There are confusing and conflicting reports coming out of Amara (sometimes Amarah), scene of recent violence involving Sadrist forces and local police.
A little background context might be helpful here.
Amara is home to Abdel-Karim al-Mohammedawi, widely known as the ‘Prince of the Marshes.
The current Interior Minister of Iraq, Jawad al-Bolani was formerly an aide to Mohammedawi. According to a June 10, 2006 report in the New York Times Bolani began his contemporary political career working with Moktada al-Sadr.
When the British abandoned (or, more accurately, fled) Amara two months ago, Mohammedawi complained that they left the city in corrupt hands.
An August 26, 2006 New York Times report included the following from Mohammedawi:
”[Amara] was handed over to a corrupt authority…” said Sheik Abdul Kareem al-Muhammadawi, a prominent tribal leader in Amara. ”What do you think the attitude of an ordinary citizen would be….”
Who was this “corrupt authority” of which Muhammadawi was complaining?
The answer seems to the SCIRI and its Badr Brigades.
An Associated Press report from October 19th seems have captured the details of the current conflict:
Clashes erupted Thursday between Mahdi Army fighters and policemen defending their headquarters in the southern city of Amarah after the family of a senior police officer struck back against his suspected killers, kidnapping the teenage brother of the Shiite militia’s commander, police said.
The family of Ali Qassim al-Tamimi, the chief of police intelligence in Maysan, the province of which Amarah is the capital, said they would not release 19-year-old Hussein al-Bahadli until the culprits in al-Tamimi’s death were surrendered…
Al-Tamimi was killed Wednesday by a bomb planted on the highway between Amarah and the city of Basra farther south. He was killed along with four of his bodyguards…
Tamimi is known to be a member of the Badr Brigade, a militia linked to Iraq’s largest religious Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI. The family maintains that the rival Mahdi Army of radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was behind his murder…
The Mahdi Army commander in Amarah is sheik Fadel al-Bahadli…