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April 21, 2006

Mahdi vs. Badr: Shiite family feud

Jonathan Finer has a fascinating piece in today's Washington Post about the family feud that divides the two major Shiite militias in Iraq, the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigade:

Moqtada al-Sadr and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim head the two leading dynasties of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, whose spiritual home is this ancient southern city. They operate the country's two largest Shiite militias -- the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigade, respectively -- each with more than 10,000 men under arms. And they are heirs to rival movements that for generations have competed, sometimes violently, for supremacy in the hearts and minds of their long-persecuted people.

The two men are now on opposing sides of the dispute over whether Ibrahim al-Jafari should retain his post as prime minister. The impasse remains unresolved despite months of negotiation and intense U.S. pressure, and hinges not only on myriad political factors but on the two clerics' family feud. [WaPo]

Juan Cole helped fill Finer in on the backstory.

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