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Entries in Wladimir van Wilgenburg (2)


Iraq Snapshot: The Divisions Among the Shia Factions (Van Wilgenburg)

Saturday's demonstration of followers of Shia cleric Mahmoud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi

Iraq can be portrayed as a country of homogeneous Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish blocs. That is far too simplistic: consider the recent demonstrations in Baghdad by followers of the Sadrist splinter group of Shi’a cleric Hassan al-Sarkhi.

The trouble began on February 17, when a recently-opened office of Shia cleric Mahmoud al-Hasani al-Sarkhi was set on fire. Supporters of Sarkhi blamed followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the leading Shia cleric in Iraq, and violence between the two groups has escalated since them. As analysts Reidar Visser said concisely, "Impression is sec[urity] forces confrontation w/ Sarkhi followers is growing trend over past months. Also Sistani vs Sarkhi."

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Iraq Analysis: Kurdistan's Contest with Prime Minister al-Maliki Heats Up (Van Wilgenburg)

Nuri al-Maliki and Massoud BarzaniIn recent weeks, tensions between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law Alliance and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani have been elevated in the media. This is not a just a battle of rhetoric, however --- there are serious issues over oil, disputed territory, the fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq Hashimi, and weapons. Al-Maliki's MPs have accused Barzani of trying to weaken the Iraqi army and seeking to take over Kirkuk by armed force.

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