Thursday, August 31, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the CSM: Firefights mark further splintering in Iraq

Two days this week of fierce firefights between a Shiite militia and government forces in a usually calm town south of Baghdad left at least 80 dead and an unknown number wounded.

While the top US commander in Iraq said the battle came as a “surprise,” it underscores a proliferation of militia groups throughout the country that is making central government control in many places merely notional, many Iraqis and foreign experts say.


The battle in Diwaniyah, which ended Tuesday when the US Air Force dropped a 500-lb. bomb on what it called a militia position, started just three days after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki led a peace conference among tribal leaders designed mostly to undercut Sunni-Shiite sectarian tensions. But, as Diwaniyah demonstrates, sectarian fighting is far from the central government’s only security challenge.

That isn’t a phrase one wants to here: that “central government control in many places [is] merely notional.”

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