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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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