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Old 08-06-2007   #1
tequila
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Default In Iraqi South, Shiites press for autonomy

In Iraqi South, Shiites press for autonomy - CSMonitor, 6 Aug.
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When Najaf unplugged its power station from the national grid last week, it was a sign of provincial dissent over the unequal distribution of electricity. But it also indicates a new assertiveness in the south, as Iraq's regional leaders seek to wrest control from a central government in Baghdad paralyzed by political infighting.

Multiple visions for unifying the county's southern provinces are emerging. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), one of the most powerful Shiite parties, is leading the charge to form an autonomous "South of Baghdad Region."

But 45 southern tribal notables in Najaf last week signed their own pact that envisions creating "the self-rule government of the unified Iraqi south."

Regardless of which southern group wins out, Baghdad faces a formidable challenge that could mean not just the loss of electricity, but revenue from the region's ports and oil fields, and further fracturing along sectarian lines.

"A federation of regions is one of the more practical solutions to Iraq's problems, but there is real fear that this will only be a prelude to partition," says Thamer al-Ameri, former adviser to the Iraqi parliament and now independent politician ...
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Old 08-13-2007   #2
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ISN Security Watch, 13 Aug 07: Unholy War in Kerbala
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....Today, no one force - neither the Iranian-influenced clerics nor the Iraqi nationalist scholars - is in full control of Najaf and Kerbala. Instead, there is constant turmoil as different factions struggle for power. The Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Badr militia of Ayatollah Muhammed Baqir al-Hakim, and the followers of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, regarded as Iraq's supreme Shia authority, all compete for influence.

Amid the anarchy, a new kind of Shia leader emerged which no one had anticipated, and which now represents a serious threat to the rule of law in the most important Shia religious centers: self-appointed clerics who combine the might of armed militias with an almost messianic sense of purpose.....
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Old 08-13-2007   #3
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This is a pretty good run down of the players but the following:

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Amid the anarchy, a new kind of Shia leader emerged which no one had anticipated, and which now represents a serious threat to the rule of law in the most important Shia religious centers: self-appointed clerics who combine the might of armed militias with an almost messianic sense of purpose.....
is in a word #$%@&*&( stupid....

They have had for nearly 5 years the example of Muqtada As-Sadr to follow--who had modeled himself largely on Nasrallah of Hizballah in Lebanon for the past two and a half decades. So to say it is all a big surprise means they completey ignored As-Sadr and overlooked centuries of Shia schisms.

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Old 08-13-2007   #4
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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
In Iraqi South, Shiites press for autonomy - CSMonitor, 6 Aug.
Multiple visions for unifying the county's southern provinces are emerging. The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), one of the most powerful Shiite parties, is leading the charge to form an autonomous "South of Baghdad Region."

But 45 southern tribal notables in Najaf last week signed their own pact that envisions creating "the self-rule government of the unified Iraqi south."
This reads like post-Mexican War America. Where are the likes of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Stephen A. Douglas when the Iraqis need them?

Fortunately Moqtada al-Sadr hasn't decided that the current Iraqi Federal leadership is as unpalatable as the South Carolinians viewed Abe Lincoln.
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Old 08-17-2007   #5
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RFE/RL, 17 Aug 07: Iraq: Killings In Shi'ite Holy City Expose Growing Splits
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Four aides to Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani have been killed in Al-Najaf over the past two months, raising many questions as to the safety of Iraq's supreme Shi'ite leader and the motives of the perpetrators of the attacks.

According to media reports, aides to Iraq's three other grand ayatollahs have also been threatened. "The assassination operations are organized and big resources are allocated [to carry them out], which makes it difficult to accuse any local side of being behind" the attacks, the assistant director of the office of Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum, Muwaffaq Ali, told the London-based "Al-Hayat" this week.

Sources in Al-Najaf have told RFE/RL that nongovernmental-organization and civil-society leaders have also been targeted for assassination in and around the holy city of Al-Najaf in recent months. Police and local residents say it is unlikely that any one group of perpetrators are responsible for the killings.....
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Old 08-20-2007   #6
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...this ties in with the preceding RFE/RL article:

BBC, 20 Aug 07: Roadside Bomb Kills Iraqi Governor
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The Shia governor of Iraq's southern Muthana province has been killed by a roadside bomb, officials have said. The governor, Mohammed Ali al-Hasani, was killed when the bomb exploded next to his convoy as it drove through the provincial capital, Samawa, police say. Several bodyguards were also injured in the explosion, which happened at 0800 local time (0400 GMT).

Mr Hasani belonged to the largest Shia party in Iraq, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SiiC). He is the second Shia governor killed this month. The governor of Diwaniya, Khalil Jalil Hamza, was killed by a roadside bomb along with police chief Maj-Gen Khaled Hassan.....
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Old 08-29-2007   #7
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Default 50 Die in Fight Between Shiite Groups in Karbala

50 Die in Fight Between Shiite Groups in Karbala - 29 Aug, NYTIMES.

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A power struggle between rival Shiite groups erupted Tuesday during a religious festival in Karbala, as men with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades fought street battles amid crowds of pilgrims, killing 50 people and wounding 200, Iraqi officials said.

Witnesses said members of the Mahdi Army, the militia of the cleric Moktada al-Sadr, traded fire with security forces loyal to the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

During hours of fighting, several vehicles and a hotel for pilgrims were set ablaze, and terrified pilgrims who had been praying at two shrines were trapped inside as clashes erupted nearby. Witnesses said buses that had been used to bring pilgrims to Karbala were bullet-shattered and bloodstained.

The government forces in Karbala and other towns in southern Iraq are dominated by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and its armed wing, the Badr Organization. Many Badr fighters are veterans trained by Iran when they lived there as exiles under Saddam Hussein’s rule ...
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Old 10-23-2007   #8
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Personally, i would like to see the south gaining autonomy like the kurdish north. The north has really been developing itself without the need of Baghdads help. The south has been subjected to massacres due to the previous governments.

However it must not become effectively an iranian puppet. This will be the most probable case since the most powerful leaders in sourthern Iraq are the Hakim family who spent like 30 years in Iran - Ammar Hakim the 36yr old spent 30 years of his life in iran.
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Old 11-12-2007   #9
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I was trolling old forum threads and found this, figured I'd put in my two cents.

SIIC (formerly SCIRI) is in favor of a Southern federal zone. Dawa, the Mahdi Army, and the clerical leadership in Najaf are all opposed. The whole dispute is over money -- not oil money, pilgrimage money. SIIC controls Basra, they want to control the lucrative pilgrimage cities of Kerbelah and Najaf. That money currently goes to the Mahdi and those loyal to clerics like Sistani. Everyone other than SIIC all oppose the southern regional zone because they know that SIIC will control any sort of multi-province zone based out of Basra.

Basically, I don't think the Hakims are going to press the issue here -- they risk angering Sistani, and he is a huge wild card in any political calculation. I also think that SIIC generally doesn't want to risk pitting the Badr Organization against JAM if they can avoid it, and there's no way Sadr would go down on this issue without a fight. (I understand that gov't vs. JAM often is really just Badr vs. JAM in disguise, but I'm talking about all-out open street warfare, rather than the pin-pricks they're giving each other now.)
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Old 11-12-2007   #10
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Default southern Iraq

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Originally Posted by charter6 View Post
Basically, I don't think the Hakims are going to press the issue here -- they risk angering Sistani, and he is a huge wild card in any political calculation. I also think that SIIC generally doesn't want to risk pitting the Badr Organization against JAM if they can avoid it, and there's no way Sadr would go down on this issue without a fight. (I understand that gov't vs. JAM often is really just Badr vs. JAM in disguise, but I'm talking about all-out open street warfare, rather than the pin-pricks they're giving each other now.)
Agreed. Moreover, the Iranians don't want their allies fighting each other either, and can be expected to use money and influence to try to prevent any Sadr/SIIC fissures from growing too great.
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Old 11-16-2007   #11
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INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP - NEW REPORT

Shiite Politics in Iraq: The Role of the Supreme Council

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Baghdad/Istanbul/Brussels, 15 November 2007: The U.S. should take advantage of its privileged ties with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) to moderate the party’s behaviour and curb its sectarian practices rather than use it as an instrument to confront the Sadrists.

Shiite Politics in Iraq: The Role of the Supreme Council,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, outlines how the competition between its major Shiite movements – ISCI and Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi army – will help determine the country’s future. A protracted power struggle between the two is likely, marked perhaps by temporary alliances. The U.S. has fully backed ISCI in its rivalry with the Mahdi army, but this is a dangerous policy that will further deepen intra-Shiite divisions and ignores the Sadrists’ stronger mass base.

“The class struggle between the Shiite merchant elite represented by ISCI and the Shiite urban underclass represented by the Sadrists is more likely to shape Iraq’s future than the sectarian conflict”, says Joost Hiltermann, Crisis Group’s Deputy Middle East Program Director.

ISCI’s dual alliance with the U.S. and Iran has limited its support among Iraqis. The movement has sought to gain respectability by distancing itself from its Tehran patron and professing the importance of Iraqi unity but so far has not managed to shake off its past as an Iran-bred group of exiles with a sectarian agenda enforced by a potent militia. As long as the U.S. remains in Iraq, however, its alliance will help entrench the movement in the country’s governing, security and intelligence institutions. Its only true challenger remains the Mahdi army, which enjoys broad support among Shiite masses.

In order to make a significant contribution to the country’s rebuilding, ISCI should project itself further as a truly Iraqi party that supports the country’s unity in both its public positions and actual policy, abandoning its advocacy of a nine-governorate Shiite super region, which has provoked wide opposition. The movement should urge its representatives to forsake sectarian rhetoric and remove commanders who have engaged in illegal detentions, torture and death-squad activity. It should also support total transparency in hiring practices by government institutions. The U.S. should adopt a more even-handed approach between the two Shiite movements, while pressing ISCI to reform and abandon its sectarian policies.

“The U.S. can help ISCI move away from its controversial past”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director. “An ISCI fully transformed into a responsible, non-sectarian political party could make a significant contribution to Iraq’s rebuilding”.
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Old 11-16-2007   #12
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Default Waiting for the Shi'ite Civil War

Waiting for the Shi'ite Civil War - Charles Crane

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But with sectarian violence waning for the time being, the stage may be set for an escalation of the simmering battle among Shi'ites for control of southern Iraq. In Najaf, the spiritual center of Shi'ite Iraq, public displays of respect and cooperation mask an often violent competition between rival factions. Since shortly after the American invasion The Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC) - known until May 2007 as the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI - has clashed, often violently, with followers of the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. This summer Sadr announced a "freeze" in the activities of his Mahdi Army militia and the two sides have reached an uneasy truce. But residents in Najaf say the rivalry has simply gone underground. "The relationship between the two sides in the media is the opposite of reality," says a history professor who teaches near Najaf (concerned for his safety, he asked that his full name not be used). "Their relationship on the streets is [very] tense, and can reach the level of an explosion."
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Old 11-16-2007   #13
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Agreed. Moreover, the Iranians don't want their allies fighting each other either, and can be expected to use money and influence to try to prevent any Sadr/SIIC fissures from growing too great.
To be honest with you Iran cannot provide more money to Sadr/SIIC that Iraq does not already have.

Iran's influence is dwindling thanks to the improvement of the ISF and the increased help from the Coalition forces in patrolling the borders with Iran.

With Iran's tensions rising with the West - i doubt that Iraq will want to get involved with them as we have had enough of wars and sanctions (1980-present)

However there are freaks in Iraq who are more loyal to Iran than Iraq. Hopefully they will disappear.
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