Saturday, April 02, 2005


Good thing we brought order to Baghdad, at least. And stuff:
What came next has become typical for Iraq as sectarian tension and violence rise. Khudair's family formed an armed group of more than 20 relatives and neighbors who are demanding Khudair's release and vowing to kill those responsible.

"If something happened to my brother, no Shiite would be safe," said Khudair's brother, Sameer, who's convinced that Shiite militia members are behind the kidnapping.

The political instability in Iraq and the ethnic divides behind it are pushing Iraqis toward gang-like violence that many worry could start a slide toward civil war.

For decades, Saddam Hussein, Iraq's former dictator from the Sunni minority, ruled the nation harshly, sometimes brutally suppressing the majority Shiite population. In January, Shiite leaders swept Iraq's national assembly election.

The recent unrest, though, rather than coming from the top leadership of political and religious parties, is springing largely from the grass-roots of Iraqi society. It involves neighborhood-based forces, with Sunnis and Shiites seeking to protect themselves from each other or to exact revenge, and it chips away at Iraq's national unity.

More than eight months after the interim Iraqi government announced that the nation's largest Shiite and Kurdish militias would disband, they're still functioning.
Heavily armed gangs with private agendas disdainful of the authorities? How could that be a problem?


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