Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Shiite Discontent Growing

In-between the news of the continued bloody mayhem, the power struggle and the general chaos in Iraq, some news come along that allow us a deeper insight into what's brewing. I think the most important news of May so far is this (via Juan Cole):

Al-Zaman/AFP/DPA: Shiite followers of Sistani in Karbala demonstrated on Monday, demanding that Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari distribute to the people their flour rations (the rations had been established under the oil for food program of the United Nations). They complained that this key foodstuff had not reached them for four months. They also demanded an end to corruption and bribe-taking by the police. They further insisted that a timetable be set for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq.
So now, first, even pro-Sistani people can't be kept back from demanding action on basic needs. This discontent is bound to grow, as Jaafari is unlikely to be able to fulfil their demands: if anything, the US control of ministries through the Bremer-imposed 'advisors' and through the control of the money sources will prevent that.

Second, the US-approved police are deeply unpopular just where they were supposed to beleast rejected. Unfortunately, the way this will most likely be 'corrected' is the takeover of the police by the Badr Corps in some form.

Third, even while they have such pressing needs for motivation as a four-months lack of food supplies, the rejection of US occupation is still a central issue for these pro-Sistani people.


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