This New York Times piece says Sistani is getting nervous about the elections:
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, the nation's most powerful Shiite leader, is growing increasingly concerned that nationwide elections could be delayed, his aides said, and has even threatened to withdraw his support for the elections unless changes are made to increase the representation of Shiites, according to one Iraqi source close to him.
I'm not sure how Sistani could have been duped into thinking that the U.S. would actually hold elections in Iraq, but it's all apparently happening. The worst of the dupe, however, is that these elections are supposed to happen after the U.S. presidential election. Of course, if Bush is elected he won't even have to worry about keeping up appearances. He'll be able to cancel the elections, blame escalating violence, and continue on his usual path of destruction. That Sistani, who is supposed to be shrewd, would actually fall for this ruse is really unbelievable to me. Maybe someone like Juan Cole could explain it to me?
Shoot, even if John Kerry is elected in November, it would still be Bush who was responsible for getting Iraqi elections to go off on time because the Iraqi elections are supposed to happen in January 2005. Kerry's swearing-in would not be until January 21, 2005.
The U.S. will not relinquish control of Iraq, period. There are many ways to circumvent the ultimate effects of elections, if indeed, by some remarkable chance of fate, they are actually carried out. The U.S., either through CIA black ops or outward agression against their Iraqi hosts (more likely), could just delegitimize any new government by talking about how corrupt the elections were. The U.S. could keep all of its military power in country, thereby not changing the actually power on the ground situation from what it is today. The CIA could actually stuff ballot boxes - or electronic ballot boxes, etc. We can barely keep track of the Republicans attempts to subvert democracy in Florida, never mind Baghdad. The list of ways to maintain control of our beloved desert oasis goes on and on.
UPDATE: Speaking of 'many ways to circumvent the ultimate effects of elections', the LA Times runs a piece on how the U.S. is circumventing democracy in Afghanistan. Ha-ha. I should get paid for this stuff.
UPDATE: Time runs a quick piece that tells of a CIA plan to rig the Iraqi elections. It apparently didn't go over too well on Capitol Hill. The CIA can still carry out the plan, I figure, with some help from Rummy, but it won't be as easy now.