October 04, 2004


First question: Is Sadr entering the political process because a) his Mahdi militia is getting its ass kicked by the 1st Cavalry Division in Sadr City, b) he's stalling to buy more time for whatever nefarious purposes, or c) he notices that SCIRI and al-Dawaa aren't drawing much popular support from Iraqi Shiites, and thinks he can do better?

Second question: In the event of Shiite infighting—say, if Sadr manages to outmaneuver the major institutional parties and provokes an armed struggle for power—who's got the most firepower? In clashes between the Mahdi army and SCIRI's Badr corps, the Mahdi has won out, probably because Sadr has received some arms and training from Iran. But the Badr Corps, from what I've heard, is a better-trained, better-disciplined army, having trained with Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Meanwhile, no one quite knows how strong Dawaa's militia is, or even how large it is. Given that the odds of inter-Shiite conflict over the next year or so are nontrivial, we could use a decent assessment of the strengths of all the different players.
-- Brad Plumer 2:11 PM || ||