WHO'S WHO....Can't tell the players without a program in the 2-way (or is it 3-way or 4-way?) intra-Shiite gang war currently underway in Basra and southern Iraq? Here's a quick cheat sheet:
- ISCI = SIIC = new name for SCIRI = Badr Corps = "aristocratic" Hakim family = exiles during Saddam Hussein's reign = pro-Iran = generally in control of army and security forces = pro-U.S. = ally of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
- Mahdi Army = JAM = "firebrand cleric" Muqtada al-Sadr = Iraqi nationalists = originally part of Maliki's governing coalition but no longer = anti-U.S. = populist/working class orientation = controls much of the oil sector in Basra.
- "Special groups" = rogue elements of the Mahdi Army = maybe Sadr is just as happy to have Maliki take these guys out for him, but who knows for sure?
- Fadhila = ex-allies of Sadr = won some elections in Basra in 2005 = smallest of the three Shiite factions in the south.