Today's Article
No one better knows
the true state of
violence in Iraq than
the Iraqis
themselves.
The American Spark
Iraqi Tribal Leaders Say U.S. Occupation Strengthening Islamic
Extremism

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 17th, 2007

Shi'ite Islamist political groups are enforcing an extremist Islamic rule in Iraq's oil-rich southern provinces and
employing their private armies to spread terror in the region, say tribal Shi'ite leaders.

The tribal heads recently spoke to
Reuters on condition of anonymity, citing a fear of assassination if their
identities or even their tribal regions were made public.

"Fear rules the streets now," one sheikh told
Reuters.

"We cannot speak our minds, people are not allowed to oppose them. They would immediately disappear or
get killed. The evidence of that is I am talking about it but cannot use my name," he reasonably pointed out.

And who better knows the true state of violence in Iraq than the Iraqis themselves? Two regional  governors
and a chief of police were killed by roadside bomb blasts in August, presumably  victims of a growing Shi'ite civil
war in the south, the region holding most of Iraq's oil reserves.

Aides working for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's top Shi'ite religious leader, also have been murdered.

The sheikhs told
Reuters that the spreading Islamist religious tyranny allows only religious music  to be heard in
public places, and forbids dancing as well as alcohol use. And of course, women now are being humiliated and
harassed for wearing "inappropriate" clothing.

Also, ordinary photos of such secular political leaders as former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi are outlawed
in all public areas.

Iraqis, enjoy your freedom...

How did all this come to pass? The quick answer is that street committees originally created to ensure safety
from al-Qaeda terror attacks have instead used their money and efforts to spy on their fellow citizens.
Committee members then report what they consider "infractions" to the local police or the militias, said tribal
leaders.

"The people of the south are religious, we are believers--but at the same time we like to live our lives and we
like freedom," one sheikh declared.

Thank God we Americans don't suffer such tyranny. That would be Hell...

The Islamist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC) have become the major
political powers in the Shi'ite southern provinces. Both insist that Iraq must be governed in accordance with
their extremist interpretation of Islamic law. Both have links with Islamists in neighboring Iran.

SIIC controls the majority of the regional governors, and its private militia, the Badr Organization, has several
members on the local police force.

Sadr's influential Mahdi Army has fought a number of ferocious battles with police forces loyal to SIIC.

Both extremist groups enjoyed a tremendous rise in fortune thanks to the December 2005 elections in Iraq,
which handed the reigns of power to the Islamist Shi'ite Alliance--a firm rebuff of Bush Administration claims
that the Iraqi people, who have known only oppression, could immediately understand and run their own
democratic institutions.

Sadr's political representatives have since left both the Alliance and Iraq's Maliki government.  Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki heads the less popular Islamist Dawa party.

The Islamists' growing strength has damaged the secular tribal leaders' traditional hold on power. Secular
leaders now find themselves with a dwindling source of revenue and patronage.

"Some say the Shi'ites are lucky because they are now ruling Iraq, but that is wrong. It is the Islamist Shi'ites
who are ruling Iraq. Their victory was a curse for us," one sheikh told
Reuters.

The sheikhs say the Bush Administration has foolishly allowed Shi'ite Islamists to establish a growing
dictatorship of the southern provinces. American troops primarily are stationed to the north around Baghdad,
and are mainly focused on battling Sunni Islamists and "rogue" groups allied with Sadr's Mahdi Army.

Tribal leaders added that some of their groups have considered actively battling the Islamist militias; but the
leaders cautioned that such a response may unleash a bloodbath sure to further destabilize the south.

"The tribes do not want violence...but at the same time we want to see a change that preserves the rights of all
Iraqis, so that we are really free," one sheikh told
Reuters.

George W. Bush has instead bet everything on Baghdad's Islamist-led government--the very people spreading
religious tyranny throughout the provinces. It's a move which seems to both infuriate and baffle Iraqi tribal
leaders.

"We are suffering from two occupations--America and Iran. We have told American officials this and we have
met some of them, but they are not listening to us," said one sheikh to
Reuters.

Don't become too upset by this, our long-suffering Iraqi friends. The Bush Administration doesn't listen to
Americans either.



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