Shia clerics in Iraq

Two good pieces on why Shia clerics such as Ayatollah Sistani, who is opposing a US proposal for indirect elections, are key power brokers and a potentially divisive force. Both are by noted Arabist journalists -- Anthony Shadid and Nicholas Blanford.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,