outlook hazy

Courtesy of Juan Cole, a succint demonstration of the difficult situation the US faces with Moqtada al-Sadr:

I think it is highly unlikely that Muqtada will agree to go into exile. The problem is that Bush has gotten himself in a bind by going after him in the first place, virtually unprovoked. It is difficult for the US now to let Muqtada off the hook, since he did launch an insurgency. But if they go into Najaf to arrest him, it would be rather like invading the Vatican to get at an Irish priest who supported the IRA. It is not as if dislike of terrorism would convince most Catholics that the action had been justified. Most Shiites will be furious at the US if it invades Najaf and arrests or kills Muqtada.

Number of Muslims in the world: 1.3 billion
Percentage of them that are Shiite: 10
Number of Shiites in the world: 130,000,000
Population of Russia: 144,000,000
Distribution of Shiites: Majority in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Azerbaijan; Plurality Lebanon; about 15% in Afghanistan, Pakistan; 5% of Indian Muslims;
Percentage who would be enraged by a US Marines assault on the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf: 100