Mens diskusjonen går i Washington om hva man skal gjøre med Irak, «løses» problemet på bakken med tvangsfordriving. Mahdi-militsen og lignende grupper er ved å skape rene shia-områder i Bagdad, og sunniene er taperne.

Sådan sett er også henrettelsen av Saddam et klart budskap: Det finnes ingen vei tilbake til makten for sunniene. Den tid er ugjenkallelig over. Jo før de innser at de er redusert til minoritetsstatus, jo bedre.

Faren er at shia-militsene bruker så mye vold at sunniene tar opp kampen i ren desperasjon.

Lt. Sam Cartee doubts the Sunni families barricading themselves in his sector can hold out much longer. Shi’ite militants thought to be from the Mahdi Army have mounted an aggressive campaign since this summer to clear Sunnis from the northern end of Ghazaliya, a formerly posh neighborhood in western Baghdad. The cleansing push has moved steadily southward, gaining ground house by house, day by day. Cartee says Mahdi Army fighters typically give Sunni families they threaten in Ghazaliya just 24 hours to leave their homes, which are then handed to Shi’ite families. Anyone who defies the deadline risks death. Few do, allowing the Mahdi Army to flip up to five houses a day. Many of the Sunni families forced from their homes have now gathered in an enclave in central Ghazaliya under the protection of a local sheik named Hamed Ne’ma Taher al-Obaydy, who has turned his block into an Alamo of sorts. Cartee’s unit hopes to stop the onslaught before Hamed’s holdout of about 1,200 people falls, but lately hopes on both sides have dimmed. «They’re not surrounded yet, but they will be soon,» says Cartee, a reedy young officer from West Virginia who speaks with a slight southern accent. Cartee thinks Hamed’s flock can last perhaps weeks, not months, before the Mahdi Army overruns them. «They don’t have long.»

In Baghdad, a Last Stand Against Ethnic Cleansing
On Scene: American plans for a «surge» in military strength may be too late for the Iraqi capital, where Shi’ite militias are advancing steadily