Shiite religious leaders can’t hold back the tide.
Iraqi Shi’ite religious leaders’ restraining influence on militia groups is waning fast and senior clerics fear they are dragging Iraq into civil war, a source close to the clerical authorities said on Wednesday. Sounding the most urgent note of alarm yet from the Marja’iya, the religious establishment led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the senior source told Reuters: “People are paying less and less heed to the Marja’iya every day because of how sectarian killings are affecting Shi’ite public opinion.”
Ordinary Iraqi families are preparing for the worst.
Om Hussein, who was reluctant to give her full name, and her Shiite family are preparing for war. They’ve stocked up on food. They bought a Kalashnikov rifle and a second car — so that there is space for all 13 members of their extended family should they need to flee in a hurry.
Few Iraqis, however, share Bush’s view that the crisis has been averted. They are readying themselves for the worst, fleeing likely flash points, stockpiling weapons and basic foodstuffs, barricading their neighborhoods, and drawing lines in the sand delineating Sunni and Shiite territory.