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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Arab Street

Yahoo! News :

Thousands of mostly black-clad Iraqis protested Tuesday outside a medical clinic where a suicide car bomber killed 125 people a day earlier, braving the threat of another attack as they waved clenched fists, condemned foreign fighters and chanted 'No to terrorism!'
While this is an appropriate reaction, trouble could be looming from this:
Although Monday's attack was directed at recruits, most of the victims were Shiites. Insurgents have increasingly targeted gatherings of Shiites, who make up 60 percent of Iraq's population, in an apparent effort to start a sectarian war. The Shiites have refrained from striking back, mostly at the behest of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who wants nothing to impede the Shiites from gaining political power in Iraq. Nominally disbanded Shiite militias could easily field thousands of tough and effective fighters that could deal a crushing blow to the insurgency. But Shiite leaders will also have to allay the fears of Sunnis, who dominated the Iraqi political system under Saddam and make up 20 percent of the population.
Obviously the terrorists are hoping for a civil war. So far the Shiite's have been amazingly restrained, but overheated pasions from terrible tragedies like Monday's attack threaten that. Strengthening Iraqi internal security must remain a major goal, and it is clearly a race against time.


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