So, how representative of Shia sentiment is al-Sadr’s army of thugs and fanatics? Obviously, the recent fighting may have radicalized some Shiites since this report was written, but here’s an interesting story from a week ago:
“Herded into lines by inexperienced police officers, hundreds of would-be Iraqi voters pushed into a sparsely equipped school at the weekend to cast their ballots for the local council of Tar.
“Deep in the marshlands of the Euphrates, the town of 15,000 people was the first to rise against Saddam Hussein in the abortive intifada of 1991. Now it was holding the first genuine election in its history.
“The poll was the latest in a series which this overwhelmingly Shia province has held in the past six weeks, and the results have been surprising. Seventeen towns have voted, and in almost every case secular independents and representatives of non-religious parties did better than the Islamists.”
Read the whole thing.