Iran Extends Hand Into Southern Iraq

Foreign militias threaten tenuous stability in Basra area
By Greg Atwan,  Newser User
Posted May 19, 2007 7:13 PM CDT
'   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The southern Iraqi city of Basra is under the control of an array of private militias, some of which have strong ties to Iran, the Guardian reports. Factions like "God's Revenge" mete out patronage and enforce a fragile order in Iraq's second-largest city at the behest of competing warlords taking their orders—not to mention cash and weapons—from Tehran.

The British monitor oil-rich Basra, which is notionally safer than the fracturing Sunni Triangle to the north. But police forces and gangs infiltrated by Shia fighters have been responsible for a recent explosion of violence there. "If the Prophet Muhammad would come to Basra today he would be killed because he doesn't have a militia," one professor laments.