Sunday, February 06, 2005
Basra Watch

The Iraqi election has proved, beyond doubt, that the Iraqis will vote on religious and ethnic lines, proving that there are no institutions that span these fissures. The outline of the Iraqi regime is becoming clear: Kurdistan will operate as an autonomous fief on the clear understanding that the Shi'as obtain majority rule. The Arab Sunnis have lost ground with their strategy of violence. They will gradually lose their support as the Ba'athists and the Islamicists are whittled away in a war of attrition.

That said, British soldiers face a continued campaign by the terrorists. Basra was targeted by bombs as the Sunnis direct their anger at the new centre of Shi'a authority. The Holy Cities may contain the ayatollahs who have co-operated with the coalition forces but Basra has the population, the position and the potential to act as Iraq's entrepot. That makes teh city a prime target for economic disruption:

A fourth roadside bomb in four days rocked Basra today, injuring one civilian. It was the third recent attack on Iraqi soldiers, following the death of four ordnance experts yesterday.

Whilst the Iraqi political landscape is now structured by the nascent modus vivendi between Kurd and Shi'a, the painful birth pangs of the new democracy will be accompanied by the submission of the Sunni, who played a bad hand worse.


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