday.

The remarks were made amid reports that the Iraqi government might sign a long-term framework agreement with the United States, under which Washington would be allowed to set up permanent military bases in the country and US citizens would be granted immunity from legal prosecution in the country.

This was a strange report for a number of reasons:

First- It came from the Iranian regime. The hardliners do not want a permanent US presence in Iraq.
(They even have Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah speaking out against the accord.)
Second- The Iraqi press did not mention this when reporting on the meeting between Prime Minister Maliki and the moderate Ayatollah Sistani.
Third- Ayatollah Ali Sistani has a record of being very moderate in comparison to the hardliner Iranian Shiite rulers. He has been very supportive of the fledgling democracy in Iraq and has kept some distance from policy discussions.

Sure enough, today the Iranian news altered their original report.
Fars News reported:

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is yet to publicly comment, but an aide said he has called for the authorities to have a public debate on the issue.

“He has always expected the officials to consult the people before taking a decision,” the aide said. “They should go ahead only if a majority of the people accept it.”

When the Bush-Maliki statement was announced in November, a host of Sunni groups also voiced their opposition, warning that it would give the Americans the right to “interfere” in Iraq for years to come.

Last week, a senior cleric in Iran also slammed the proposed accord as treachery to Islam, charging that it would allow US troops to launch attacks from Iraq, it would stop Iraqi courts from trying US nationals, and would put Iraqi ministries under US supervision.

That report is a far cry from their original claims on Saturday.

Fabius Maximus has a thorough report on all of the Sistani talk from this last week.
Bill Roggio has more at The Weekly Standard Blog and says it is most likely that the Associated Press was fooled by Sadrist members purporting to be close to Sistani in last week’s reports.

Previously:
Busted!!… Iraqi Press Denies AP Report On Ayatollah Sistani
It Was a Bogus Story 2 Days Ago… But, Who Cares?… TIME Mag Throws It Out There Anyway
Iran Stirs Up More Trouble in Iraq With Dubious Media Report

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