U.S. authorities in Baghdad have mainly blamed the violent insurgency for delays in rebuilding. Civilian contractors have retreated from the field, and often from the country, they note, and civilian U.S. officials have been hobbled by stringent security restrictions.And meanwhile, the Post's Daniel Williams notes that Moqtada Sadr is drawing much of his support from—surprise!—the poor and unemployed:
But for Madani, the converse is true: The delays in rebuilding have been a big reason for the violence. Thousands of young men, having been told their country would be swiftly rebuilt, have not found jobs, he said. And Baqubah's merchants, having heard of millions of dollars in reconstruction contracts, still have not seen the money flow or the return of municipal services.
Sadr City is far from unanimous in its support of Sadr. It is a jumbled neighborhood that has decayed and grown ever more cramped with the influx of Iraqis looking for work in the capital. On the south end of the enclave, where better-off Shiites live, there are posters extolling Sadr's virtues. But deeper into the slum, the posters of Sadr, his fingers thrust aggressively into the air, grow in number. At the northern fringes, hardly a wall does not bear his portrait.It's certainly a catch-22 at this point. Allowing the militias to roam wild will alienate the middle class technocrats who are being shot and abducted daily. But large-scale violence will detract from the reconstruction efforts and allow Sadr to whisk away more impressionable youths. We've tried brute force; why not give the New Deal a chance?
Nassiri, the sociologist, said Sadr's main support lies among rural migrants who came to Baghdad and other cities over the past several decades to better their lives -- only to find cramped housing, overflowing sewers, an inadequate water supply and no jobs. The elder Sadr cultivated Iraq's rural Shiite poor. By contrast, the core followers of Sistani and other mainstream leaders include the Shiite merchant class, which is uncomfortable with Sadr's populist message.