Looks likle we’vecompletely fucked up Southern Iraq.
Shi’ite Islamist political parties are imposing strict Islamic rules in the oil-producing southern provinces of Iraq and using their armed wings to create a state of fear, a group of tribal Shi’ite leaders said.
The four tribal leaders approached Reuters on condition of anonymity, fearing assassination if their names or even their home provinces were made public.
“Fear rules the streets now,” said one of the sheikhs. “We cannot speak our minds, people are not allowed to oppose them. They would immediately disappear or get killed. The evidence of that is I am talking about it but cannot use my name.”
The sheikhs said the conservative religious attitudes meant only religious music was now allowed to be played in public places and dancing was forbidden, as was drinking alcohol. Women were also harassed for wearing clothing deemed inappropriate.
Photographs of secular political leaders like former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi could not be displayed in shops and other public areas.
Street committees that were set up to protect neighborhoods from al Qaeda attacks were being misused to spy on residents and report infractions to the militias and the police, they said.
“Some say the Shi’ites are lucky because they are now ruling Iraq, but that is wrong. It is the Islamist Shi’ites who are ruling Iraq. Their victory was a curse for us,” said one sheikh.
The sheikhs blamed Washington for giving Shi’ite Islamists a free hand in the south. U.S. forces are concentrated to the north, focused mainly on Sunni Islamist al Qaeda and other Sunni Arab militants and so-called rogue Mehdi Army groups.
Washington has thrown its weight behind Baghdad’s Islamist- led government despite misgivings about its failure to push ahead with national reconciliation and the close ties between some parties and Iran, the United States’ long-time foe.
SIIC and the Sadrists are seen by the sheikhs as importing a conservative brand of Shi’ism from neighboring Iran, which U.S. officials accuse of arming Shi’ite militias to use as proxies to enforce their influence in the south.
“We are suffering from two occupations — America and Iran. We have told American officials this and we have met some of them, but they are not listening to us,” one sheikh complained.