March 29, 2004
Radical Shia Moslems, led by Iranian backed mullah Muqtada Sadr, are holding more street demonstrations to create unrest. Sadr wants an Islamic Republic in Iraq, or a democracy dominated by Islamic radical Shias led by himself. Democratic Iraq is going to have to deal with this, as well Islamic radical Sunnis, who currently back pro-Saddam and al Qaeda fighters. Shia Ayatollah Ali Sistani, while a political moderate, is constantly giving political opinions, and demands. This is beginning to annoy many Iraqis, who admire Sistani as an anti-Saddam religious leader. But the majority of Iraqis want a secular government, and are not keen on getting a religious dictatorship like the one next door in Iran.
The marines have made their point in the Sunni Triangle ("don't mess with the marines") and are now patrolling frequently and getting a friendly response from Sunni Arabs. The anti-government Sunnis, who thought the marines might be an easier mark than the paratroopers they replaced, are now laying low and rethinking their tactics. Four days of fighting in Fallujah left dozens of anti-government Iraqis dead and many more wary of shooting it out with marines. The marines are out making contacts and collecting information so they can make raids on the anti-government forces. This worked for the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne division, but the marines plan to try a tactic of working harder to establish contacts with less hostile Sunni Arab groups.