Nytt

Shiaene er fed up med egne militser som bare er ute etter å mele sin egen kake. Shia-ledere har henvendt seg til amerikanerne med tilbud om samarbeid, akkurat som sunniene før dem. Det er en viktig utvikling.

Desillusjoneringen henger sammen med at striden mellom sunnier og shiaer i mange områder er løst. Når det ikke lenger finnes en ytre fiende går militsene løs på egen befolkning, og folk ser dem for hva de er: bøller og kriminelle. Denne utviklingen foregår både i Bagdad og utenfor hovedstaden.

Fordrivelsen av sunnier var et incitament til kriminalitet: ofrene, enten de var døde eller flyktet, etterlot seg eiendeler, som kunne omsettes i penger. Fristelsen til å berike seg var stor.

The militia in Baghdad, always loosely organized, swelled with recruits after a bombing of a Shiite shrine in February 2006. The change disrupted the organization and injected it with angry young men, some with criminal pasts, who were thirsty for revenge.

Criminals began to give the organization a bad name. The price for used cars plummeted as militiamen sold vehicles that had belonged to their dead victims. A Sadr City sheik issued a religious edict permitting the confiscation of the property of Sunni militants who see Shiites as heretics. But many took it as a blank check to seize property, as long as the victim was Sunni.

Mahdi-hæren er en helt annen nå enn for tre år siden. Flere av lederne fra den tid har fått seg jobber i den sentrale eller lokale administrasjonen. Andre er blitt kriminelle. Det har skjedd en utskiftning. Det er rekruttert unge som har liten ideologisk ballast. De er ute etter makt og penger og er svært brutale. Folk hater dem.

«Everything is changing,» said Ali, a businessman in the heavily Shiite neighborhood of Ur, in eastern Baghdad, who, like most of those interviewed, did not want his full name used for fear of being attacked. «Now in our area for the first time everyone say, ‘To hell with Mahdi Army.’

«Not loudly on the street, but between friends, between families. Every man, every woman, say that.»
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«Now it’s young guys — no religion, no red lines,» said Abbas, 40, a Shiite car parts dealer in Ameen, a southern Baghdad neighborhood. Abbas’s 22-year-old cousin, Ratib, was shot in the mouth this spring after insulting Mahdi militia members.

«People hate them,» Abbas said. «They want them to disappear from their lives.»

«They are bloodthirsty,» said a man whose father, a neighborhood council member from Topchi, was killed on Sept. 26. «They can kill an entire family for a $10 mobile phone scratch card.»

Utviklingen blant shiaer er et forholdsvis ferskt fenomen. Det er først den siste halvannen måned shia-ledere har henvendt seg til amerikanerne.

In the past month and a half, he said, Shiite leaders have begun to make contact with the Americans. The brigade is now working with 25 sheiks in the Shiite neighborhoods of Shaab and Ur and is interviewing up to 1,200 candidates for semiofficial neighborhood guard positions.

Mens Sabrina Tavernise rapporterer fra Bagdad, kan Time magazine fortelle at samme trend er å finne i shia-områder sør for Bagdad.

In Musayyib, 40 miles south of Baghdad and not far from the holy city of Karbala, American officers are taking advantage of a network of «concerned citizens» in this predominantly Shi’ite area to help quell violence stemming from both Sunni insurgents and erratic elements of powerful Shi’a militias. Just as in Anbar, it was the tribes that asked the Americans for help.

Over the past two months these «concerned citizens» groups have manned checkpoints and established a network of informants that have helped keep out Sunni extremists and finger Shi’ite militants who assassinate rivals and set bombs on roadways to kill American soldiers. While leaders concede that operations in surrounding areas and a growing public antipathy toward the radicals have contributed to diminishing violence, they point to the numbers and say the civilian patrols are having an effect. Soldiers say 57 improvised explosive devises, or IEDs, exploded or were discovered in May. In August, however, only six went off or were found. «It’s pretty much shut ’em down,» says Maj. Craig Whiteside, the executive officer for the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Batallion.

Den shia-dominerte regjeringen i Bagdad har vært ytterst skeptisk til at amerikanerne verver sunnier til være lokalt heimevern. Men nå skjer det samme blant shiaer og innvendingene har kanskje ikke samme tyngde.

Shiaene blir betalt av amerikanerne og får også forrang til å komme inn som rekrutt til hæren eller politiet.

Hvis amerikanerne håndterer denne samarbeidslinjen riktig, kan det få stor politisk betydning.

America’s New Shi’a Allies

Relations Sour Between Shiites and Iraq Militia