Monday, September 26, 2005

Slouching Towards Shiastan

The American public missed a lot of important stories overseas during the Hurricane Katrina crisis. This is one that was reported in Newsweek International on Sept. 5, 2005:

Terror on the Tigris
The Shiites suffer a new tragedy—this time a stampede that kills hundreds. Is the creation of an oil-rich 'Shiastan' now becoming inevitable?

By Scott Johnson, with Joe Cochrane, Michael Hastings and Melinda Liu

... Imagine a Kurdistan run by ayatollahs. Iranian-style morality enforcers have been gaining strength in the south ever since the U.S. invasion. In formerly wide-open Basra, functioning liquor stores have become a rarity. The owners got too many death threats. Many Iraqi Christians are fleeing the area, moving to Baghdad and elsewhere. Women are increasingly afraid to leave their homes without a headscarf. Hard-liners in Nasiriya have reportedly been tearing down "get out the vote" posters that portrayed a woman with her hair visible. Some women may welcome the mullahs at first, as a force far more effective than the local police against street crime. "They think, 'Here comes a group of vigilantes that's providing us security'," says Manal Omar, Middle East coordinator for the activist group Women for Women International. "They don't realize how far it will go. It's what the Taliban did in Afghanistan."...

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