August 30, 2007
|Chaos And Disintegration||Iraq|
A month ago, we noted that southern Iraq is fragmenting into a failed state, with various warlords carving out their piece of turf. Forget Sunni v. Shia. It's way more fragmented than that, way more terrifying.
Fighting erupted Tuesday between rival Shiite militias in Karbala during a religious festival, claiming 51 lives and forcing officials to abort the celebrations and order up to 1 million Shiite pilgrims to leave the southern city.
Security officials said Mahdi Army gunmen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fired on guards around two shrines protected by the Badr Brigade, the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.
Residents of Karbala contacted by telephone said snipers were firing on Iraqi security forces from rooftops. Explosions and the rattle of automatic weapons fire could be heard during telephone calls to reporters in the city 50 miles south of Baghdad.
In addition to the deaths, security officials said at least 247 people were wounded, including women and children.
The clashes appeared to be part of a power struggle among Shiite groups in the sect's southern Iraqi heartland, which includes the bulk of the country's vast oil wealth. [Emphasis added]
A million pilgrims forced to flee amid explosions and automatic weapons fire. Impossible to imagine.
There's no telling where the fragmentation will end. Humpty-Dumpty is not going to come magically back together. Chaos, suffering, and collapse — and it will deepen and spread. As Robb says, "We haven't found the bottom yet."
See also "Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran"
from the Sunday Times of London:
Posted by: Michael at September 4, 2007 03:04 PM