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Shiites of Iraq ... Reaching for Power

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By Janine Di Giovanni Photographs by Matt Moyer, WorldPictureNews


They've been systematically repressed for decades. Now Iraq's majority Muslim sect prepares to play a powerful role in a chaotic, post-Saddam world.


Get a taste of what awaits you in print from this compelling excerpt.


The claustrophobic room on Ach-Chwader Street was lit by a single oil lamp. A thin piece of cardboard covered the windows, a futile defense against bombs. Saddam Hussein's regime had just fallen, the war was supposedly over, but there was still fear in this slum in Baghdad. Word went around the neighborhood that I was taking notes about the disappeared, and the room became full of people who had not spoken out for years. One by one, they shuffled in. All were neighbors. All lived in grim houses made of rough mud and brick, without electricity or running water. All had faces creased with grief, the grief of losing a loved one during Saddam's reign. And all still clung to a distant hope that now that he was gone from power, they might find their son, their father, their sister, their brother.


From the street came the sound of rapid machine-gun fire, from the remaining fedayeen, Saddam's loyal forces. With each round, a woman named Badwiya, whose brother, Ghanim Iraabi, disappeared near the southern city of Basra two decades ago, flinched.


"We're safe here, but outside . . . ," she said, waving toward the window. She drifted off. Outside, in the hospitals and the mosques, the followers and militias of local clerics were frantically trying to restore order amid the looters and rioting crowds. "It's madness out there," she said.


The small house belonged to the family of Hilu Issa, a soft-spoken communications student who was 25 years old when he disappeared in June 1980. His family are Shiites, a sect of Muslims who despite being the majority in Iraq were brutalized during Saddam's regime.


One by one, I sat with the Issas' neighbors and relatives to hear their stories, all predictably terrible: The uncle who delivered fiery speeches at the local mosque and disappeared one day without a trace. A whole family of brothers who vanished. A young son of whom his mother wistfully said, "I just wish I could feel him, touch him, see him."


This was just one street, in one neighborhood, in one city in Iraq. It is difficult to imagine how the Shiites of Iraq will get past this trauma, will learn to live without a spirit of vengeance. But they are trying to move forward, to come out of the darkness that was the Saddam era. In today's Iraq this could be called the time of the Shiites. Since the fall of Saddam on April 9th last year and his capture on December 13th, the Shiites have used their newfound freedom to rename bridges, streets, and squares after revered Shiite leaders. They are practicing rituals and displaying iconography forbidden during Saddam's days. But the real changes lie ahead. On June 30th Iraq's provisional government is set to assume full sovereign powers for ruling the new country. While the details of how that government will be formed are still being sorted out, this much is clear: With Shiites representing some 60 percent of the country's population, a Shiite-dominated government seems inevitable. After decades of oppression, first by the British-imposed Sunni monarchy, and then by Saddam's secular Baath regime, the Shiites have emerged as key players in shaping a new Iraq.

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But the real changes lie ahead. On June 30th Iraq's provisional government is set to assume full sovereign powers for ruling the new country. While the details of how that government will be formed are still being sorted out, this much is clear: With Shiites representing some 60 percent of the country's population, a Shiite-dominated government seems inevitable. After decades of oppression, first by the British-imposed Sunni monarchy, and then by Saddam's secular Baath regime, the Shiites have emerged as key players in shaping a new Iraq.


We need to understand the meaning of Shia in Iraq. Yesterday , I was watching an interview on The kurd Sat in Arabic with famouse Iraqi pre Baathi Shia writer Hassan Alalawee.. Alwawee was in the opposition over the last twenty five years after the bruttal murder of his brother in law Adnan Husain , the minster of Plannining in 1979. Alwaee kept a very respectfull position within the shia community especially after his great book "Shia and the banArab state in Iraq".

He was telling that he spend the last two months touring the mid south of IRaq "the stronger tribal place of Shia Iraq" and he surprisingly found majority are not accepting any religious rule on the govrment.


He said that the onl chance for presidency in Iraq is for BArazani, because within Shia community there are ten candidats, from most radical Shia to the most secular communist, while within Kurds there is one candidate with 20% population support.

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In Arabic.. Very interesting article by Shia Arab Suadi who is commenting on what huge change had happened in Shia Arab in the gulf region after the liberation of Iraq from Sadam regime.

He said that Shia had suffer a lot from historical neglegtion and hope a lot with the comming democracy in the region.

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Al-Jaafari Clears Shiites to Replace Him


BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Iraqi parliament session planned for Thursday was delayed for two days after Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari agreed to allow his Shiite bloc to reconsider his nomination for a second term.


Acting speaker Adnan Pachachi announced the delay moments before the 275-member assembly was to have convened.


He said the session would be pushed back until Saturday to allow time "to intensify our efforts to overcome the obstacles," created after Sunnis and Kurds rejected al-Jaafari's nomination.




Jaafari puts fate in hands of Shi'ite Alliance


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said on Thursday his Shi'ite Alliance should decide whether he should resign to end the deadlock over the formation of a new government


Jaafari, who has ignored calls from Sunni Arabs, Kurds and some Shi'ites to step aside, appeared to softened his position hours before political leaders were scheduled to meet in parliament to try to end the impasse.






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Guest An Agenda for Iraq Shiites




The good news is that more and more Iraqi Shiites are becoming aware of the need to change their outlook and political structures. Few “turbans” have been put in high-profile government positions. At the same time, Sistani has made it clear that he does not seek any form of control over the new government.


More importantly, the two main Shiite parties, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Islamic Al-Da’awah (Call) are debating major changes in their form and content to reflect the realities of a new situation that neither had anticipated. The SCIRI may soon drop the word “Revolution” from its name to underline its transformation into a mainstream political party rather than a semi-clandestine organization backed by a militia. Some in the SCIRI want the adjective “Islamic” to be also dropped so that the party can have an entirely new name.


Similar debates are starting within Al-Da’awah and the Islamic Fadhila (Virtue) Party. All that is good news. Iraqi Shiites need to change before they can help Iraq change for the better.

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Here are a couple of article excerpts reported recently in the west. More to the story's at each link but I only wanted to pass on these interesting parts


Not front page stories but I want to pass them on as what could be a financial problem for the insurgents. Put all three of these articles together and it does show the Iraqi government may be winning;




Street Costs of Iraqi Weapons Are Rising


by Phillip Reeves


Audio for this story will be available at approx. 7:30 p.m. ET



All Things Considered, July 5, 2006 · The cost of weapons and ammunition on the black market in Baghdad is soaring. And to military analysts, the rise means that the vast supply of Saddam-era arms may be running dry. For insurgents, it means a struggle to get their ordinance.






Then I found this article thatwould suggest some groups want to end the violence but want assurances of trust.




Iraq hints at compromise with rebels


by Ammar Karim

Wed Jul 5, 12:24 PM ET




BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq has hinted at a possible compromise with some 20 rebel groups showing a readiness to lay down their arms on certain conditions, even as 19 people were killed in attacks around the country.





...attacks came as the government hinted it may compromise in negotiations with insurgents.


Minister of State for National Dialogue Akram al-Hakim said the concessions sought by Sunni Arab rebel groups included a timetable for a pullout of US-led coalition troops as well as the disbanding of Shiite militias.


Some of the conditions were acceptable to the government, he said.


"Around 15 to 20 groups have contacted" government officials, the minister said, although he added that it was "not clear how active these groups" were on the ground.


"There are seven groups who have demanded that their resistance to the occupation forces be legitimately accepted and we said that they should identify themselves and prove that they have targeted US troops only," he said.


He said the government also did not "refuse their condition of a timetable for withdrawal of coalition forces as there is a desire for this from everybody".


The government was also looking at dismantling Shiite militias, Hakim said, but added: "That can't be done overnight. There has to be a mechanism."


Several Shiite political parties in Iraq operate militias, whose members have been accused of carrying out revenge attacks against the formerly dominant Sunni Arab community.





It is possible to reorganize the army from top to bottom," he said.


Hakim said the government was "also studying the demand to cancel the de-Baathification law," referring to a measure introduced by the US-led occupation in June 2003 that led to members of Saddam's ruling Baath party above a certain rank being stripped of army or government jobs.


Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Wednesday that three Sunni Gulf Arab states he visited, including heavyweight Saudi Arabia, had supported his national reconciliation plan.


"They have expressed their full support of the plan ... They have agreed to provide political and media backing and welcomed the plan," he told reporters in Kuwait at the end of a tour that also took him to the United Arab Emirates.


"One aspect of the needed support from the brothers ... is to talk with Iraqi parties with which they have positive relations and use their influence as a means to support reconciliation," Maliki said, alluding to Iraqi Sunnis.




US military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said that Abu Ayyub al-Masri, the new leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, was likely to carry out more car-bomb attacks, especially in Baghdad.


Masri became the new leader of the group after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a US air strike north of the capital on June 7.


"Masri is an explosives expert, specially of vehicle-borne-explosives," Caldwell told reporters. "As such, knowing his speciality, we expect to see a rise" in such attacks.






Finally, I thought this an odd turn of events.



Iraq considers arming insurgents

USA Today Updated 7/4/2006 11:52 PM ET | | | By Rick Jervis, USA TODAY


BAGHDAD — Iraq's government is studying a request from some local insurgent leaders to supply them with weapons so they can turn on the heavily armed foreign fighters who were once their allies, according to two Iraqi lawmakers. Leaders claiming to represent about 11 insurgent groups asked for weapons to fight foreign al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, said Haider al-Ibadi, a Shiite lawmaker and member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party. "They want to take part in the war against terrorists," said al-Ibadi, who supports the proposal. "They claim they could wipe out the terrorists... ...






U.S. and Iraqi military officials have been trying for the past couple of years to drive a wedge between Iraqi fighters and foreign groups.











Can some Iraqi insurgents be trusted or even paid bounties offerred by the US to turn in or scare out the foreign al Queda insurgents ?


Would the insurgents need to turn on Abu Ayyub al-Masri and give him up be acceptable to the US and Iraqi governments giving better amnesty terms ?


Abu Ayyub al-Masri said he was going to limit the Iraqi civilian deaths. Will he still be trusted when his car bombs kill indiscriminately ?

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