Abddul Aziz Al-Hakim the head of the SCIRI called to day for the formation of a federal state in the south of Iraq and Hadi Al-Amiri chief of the Badr organization (the military wing of the SCIRI) said that if the Sheat don't persist in forming this state they will regret it.
I don't really know why Amiri chose the word "regret" in addressing the people of the south, instead he could've said something like 'we would like to see a federal state in the south and we respect the people's choice about it' because I think this tone of threats to the people he's part of carries a lot of possible suspicious meanings.
I think the Islamic leaderships have realized that it's difficult to lead a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country by forcing one perspective that has a specific religious inclination and that's why they're thinking of creating a smaller state in the south which can be more loyal (or less defiant) to them and their strategic ally in Iran, not forgetting the economic advantage of this region of Iraq which possesses the largest oil reserves and Iraq's only port.
So they think that implementing an example that matches the visions of these parties in this region would be easier and safer especially with the presence of the desirable sectarian majority.
Also these parties have established strong basis for them in this region as a step in the preparation for the future federal state (or mere state) and actually right now there's nothing that can stop this plan except the other religious trend that is spreading in the south represented by Muqtada's group.
These two Sheat religious trends do not seem willing to coexist peacefully in the same place and in the past months the southern cities became an open field for a war between these parties and cities like Samawa, Najaf and Kut have witnessed continuous conflicts over power and influence.
In the mean time, the suffering of the silent majority worsens; those people who don't belong to any of the two trends are now looking for hope in the next elections which can rescue them from the control of the parties; there are no well-defined political substitutes though.
Anyway, this morning I came across the Arabic forum on the BBC and on one thread people were posting their comments about the role of religious parties and their militias (namely Badr and Mehdi army) in Basra and it was particularly interesting to read what Basrawis think.
There were around 33 comments by different commentors from Basra, 18 of the comments were against what the parties and their militias were doing in Basra, 9 were supportive of on or both of the two parties, 3 denied the problem, 2 moderately discussed the subject and think that an agreement with the militias can be reached and 1 comment was irrelevant to the subject.
I understand that forums do not necessarily reflect reality but it is always a good idea to hear what the concerned people have to say so I have chosen a bunch of these comments and translated them for you:
-"I've been working in trade between Iraq and Iran for a long time and I've seen a lot of things in my trips and with all respect to our Iranian neighbors, I can say that 80% of the troubles in Basra is caused by the Iranian intelligence. I know about Iranian officials working in Basra under cover of humanitarian organizations or trading firms.
The Iranians fear that Iraqi lands might be used by the US to attack them and that's why they're implementing the theory that says 'if there has to be a fire, let it be outside my home' and now Basra is on fire"
-"In Basra there's no government or law, there are parties that rule the province…"
-"Basra is now under full control of the religious groups like Fadheela party and Muqtada's army who care about nothing but restricting freedoms and controlling the resources"
-"What the American hero Steven Vincent said is true. The relative security in Basra is caused by the presence of the militias which infiltrated the security forces. They're keeping security for their own sake only and the evidence is in the killings and kidnappings that were committed by people from the police.
The administration in Basra right now is more dictatorial than Saddam was; men using religion as a cover for killings and corruption".
-"We're tired of this; we have never tasted peace and rest in Basra.
During the war with Iran Basra was the 1st target for Iran and in the 1st gulf war Basra was the crossing point for the allied troops and it happened again in the latest war and today Basra is torn apart by Iran-affiliated militias.
When are we going to have some peace??".
Abdul Hussain Al-Musawi-Basra.
-"I'm sorry for Iraq, there's no sense of patriotism left in the ruling class and the politicians fooled the simple people when they claimed they had support from the clergy.
Badr and Sadr are fighting among them but the only loser is the poor Iraqi person.
I am Sheat but I feel ashamed of what some Sheats have done, fanaticism is growing in an ugly way and the situation is intolerable but I am optimistic about the next elections and I think Iraqis have realized the advantage of the past "appointed" government; the media was more open and there was better tolerance for the opposing opinion but now, the ruling parties do not accept any opposition because they inherited the culture of violence from the past regime and now they're treating Iraqis like Saddam did!"
-"Repressing freedoms has become the main policy of the parties that are hiding behind religion and are guided and controlled from Iran. I just don't know when are we going to wake up to see the Iranian flag instead of ours!".
-"I think the situation in Basra is relatively more stable than other parts in Iraq and this alleged competition among militias does not actually exist; it's a product of the fantasy of the media which aim at destabilizing the stable regions in Iraq".
-"This is exaggeration! I am from Basra and I don't see what you're talking about!
Who hears you talk thinks that Basra is a torture camp.
Go to Basra and see the truth; people there spends the nights out till late hours and there's no harassment.
Mehdi Army and Badr brigade won 15 seats out of 40 in the city council so they should naturally have a big influence".
-"Basra is now ruled by her own people, no more people from Tikrit can show us how to run our lives. Badr and other organizations fought Saddam and the Ba'ath and they have the right to be active inside the security forces.
Basra is a Sheat city so no wonder Sheat organizations have influence and power there.
It's strange that some people think it's forbidden for the militias to be part of the security forces in their own city!!".
-"Greetings to the false Islamic parties, greetings to the terrorists coming from the brother Faqih country, greetings to the government of Dr. Jafari which failed at security, political and social levels; greetings to all of you, we can't stand you anymore; not you, not the Sheat and not the Sunni…".
-"It's true that there are a lot of Sheats in Basra and there's no objection their involvement in the security forces but the greatest problem that threatens the future of the peaceful people lies in the militias and their loyalty that is directed to Iran rather than Iraq.
These groups that infiltrated the police force are carrying out missions for their militias after they finish their official work wearing the same uniforms of the police…".
-"Some say that Basra is a secure place that doesn't suffer from terrorism but the truth is that Basra is suffering from social terrorism which in my opinion is the most dangerous form of terrorism because freedoms are repressed in the name of the noble Islam.
One example was what happened in the University of Basra where students were severely beaten because they were having a picnic! And female students are being forced to wear hijab especially in the university.
It's almost accurate to say that Basra is an Iranian city flying the Iraqi flag. SAVE US".