Amara Clashes

Posted by Cutler on October 20, 2006

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…

3 Comments to Amara Clashes

  • One of the more interesting things about waht has happened in Amara is that it disproves the ‘clash of civilisations’ theory of Iraq’s future- ie that it will be consumed in a war between Shia, Sunni and Kurd factions. What is actually happening is a three level civil war or insurgency- firstly within the communities struggles to lead them in various areas, secondly struggles between the various communities say in Baghdad or Kirkuk and thirdly a general struggle against the UK US forces. This analysis makes it an even more complicated and difficult problem to assess- because federalism (the surrender of the areas to the majority population) can’t hope to help if the populations themselves are so divided that they are going to war with each other.

  • Question dear professor,
    How does the looming (in december) deadline for passage of the new oil laws play into the current pressure cooker? Could any of the current Shiite players survive new privitization/PSA within the oil industry? Could the pressure being imposed on Maliki, and all the claptrap about disbanding the militias (as if thats about to happen) some kind of cover to pressure him to sign on the dotted line?

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