Iraq: Shia Versus Shia


February 27, 2006: The daytime curfew in Baghdad was lifted, and terrorist violence has largely returned to normal levels. While Iran makes a lot of noise that the Golden Mosque was attacked by American and Israeli agents, most Iraqis know it was Sunnis, probably al Qaeda, who did it. The search for those responsible is underway, causing a major disruption in the Sunni Arab terrorist network. These terrorists have already been hurt badly because of feuds with Sunni Arab tribes. Now the growing Interior Ministry forces are determined to find the Golden Mosque bombers, and that will leave many of terrorists, and supporters, dead or arrested. The Golden Mosque bombing will turn out to be another major defeat for the terrorists. If for no other reason than it got the two major Shia factions, the Badr and Sadr groups, to stop fighting each other, and join forces.

The Badr and Sadr organizations are both Shia militias backed by Iran. The Badr crew were based in Iran until three years ago, and prepared for when they could return to Iraq and take over. The Sadr organization was created in southern Iraq after Saddam fell, and competes with Badr for money and attention from the Iranian government. The problem with these two outfits is that most Iraqis don't want to be a puppet state of Iran. There is great distrust and dislike between Shia Arabs and the Indo-European Iranians. Always has been. Until the 1930s, the Iranians called themselves Persians, and they have dominated the region for thousands of years. The Persians treated the Arabs badly, and the Arabs have not forgotten. But at the moment, the Badr and Sadr groups are competing to see who can control the largest number of officials and officers in the Interior Ministry and army. The Badr group appears to be ahead, by dint of better organization, and more money from Iran. If there's going to be a civil war in Iraq, it won't be the Sunni Arabs versus everyone else (the Sunni Arabs would lose that one quickly), but between pro, and anti-Iran factions. That's a more even split, although the anti-Iran faction would still have an edge in numbers (if not in guns and money.)

February 26, 2006: The daytime curfew was lifted in areas outside Baghdad. Despite the curfew, a number of mortar shells hit a Baghdad neighborhood, killing 15 and wounding nearly fifty. Most of the violence is now taking place at night, when it is easier to evade the curfew.

February 25, 2006: A car bomb went off in the Shia holy city of Karbala (killing or wounding three dozen), and another bomb damaged a revered Shia tomb in Taz Khurmatu. This was in northern Iraq, where many Shia holy places are in largely Sunni areas. There were several other attacks that appeared to be aftereffects of the Golden Mosque incident, leaving another fifty or so people dead. On a typical day, anti-government and sectarian terrorism leaves about two dozen people dead.

February 24, 2006: Some 200 people have been killed in the last three days, in response to the attack on the Shia Golden Mosque shrine. A daytime curfew was imposed in Baghdad, and three surrounding provinces, in an attempt to reduce the Shia revenge attacks. In the immediate wake of the Golden Mosque attack, a dozen Sunni mosques were attacked and damaged. Several Sunni clerics were killed. In most cases, the attackers appeared to either be members of Shia militias, or the security forces (which are largely Shia.) Meanwhile, a raid in Baghdad killed Abu Asma, the al Qaeda leader for northern Baghdad, and one of the main bomb builders for the terrorists.


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