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Monday, March 27, 2006
Violence Escalates in Iraq
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:13 am

Via the NYT: Shiite Fighters Clash With G.I.’s and Iraqi Forces

American and Iraqi government forces clashed with Shiite militiamen in Baghdad on Sunday night in the most serious confrontation in months

If the Shiite militias are going to become active on this scale, then the puzzle just got a lot harder.

Even beyond clashes with US and Iraqi government forces, the reports of Shiite death squads are horrific:

The widespread suspicion is that Shiite militias are running death squads and focusing on Sunni Arab civilians in a wave of sectarian revenge.

Witnesses have said that they have seen Shiite militiamen and officers in the Shiite-controlled police force abduct Sunni men, often in daylight and in public. Their bodies surface days later, many tortured — eyes gouged, toes cut, faces splashed with acid. Few, if any, cases are investigated.

And the politics on the ground aren’t helping the situation:

Just one day earlier, Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, urged Iraqi leaders to crack down on militias.

“More Iraqis are dying from the militia violence than from the terrorists,” he said. “The militias need to be under control.”

But few expect the Shiite prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, to do anything soon.

He is embroiled in negotiations over who will serve in the next government, and despite continuous American prodding, little progress has been made. To a large extent, Mr. Jaafari needs the support of Shiite militia members in Parliament to keep his job.

The continued delays in forming a government are remarkable, given the clear need for a government to be formed. Of course, the violence and the delays are, at least in part, manifestations of the same problem.

Filed under: Iraq, Global Politics | |Send TrackBack

1 Comment »

  1. Ja’afari is definitely in a tough spot. The reason he got nominated for the PM job is because Sadr and his political party backed him. Although Sadr’s control of the Mahdi Militia is very tenuous to say the least, Ja’afari will have to find a way to turn to Muqtada Al Sadr to try to curb his alleged followers. This is either:

    a. A subversive power play by Ja’afari and Sadr where Sadr secretly authorizes the violence and both of them plan on becoming heroes when they “put a stop to it.” (this is what I think most people want to believe because it sounds devious and interesting)

    b. The worst case scenario: the vicious cycle of violence will accelerate. Ja’afari really has no power because he can’t denounce the Sadrists to stop attacks because he needs the votes, and Sadr himself really has no control of his own followers.

    c. Or, this whole thing is a Sunni Extremist and Ba’athist conspiracy. We blame Sadr for inflaming it, and Sadr blames the Western Forces for not stopping it. Everyone points fingers at each other and nothing gets resolved (hence the delay in forming the government). Hopefully, this delay will force Ja’afari to decline him nomination as PM so someone else can stand up, but who?

    Either way, until Iraq finds a strong leader who is willing to step up, we could be in for an even longer ride than we bargained for. Where is the Iraqi Ataturk?

    Comment by bg — Monday, March 27, 2006 @ 12:16 pm

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