A Conversation With Sheik Khalesi
By Matthew Pascarella
“Let us be clear. These are not elections. There are all processes of selections.” — Christian Arandel, Research Triangle Institute (A USAID contractor in Iraq)
It was January 30th 2005. Images of Iraqis’ bright purple fingers, dyed with ink from voting, were ubiquitous – appearing throughout American television and newspapers. The networks looped clips of English speaking Iraqis praising the United States, some thanking coalition troops, and some even expressing gratitude to President George W. Bush. Far from all of these happenings, far from the curfews and travel restrictions, far from the 15,000 American troops marching patrol in the dusty streets of Baghdad monitoring what had been praised as a “successful election,” I sat next to Sheikh Jawad Al-Khalesi as our bus sped along the bumpy highway leading to Porto Alegre.