Wednesday, August 30, 2006

360-Degrees - Shia Militias Clash With Iraqi Government

In the first post in this "360-Degrees" series reference was made to the interesting circle that has is being created by Bush administration policy in the middle-east whereby the US:

  1. Partners with a Shiite majority to maintain control of Iraq via the new government there.
  2. Then supports Israel in it's offensive against the Shiite organization, Hezbollah, in Lebanon.
  3. Thereby angering the Shia in Iraq whose militia tend to support and draw inspiration from Hezbollah
  4. Resulting in the US, via "Iraqi forces", fighting the Shia militias, particularly those loyal to Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr back in Iraq

Things were only at the protest stage at the time. That's all changed now:

A total of 34 bodies, including seven civilians and 25 Iraqi government soldiers, were brought into the central hospital in the town of Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, after fighting between government forces and gunmen of the Mehdi Army, a Shia militia loyal to the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Fifty militiamen were also killed in the gunfight, according to the Iraqi defence ministry.


The intense fighting in Diwaniyah will be of particular concern to British forces stationed in the Shia-dominated south of Iraq. Reports suggested that militiamen had driven government forces out of the city and had set up checkpoints in the suburbs. If the Mehdi Army has pushed the government out of the Shia-dominated city it will be a major snub to Mr Maliki, who has promised to rid Iraq of militias.

Confronting Mr Sadr's Shia militias was never going to be an easy task. His movement holds 30 parliamentary seats and five cabinet posts, and his militiamen are well-armed and dedicated. The cleric is also undeniably popular among Iraq's Shia majority, particularly the poorer classes.

In 2004, Mr Sadr led an uprising against the American-led coalition which threatened to draw the post-Saddam government and US military into a bitter conflict with Iraq's Shia while simultaneously trying to subdue what was then an emerging Sunni insurgency. The fighting was only stopped when the head of Iraq's Shia community, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, ordered the Mehdi Army fighters to lay down their arms.

See also: 23 killed in clashes between Shiite militia and Iraqi army in southern Iraq


Brian said...

Your 360 degree circle can be completed with 180 degrees of it missing. Numbers 2 and 3 are not necessary for 1 and 4 to happen. So, to say that 4 is dependent on the past 1-3, is wrong.

You even quoted as such... "In 2004, Mr Sadr led an uprising ..."