Split Deepens Between Iraqi Shiites

Intra-sect feuds reign between Sadr loyalists and government bodies
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 7, 2008 2:40 PM CDT
Iraqis display banners of Shiite radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during a protest march in the neighborhood of Shula in northwest Baghdad, Thursday, April 4, 2008.    (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)
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(Newser) – As violence between Sunni and Shiites has subsided in Iraq, animosity between Shiite sects is mounting, with a death toll to match, the Washington Post reports. The government's offensive last week against Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia in Basra exposed the grim reality of a widening political gulf. “They are our brothers," said a Mahdi Army leader. "But their political positions have changed them.”

Sadr loyalists believe government offensives are meant to weaken them ahead of this year’s elections. And they consider leaders of the two powerful Shiite parties—Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and Abdul Aziz al Hakim—imposters who fled Iraq under Saddam Hussein. “They are not real Iraqis. The Americans planted them,” said the Mahdi leader.