Monday, May 08, 2006

Baghdad bristles with militias

Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor:
Today, Baghdad appears to be more divided and war-torn than at any point since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. Most basic services are at an all-time low (Baghdad is averaging about three hours of power a day) and traditionally mixed Shiite and Sunni Arab neighborhoods continue to feel the impact of the slow seeping away of their diversity as families flee across the city's confessional front lines.

Now, in addition to the four or so well-organized and armed nongovernment militias operating in this diverse city, small armed neighborhood militias are springing up in dozens of neighborhoods.

At around 9 p.m. each night, they roll palm trunks, rusty barrels or other obstacles onto the streets, trusting their protection to no one but themselves, say many residents of Baghdad.

"We've been told over and over that the political process is going to make us safer, but all we see are parties fighting over ministries so they can get jobs and money for themselves,'' says Ahmed, who helped organize a neighborhood militia in Baghdad's Al-Amal district. "If we don't protect ourselves, no one will."


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