UIA makes astute choice of Ibrahim Ja‘fari al-Ushayqir
Though predominately Shi'ite, al-Da‘wa has always had Sunni members and, according to MiddleEastReference.org.uk., has coordinated closely with Sunni Islamist groupings over the years since its founding in 1958. Given the contacts of long standing within the Sunni community, Karbala-born Ja'fari appears to be the right person to reach out to the alienated Sunnis in restive al-Anbar Province to put a damper on at least a portion of the insurgency. Settling Sunni-Shi'a differences is key to the future of the country. As a historical reminder, Najaf clerics associated with al-Da'wa refused to issue a fatwa permitting war on the Kurds in the 60's and 70's. This may also resonate positively within Kurdistan.
Though anti-secular, al-Da'wa is not an organization of clergy only. It includes students, middle-class professionals, businessmen and reform-minded mujtahids. It also seems to be preserving of the power of tribal sheiks. It's history has been that of staunch anti-communism but economically, it has been an advocate of a mixed economy with natural resources under the control of the State. As to govenment, quite clearly Iraq is going to be an Islamist state but as Juan Cole has often written concerning the views of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, not one which is run by the clerics. Al Da'wa tracts suggest that an Iraqi Islamist state will be different from its neighbor, Iran. It's Islamic polity is based on Islamic creed and an Islamic juristic consultation on the laws passed by the legislature, rather than a Khomeini-style rule where divine authority is invested with ruling clerics.
As an anti-war American who is opposed to most of Bush's foreign policies and evil-empire and idolatry talk, I feel satisfaction of seeing the administration thwarted in its plans by Iraqi religious populism. Bush's dreams for a secular state with a 100% market-oriented economy are a mirage. I do remember the thousands of innocent Iraqi dead and the empty sacrifice of our fallen troops and their families but I hope the shame and ignomy of the entire enterprise will fall entirely on Bush and his political party and that they will be recalled as the clowns they are by posterity.