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As Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani ages, a struggle to succeed him has begun, putting the spiritual leadership of one of the world's foremost faiths in play. But with neighboring Iran moving to install its preferred candidate in the position, the secular political foundations of Iraq's fledgling democracy are at risk.
Woven into this gem of leave-no-stone-unturned reporting is an account of the Israeli policies of harsh reprisals and targeted assassinations; the poor performance of the Palestine Liberation Organization; the United States' on-again, off-again efforts to bring about an Israeli-Palestinian peace; and the Jordanian government's complex relations with Hamas, other Palestinian groups, Israel, and the United States.