The Byzantine political situation in Iraq has just become more chaotic with the destruction of the Golden Mosque, but it also may provide an opportunity for Sunnis and Shiites to see just how close to the abyss they are with respect to a civil war, and work towards avoiding such a situation through political means. The Shiites currently control the levers of power in Iraq, including the military and police apparatuses, and could easily decimate Sunni mosques and cities if they so desired. The Sunnis have far more to lose by a sectarian war than the Shiites, and they know this. al-Qaeda may have scored a short term gain with yet another shocking display of violence, but this could be another miscalculation that further alienates them in the eyes of the Iraqi people. If the Shiites and Sunnis play their cards correctly.A large part of the credit will go to this man, mentioned earlier in the post,
Ayatollah Sistani is often accused as being an agent of the Iranians, however this representation is far from accurate. He stands in direct opposition to the Khomienist mode of Shiite governance, and believes in a strict separation between the civilian government and religious institutions. He has rarely weighed in on political matters, but would be wise to maintain a visible presence on this issue and continue to call for restraint and reconciliation via religious fatwas.